Jason Gile, Executive Director for Seminary Now, joins Dan Hummel for a discussion on the online seminary platform Seminary Now and the value of online education. 

Learn about Jason Gile & Seminary Now

With Faith in Mind is produced at Upper House in Madison, Wisconsin and hosted by Director of University Engagement Dan Hummel and Executive Director John Terrill. Jesse Koopman is the Executive Producer. Upper House is an initiative of the Stephen & Laurel Brown Foundation.

Please reach out to us with comments or questions at podcast@slbrownfoundation.org. We’d love to hear from you.

Transcript

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Hello and welcome to With Faith in Mind.

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I'm Dan Hummel, today's host

and the director of university engagement

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at Upper House.

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This episode is part of our series

on Christian education at the Crossroads,

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and we're welcoming

Jason Gile to the podcast.

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Hi, Jason.

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Dan, good to be with you.

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Jason Gale is at Northern Seminary

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and he is the chief innovation officer

there.

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He's also the executive director

of the streaming video platform Seminary.

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Now, which is what

we're going to talk to Jason about today.

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Just a couple more facts about Jason

before we jump into the conversation.

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Jason has a Ph.D.

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in Old Testament studies

from Wheaton College and an MBA

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in Hebrew Bible and Hebrew studies

from our own UW Madison.

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And we were just talking before

coming on air about a few of the people

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we both know here, here in Madison.

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And Jason has also published

on Old Testament studies

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in a variety of venues,

and he teaches courses on Hebrew Bible

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and Biblical Theology of Mission

and much more at Northern Seminary.

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So, Jason, we're here to talk to you

about seminary now

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and as a sort of digital learning

platform,

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I wondered if you could just

before we jump into the questions,

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give us a sense of your own

personal experience with digital learning.

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Is this a type of learning

that you've engaged with

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in your own in your own education,

or is it something you're coming to

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sort of fresh as a teacher?

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Mm hmm.

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Yeah. Good question.

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I think I came at it

first as an administrator.

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Really?

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I was doing academic administration

thinking about seminary education

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and delivery models

and the future of seminary.

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So that's really where it started.

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But before seminary.

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Now, I did lead the implementation

of a livestreaming

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program at Northern Seminary.

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So we called it Northern Live,

and it was basically

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like a smart classroom

that that really was doing.

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Yes, Zoom, but also the integration

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of distance students

with a live classroom, even pre-COVID.

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Right.

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So that was my first foray

into digital education.

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Seminary now came along

really as a first as an idea.

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And I think what we were addressing was

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how do we reach more people?

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Seminaries traditionally reach

a very small group of people,

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and I'm a believer in seminary education

and degree programs

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and the importance of that.

But the reality is, of course, that

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the vast majority of

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church leaders and Christian laypeople

are not going to go to seminary.

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So we wanted to develop something

that really could reach the masses

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in a way

that a streaming video platform could.

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So you're an Old Testament

scholar by training.

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So how did you find yourself sort of in

conversations where you were talking

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about sort of a pretty technical

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I assume there's a lot of technical

and digital aspects

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to launching something like seminary now.

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Was that an easy transition for you?

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Do you have sort of a background in that

or is that something you came to

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as an administrator?

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Not a formal background.

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I think I just found my way as I went.

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I mean, I think I have a little bit

of a bent towards

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I mean, obviously,

I am a sort of a digital native

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in terms of my age,

so that I had that going for me

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and maybe have a little bit

of an entrepreneurial, innovative spirit.

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But no,

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definitely not any formal education

or formal training in those areas.

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So when you gave us

a little of the background of seminary,

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now if you were just talking to someone

who had no idea what seminary now was,

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what's the sort of elevator

pitch for the platform?

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Mm hmm. Yeah.

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Yeah.

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It is a streaming video platform

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that makes seminary type

content accessible to the masses.

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So that I mean, that's the first thing

I want to say

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in terms of some comparison points

or reference points.

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People are familiar with Masterclass,

some master classes in the secular space.

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These are often celebrity

type persons or these persons

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who are well known in their field

doing these shorts.

