Record numbers register for classes offered by Directed Study Program

—The Brethren in Christ Church’s Directed Study Program (DSP) is experiencing its largest single-semester enrollment to date, reports Dorothy Gish, dean of the Church’s Equipping for Ministry program.

According to Gish, 108 students enrolled in one or more DSP courses for the current spring 2011 semester—a more-than 30 percent increase from the last record-high enrollment (81 students) in the spring 2009 semester.

“We are thrilled to see so many eager learners signing up for these courses,” says Gish.

Launched in 2004, the DSP offers online courses developed and taught specifically from a BIC perspective. Originally, the DSP was centered around a core of 10 required and two elective courses designed to provide intellectually rigorous, biblically-based training for pastors seeking ordination.

Recently, the DSP has expanded its curriculum to offer ministry-specific courses designed with lay leaders in mind. During the 2009–2010 academic year, the DSP offered its first ministry-specific course; today, it sponsors ten such courses on topics ranging from youth ministry and small groups to prayer and church-based conflict transformation.

“Without losing our focus on aspiring pastors, the DSP has evolved into a resource for those lay leaders looking to sharpen their pre-existing ministry skills,” confirms Gish. “In recent years, our ministry-specific courses have been among our most popular offerings.”

That trend holds true for the current spring 2011 semester. According to Gish, more than 80 percent of the currently enrolled students are not presently on the credentialing track—evidence that lay leaders are becoming more and more interested in the DSP.

Since the inception of the DSP, more than 410 people have enrolled in one or more DSP courses. Twenty-nine students have completed the 12-course sequence and graduated from the program. Fourteen of these are currently serving in a staff position at a BIC church.

Warren Hoffman, moderator of the BIC Church in North America, commends Gish and her team for establishing a program that seeks to equip all people for ministry, which is key to the health of the Church body as a whole: "As a community of faith, we want to entrust our teaching ministries to men and women whose faith, character, and skills are suited for leadership in the Church. The DSP and other offerings of Equipping for Ministry are helping us raise up and train a continually-renewed workforce for our churches and ministries worldwide."

View course offerings for the DSP's summer 2011 semester.