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Great Commission Plan through the

 New York Divinity School


Engaged in the Master’s

leadership and ministry training.



Executive Summary: the Light for the Paths
Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.   
- Psalm 119:105

Too often Christians have been content to let a few theologians dominate the Bible’s use for esoteric study; too often the Bible has been consigned to Sunday morning activities and private devotions.  However, God’s Word is the light for every person’s path, anywhere, 24/7 – including peoples’ paths from the mail room to the executive suite, from grade school to the research laboratory, from high school debate to the judge’s bench, from salvation experience to divinity school—as well as other well-traveled paths like Broadway, Martin Luther King Blvd, Wall Street, Bowery Avenue, Steinway Street, Madison Avenue, United Nations Place and Main Street, to mention just a few of the more famous NYC paths.  God desires leaders—effective pastors and lay Christian leaders—who understand and utilize his light throughout every path of life, in every field of enterprise, everywhere, including home, Church, workplace, and community.


Both in response to the enormous leadership training needs of Churches and communities, and certainly also in obedience to the Biblical commands of the Lord Jesus Christ, the New York Divinity School (NYDS) seeks the blessings of the Christian community to strengthen and expand excellent Biblical leadership and ministry training that is very much of the City, in the City, and for the City – and that is devoted to the holistic authority of the Bible for behavior and belief.


This PROSPECTUS outlines the mission and training programs to help meet the measurable needs for holistic, skilled leadership in the Churches and communities in New York City.  NYDS is committed to excellence – to honor God and also to produce measurable fruit in the lives of individuals, Churches, and communities.  NYDS’ vision is the leadership and guidance of Lord Jesus Christ on the streets of New York City—all the streets.


The benefits of this excellent ministry training are multiplied as trained pastoral and lay leaders then mentor or coach other leaders in the Churches and in every field of endeavor.  These holistic leaders will be equipped to engage effectively their many worlds with Godly perspectives and purposes taught in the Bible, for significant transformation and renewal.  The result will be sustainable change in New York City—especially in the areas of spiritual relationships, quality of life, and leadership in the world—for God’s purposes and glory.  


New York Divinity School’s Mission
      To educate, equip and empower Christian people of all ethnicities — to excel in Biblical nurture, ministry and leadership — to engage life in NYC and the world with the Lord Jesus Christ’s purposes and perspectives — to effect transformations that please and honor him.

The programs of New York Divinity School have been created to serve the pastoral and lay ministry training purposes of the Lord Jesus Christ and his Church—of the City, in the City and for the City. 

1.  Measurable Needs in NYC
Wall Street Journal, staff writer Susan Lee estimates that more than 4.5 million people in the metropolitan area believe that the Bible is the final authority for behavior and belief.  Our own estimations agree, as does the research of New York metropolitan area Christian radio station WMCA.  Pew Charitable Trusts and the Henry Luce Foundation funded a research project on “What do evangelical Churches in the City need?”  The term “evangelical” was defined in terms of believing ‘the Bible is the final authority for behavior and belief,’ and believing in Jesus’ literal resurrection from death—regardless of ethnicity, political orientation, or denomination. 

Paul de Vries, Ph.D., who led the project, hired sociologist Harold Dean Trulear, Ph.D. and the International Research Institute on Values Changes (now Values Research Institute), whose careful research revealed that a shocking 94% of the City’s entire “Bible-based Christian” ministry base (of more than 7,000 pastors and ministry leaders in the five boroughs) have not completed an accredited seminary program.  A full 80% of these ministers in the City have not completed even one seminary course!  For years there has been plenty of anecdotal evidence for this appalling dearth of excellent training.  This timely research provided the measurable data that confirmed what people had known within their own active networks.

Becoming fully equipped for Godly leadership and for spreading the Gospel is the real goal - not seminary courses - but this data helps explain the wide-spread lack of effective lay and pastoral leadership, the seeming powerlessness of most Churches, and the urgent leadership crises of the Christian community outlined below.  The Pew-Luce research also revealed that the ministers’ greatest priority for Christian impact is a City-based seminary program rooted in holistic Biblical teaching.  A surprising 68% of these ministers said the first priority for the Churches in the area of training was to establish an accredited City-based seminary that is committed to the authority of the Bible for behavior and belief. 