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Obviously noncredit

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video courses, it's high production

value, it's streaming video.

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So that's really

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probably the best comparison point to

what we're doing in the theological space.

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So it's the

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same model streaming video, it's

subscription based, it's all access.

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So in that sense it's similar to Netflix

or other sorts of streaming services.

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Now of course, we're in the educational

space, not the entertainment space,

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but that's really

the purpose is at a very affordable rate

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and therefore accessible to the masses,

providing

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really good content for people

who wouldn't be able to go to seminary.

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But with seminary

now what at the sort of highest level,

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what are you hoping to accomplish, though?

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You're talking about making seminary

education available to the masses.

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What's the you know, what's the bigger

goal of making that education available?

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What do you hope changes either

in the church or in individual people?

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Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

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Yeah, there's several.

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I think the primary purpose in the primary

mission

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are to educate church leaders.

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Let's just get into audience a bit.

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So I would say that

our primary audience is church leaders,

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but there are secondary audiences as well.

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We created it for emerging church

leaders, people

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that might not, for a variety of reasons,

be able to go into seminary,

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but a couple of secondary audiences

would be once we created it,

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churches came to us and said, Well,

we want to use it for small groups too.

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We want to use it for discipleship in

adult education and those sorts of things.

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And so we've provided ways

and created ways for them to do that.

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Other secondary audiences

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would include, for example,

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just educated laypeople.

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This dovetails actually a little bit

with the work that you do

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and potentially your audience,

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which is to say there are lots of people

who want something more

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than what they might get in your average

Sunday school class, right?

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And so they're not necessarily on

they're not necessarily church leaders

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in the in the formal sense.

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They may

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be elders or deacons in their church

potentially.

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Sometimes.

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This is also a case of imagine people

in a university context

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who are academics

and they are have a Ph.D.

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in biology or sociology or whatever it is,

and they go to church

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and they're also wanting to connect

with their faith in a deeper way

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than what they might get on Sunday Now,

and that isn't to replace

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church or local churches

and what's happening on Sunday,

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because because actually

that's a core part of the Christian faith.

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But it is something on a deeper level

that they can go into that

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they might resonate with more

because they appreciate that higher level

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in the academic, because that's

what they do in their career.

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So there is those are the types of

secondary audiences that we're reaching.

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It's not just church leaders,

but of a wide

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variety of other people

who are interested in the content as well.

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So just to round out our understanding

of what seminary

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now is, what are the actual types

of courses that are offered

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and types of faculty

or teachers that offer the courses?

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Mm hmm.

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Yeah, it's a wide spectrum of courses.

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I mean, it's sort of mirrors

what the breadth of the seminary

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curriculum in terms of topics,

although we do

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a bit more than is traditionally

in the seminary curriculum.

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So for example, obviously we do Bible

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and theology and church history

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and ministry skills formation.

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Those are sort of the core areas of a

of a seminary curriculum.

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So we cover all of those.

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I would say also that in the category

of contemporary issues, we're able

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to do a bit more than what you might

typically get in a seminary curriculum.

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That could be social issues, it could be

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the kinds of issues

that the church is facing and church

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leaders are struggling to to know

how to handle and deal with and culture

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and a variety of things like that.

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So that's really the spectrum on the

in terms of the voices of the teachers

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we're drawing really

from leading professors and authors.

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Some of those

come from partner seminaries and

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from Northern seminary and other partner

seminaries.

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Others are publishers.

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We have a relationship or a partnership

with InterVarsity Press,

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and so a lot of the teachers

come from IVP authors as well.

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One thing that is on your website is

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talking about the diversity of voices

required

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to help church leaders

meet the demands of ministry today.

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Talk a little bit about that commitment to

and then then you you named later

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on in that same paragraph.

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Neglected contributions of women

and persons of color.

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How does that fit into the sort of broader

seminary now mission?

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Yeah.

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Well,

number one, it's a core value of ours.

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It's part of our DNA in terms of the

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the justification or the rationale of the

theology behind that.

