About six years ago, Talbot created an innovative program that gives students an accelerated path into ministry — allowing them to earn a bachelor's and master's in preaching and pastoral ministry in just five years. The main goal was to give our students solid biblical knowledge, practical ministry skills and spiritual growth so that they are prepared to lead in ministry in churches, missions and nonprofits. Every Bible class includes a spiritual formation assignment. The degree is both intellectual and practical, with internships in the local church throughout the program.
We study and grow in community as we try to create a family atmosphere. We have two retreats per year, regular coffees and dinners together, and weekly classes with just those in the PPM program to discuss relevant ministry themes. This year we are examining the shepherd theme, and learning how to cultivate a shepherd’s heart for leading, caring and protecting the sheep.
One quick story of our students and graduates: One of our recent graduates was hired at Saddleback Church. He began to ask, “How do you do ministry during the Covid-19 pandemic?” It must be wholistic: both spiritual and physical. One of his ministries is at Saddleback Church’s food bank. In one afternoon in just three hours, besides giving food to those who are struggling financially due to Covid-19, he personally led 15 people to the Lord. He went a second afternoon and once again handed out food and led another 15 people to the Lord. He went a third afternoon and trained lay people how to share the gospel and how to pray for healing. Those he trained led people to the Lord and saw people physically healed after they prayed. In the last food bank, they gave food to 750 cars that came through the line; 150 of the people in the cars gave their life to the Lord upon hearing the gospel message. Nearly 20%! He is now working on following up and discipling these new believers.
The future is exciting for this program:
- In fall 2021, in addition to our current PPM program, we are planning to launch four new 5-year advanced degree programs in Christian ministries, Bible exposition (English Bible), New Testament and Old Testament. All of these degrees will be five years for both bachelor’s and master’s degree.
- We are growing; each semester we are increasing the number of students in our program. This fall we recruited seven new students, including a 20-year Marine veteran who ministers in a nonprofit helping vets with PTSD.
- We have a strong relationship with the National School Project, a ministry that exists to train high school students to reach their public high schools with the gospel. More than 95,000 public high school students have heard the gospel through this ministry. We hope that many of these high school leaders will come to Biola to get further training for ministry. Many of our current students are part-time staff and leaders in the National School Project.
- Talbot has been highly involved in the Oikonomia Network and Faith, Work and Economics for years. An exciting new development is that we are taking these principles and incorporating them throughout the undergraduate Bible program. Over 4,000 of our undergraduate students will be infused with these principles because all undergraduates take 10 Bible classes.
- Pastors conference coming Spring 2021 (depending on Covid-19). Just before the lockdown, Biola had an afternoon gathering of pastors and leaders with Pastor David Platt.
The future is exciting at Biola and Talbot. I’m hoping that our program triples or quadruples in size in the next four years. I’m excited about the impact these students will have in the church for decades to come!