Christian Ministries Program
Do you enjoy working with particular age-groups – children, or adolescents, or maybe senior adults? Do you love interacting with people to help them know Jesus and grow deeper in Him? Would you prefer to learn from Christ-centered professors who have both solid academic training and real-world ministry experience?
The Christian Ministries program at Asbury University may be just the thing for you. This program focuses on developing leaders for the ministry of discipleship and formation – understanding the Biblical, educational, and organizational principles behind this ministry, and developing the tools for being effective in it. Study in this area is inter-disciplinary:
- you will study the Bible and theology to understand the Christian faith,
- you will gain insight into processes of teaching and learning,
- you will explore the human developmental journey and how it intersects with discipleship, and
- you will examine leadership/management principles within congregations and other Christian organizations.
In addition, experiential learning is woven through the program in a variety of ways, including a practicum and an internship – “You can’t learn ministry just in a classroom,” we’re fond of saying.
What Can I Do With This Major?
Students studying in Christian Ministries usually plan to serve in a church, Christian camp, or other ministry with primary emphasis on children’s ministry, youth ministry, or other educational/discipleship ministry. However, due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, graduates can be found in a wide variety of careers:
- Christian educator
- Campus Minister*
- Children’s minister
- Church planter
- Social worker*
- Youth minister
- Camp director
- Parachurch staff
(*) Additional academic work may be needed to work in this field.
Both a major and a minor are available in Christian Ministries. Minors that fit well with a major in Christian Ministries include: Bible & Theology, Biblical Languages, Missions, Worship Arts, Communications, Psychology, and Recreation/Outdoor Leadership.
Asbury has been offering courses in this field of study since the early 1920s. As the Church engages with a changing culture, the forms and approaches to this area of ministry continue to shift. Today, there is greater emphasis on age-level specialization and the terminology is shifting to Christian formation and discipleship more than in the past. Historically, however, this area of study and service has been called Christian education, or educational ministries, or religious education.
Seth Fallon (Pastor of Discipleship) says,
“I’m thankful for where God has brought me, though I do miss being challenged by you and the experience of Asbury. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for my education at Asbury and the time you personally invested in my call. I’m positive that I could not do what I do now without the training I received at Asbury.”
Why should I major in Christian Ministries?
The Christian Ministries faculty understands that many students want to make a difference in their world through various forms of ministry. Such individuals may have felt a “calling” into full-time Christian service. Designed to help students apply their learning to a ministry setting, the Christian Ministries major prepares students to understand the foundational principles that develop the Christian mind and lifestyle, and prepare them for service.
What about graduate school or seminary?
Grad school is fairly common for Christian ministries majors; in our last survey of graduates, exactly half had taken graduate work (seminary programs are most common). Graduates often wait until they have gained experience in ministry before seeking further formal education.
If I’m planning on going to seminary, shouldn’t I major in a non-ministry field as an undergraduate? Won’t I get all I need for ministry training at seminary?
Graduate school, including seminary, provides opportunity for advanced study in one’s chosen field. Students going into ministry who took an undergraduate major in a different field will find themselves at a disadvantage in seminary. On the other hand, students who majored in a ministry field as an undergraduate will be able to do more advanced study at seminary and are likely to have greater success than if they had not studied ministry as an undergraduate.
Are professional/career missionaries still needed, or should future “missionaries” pursue a different profession (and a field of study other than missions)?
Given the critical and complex demands of cross-cultural ministry, every missionary team/organization must have those whose profession is cross-cultural ministry. These are the people who are trained to discern the theological and ministry issues that exist on the field, to identify the principles and practices needed for effective evangelism and discipleship, and to “chart the course” for the ministry to follow.
What will I study?
All ministry programs in the department will help you understand basic principles of ministry and the mission and work of the Church. You’ll study the dynamics of spiritual growth, develop views for becoming a global/world Christian and learn how to study the Bible and lead Bible study groups.
The Christian Ministries major will prepare you to understand processes of ministry with people of all ages. You’ll learn a variety of ways to approach discipleship/educational ministry. You’ll learn leadership principles and what organizational structures prove most effective. You’ll discover principles for developing and evaluating curriculum and resources that serve as tools for reaching people of all ages for Christ.
If, however, domestic or overseas mission work is your desired goal, the Intercultural Studies major will help you learn how to communicate the Gospel with people in cultures other than your own. Students in this field study world religions, the uniqueness of the Christian message, trends in mission activity, and principles and strategies of cross-cultural communication.
The Worship Arts major will prepare you for leading in the worship arts of today’s church. You’ll learn how to lead programs in music, media, the visual arts, and drama. You’ll gain the tools to become excellent in at least one of these areas. And all this will be learned in the context of a biblical view of worship and the church and its mission.
The Youth Ministry major will prepare you for ministry with adolescents in a church or parachurch context. You’ll understand the unique journey of faith that teens experience. You’ll discover a variety of models and strategies for youth ministry. You’ll learn how to analyze youth culture. You’ll gain tools for building relationships, discipling, counseling and leading recreation with youth.
How can I apply my classroom learning to a real-life ministry experience?
We believe you can’t learn ministry just in a classroom (though the classroom is very important!). Therefore, the department employs a three-tiered experiential learning model. In tier one, students observe and reflect on what is happening in ministry settings. These activities begin in the very first course students take, and continue in practica and other settings through the program. In tier two, students practice the skills they are introduced to in their classes. Sometimes this practice occurs in classes, but students are also encouraged to practice ministry in their church/parachurch settings. In tier three, students take on leadership responsibility in ministry. Leadership involvement is essential in the internship which is required in all ministries majors.
Students with a major in Christian Ministries complete supervised internships in churches as children’s ministers, directors of Christian education or youth ministers; in parachurch ministries, like Youth for Christ; or in a Christian camp environment. Youth Ministry majors focus specifically on ministry to this age-group. Most students choose to complete their internship during the summer in full-time, paid positions. In fact, many churches actively recruit Asburians for these positions.
Intercultural Studies majors complete internships with extended ministry involvement in cross-cultural settings. Typically, these internships are overseas, although students occasionally opt to work in a cross-cultural setting in the United States.
Students with a major in Worship Arts are often involved in chapel or other ministry opportunities on campus such as “praise nights” or class or hall prayer meetings. Many are involved in worship arts ministries in local churches and all majors must complete an internship in a thriving church.
Furthermore, many of the department’s students are involved in weekend and summer ministry teams, discipleship groups and community service projects. Dozens of ministry opportunities exist on campus and in the surrounding area.
What facilities are available?
The Christian Ministries Resource Center provides opportunities for students to study current developments in curriculum and resources for age-level and educational ministry. Curriculum materials from more than 20 publishers, as well as a variety of other resources, are available for student use in class projects and/or church ministry. This center, housed in the Kinlaw Library, is also utilized by Asbury Theological Seminary, which is nearby in Wilmore.
- Nearly 100 percent of Christian ministries graduates who seek ministry placement secure a position within a few months of graduation; some are hired prior to graduation.
- Approximately 50 percent of graduates in Christian Ministries eventually enter graduate school.