“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; and to goodness, knowledge… Be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall…” 2 Peter 1:5, 10
August 16, 2012 will be an historic date in the SoldOut Movement – marking the day the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education approved our application for the founding of the International College of Christian Ministries (ICCM). We received the “Verification of Exempt Status,” which will allow the ICCM to grant Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral Degrees in Ministry according to “our” Biblical doctrines and standards. This “dream become reality” is a miracle brought forth by our God answering our prayers and honoring countless hours of effort by many of us, especially Tim Kernan and Chris Adams. Already, the news of this monumental event has spread throughout the world, as requests for applications have come from as far away as France, Brazil and even India!
To share my vision of this “school of prophets” (2 Kings 2:3, 5) let me begin by expressing what the ICCM is not. The ICCM is not a substitute for Jesus’ plan to train ministers by walking with them side-by-side for a period of years. (Mark 3:13) The SoldOut Movement will not “sell-out” by becoming a “cookie-cutter school” to “mass produce” Evangelists and Women’s Ministry Leaders. I believe “our” Evangelists and Women’s Ministry Leaders are the best trained ministers in all of Christendom. As a movement, we must continue the steady, consistent yet gradual multiplication of quality ministry people through one-on-one discipleship. (2 Timothy 2:2)
To understand our need for the ICCM, Tim Kernan wrote the following “program description” in our application to the California Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education:
“The European degree system, i.e. Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate, has been one of the most successful European cultural exports in history. The doctorate (Latin: docio – I teach) originated in Medieval Europe as a license to teach (Latin: licentia docendi) at a Medieval university. Its roots can be traced to the early church when the term “doctor” referred to the apostles, church fathers and other Christian authorities who taught and interpreted the Bible. This academic program is now present in almost every part of the world – even in China, India and Saudi Arabia, countries which are not viewed as being “pro-western.” This degree system has been fully embraced globally, almost without question, as the most legitimate indication of competency and qualification in a professional field.“
“…When religious organizations – as is now the case with the City of Angels International Christian Church – have sent out ministers trained in less formal, non-seminary type settings… to plant churches and evangelize the nations, they regularly face suspicion and legal obstacles. These have come largely from… established religious leaders of that nation, the missionaries’ families, and even embassies and foreign government visa departments, who question the lack of formally-recognized academic training provided to missionaries.“
“The truth is that our “appointed ministers” – Evangelists, Women’s Ministry Leaders, Shepherds and Administrators – are superbly trained in Christian Ministry. What we have lacked hitherto is the vehicle to accredit the robust and dynamic course of study that our leaders already undertake.”
As an evangelist and missionary, Tim’s words ring very true to me. Though this article’s brevity does not allow us to fully detail what candidates for the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees must attain, let me briefly give a synopsis of the requirements:
The Bachelor’s Degree will include 100 certified hours of Staff Lessons, 100 certified hours of Small Group Leadership Lessons, completing 100 certified hours of leading Small Group Bible Discussions in homes, businesses or on campuses, 100 certified hours of “personal mentoring time” focused on ministry, doctrine and life, specifically marriage, personal finances, and any other relevant area required to be “above reproach,” as well as to have an excellent grasp of the Scriptures and the work of the ministry. Written and/or oral exams will be administered. All of this work will be “accredited” as a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ministry to a disciple upon his/her appointment to the Kingdom Office of either Evangelist or Women’s Ministry Leader. We will also award a BA in Ministry to others who fulfill all of these requirements, though they may not aspire to become an Evangelist or Women’s Ministry Leader.
The Master’s Degree will require another 100 certified hours of Staff Lessons, as well as serving a one year minimum “residency” in the office of Evangelist, Women’s Ministry Leader, Shepherd or Administrator; completion of a reading list that will include such books as: Introducing the new Testament: A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey by Powell; The Search for the Ancient Order (Volumes 1-4) by West; and several other well-known books. In addition, of course, exams either oral and/or written will follow. There will also be a required 30 page thesis on a topic approved by the President or Vice President of the College. Lastly, a proficiency in a second language of Koine Greek, Hebrew or any modern language will be required.
