by Jonathan Culley, Elder at Covenant Church in Palm Bay FL
Covenant Church became a LAMP Seminary learning site in September 2011 because we realized that as we discipled and developed more people, we had no seminary-level education options available for rising leaders who were called to pastoral ministry. There are several factors that make LAMP a much more attractive seminary option for our church: (1) It costs only 10% of the total tuition bill of a typical “brick-and-mortar” seminary; (2) It enables our leaders to keep their current jobs and not have to move or uproot their families; (3) It keeps our rising leaders in our own church so they can continue contributing their time and talent as they train for pastoral ministry; (4) It enables people who have no Bachelor’s degree to receive a the same MDiv-level education as all other students; (5) as new leaders are called by God into pastoral ministry over time, we can add them right away to our existing cohort because of the modular structure of the curriculum; and (6) because the study cohorts are embedded in the local church and led by active Pastors and Elders, the students receive a much more “hands on” education, especially if the church can bring them on as staff members or pastoral interns while they are in seminary.
So far, we have had one student graduate, Ransom Kent (Summer 2017). Within a few months, he was examined and ordained in the Central Florida Presbytery, becoming our Presbytery’s first Teaching Elder with a LAMP degree. The Exam Committee Chairman said that his examination was “one of the best they had seen.” After serving for a few months as our church’s Family Ministry Director, Ransom was called by a young Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP) church in Columbia, SC, in January 2019. He is almost a year into his new pastorate there and is doing very well.
Currently, we have three students in the MDiv program. Brian is currently our Director of Small Groups & Care and is due to graduate within a year. Scott is our new Director of Student Ministries and just started this past year. Adam is a rising leader in another church and just joined the cohort as well. All three of these MDiv students are sensing a call to pastoral ministry and are actively serving their churches while they train. We also received two new female students, Elise and Leslie, this year who have joined our LAMP cohort and are working toward their Master of Arts in Biblical and Theological Studies. These women are already using the training they are receiving to lead women’s discipleship groups and teach Bible classes in our Christian secondary school.
If your church is looking for a way to train and prepare leaders for pastoral and teaching ministries, I highly recommend LAMP Seminary.