Why a new Divinity School now?
Who else is there?  No other leadership and ministry training program headquartered in NYC provides the excellent Bible-based educating, equipping and empowering of people that NYDS provides already.
*      New York City has over 100 Bible institutes.  Each one meets important needs, and they generally teach at a high school or first year of college level. 
*      The established seminaries headquartered in New York City are broadly seen as weak in their doctrine of Biblical authority. 
*      Without the opportunities for Masters-level, Bible-based leadership and ministry training, people have become accustomed to doing without, or settling for a lesser level of training.  Consequently, only 20% of evangelical ministers (primarily Baptist, Charismatic, and Pentecostal) in NYC have taken even one seminary course, according to the published Pew Charitable Trusts research.  We must develop a Divinity School that people can trust for its excellent training and consistent commitment to the Bible’s authority.
*      To help meet this need, five seminaries had set up extension programs in NYC, but each one has abandoned or reduced ministry in NYC in recent years for one reason or another—but always because of the special challenges of this great City:
1.      Asbury Seminary, based in Kentucky, had a long-term plan, invested heavily, stayed one semester and left Spring 1999.
2.      Erskine Seminary, based in South Carolina, had a long-term plan, stayed one semester and left, all during Fall 2004.
3.      Fire School, led by Michael Brown, PhD, and based in Pensacola, Florida, had big long-term plans, operated a program for twelve months and left Summer 2005.
4.      Moody Bible Institute, based in Chicago, planned to open a campus in Manhattan in 1995, but abruptly changed its mind the last minute, even though significant funds had been offered by committed NYC area supporters.
5.      Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, based in Louisville, Kentucky, grew a multi-denominational extension program in Manhattan to over 100 students.  It decided in April 2003 cut ties with its multi-denominational partner and focus on Southern Baptists, and the program was dramatically reduced in size.

At the very time the spiritual needs and opportunities in NYC are increasing, major organizations with resources to train men and women effectually for leadership and ministry have moved out.  Four decades further back, we must remember that the National Bible College moved out of Manhattan to southern New Jersey in the early 1960s and later closed completely.  Biblical Seminary of NYC suffered from a financial exigency in 1969 and was re-designed as New York Theological Seminary.  Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS), moved by the data NY Divinity School had shared with it, introduced ATS Bible-based courses and programs in NYC and in the suburb Nyack--and as an occasional partner with the NY Divinity School.

What results from the present vacuum of Bible-based training?
New York City is now in a Church leadership crisis—that cries out for the assistance of Godly people in the City and elsewhere:
*      In immigrant populations the crisis is seen in the behavioral differences between immigrant Church-going parents and their adult children, the so-called “1.5 and 2nd generation.”  Of the Hispanic immigrant families who participate in Church, only 20% of their adult children participate.  Even more tragic, of the Korean immigrant families who attend Church, about 10% of their adult children attend.  They are generally not attracted either to Churches led by non-English speaking pastors unprepared for urban ministry, or to other Churches that do not honor their cultural sensitivities.
*      Many Bible-based Churches are almost empty, even though they may have attractive sanctuaries in prime locations.  For example, 70% of African-Americans went to Church at least once a month thirty years ago; in 2002 it was only 27% in the City – and an even lower percentage of young adult African-Americans who are well-educated and in the professions attend Church.  There are a few great exceptions, but a pastor without professional training will be challenged to minister to the contemporary, more educated, African-American and ethnic populations.
*      Bible-based Christians in NYC are grossly underrepresented in positions of government, business and professional leadership.  The full applications of the Word’s light to all the paths and streets of life have not been explored or developed.  Most pastors and lay people are not engaged either in transformational leadership or in holistic ministry.  The Biblical teachings on strategic Gospel leadership for individual, social and structural transformation remain mostly ignored.  Only a tiny minority knows and understands the Christian worldview.
*      New York City is the education capital of the USA, with more than 450,000 students in colleges and universzities within the five boroughs.  What an unnecessary tragedy that NYC has the least educated, least equipped, least empowered Bible-based clergy of any major American city!
*      In a related fact, the NYC’s non-white ethnic populations increasingly include well-trained lawyers, physicians, teachers, nurses, engineers, MBAs and people with other professional degrees.  Meanwhile, opportunities for pastors’ professional training in Bible-based Christian ministry have not been available, even though non-white pastors still generally have the honored roles of community leaders.  These pastors choose not to attend an accredited seminary for ministry training that is inconsistent with their own Bible-based Christian commitments—especially their commitments to the authority of the Bible for behavior and belief and to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Thus,
of tragic necessity, these pastors have avoided professional training and generally have turned only to the unaccredited Bible institutes for training instead.
*      After 9/11, most of the Bible-based Christian ministry at the attack site and grieving centers was provided by out-of-town ministers.  Most New York area Protestant pastors did not have professional training, and they were explicitly excluded from this trauma-response ministry, although these under-trained pastors are the ones still ministering in the City long after the trained visiting ministers have left.  Perhaps this tragic crisis alone would be reason enough to recognize the need for a quality seminary program under the authority of the Bible for behavior and belief.  It would certainly be naïve to think that there will be no more attempted terrorist attacks on New York City, and thus no more need for quality ministry training.  (And next time there might not be such a huge wave of skilled ministers coming to New York from out of state as there was in 2001.) 