Our doctorate level degree will not be known as a “Ph.D.” (Doctor of Philosophy), but like many seminaries, we will call this degree a “D.Min.” (Doctor of Ministry). For the D.Min., one must hold a Master’s Degree from the ICCM; another reading list will be required; a minimum 100 page thesis written in “book form” (ready to be published) must be completed; and one must serve effectively in an overseeing role over a multitude of churches for at least three years. This degree will be approved upon defense of one’s thesis before the Central Leadership Council of the SoldOut Discipling Movement.
What cannot be over-emphasized is that all of the ICCM degrees accredit the already excellent program of training, discipling and study that our movement’s leaders presently undertake. In other words, it is not a “new” program of study, but it recognizes the work already done to be called an Evangelist, Women’s Ministry Leader, Shepherd, Administrator, “Overseeing Evangelist” and “Missions Evangelist.”
Also, it is important to note that the theses which will be written by the Master’s and Doctoral candidates will become a very exciting literary resource for the movement. The theses will provide a flow of excellent studies in areas that will be of importance to the movement such as: evangelism of Muslim countries, Christian fundraising, Women’s Ministry, Children’s Ministry, etc. These studies will help us to understand better the Bible teachings in these areas, and also, they will provide the foundation for possible books that could be published for and by the movement.
Presently, application forms are being prepared and will be available on the City of Angels International Christian Church website. (CAICC.net) The tuition for each of the three (four month) trimesters of a calendar year will be $2,000 per trimester. This amount is needed to cover all the costs associated with such an institution: the hiring of an administrator to keep pertinent detailed records for each student as required by the State of California, flying in qualified teachers, scholarships, travel and financial aid for foreign students, as well as the rental of facilities. The ICCM will grant full and partial scholarships to deserving applicants. Of course, financial aid from one’s local church may also be a source of money to pay for tuition. If one already holds the office of Evangelist or Women’s Ministry Leader in our movement, one will be qualified to receive a BA in Ministry at the GLC in August. However, to cover all expenses such as a cap and gown, a degree certificate, etc., a small fee of $300 will need to be paid.
The ICCM emblem will have a silhouette of a crown of thorns reminding us of our Crown of Thorns Project to spread the message of Christ to all nations in this generation. The motto on our emblem is Venia et Veritas – “Grace and Truth” – the Apostle John’s description of Jesus. (John 1:14) Since the universally recognized color for theology and ministry degrees is scarlet, we have selected “our colors” to be scarlet and gold: Scarlet to represent the blood of Christ; Gold to represent the purity of our life and doctrine. Lastly, MMXII (2012) will mark the year of the founding of the ICCM. Obviously, the ICCM is a “work in progress.”
As for the leadership of the International College of Christian Ministries, Chris Adams will serve as the Vice President, as well as the Dean of Academics, as he received his BA in History from Yale University and his MS in Special Education from Long Island University. I will serve as President having a BA from the University of Florida in Speech Communication, as well as formally studying at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Harding Graduate School of religion. Elena McKean will serve as the Dean of Women. She received her BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida. With 36 years of full-time ministry, as well as being born in Cuba, Elena will provide great insights into the challenges of building a college of diversity.
Michael Kirchner, who serves as the Administrator of the SoldOut Movement, will also serve as the Chairman of the Board. Michael earned a BA in Finance from the University of Iowa and an MBA at the University of Minnesota. Also serving on the board are Andrew Smellie and Helen Sullivan. Andrew received a BS in Human Biology and a Masters of Health Administration (MHA) from Cornell University. Helen obtained a BA in Economics and Spanish, as well as a MA in Education with a special emphasis on Second Language Acquisition – all from Stanford University.
It is the goal of the leadership of the International College of Christian Ministries to formally grant the first degrees at the 2013 Global Leadership Conference on Sunday, August 4, 2013. Let us all “stand in awe of [our] God” for this amazing new opportunity to teach the Scriptures. As there were schools of prophets formally led by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:5, 19:19-24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:3, 5), let us all pray that God will use this effort to propel His prophets – His missionaries – “into all the nations!” (Mark 16:15) And to God be all the glory!