A recent editorial piece in Christianity Today written by Mark Galli titled “Higher Ed at a Crossroad” caught our collective attention at Eternity Bible College. The article presents the case of a particular seminary to exemplify ways Christian Colleges may provide a high quality, low cost education with an emphasis on the importance of the local church.
We strongly believe in making quality biblical education affordable and accessible to the local church, and have actually already implemented many of the suggestions Galli makes. We believe that we exist to serve the local church. Therefore, we work hard to keep our costs low so students can graduate debt-free, and be available for whatever assignment God may have for them without the ball-and-chain of debt. Tuition at Eternity is $175 per credit hour. The total cost of tuition for a 4-year bachelor’s degree at Eternity is $22,400. The average tuition per year at private non-profit colleges is $35,000. That means students can earn a 4-year degree at Eternity for about 65% of the cost of attending most other colleges for only one year!
We are assuming demand, since most of our faculty are full time ministry practitioners serving in local churches, and they know the needs of the local church. We have our entire degree program online, so that students can stay in their local church and still get a high caliber Bible education. We even offer our Introduction to Discipleship Counseling class for-credit at no cost.
We have also taken material from our college-level courses, focused on the key points, and presented them simply and attractively through our Silo Project.These self-paced mini-courses work well for those who want to learn about the Bible, theology, and ministry but don’t want to mess around with college credit. They can also be easily incorporated into Small Groups or Adult Fellowships.
All of our students are required to be actively serving in a local church. We see our mission as equipping men and women to serve in the local church, and recognize that they need to be doing it as they are getting their education, not after they get it. We work hard to avoid the artificial ‘Bible College Bubble’ by having a very small and efficient campus, no dorms (students have to live in the ‘real world’), and even encourage students to live near their church and commute to classes. While serving in their local churches, every student is required to have mentor. Through these mentor relationships we are able to assess the spiritual growth of students and learn how they are applying their knowledge in real life service to the world, through the church.
We are finding that many churches are excited about why we do what we do, and how we do it. If you are part of a church who wants to join in this shift in Biblical Higher Education, we have many ways you can partner with us.
We are thankful that Mark Galli and others are calling our attention to a growing and immense problem in biblical higher education. And we are pleased to let you know that at least one school in the U.S. is doing something about it as well!