2.  The Formation of NYDS in Answer to the Church’s and NYC’s Needs
Each NYDS faculty member has years of fruitful experience in front-line ministry, and all affirm the Bible as the final source of guidance in behavior and belief, not just in theology.  Utilizing the faculty’s academic preparation and experience, students learning with them are able then to make significant contributions and effect sustainable changes in their relationships, their quality of life, and their transformative leadership wherever they are. 

What distinguishes NYDS?
Before it began, NYC pastors urged NYDS to make clear what distinguished it from existing seminaries.  The “Five Distinctives” the pastors themselves wrote remain the “birth certificate” of NYDS.  Please note that each distinctive is partly based upon teaching Timothy received from the Apostle Paul.

*      Devoted to Biblical standards of justice, love, accountability, holiness and righteousness.  In individual, social, and structural issues, Biblical teaching is upheld, including God’s standards of racial and ethnic justice, economic engagement and fairness, care for the poor, and sexual abstinence outside of marriage.    I Timothy 1:5:“The purpose of our instruction is love—from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”

*      Committed to Biblical doctrine and mission.  All teachers and leaders both profess and articulate, sincerely and cogently, within the marketplace of ideas, Biblical doctrines, undiluted by any factors, including rationalism, empiricism, skepticism, liberalism, or conservatism—including the key doctrines of the authority of the Bible, the Trinity, the humanity and deity of Jesus, his death for our sins, his bodily resurrection and the filling and the fruit of the Spirit.     II Timothy 1:13, 14:  “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.  Guard the treasure that has been entrusted to you, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.”

*      Excellent in Godly personal and professional practice.  For God’s glory, excellence is the standard in the classroom, library, family, research, administration, and leadership and ministry service.  Both in labor and in results, the Lord Jesus Christ is honored as our minds and hearts are marked by a life of excellence, devoted to him and to his Word.    II Timothy 2:15: “Study to present yourself approved unto God, a worker that does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”

*      Church-based.  To matriculate, students must be recommended by Churches that affirm their “calling,” in the inclusive Biblical sense of calling.  Churches also participate in students’ nurturing and training, NYDS is accountable to the Churches, and they support NYDS as part of their ministry.  Faculty and staff must be active Church members as well.    I Timothy 3:15: “…the Church of the living God, the pillar and stronghold of the truth.”

*      Engaged in mentored ministry.   Every student is intentionally mentored for spiritual development and in leadership and ministry skills, while they are resolutely engaged in evangelism and other leadership and ministry.   II Timothy 2:2:“The things which you have heard me teach in public, hand them on to reliable people, who are competent to teach others also.”

What measurable purposes drive NYDS?

            In further developing the mission of God’s new divinity school, the leadership has affirmed that the divinity school’s education and training should be continually shaped and evaluated in terms of three genuine purposes and intended results:

*      Equipping leaders in Biblical, holistic ministry – creatively to introduce people to the Lord Jesus Christ and to help the struggling, via vibrant Churches.  Trained Christian ministry is characterized by effectual service to Jesus and to people.
*      Engaging the world with the divine perspectives and purposes taught in the Bible, and cogently demonstrated in responsible commitment, conduct, consciousness and character.  Trained Christian ministry is rooted in Biblical teaching, and modeled by the Christian community.
*      Effecting sustainable change in New York City – especially in the areas of spiritual relationships, quality of life, and leadership in the world.  Trained Christian ministry is pertinent to contemporary culture in the 21st century.

What is the NYDS Mission?
The literal statement of the Great Commission, Jesus’ last command, has been formative in NYDS’s calling to provide the Master’s leadership and ministry training.          

As you are going, disciple all ethnic peoples, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey vigilantly all that I commanded.  Look!  I am with you every day until the end of the age.

In February 2006, NYDS Board adopted a new MISSION representing the core purposes and their intended “ripple-effects.” 

To educate, equip and empower Christian people of all ethnicities — to excel in Biblical nurture, ministry and leadership — to engage life in NYC and the world with the Lord Jesus Christ’s purposes and perspectives — to effect transformations that please and honor him.


3.  Accountable Service to the Church
In addition to creating the whole universe and forming men and women in his image, the Lord has created three institutions, structures that unite and guide men and women together—marriage/family, government, and the Church.  Any other institutions are derived from and are accountable to these three, and each of these is accountable to the Lord.
According to Scripture, ministry training is responsible to each institution, including family, government, with service most explicitly to his Church—including the “Church universal” and individual Churches, all of which are treated with primary importance in the Bible.  Some other ministry training programs have slipped “off track” when they have neglected their accountability to the Church—or in other situations when their leading Churches themselves neglected the authority of Scripture. 

Church accountability is especially challenging for a multi-denominational divinity school in the New York metropolitan area where most of the larger Bible-based Churches are also not affiliated with any denominational structure.  For example, Bay Ridge Christian Center, Bethel Gospel Assembly, Bethel Gospel Tabernacle, Brooklyn Tabernacle, Calvary Baptist Church, Christ Church, Christ Tabernacle, Christian Cultural Center, Crossroads Tabernacle, Elim Fellowship International, Gateway Cathedral, Hawthorne Gospel Church, New Life Fellowship, Overseas Chinese Mission, Resurrection Church and Times Square Church are all independent Churches.

NYDS is pursuing a plan that is taking Church accountability to another level.  Leading Churches and pastors are being invited to partner with NYDS to develop a KOINONIA (Godly sharing or collaboration, by whatever name) of Churches that are under the authority of the Bible and affirm Jesus’ resurrection from the dead—Churches in the metro area and elsewhere. 
*      This KOINONIA of Churches will be the main accountability reference and also the spiritual covering for New York Divinity School.  All these Churches will receive regular reports from NY Divinity School administration.  Also, all member Churches will be invited to send multiple representatives to an annual membership meeting at a convenient time, probably in October, since each NYDS fiscal year ends on June 30.
*      Annually, the Churches in the KOINONIA will nominate one or more NYDS Board member—lay leaders or pastors. From these nominees, the Board will elect new Board members.  With discernment, in part based upon the strength of each Church’s support, the Board will elect its new members.  No more than 20% of the elected Board may come from any single Church at any time.  In addition, faculty, administrators, staff and students for the NY Divinity School also will be recommended by the member Churches on a regular basis. 
*      Each Church in the KOINONIA will own the Divinity School as a ministry of the Church and will assist in providing regular prayerful and financial support.

The KOINONIA of Churches will help guide and nurture the development of the NY Divinity School into a recognized ministry training program for the development and continuing education of pastors and lay leaders—and will celebrate its growing service.

4.  The Plan: An Introduction to the NYDS Program
NYDS lay and pastoral students may enroll in any one of three Master's-level Programs: a 2- year, 36-credit Program in Faith and Practice, a two-year 48-credit Program in Religion and a three-year 90-credit Divinity Program.  The complete curricula for each Program may be obtained from the Divinity School office.  The NYDS commitment is to facilitate excellent learning of Biblical truth—including Christian ethics and doctrine—and personal and ministry development, regardless of whether the student completes a Program.  After all, “true commencement” occurs at the end of every class.


What is the common Core of courses?

All three Master's-level certificate programs have the same set of fourteen (14) courses--two "academic hours" each--that are the same for all three Programs—for a total of 28 "academic hours."  Each "Academic hour" includes 12 hours of class time and 25-30 hours of out-of-class work.  These courses are central to Christian work in the 21st Century--and to the mission of the divinity school, as well as its distinctives and purposes.  They also dramatically embody its motto:  Bible-based, Christ-centered, and Spirit-led.




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