Every week Scott Guffin has a small group of students show up in his office. They’re there for what he hopes is something foundational for their life and ministry.
They’re there to be discipled.
Guffin, executive director of Christian ministry at Samford University in Birmingham, heads up the school’s new Christian ministry program, a degree track that offers classes on topics like discipleship, leadership, exegesis, missions, worldview and apologetics.
“The distinction with us is that our entire program is focused around the hub of the Great Commission,” Guffin said.
And those classes have a practical element, he explained. For instance, with the discipleship class students are discipled by a faculty member for the first semester, then expected to disciple others the next semester.
“Disciple making, evangelism and missions are the centerpiece of our program,” he said. “We want to tackle the big theological issues, but we want to also know how to apply those practically from Monday to Saturday.”
The program’s courses are designed for two groups of people — those who want to earn a degree in Christian ministry and those who are pursuing other vocations but are passionate about ministry and missions. Students can major or minor in Christian ministry or they can choose to take classes a la carte as electives.
“We’re hoping we’ll have students who are studying business, arts, education, health care and other disciplines interact with us in some way,” Guffin said.
Guffin, a Gardendale native who had a 32-year career in church ministry before joining the Samford staff, is also joined by these faculty members:
- Galen Jones, a former church planter, missionary and faculty member at Oklahoma Baptist University, and
- J.D. Payne, a former Baptist seminary professor, staff member at the Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, and author of 13 books on missions and evangelism.
The program is wrapping up its first full year this spring.
An added benefit to the program, Guffin said, is its partnership with Samford’s Ministry Training Institute (MTI), an adult education program for ministers.
Graduates of the Christian ministry program will be able to take continuing education classes through MTI. And not only that, MTI students will be able to take summarized versions of classes offered through the Christian ministry program.
For more information about Samford’s Christian ministry program visit samford.edu/arts/christian-ministry. (Grace Thornton)