The Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern College offers certifications in several ministry-related areas. Certifications require just four courses of $125 each — a total of $500. These courses will give you a solid theological understanding to support your work, as well as practical knowledge from experts. All courses are taught by instructors who have years of on-the-ground experience in their particular ministry area.
Gain tools to make a big impact in your ministry area and interact with other Christians from around the country who do the same kind of ministry you do!
Cost and Dates
You can complete all the courses you need for certification in just one year.
Each $125 course is 6 weeks long, although some programs include a 12-week practicum component in place of the 4th course. Courses and practicums will be taught on a yearly rotation.
2020 course schedule:
March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
June 1 – July 17, 2020 (Spiritual Formation only)
August 24 – October 2, 2020
October 12 – November 20, 2020
Jump to an overview of:
Certification in Children’s Ministry –
- IFDC110 – Teaching Biblical Faith to Children | Not Currently Enrolling
A consideration of pedagogical methods for the church as it encounters the biblical message of the Old and New Testaments with special emphasis on understanding theological implications for children.
- IFDC120 – Teaching Theology to Children | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
A survey of issues in theology and their implications for teaching and learning in the church, with special emphasis on understanding theological implications for children.
- IFDC130 – Nurturing Spiritual Development in the Lives of Children | Not Currently Enrolling
Historical, theological, and philosophical foundations of Christian education with attention to ways people develop and learn across the age span and how teaching takes place in the church.
- IFDC140 – Children’s Ministries as Leading Spiritual Education | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
An examination of the role of the educator in supporting the faith development of children in the congregation including pedagogies, administrative and leadership issues, and a theology of childhood.
Certification in Spiritual Formation –
- IFDC220 – Spiritual Disciplines for Personal and Parish Renewal | Not Currently Enrolling
The main focus of this course is spiritual formation and the ways that spiritual temperament and personality inform engagement of the spiritual disciplines for personal and parish renewal. Participants will define an initial plan for spiritual formation in a congregational setting.
- IFDC210 – Teaching for Biblical Faith for Spiritual Formation | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
The focus of this class is on ways that we might promote a formational engagement of the Scriptures for personal and parish enrichment through the ways that we teach our Biblical faith. In this course, you’ll learn how to engage the Christian meta-narrative and its key themes and motifs in ways that facilitate spiritual formation in our churches.
- IFDC230 – The Ministry of Spiritual Direction and Companionship | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
Affirming the role of authentic community and companionship in discipleship and spiritual formation, this course will work to define “spiritual direction and companionship” – in both its one-on-one form as well as “group” expressions. A variety of resources (including readings from Christian classics) will serve to illuminate key elements of and considerations surrounding such relationships, including: listening skills, psychological awareness, historical background (including formative Wesleyan spirituality), the differences between direction and counseling and coaching, and ethical considerations. Upon completion of the course, participants should have a clear understanding of the nature of this means of spiritual guidance as well as the formal processes involved in becoming a certified spiritual director.
- IFDC250 – Practicum in Spiritual Formation | Not currently enrolling
Supervised field education in a project related to “spiritual formation” in the setting of a local congregation. Successful completion of this 12-week course will demand that participants demonstrate an understanding of project management and bring that understanding to bear in the definition, defense, execution, and critical evaluation of a short-term program/activity to be conducted in a local church or small group setting. (Prerequisites: IFDC210, 220, 230)
Certification in Evangelism
- IFDC310 – Teaching Biblical Faith: Evangelism | Not Currently Enrolling
A study of the biblical message of the Old and New Testaments and the relation of the Bible to teaching Evangelism.
- IFDC320 – Teaching Theology: Evangelism | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
Theological foundations for the ministry of Evangelism, empowering laity as theologians and exploring Christian doctrines.
- IFDC330 – Evangelism as Congregational Outreach and Growth | Not currently enrolling
Examination of the role of the specialist in Evangelism in equipping the congregation to tell the Christian story to those outside the church, to seek a response to the Christian message and to assimilate newcomers into the life and ministry of the church. Areas of concern will include communication theory and skills, outreach methods and approaches, and models for the assimilation of new members.
- IFDC340 – Evangelism as Congregational Care and Nurture | Not currently enrolling
Consideration of the ministry of evangelism through the care of members by such means as pastoral care, visitation, support and self-help groups, and the growth and empowerment of laypeople in faith and discipleship.
Certification in Christian Care and Counseling –
- IFDC410 – The Church and Counseling: A Biblical Perspective | Not Currently Enrolling
This course is designed to show that God’s Word is our guide for good living and by reading and studying His Word we can find that God addresses every concern we have in life. In the church, there is a lifetime support system to love and care for us and the whole community of believers and nonbelievers.
- IFDC420 – The Theology of Christian Care and Counseling | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
In this course we will look at the biblical themes of sin, suffering, exodus, sacrifice, law, kingdom and exile and how they develop in Scripture over the course of redemptive history. Looking at counseling topics such as interpersonal ministry, conversation, discipleship, personal struggles and crisis will also be studied.
- IFDC430 – Understanding People: A Ministry to God’s People in All Stages of Life | Not Currently Enrolling
To truly understand people, we must combine the rigorous formal study of developmental issues with our own observations and thorough study of Scripture. In this course we will seek to enhance Christian care and counseling skills to work with people in different developmental stages to get the most out of life in each stage.
