Ministry education is usually directed toward those preparing for primary employment within the local church. Many of the church’s best ministers, however, are laity who approach their jobs with an eye toward God’s work.

The concept of Marketplace Multipliers (MM) grows out of The Wesleyan Church (TWC) and our belief in the deep impact of ministers in every domain. The Wesleyan Education Council (WE5) — comprised of our five Wesleyan institutions of higher education — are offering rich theological education accessible to those ministering in non-church settings.

Undergraduate institutions like Houghton, Kingswood, Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU), Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OKWU) and Southern Wesleyan University (SWU) are intentionally shaping their curriculum around God’s invitation to minister in all fields. Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University does the same.

“Kingswood’s curriculum supports a broad definition of ministry that includes clergy and lay vocations,” said Rev. Dr. Erik Ireland, director of Kingswood Extended at Kingswood University. “To equip students feeling called to lay vocations, we have added majors in Business as Ministry and Marketplace Ministry for our undergraduates, and a certificate in Marketplace Ministry.”

Oklahoma Wesleyan University maintains a partnership with Wesleyan church plants during summers. OKWU’s vision of developing world-changing students “inspired OKWU to develop the CROSS Program to equip hundreds of lay ministers worldwide with ministry training and the option of working towards ordination,” said Dr. Mark Weeter, provost at OKWU. “Academic calendars have been aligned for all students, traditional and adult learners, to make it easier for ministry majors to enroll in marketplace minors. Simultaneously, a new scholarship is available for non-ministry majors desiring to take a ministry minor.”

“Houghton College sees the experience of a Christian Liberal Arts education as a critical component in the MM movement. … Through a variety of experiences both in and out of the classroom, Houghton students learn about how God can be found in all kinds of work, and how we can follow God as faithful disciples and disciple-makers in the marketplace. Houghton students graduate ready to enter the workplace with confidence as thoughtful Christians, following Jesus and inviting others to follow him too,” reflected Rev. Dr. Sarah Derck, chair of biblical studies, Theology and Philosophy Department at Houghton College.

“SWU is completely convinced the present-day church needs multidisciplined thinkers and practitioners. That’s why we radically changed our curriculum in 2019 to enable all ministry students to double major,” said Rev. Dr. Mike Tapper, Division of Religion chair at Southern Wesleyan University. “It’s also why we’re seeing increased numbers of SWU students taking elective Bible, theology and ministry courses to augment their majors. The notion of Marketplace Multipliers isn’t an afterthought for us! It’s absolutely primary!”

Wesley Seminary (WS) recently launched a certificate program in Christian Ministry Formation, aimed at those in non-church careers who would benefit from honing their skills through masters-level courses but without the commitment of a full degree. Completed within one academic year (32 weeks of actual coursework), the certificate offers a deeper understanding of the following five main subjects: Bible, Intro to Theology, Church History, Cultural Contexts of Ministry and Spiritual Formation. When building the certificate, WS faculty focused learning on areas in which Marketplace Multipliers have articulated a desire to grow, learn and become more competent.

“Competence breeds confidence,” said Dr. Aaron Wilkinson, vice president of Operations and Enrollment at Wesley Seminary. “If they [students] gain additional competence, they will gain confidence, which will lead them to serve in ministry in bolder and deeper ways.”

Programs like Kingswood Extended, OKWU’s CROSS Training, and SWU’s Flex Ministry also offer formative education for those looking for flexible pathways to competency in discipleship.

Every WE5 institution is built around the notion of higher education as a formative opportunity for students, faculty and congregations. Partnering with the Marketplace Multipliers movement has helped our institutions of higher education take an innovative look at creating innovative methods to deliver deep formation.

“Over 15 years, the graduates of our college basketball program who have a clear vision for how the gospel connects to their everyday life are the ones who have consistently lived the fullest lives,” said Coach Jeff Clark of Indiana Wesleyan University. “Knowing them — and seeing how that purpose has changed their lives — gets me excited for the potential of our universities providing clear pathways for Marketplace Multipliers to learn how to integrate their faith and influence for Christ in any field.”

For more information about how The Wesleyan Church is resourcing Marketplace Multipliers, click here. And for more information about The Wesleyan Church’s Division of Education and Clergy Development (ECD), click here.

Rev. Ethan Linder is the pastor of collegians and young adults at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Indiana, and contributing editor at The Wesleyan Church’s division of Education and Clergy Development.