The MTS Openseminary uses the Openseminary methodology that was created in 1999 in South Africa. Since then, Openseminary has been a program of instruction offered by several graduate programs in South Africa, Australia, Malaysia and the USA. In 2015, the program was recognized by the Convergence Initiative as one of the more innovative seminary programs in the USA.
Openseminary prioritizes the questions that participants face in their ministry context to deliver theological education that is contextual. It starts with the students' questions that emerge from contemporary life and ministry practice rather than traditional answers and biblical sources. It is committed to sourcing appropriate theological responses from Scripture and Christian Tradition but wants to train students to think theologically by starting with the emerging questions of their context. The view that praxis "prepares the agenda, the repertory of questions, that theology is to address" is at the heart of this approach of doing theology. The course was designed to strengthen local churches by increasing the theological knowledge and ministry effectiveness of men and women, including laypersons, who are (or have been) active in ministry.
The online MTS Openseminary can be completed entirely online, or as a blended online course. It uses online technologies to enable students to engage with their contexts, each other, course material and the faculty members. It also requires that students attend a residency for each one of the six modules that comprise the program of study and, finally, it is a requirement that students are engaged in ministry context and can apply their theological thinking in context.
We have chosen six Greek words to identify the six church practices that will be explored in the course: Theologia, Koinonia, Kerygma, Leitourgia, Diakonia and Paideia. These are the practices of local church ministry. Each one of these practices is a subject of study in the MTS Openseminary program.
- CHHM 570 A/B/C - Diakonia: Missional Service
- INTG 570 A/B/C - Koinonia: Leading and Building Community
- PRMN 570 A/B/C - Kerygma: Communicating the Gospel
- PRMN 570 A/B/C - Leitourgia: Leading People in the Presence of God
- SFRM 570 A/B/C - Paideia: Spiritual Formation
- THLE 570 A/B/C - Theologia: Doing Theology in Context
Each subject has three parts that take 7 weeks to complete.
- In Part 1, students identify personal growth goals and contextual questions about the church practice.
- In Part 2, students in cohort groups immerse themselves online in the Christian traditions to see how these and similar questions have been answered in the past. Students attend weekly online sessions to discuss the reading and a 3-day Integrative Seminar (in person or online) in which they engage and interact with a thoughtful ministry practitioner who has demonstrated an ability to do theology in context.
- In Part 3, students conclude articulating a generative answer to address their emerging ministry questions. These answers are not final answers; they are generative, the best theological answers for that time and place. Part 3 is capped by Pastoral Action, the final step in the theological method utilized in this Master's program.
WHAT ALUMS ARE SAYING
"With the flexibility that this program provides, it allowed me to juggle all the different aspects of my life and also get the quality education that I needed." (Kerry Turk)
"In this program, I was pushed to examine my belief and gain a better understanding of why we do what we do. I know I am a different person walking out of this program than who I was walking into it." (Quinton Phillips)
"I wanted to study something I absolutely loved. When I saw this program where I could really be delving into the Bible and studying the Bible and what it means to me practically, I was just fascinated by that." (Janelle Spedding)