- IFDC440 – A Look at Life’s Issues | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
God sent His Son to show us how to deal with the problems of this world. We will consider how to help people with prominent issues – anger, anxiety, depression, guilt and forgiveness, loneliness…developmental issues…interpersonal issues, such as abuse and neglect, conflict and relationships…identity issues – self-esteem, grief…family issues…control issues…
Certification in Rural Ministry –
- IFDC910 – Engaging the Bible in Rural Ministry | Not currently enrolling
The Bible is, in many ways, a rural text. It relates to people with industrial, agrarian, and small-town leanings. Even Jesus, often present in urban settings, teaches using small town and country metaphors. This course encourages participants to view scripture as a means of fostering new life and ministry in rural settings beyond Sunday school understandings of the scripture. The course includes audio lectures, readings, course postings, a project which allows for application of the material learned in the course.
- IFDC920 – Practical Theology in Rural Communities | Not currently enrolling
This course engages both the terms “rural” and “practical theology” in ways that allow for application and inspiration of the Holy Spirit in rural ministry. As rural life looks very different depending upon context, this course allows for application which provides fewer solid answers, and more a toolbox for engaging in ministry. The course includes audio lectures, readings, course postings, a project which allows for application of the material learned in the course.
- IFDC930 – Rural Relationships and Rural Ministry | Not Currently Enrolling
This class provides students opportunities to enhance their affinity for ministering in rural settings. It will provide immersion experience in rural settings including an examination of the cultural dynamics of rural life and the church, students will be encouraged to develop approaches that bridge those differences and create positive connections.
- IFDC940 – Transforming Rural Places Through Congregational and Community Partnerships | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
Students will examine best practices used by congregations that have successfully launched and grown ministries in rural settings.
Certification in Christian Education –
- IFDC1120 – Theology and Christian Education | Not currently enrolling
This course seeks to engage the importance of theological education in the local church by working through both the various tenants of Christian theology and their influence and impact on teaching and learning in the local church. The course includes audio lectures, readings, course postings, a project which allows for application of the material learned in the course.
- IFDC1110 – Biblical Faith and Christian Education | Not currently enrolling
How we understand scripture impacts how we teach the scripture. This course engage an understanding of the Bible as a living document that allows for many interpretations and means of engagement. Alongside this, several different types of teaching and learning are offered as a means of engaging what “Bible Study” and “biblical faith” look like in a multitude of venues. The course includes audio lectures, readings, course postings, a project which allows for application of the material learned in the course.
- IFDC1130 – Teaching and Learning in Christian Education | Not Currently Enrolling
Education with attention to the ways people develop and learn across the age span and how teaching takes place in the church
- IFDC1140 – Administering Christian Education Programs | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
An examination of the role of the educator in ministry through administration and leadership in local church education
Certification in Ministry with People with Disabilities –
- IFDC1210 – Disability, the Bible, and the Church | Not Currently Enrolling
This course will explore how the Bible provides us with examples of people with disabilities were viewed in the Old Testament and then we will take a look at how those with disabilities were welcomed in a community.
- IFDC1220 – Theology of Ministry with People with Disabilities | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
In this course we will expand on what we started learning in course one of this certification process. Through this course, students will be provided a theological foundation for the practice of ministry, relating theology to relevant issues of disability and faith development. Students will be engaged in theological reflection relating to tradition, experience and exploring the theology of disability.
- IFD1230 – Disability Awareness | August 24 – October 2, 2020
This course covers the nature of disabilities through the lifespan. It includes the history of disability, theories, laws, policies, attitudes and resources.
- IFDC1240 – Ministry with People with Disabilities | October 12 – November 20, 2020
As the fourth course in the Ministry with People with Disabilities certification, we will add one more layer of what it looks like to create an open, welcome, and creating hospitality to those with disabilities and their families. We will look at creating meaningful and effective ministries for those with disabilities and their families.
Certification in Women’s Ministries –
- IFDC1310 – Biblical Faith Regarding Women | August 24 – October 2, 2020
In the scriptural foundation for this certificate program, we will look at the stories and roles of women in scripture. We’ll also take a look at how those roles might have changed through the biblical millennia and think about why that might have been. And finally, we’ll see if those roles relate to the roles of women today!
- IFDC1320 – Theology Regarding Women | March 16 – May 1, 2020 (No class during Holy Week)
In this survey of theological issues for women’s ministries, we’ll explore how theology reflects and supports the equality of women’s ministries, as well as investigate some varieties of women’s theologies.
- IFD1330 – Practical Women’s Ministries I | August 24 – October 2, 2020
In this course, we’ll explore the needs and interests, gifts and abilities of women in a variety of cultural settings and the ministries that can relate to those. We’ll look at factors such as, perhaps, generational differences and similarities or tools for leadership development. And we will explore six areas of practical interest for women’s ministries with information and facilitation from women leaders in those areas.
- IFDC1340 – Practical Women’s Ministries II | October 12 – November 20, 2020
In this course, we’ll explore more needs, interests, gifts and abilities of women in a variety of cultural settings and the ministries that can relate to those. We will explore six areas of practical interest for women’s ministries with information and facilitation from women leaders in those areas.