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March 2014

Life on Purpose

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New Academic Programs at Welch College...

Making the Pieces Fit

by Allan Crowson


Each piece of a jigsaw puzzle contributes directly to forming the puzzle’s complete image. Any piece out of place affects the image all the other pieces create. At Welch College, our mission is to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. That is the picture all the “pieces” of the college display.


Traditional Education

Many are familiar with our traditional college program, mostly for dorm students recently out of high school. They may not understand that we also have three other programs that have their own role to play in achieving our mission.


Lifetime Learning Courses

First are Lifetime Learning courses. They run during a normal campus semester but involve no classrooms or set times for class. We deliver the content online, using the campus Populi system familiar to all our students. In a few cases, we also distribute the content on CD or DVD.

These courses are similar to the correspondence courses popular years ago. Students interact only with the instructor, not with other students. They engage the course content on their own time and schedule, while still meeting various course deadlines. Lifetime Learning courses appeal to campus students who have course scheduling difficulties, but they are also popular with students who have temporarily moved away from Nashville.


Adult Degree Program

The second is the Adult Degree Program, or ADP. It helps adult students complete degrees already begun elsewhere. Students with the equivalent of two years of course work can enroll in this program and complete their college degree with evening courses. Courses run for seven weeks, allowing two sessions of courses during a campus semester.

These courses appeal to people in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee community. Many ADP students come from congregations that are not Free Will Baptist, allowing us to reach out to people we might never be able to influence otherwise. Students who have some college credit, but less than a two-year degree, can enroll in our online program, which brings us to the third additional piece of the puzzle.


Online Program

The Online Program has its own pieces that fit together to respond to the needs of non-traditional or adult students. These are people who, for one reason or another, find themselves already active in adult life. They are usually married, with children, and are often engaged in a local church ministry of some sort. We work with them where they are, with the time constraints and life responsibilities they bear, to help them carry out the mission.

The first piece began in 2008, with the Associate of Science degree in Ministry. It is a perfect fit for the serious Christian worker in a local church: Sunday School teacher, youth worker, deacon, WAC participant, etc. It combines a solid background in Bible and doctrine with practical ministry-related courses. Students can often use what they learn during the week the very next Sunday!

Most of the graduates of this program have indicated that they would gladly continue with us for a four-year program if we had one. Other potential students have asked about non-ministry courses, such as business. To satisfy these needs, we expanded the online program with some additional pieces, to include:

  • The original Associate of Science degree in Ministry

  • The Associate of Science degree in Business

  • The Associate of Arts degree

  • A four-year degree, the Bachelor of Science in General Christian Ministry.

The Associate of Science in Business features the same core of Bible and Christian doctrine, but replaces many of the ministry courses with business courses: accounting, management, marketing, economics, and so on. It is great for the serious Christian who needs both biblical and business education to meet the challenge of serving Christ more effectively in the business world.

The Associate of Arts degree fits students who plan to pursue a four-year degree, but have not yet decided which one or where. It features a strong core of Bible and Christian doctrine, along with general education courses.

Of course, the excitement this year involves the Bachelor of Science degree in General Christian Ministry. This degree is designed for Christian workers and pastors who wish to go even further than the two-year program can take them. They will study theology, including eschatology. They will extend what they learned in the Associate Degree’s Bible survey courses with even deeper investigations of books of the Bible such as Isaiah, Romans, or Hebrews. Christian philosophy, apologetics, and world religions (with particular emphasis on Islam) prepare students to engage an unbelieving world from a solid theological, philosophical, and practical base. They round out their education with additional general education courses in literature and history.

Students enrolled in the online program attend a virtual campus, where they have access to their courses, but also to one another. Students can form interest groups to discuss subjects important to them. This can include their course work, but they can also form groups focused on parenting, part-time pastoring, hobbies, and more. Along with the required online discussions that are a part of each online course, these student groups have the potential to involve students in healthy and effective personal growth.

Christian Service has always been an important feature of a Welch College education, and this remains true for our online program.

Students work with an Online Christian Service Director who advises students in choosing a service that will serve the Lord and others in their own community. Students set goals for their service, and report on their service experience.

These four pieces—Traditional, Lifetime Learning, Adult Degree Program, and Online Learning—fit together to form a clear picture of Welch College and its mission: to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. To learn more, visit (for the campus program) or (for the non-traditional programs). We would love to hear from you!

About the Writer: Allan Crowson is director of online and Lifetime Learning studies at Welch College.


©2014 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists