Shifting Emphases for Shifting Times
At the end of each year, the YTI faculty begins the process of reviewing the Institute’s programs. We ask questions like, “Are our programs meaningful to the students and their vocational goals?” “Are our methods helping our students learn?” “Is the content of our programs of such depth that they enable our students to navigate a rapidly changing ministry context?” “Are our programs accessible to the student population looking for such an education?” “Are our programs paying for themselves, and are they affordable?” Not easy questions to answer.
Currently, YTI offers a Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS) degree (formerly the Master of Applied Theology), and the Diploma of Christian Studies (DCS). In our latest analysis of current trends in church populations, seminary attendance, and cultural shifts, we have found that a broad vision is needed for the survival, growth, and meaningful contribution of our Institute to the life and health of the church-at-large.
To that end, YTI is shifting its emphases. The MATS degree is being moved to the front of our educational programming. It will be offered primarily as evening courses and intensives in order to facilitate the schedules of our students with families. The MATS degree will be a 40-hour degree, with five different major concentrations: Biblical Studies, Theology, Christian Ministry, Theology & the Arts, and Adventure Studies. In the next few years, we will be offering Greek and Hebrew language alternatives for the Biblical Studies concentration. The Master of Divinity degree continues to be an important component of YTI’s offerings, especially for its students that seek to meet specific denominational ordination requirements.
Just as important as our degree programs are the training programs we provide through our Local Community Learning Initiatives, or LCLIs. These initiatives cover such topics as biblical studies on the “Passion Week” or “Learning to Love Leviticus.” The program engages pastors, church leaders, and church members, as well as interested community members. These classes are offered free of charge to the attendees. We will provide many more of these courses in the new year. One new addition for our 2019-2020 program is our Yellowstone Scholar Intern program. Stay tuned for more information!
A variant of the LCLIs are the courses in our Bozeman Summer Session. This year our focus is on the arts. Our first week offering is “Tolkien’s World,” a multi faculty view of the beloved author’s life and work. Our second week is a course taught by Ms. Carol Mealer titled “Christian Art in the Roman Empire: AD 100-600.” Our final offering, a practical course led by Rev. Tracie Jernigan, is titled “Creative Arts and the Church: Worship, Discipleship and More!” Additionally, we will have an “Artist-in-Residence” for all three weeks. Rev. Kurt Caddy, Director of Ministries at Southwestern Baptist University in Bolivar, MO, is an accomplished artist and book illustrator, and will be available to the Bozeman community throughout his residency. Quite a summer!
On a final note I look forward to hearing from many of you, our supporters and readers this new year. YTI thrives because of your passion and faithfulness!
Grace & Peace,
Dr. Jay Smith, President
Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics