In August, 2009, Moravian Theological Seminary (MTS) held an info session for our-soon-to-be launched Crossroads Lay Leadership program. Not knowing how many would come, we were surprised when 17 people, from a variety of denominations, showed up. After a brief description of what we had planned for the first year, the people in the room started their own conversations, getting to know each other, sharing their frustration over church and their desires to learn more and do better at their responsibilities. It was so exciting! The initial culture of Crossroads was forged that day by those potential participants.
A month later, our Compass course, designed to help people brush up on basic skills and discover and articulate their sense of call as a lay person, was attended by almost all of those original 17 who continued the initial conversations. Many of them have now graduated from the program and are doing significant ministry in their congregations and in the community. Since that beginning, over 150 people have taken Crossroads courses.
The Crossroads Program at MTS features 16 courses including Old & New Testament, Church History, Leadership, Culture & Change, Discipleship, Preaching, Teaching, Congregational Ethics, Worship, Care, Outreach, Formative Spirituality, Theology, World Religions and Compass. The program also includes a Community Missional Experience where people learn about ministry in the community with an at risk segment of the population, along with how non-profit ministries are funded.
Crossroads is here to serve the learning community of the church so we encourage people to take the courses that are of greatest interest to them in the order that works best for them. These courses are offered through the Continuing Ed Department and have CEU’s available for those who want to audit. By completing two Pass/Fail assignments for each course, Crossroads credits are awarded making participants eligible to receive the Certificate of Completion.
Although Crossroads was started for laypeople who desire more skills and knowledge, the program has added some new directions. In addition to training lay people for work in their congregations, pastors and church staff people come to sharpen their skills, brush up on a subject, or learn practical skills. We have trained lay pastors and church planters from at least five local denominations. Some of our graduates are now serving as lay pastors, preaching, giving care, and involved in the administration and visioning in their congregation.
Technology allows participants to be anywhere in the world and attend our courses using an internet connection, their phone or computer, a mic and a video camera. Many people outside our local region are successfully using a system called “Zoom” to attend our courses, be part of the classroom discussions, present reports and most important, get to know each other. Several people have emailed and called each other after class to keep the conversations going.
Some people use this distance option for the whole course, but others have used it for just a night or two. One person “attended” in while they were on a business trip to Asia, another could not travel right after eye surgery, another was out of state helping a sick relative. Zoom gives Crossroads participants flexibility to attend class when being there in person just is not possible.
Students in the Crossroads program will enter a dynamic learning community, work hard, have thoughts about the church challenged, expand theological and biblical knowledge, forge great relationships with wonderful co-travelers and instructors and have fun learning. There are opportunities for team and solo work. We stress the importance of sharpening communication skills so students’ writing and presentation skills will improve. And students learn about different forms of devotions that can be shared with their congregations.
There are no prerequisites, so participants can take the courses of most interest to them. Courses are offered in a two year rotation, usually on Monday and Thursday nights from 6-9 p.m. Eastern Time. Many people come to take one or two courses; others decide to complete the whole program. The program is flexible, allowing participants to complete it on their own terms.
Crossroads participants range in age from mid-20’s to mid-80’s, with most participants being 45-65. We are evenly split between men and women. There are no entrance requirements. We have also been able to accommodate several participants with learning disabilities.
To learn more, visit the Crossroads website www.moravianseminary.edu/crossroads to see which courses are offered this year and to register online. For questions, contact Jill Peters at [email protected].
Dr. Jill Peters is missional leadership developer at Moravian Theological Seminary. The Crossroads program was named as an approved lay leadership training program by the 2018 Synod of the Moravian Church Northern Province.