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Theological Education for a Flat World

The flattened world afforded by the internet, social media, and other new technologies has created enormous opportunities for theological education to be more portable while maintaining a sense of integrity in the content. At SEBTS we embrace this new world, offering online and hybrid courses allowing a student to earn the MDiv from anywhere in the country and, conceivably, anywhere on the globe (find out more here).  We also value the local church and realize the need to involve local churches and their leadership increasingly in the teaching of students for effective ministry that includes theological precision and practical training. In fact, Dr. Akin recently laid down the challenge of finding over 100 SBC churches who would partner with SEBTS to provide more effective training.

Enter the Great Commission Equipping Network (GCEN).  Our conviction of the vital place of the local church has led us to partner with others, like many churches in North Carolina as well as churches across the nation such as Summit Church in RDU, Calvary Baptist in Winston Salem, Crosspoint in Clemson, SC, and Long Hollow Baptist in the Nashville, TN area, not to mention a young church plant not far from campus. to mention only a few.

Here is a summary of the GCEN:

GCEN Purpose

To partner with local churches and para-church organizations to provide practical theological training through internships.

GCEN Goals

SEBTS seeks to identify local churches and para-church organizations that have internship programs which reflect a commitment to our mission to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission. Our goals are:

  • To provide the highest level of theological training in conjunction with local churches and para-church organizations;
  • To provide opportunities for churches and organizations to help students who are called to the ministry begin, continue or complete their theological education while firmly tied to local ministry;
  • To develop healthy, working relationships between SEBTS and church/para-church organizations;
  • To develop the GCEN as a network of mutually edifying relationships in which all participants communicate, encourage, teach, and challenge one another.

GCEN Information

The Great Commission Equipping Network has three levels of participation. The majority of participants are Partners who provide mentoring and training for our students in their field ministry experience. Some participants are Members. These are typically churches that have leaders who are qualified to co-teach classes relative to pastoral and/or church planting training with SEBTS professors. A few participants have SEBTS faculty members in their organization who assist or lead the internship program. These Centers have additional opportunities to offer various occasional classes through their internship program.

There are three levels at which a church can participate:

1. GCEN Partner

A training site where a student can participate in an internship and gain significant ministry experience and mentorship from a qualified supervisor. Depending on the requirements and length of the internship, a student can earn up to 9 credit hours by participating in an internship with one of SEBTS’ GCEN Partners.

2. GCEN Members

A church or organization that has a leader with both the qualifications and a strong desire to co-teach a limited number of practical ministry courses along with a SEBTS professor. Depending on the requirements, length of internship, and qualifications of the leader, a student can earn up to 18 credit hours by participating in an internship with one of SEBTS’ GCEN Members.

3. GCEN Centers

A church or organization that has a SEBTS faculty member participating in the Center. In addition to other credit hours, these Centers have the option to offer occasional courses relative to the field of the faculty member.

I am thrilled to spread the word about this initiative; however, if you want to know more about it, contact the people who know it best by emailing gcen@sebts.edu. I hope your church will consider joining this movement!

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Alvin L. Reid (born 1959) serves as Professor of Evangelism and Student Ministry at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he has been since 1995. He is also the founding Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism. Alvin and his wife Michelle have two children: Joshua, a senior at The College at Southeastern, and Hannah, a senior at Wake Forest Rolesville High School. Recently he became more focused at ministry in his local church by being named Young Professionals Director at Richland Creek Community Church. Alvin holds the M.Div and the Ph.D with a major in evangelism from Southwestern Seminary, and the B.A. from Samford University. He has spoken at a variety of conferences in almost every state and continent, and in over 2000 churches, colleges, conferences and events across the United States.