Q: Dr. Schmidt, you served as pastor of Kentwood Community (Wesleyan) Church for many years. What take away from that ministry has influenced your role as vice president of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University?

I firmly believe that the local church is where the action is and provides the best “living laboratory” for ministry experience! Our whole design as a seminary highlights going to students where they serve versus asking them to have an extended residency on our campus. We believe the best learning occurs while remaining engaged in the local church and with assignments that are tailored to one’s ministry context. 

Q: How is that mission being fulfilled in practical ministry?

The Board of Wesley Seminary at IWU has prioritized the formation of partnerships with what we call Teaching Churches and Teaching Districts. More than just discussing it, we’re investing resources in tangible steps toward it. This commitment to partnership is coupled with serving church leaders which are included in, but not limited to, our student body. 

Q:  Does the Seminary facilitate second-career ministers and bi-vocational ministers as well?

That describes many of our students, but several courses are designed so they can be audited for just $100 by those who are not registered students with our seminary, and registration can begin with a simple e-mail to Tenley.horner@indwes.edu. So, a seminary class becomes a conference or a seminar opportunity for life-long learners.

Q: Give us an example of such seminars.

Two such partnership steps that are wonderful “seminar” or audit possibilities are coming up soon on the calendar:

Missional Church Multiplication takes place May 16-22 onsite in Grand Rapids, MI.

It will be taught by Dr. Phil Stevenson, who led two congregations he served as senior pastor to parent seven new churches. Combined with his experience as a district superintendent, as director of Evangelism & Church Growth for The Wesleyan Church, and as a consultant, he has the practice-tested knowledge that benefits anyone involved in planting churches, whether that involvement is in district leadership, in a church that envisions parenting other churches, as a planter, or as a member of a launch team.

At the center of this course will be visits to multiple church plants with differing communities, congregations and leadership approaches . . . and an opportunity to learn from those who lead them. Peter Wagner boldly claimed “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” – and we want to practically equip leaders for engagement in it.

Church Laboratory at 12Stone takes place June 6-11, onsite in Atlanta, GA. The 12Stone teaching team for this course will be led by Dr. Dan Reiland, executive pastor, and includes Senior Pastor Kevin Myers and other pastors who lead various ministry dimensions of 12Stone Church.

This course provides the opportunity to see how one healthy and growing congregation is participating in the mission of God and being the people of God in their local context. The class will meet so that students can observe and participate in the weekend ministries of the church  and is designed to engage each student in the realities of leadership and ministry within the context of a missionally-productive church.

Q: So, the Seminary’s emphasis is on real-life, real-world training?

Absolutely! These courses are a tangible way for us to demonstrate the value we place on the local church and to affirm the commitment of many pastors to sustainable ministry through life-long learning. So we not only partner with churches and districts, but partner with pastors and ministry leaders.