The Heart of a Bethel Seminary Education

Change is happening at Bethel Seminary.

Most days I find the opportunities exciting, though other days they feel more like challenges. But change is happening.

Lately it has left me wondering what this means to you – pastors, leaders, scholars, and others who are considering studying for a seminary degree or recommending a seminary to others. You may be wondering, with all the changes at Bethel, will it still be a great place to grow? My answer is: I truly believe it will.

Let me tell you why.

Bethel Seminary educates for holistic transformation.

“Training” focuses on information and technique. “Education” focuses on full-person development—spiritual, intellectual, emotional, physical, and vocational growth. Education goes beyond providing information in one-way speech to processing wisdom in two-way dialogue. This kind of education must include spiritual formation, including an honest look at each person’s capacities and vulnerabilities. Honest dialogue and spiritual formation create challenge, even anxiety at times, but they also produce transformation.

Bethel Seminary embraces evangelical theology in an irenic spirit.

Non-negotiable core convictions guide a Bethel education: the Triune God, the full truthfulness and authority of the Bible, the separation of humans from God by sin, redemption through the cross and resurrection of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, the centrality of the church, the command to service and mission, and the hope of eternal life. But outside core doctrines, on secondary issues, Bethel cultivates an irenic spirit. (‘Irenic’ comes from the Greek for ‘shalom.’) It provides space to grow, in a context that is uncompromisingly biblical.

Bethel Seminary pursues excellence through constant improvement.

A Bethel education today is not yet what it will be tomorrow. Driving our improvement is deep interest in increasing impact and relevance in the contemporary world. We’re listening to stakeholders to connect offerings more closely with their deep needs. We’re using assessment to improve offerings to students. We’re constantly drawing on who we are to become who the church needs us to be.

Bethel Seminary serves the church in all its expressions.

A Bethel education serves the church. We focus on preparing individuals who work full-time in churches, ministry agencies, and non-profits of all sizes, colors, and forms. In addition, because the “church” isn’t just a building or institution, but people, we resource Christ-followers who do other work. Bethel’s Work With Purpose project (generously funded by the Kern Family Foundation) lifts up the Kingdom-building call of God for every single Christian. Every person’s daily work, whether paid or unpaid, contributes to the Kingdom of God if it’s done in Jesus’ name.

Bethel Seminary develops leaders who are humble, persistent, and healthy.

The Vision for Bethel Seminary focuses on developing the whole leader. We’re about preparing leaders first and foremost. The goal of this development isn’t just enjoyment of the process, but extends to deployment in mission. Our goal is preparing “Three Centered” leaders—deeply and biblically wise, emotionally and spiritual mature, and skilled in godly influence. Effective leaders aren’t dictatorial or egocentric. They’re persons of character. They can both follow and lead. They put others ahead of self. They build strong relationships. They’re spiritually, emotionally, and relationally mature. And they’re devoted to mission. They’re tireless in helping organizations achieve goals. They overcome all odds to help others taste success. Bethel challenges such leaders to give their lives to the gospel of passionate trust in the Triune God through Christ and of compassionate ministry to the world in Jesus’ name.

Through transformative experiences, we help students and clients move toward becoming the most dynamic and mature versions of who God created them to be. They’re Servant Leaders. And the world needs every Servant Leader possible.

The future will be different … and better.

What does the future hold for Bethel? Bethel has embarked on a Strategic Process to guide transformational change. As a community that loves God, and loves the world God loves, our deeply rooted commitments are guiding the changes required for maximum impact and relevance. The Strategic Process is inclusive. Stakeholders of all kinds are putting their fingerprints on Bethel’s future. So we’re deeply grounded in unchanging values, and we’re working to creating a more vibrant version of Bethel.

Bethel serves the people of God, and through them the world God loves. We live out the whole biblical gospel. We provide transformational experiences for students and clients. And we develop leaders who grow toward the vision God has for them through a seminary education rooted in biblical wisdom, leadership insight, and Spirit-empowered transformation.

This is an exciting journey. I invite you to come along.

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