Derek Allen said he hopes people don’t hear about MTI — Ministry Training Institute — and think it’s just for people called to pastoral ministry.
It’s also for Bible study teachers, leaders, volunteers or simply followers of Christ, said Allen, pastor of First Baptist Church, Tillman’s Corner, in Mobile, and director of a new MTI site there.
“This is prep for any church member who wants to go deeper in their understanding of the Scripture,” he said. “It’s for every Christian who wants to go deeper in their faith.”
MTI — formerly the Samford University extension program, which was originally called The Howard Plan — started in 1947 and took on its current name in 2014.
This fall, it will have 38 active extension sites, 32 of which are in Alabama and one of which is Allen’s church. It and two others — one at the Clarke Baptist Association and one in Tallahassee, Florida — are new this fall semester.
Kevin Blackwell, MTI director, said the purpose behind each of those sites is to resource the church by offering courses from a world-renowned university that are as affordable and accessible as possible.
There’s a class for everybody, he said.
MTI offers biblical studies diplomas for people studying at extension sites as well as five online certificates — disciple making, women’s leadership (offered in cooperation with national Woman’s Missionary Union), pastoral leadership, worship leadership and worship administration. Those classes are taught online.
Whether in person or online, “we are here for the local church,” Blackwell said. “We want to see as many people as possible get equipped. God’s doing a good work through MTI. It continues to grow, and we keep adding sites.”
Allen said he’s excited about what the new site will offer for both his church and his community.
When he was first contacted about it, he was excited because the classes fit right in with what he and other church leaders were hoping to develop for discipleship at their church. He had taught for MTI in the past when he was serving in the Etowah County area.
“We’re really pushing our people toward the classes,” Allen said, noting that he hopes they will participate alongside people from other area churches.
At that site, they will offer a class on biblical interpretation starting Aug. 23, followed by an Old Testament survey class. There are 24 classes total offered on a six-year rotating basis. With each set of eight classes, students earn a diploma.
“We see this as an opportunity to serve the larger community through the facilities of our church,” Allen said.
And Blackwell said he hopes people all over will join in at a site near them, join one of the extension courses through Zoom or consider an online certificate course. Class registration is open now for the fall, and some full scholarships are available for women pursuing the women’s leadership certificate.
“We have a pretty broad spectrum of students and classes, and chances are you’ll find one that fits your needs,” he said.
For more information about MTI, visit samford.edu/go/mti or call 205-726-4055.
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