Posted 7/27/17 12:15pm. Article by Linda Peay.
There are many Bible stories where God uses dreams to communicate with people. In the Old Testament we see this with Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Pharaoh to name a few; in the New Testament, we read about Peter, Paul, Ananias, Zacharias, Pilate’s wife, and more. Dr. Brian Williams, BGAV field strategist and pastor of Ivy Memorial Baptist Church in Hampton, has dreamed for a long time of finding a way to equip church associates and laypeople with affordable seminary training.
In a recent interview, Williams said, “The landscape is rapidly changing. Pastor and staff are key, but God is reaching laypeople to show them what God is doing in our world. He is calling us to be in neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and more.” He further explained, “The vision of Grassroots Seminary is to provide basic theological education to people who are responding to the call of God but cannot go to seminary.”
Grassroots Seminary is not a brick-and-mortar institution. It is a mobile cohort that can be organized in any location and is designed to provide training to Christian leaders that includes classroom and hands-on ministry experience. The coursework requires a two-year commitment, and it provides instruction of basic core texts that are used in university and seminary courses. In the first year, the cohorts will gather once a week for a total of 30 class sessions. There are two semesters, with 15 90-minute sessions in each. The first semester covers Biblical Interpretation and the Story of God’s Mission in the World. The second semester continues with the Story of the Church and Christian Theology. In the second year, learners will be connected with mentors and coaches who are experienced in their particular field of interest. These connections will provide hands-on opportunities in the ministry. At the end of the two-year course, each graduate will receive a certificate of completion from the BGAV.
When Grassroots Seminary kicked off on a Thursday night in January 2017, modest promotion had been done, and Williams expected ideally to see 8-10 people. Williams was very surprised, but encouraged, to be greeted by a diverse group of 36 interested disciples! The class was not just made up of people from Ivy Memorial but also of residents from other localities. Williams split the large group into two smaller ones. Now he has a group on Mondays and another on Tuesdays. The learners represent association staff, Bible study teachers, deacons, and other people interested in delving more into biblical interpretation.
This education model can be implemented in any area. A minimum of 10 people is required to start a cohort. Tuition is $1,500, and scholarship funds are available for BGAV church members. For more information, contact Dr. Brian Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.