Minister of education training program hits milestone
Jun 1, 2014
By CAROLYN NICHOLS
Reporter

Bruce Raley, LifeWay’s director of Church Education Ministry, challenges minister of education grads after their completion of the theological education training program sponsored by the Florida Baptist Convention’s Church Health Group. FBC photo by Michael Duncan
PENSACOLA (FLBaptist)—The largest class in the 10-year history of the Minister of Education Training Program graduated May 1 in Pensacola. Families and friends of the 42 graduates celebrated the milestone at a dinner and ceremony in the gymnasium of Greater Little Rock Baptist Church.

 
Eugene McCormick, team strategist with the African American Church Development Ministries of the Florida Baptist Convention’s Church Health Group, said the Pensacola graduates were his “most enthusiastic class ever.” He attributed their zeal to the size and commitment of the class.
 
“When you have that many students coming together every month for 19 months, they get to know and interact with each other. They build relationships and together they put what they are learning into practice,” he said.
 
The Pensacola graduates also honored McCormick during the graduation ceremony by presenting him a plaque from “friends for life” in the class. He was called “our mentor, friend and facilitator.”
 
McCormick has led the training program since its inception in 2003 when the training program was offered by the Jacksonville Baptist Association. His first class there boasted 40 graduates. Over the past decade the training program, now offered through the Florida Baptist Convention, has grown to include classes in Tampa, Pompano Beach, Pensacola and Jacksonville.
 
According to McCormick, the training program is designed for Sunday school teachers and directors, deacons and “mostly volunteer” ministers of education in churches. The course’s six modules explore the biblical and theological foundations of education, and the minister of education’s roles as educator, executor, equipper, enabler and evaluator. Classes meet once a month for 19 months.
 
The 2014 Pensacola graduating class included students from 10 area churches. The training for lay leaders is not limited to those from Southern Baptist churches, McCormick said.
 
“Those from outside the Convention get an introduction to Southern Baptist education and they get to associate with fellow students whose churches are part of the Convention,” he said.
 
Bruce Raley, director of the Church Education Ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources, spoke to the graduates during the commencement celebration. He previously served 10 years as teaching pastor of First Baptist Church in Panama City. McCormick introduced Raley as “a great partner in strengthening the educational ministry in our churches.”
 
Raley outlined top priorities for ministers of education as they work to accomplish two goals for churches: reaching people for Christ and maturing people in Christ.
 
The two goals rarely go together automatically, he said, but they should “run parallel” like train tracks.
 
“We have to run on both (tracks) and the church’s education ministry is the “crossties that keep them together,” he said. 
 
Raley said the responsibilities of a minister of education may be gathered into “three buckets.” A church educator must develop leaders, train others in ministry and then grow the ministry by multiplication instead addition. A minister of education must launch new groups in the church. 
 
“For every new group started, you will reach 10 people within a year, and three of those will be engaged with the Gospel for the first time,” he said. 
 
Raley said an education leader must also “control the content” in groups, making sure “your people are studying the Word of God.”
 
He encouraged the graduates to continue their training. To ensure their continued reading, LifeWay presented each graduate with a three books: Transformational Groups (Geiger, Stetzer), Transformational Discipleship (Geiger, Kelley, Nation), and Seasons of a Leader’s Life (Iorg), along with their certificates of completion.
 
“You are here because God has called you,” he said. “You are closing out this training, but we as educators have to be life-long learners.”
Among the graduating class in Pensacola is James Myatt who serves as deacon ministry leader and Sunday school teacher at Greater Little Rock Baptist Church. 
 
The Tennessee native retired from the Navy in 1985 and worked as a real estate agent. Myatt said he valued fellowship with his classmates, some of whom he had met briefly in other conferences, but now knows on a first-name basis.
 
“We helped each other along the way. It was good to study how people interact with each other and how to be prepared to pass the baton of leadership to those behind you,” he said.
 
Donna Curry, a member of Damascus Missionary Baptist Church, is leader of the church’s women’s ministry that involves about 100 in workshops, Bible studies, community events and counseling. The graduate of Michigan State University in East Lansing who retired 17 years ago from Exxon Mobile, said the training often related to her prior work in a business setting, especially in the areas of leadership and training workers.
 
“We have to affirm those who don’t have an understanding of the organization, and don’t know how accountability leads to success. Training opens our eyes to new things. Without education, we continue to do the same things,” she said.
Curry hopes to continue her education in the second phase of the minister of education training.
 
“I want to continue studying with life-long learners. The networking is so valuable because we are working for the same goals. I think this is what the Body of Christ is supposed to be.”
 
For more information on Minister of Education Training, call 800-226-8584, ext. 3035, or e-mail emccormick@flbaptist.org.

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