Texas Baptists and George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University recently celebrated the first graduate of the Advanced Certificate of Ministry in Children’s Ministry, a joint certification program offered by the two institutions.
The program’s first graduate, Robin Mack, received her Advanced Certificate of Ministry in Children’s Ministry at the Texas Baptist Childhood and Family Ministry Summit in August held at Baylor’s Truett Seminary.
Mack, who heard about the program through her husband, the State Royal Ambassador Director at TBM, is a ministry assistant at First Baptist Church of Wills Point. Her church has a Learning Center for 8-week-olds to 6-year-olds, and she was eager to learn how she could better serve the children. Mack also wanted to learn how to grow the church’s children’s ministry, which had seen a decline in members in recent years.
Diane Lane, a Childhood Discipleship Specialist at Texas Baptists, explained that stories like Mack’s are not uncommon. The joint certification program was designed for people looking to invigorate all aspects of their children’s ministry.
“The Certification Program will deepen ministry for children, parents, and teachers. Promoting the intentional purpose of all ministry events will help parents have a higher commitment level of participation with their children,” Lane said. “It will also renew in the teacher the importance of the spiritual foundation they are building for the child. Educating the entire church on the significance of Preschool and Children's Ministry will then create an acceptance of the youngest participants in church.”
Mack began with the Texas Baptist Children’s certification, which is centered around practical skills and training necessary for running a children’s ministry. When she learned about the potential to earn a theology-based certificate through Truett as well, she signed up immediately. Mack said that the skills and theology she learned in the courses were eye-opening.
“I had never taken a theology class in my life, and when I took the class, I was like, you know what, every Christian needs to take this class,” she said.
Truett Seminary’s Online Certificate Program is designed to strengthen people’s understanding for all areas of ministry, and Mack plans on using some of the lessons from her theology courses for the women’s Bible study she leads weekly.
The practical training she acquired during her Texas Baptists courses has also been useful. Mack shared the concepts she learned with the Learning Center’s director, who would compare her own formal education and experience with Mack as the two brainstormed ways the center could be improved. And Mack plans to incorporate the things she learned into revitalizing the children’s program at her church as well.
David Tate, director of Truett’s Online Certificate Program, believes that the joint certification program is perfect for people like Mack, who want to further their education without uprooting their lives. Many people want to continue learning, but do not have the time or resources to devote years of their lives to education. These certification programs can help them enrich their education without disrupting their lives.
“We desire to provide a reputable resource for excellent ministry education and preparation at the level these church leaders and ministers are looking for - between Sunday school and a master’s program,” Tate said.
The flexibility of Truett’s online courses and Texas Baptist’s readings allowed Mack to continue working at the church while learning. Mack’s pastor was also very supportive of the program, giving Mack time during the work day to complete her studies.
The Advanced Certificate of Ministry in Children’s Ministry was first introduced last year, when Tate and Texas Baptists Preschool and Children’s Specialist Diane Lane saw that their individual programs complemented each other.
“His ministry looks at ministry philosophy, it’s really strong Bible study time. Mine deals with the hands-on preschool ministry and everything that happens there. So when you merge it, you have a strong philosophical base as well as a strong, practical, how-to base. It was just the perfect blending,” Lane explained.
Mack agreed. She encouraged anyone who feels led to expand their church’s children’s ministry or simply wants to learn more about theology to consider participating in both programs. “If the Lord is really leading you into this, you can’t go wrong,” she said.
To learn more about the joint Advanced Certificate of Ministry in Children’s Ministry, contact Diane Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org or David Tate at email@example.com. Texas Baptists and Truett Seminary also offer a joint certification in Chaplaincy, Urban Church Leadership and other ministerial areas.