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Midwestern Seminary Announces For The Church Cohorts, a New Graduate-Level Program Training Students Together For the Church

Posted May 19, 2022 by Brett Fredenberg

Midwestern Seminary has announced For The Church Cohorts, a new one-year training program designed to equip like-minded residential seminary students through enhanced discipleship, focused study, and intentional community.

FTC Cohorts exist for first year graduate-level students who desire to enhance their academic studies through hands-on ministry experience in one of five areas of focus: Timothy Track, Biblical Counseling, Fusion Masters, Women in Scholarship, and Spurgeon Fellows.

Beginning in the fall of 2022, each cohort will gather weekly on Midwestern Seminary’s campus for fellowship, presentations and discussion on topics related to their ministry fields, and to learn from world-class faculty and ministry leaders.

Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen reflected, “I could not be more excited to announce this new initiative, nor could I be more encouraged by the donor support and initial student interest we’ve received. For the Church Cohorts is the perfect combination. It combines substantial scholarships for our students with cohort community and life-on-life mentorship by our stellar faculty. And it all fits squarely within our institutional mission to be for the church.”

Allen went on to say, “Midwestern Seminary is committed to continually ask how we most effectively serve our students and, ultimately, the churches they will go on to serve. It’s clear our generation needs more ministry formation, not less. For the Church Cohorts enables the seminary to invest in these students more intentionally, and for these students to more deeply benefit from their seminary experience.”

Cohort members will enjoy time with faculty and other key ministry leaders who are eager to invest in them both personally and academically. They will also gain invaluable experience by leading discussions, presenting on ministry topics, managing events, and serving local churches.

All cohort participants will receive a 50% tuition scholarship and are eligible to earn up to 12 hours of course credit through the program. Cohort scholarships are in addition to the discounted SBC tuition rate.

Jordan Wilbanks, the director of church partnerships at Midwestern Seminary, said of the new cohorts, “The FTC Cohort model is based on our Timothy Track program, with which we have found enormous success.”

“Ultimately, we believe this is the best way to train for ministry,” he continued. “The level of community-building, faculty investment, and institutional buy-in toward the student experience at Midwestern Seminary is extraordinary. This means that participants in each cohort will be known by their faculty leaders, will have an immediate avenue to genuine and long-lasting friendships, and will have invaluable opportunities to learn and grow as a leader.”

Each cohort will be led by local experts in the field and focus on a particular area of interest for residential graduate students.

Reflecting on the growth of the Timothy Track, Wilbanks said, “The Timothy Track program will continue to prioritize practical experience in the local church setting. Beginning this fall, we’re expanding the Timothy Track so even more people can benefit from the program.”

The Biblical Counseling Cohort, involving counseling experts from the Kansas City-based headquarters of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, will help to comprehensively equip students in the Master of Arts in Biblical Counseling program at Midwestern Seminary. This cohort will be led by Dale Johnson, associate professor of biblical counseling at Midwestern Seminary and the executive director of ACBC.

Speaking to the benefit of these cohorts, Johnson said, “Discipleship happens in relationship. Time with students is a premium and knowing their stories helps me train them for church ministry with greater precision and purpose. These students will have the opportunity to build relationships with faculty that endure throughout their time in ministry.”

The Fusion Masters Cohort, in association with the International Mission Board, will come alongside churches to help train future missionaries in the missionary task, culminating their experience with a summer mission assignment and qualification for long-term service with the IMB. This cohort will be led by Joe Allen III, assistant professor of missions at Midwestern Seminary and former missionary with the IMB.

As an encouragement to prospective participants, Allen III said of this cohort, “My wife and I were part of a small group during seminary that proved to be one of the most formative spiritual experiences of that season and a great source of ongoing encouragement. I have a similar vision for the members of my cohort, that through their participation, they will forge lifelong friendships that stimulate greater devotion to the Lord and passion for the lost.”

The Women in Scholarship Cohort will be led by Leslie Umstattd and Christy Allen. Umstattd has served in a variety of ministry roles for over 20 years, including teaching Bible studies, developing curriculum, and leading women’s retreats. She currently serves on the instructional faculty at Midwestern Seminary, where she received her Doctorate in Educational Ministry, and as the women’s ministry leader at her local church.

Allen served as a missionary with the International Mission Board in South Asia for 14 years. During her time overseas, she wrote and translated two books on the sanctity of life, developed discipleship curriculum, and hosted several conferences for women. In addition to her extensive training and experience in trauma healing, Allen received her ThM from Dallas Theological Seminary, and enjoys writing and teaching on the topics of missions and evangelism.

Speaking to women interested in this fall cohort, Umstattd said, “I am thoroughly excited about co-leading an FTC Cohort this fall. This type of experience provides opportunity for deep conversation and relationship. This is where life on life happens and where we can have long lasting impact on future ministry.”

Allen agreed as she stated, “I am also thrilled to be co-leading this cohort for women because I believe transformation happens in relationships. We want to enhance the academic experience of female students by providing mentorship and creating a safe community where they can connect with each other and connect the truth with life. My prayer is that the women in our cohort will feel seen, known, and loved, and in turn, have greater capacity to love others well.”

The Spurgeon Fellows Cohort, affiliated with the Spurgeon Center at Midwestern Seminary, will give participants full access to the Spurgeon Library, the premier center of Spurgeon scholarship, housing nearly 6,000 volumes from Charles Spurgeon’s personal library. This cohort will be led by Geoff Chang, assistant professor of historical theology at Midwestern Seminary and curator of the Spurgeon Library.

In anticipation for his fall cohort, Chang said, “As a former vocational pastor and current lay pastor, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to invest more intentionally in seminarians who are getting ready to launch into ministry. I’ve always believed that church history is the pastor’s best friend, and my goal for this cohort is that we would be able to learn from those who have come before us through focused reading and discussion.”

While five FTC Cohorts will launch in the fall of 2022, Midwestern Seminary plans to continue to expand this vision to even more disciplines and more cohort options in the coming years.

“Over the next couple of years, we envision several additional cohorts which would serve students with a variety of interests beyond those available this fall,” Wilbanks stated.

“At the bottom line, our hope is that this enhanced level of investment in our students better equips them for their ministry callings. The fellowship and community present within these cohorts will undoubtedly serve these students in the future. We fully anticipate that the friendships formed within these cohorts will be instrumental in the lives of our students for years to come.”

To qualify for an FTC Cohort, individuals must be newly admitted graduate students at Midwestern Seminary with an incoming GPA of 3.0 or higher and must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher throughout their studies. Upon admittance to the seminary, students will need to apply for their given cohort prior to the academic year.

Limited spots are available for Fall 2022 cohort participants. Priority will be given to incoming students who submit their application before July 15. If space and scholarships allow, FTC Cohorts may be available for current Midwestern Seminary residential graduate students as well. Those interested in participating in a Fall 2022 FTC Cohort, both incoming and current students, can visit mbts.edu/cohorts to learn more and apply.


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