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I mean, we believe that

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different people

have a variety of perspectives

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that we that we need to learn from.

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I think that that's really the core of it.

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And certainly there have been

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persons of color and women

who have been historically

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disadvantaged or their voice

not platformed

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in the way that it should have

their voices heard by other people.

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So we want to step into that

and say we value all of those voices

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and we think that everybody should be

learning from those voices as well.

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Yeah.

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Yeah, that makes sense in terms of if a

student were to take a seminary now class,

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do they do they take tests?

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Do they have to buy books and other stuff,

or is it sort of

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is it all on the website or how do you

how do students engage with it?

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Mm hmm.

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Yeah.

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So the primary thing is the video content.

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So we create these high production videos.

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We do have also for each course

a comprehension quiz

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and a learning workbook.

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So there's a PDF workbook with questions

and you can complete that as you

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watch the videos and then thereafter

you can do the comprehension quiz.

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Now I will say the different people decide

to do different components of that.

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So there are some people who just want to

watch the videos for personal enrichment.

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They might do it

a bit more informally for example,

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you know, just watching a video

when you're on the train

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or when you're cutting carrots for dinner,

you know, in your kitchen.

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So there are people who are opting

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not to do the workbook and the quiz,

but then there are other people

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who are considering it

a bit more of a formal process for them.

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And they're sitting down and they're being

intentional about the workbook.

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They're completing the quizzes.

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The primary reason

to complete the quizzes as well, apart

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from your own personal sense of completion

and learning,

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is that we do offer certificates as well.

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So if if people

do the full work and complete

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the full

number of quizzes in a course track,

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of course learning track, we issue

a certificate of completion for that.

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So that provides people a roadmap

that they can start a series of courses

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and do all the work and earn earn

a certificate of completion from that.

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So everybody's a little bit different.

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We wanted to serve all of those

purposes, really.

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For those

who do want to get the certificate or

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sort of the more involved road.

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Is there an ultimate

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on ramp or hope that they'll become

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degree seekers

or people who we sort of go through

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the formal degree program

at Northern or somewhere else?

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Yeah, that's a great question.

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And it's very timely because,

yes, that's the thing

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that we're working on right now.

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Let me back up

and give you a little context for that.

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So in offering this for the masses

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noncredit streaming videos.

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Our intention is never to replace

traditional seminary

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or degree programs

because we see a place for that as well.

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So this is not for us an either or.

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In fact, we want to provide pathways

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for people to start with noncredit

streaming video learning

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and then be able to take further steps

into deeper education

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and then to matriculate

into degree programs at at seminaries.

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So that is our goal.

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And that's the thing that is really we're

actively working on that this year.

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In fact, three days ago

we just sent a teaser email

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telling folks on our list

about the first four credit offerings

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of first four credit courses

that we're going

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to be offering in a pilot group this fall.

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So that is happening.

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And and again, the intention is that

this will be a bridge between seminary.

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Now and seminaries.

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For the students, it's a stepping stone

for the for the seminaries.

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It's also a pipeline, quite frankly.

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And so, yeah, that's our hope.

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We're developing that right now.

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It's actually really exciting.

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And it's the new thing

that we're that we're working on.

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And our hope is that we will

that will be a starting point for people

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to get into degree programs

at partner seminaries,

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sometimes people who may have always

envisioned themselves doing that,

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but other times people who may not really

have ever envisioned that

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until they really started

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getting their feet wet at seminary now

and begin to see themselves

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possibly doing that in the future.

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Yeah, always interesting

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new developments all the time in the

in the digital education space.

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Well, I want to move to talking

in a bigger sense,

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maybe even like a macro sense

about seminary now and sort of why now

00;14;08;23 - 00;14;12;10

with something like seminary

now, so many people are familiar with sort

00;14;12;10 - 00;14;17;19

of thinking through push and pull factors

for why some new project is developed.

00;14;17;19 - 00;14;18;21

And poll tends to be sort

00;14;18;21 - 00;14;21;23

of what's attracting energy

and interest in a certain area.

00;14;21;23 - 00;14;24;23

So in this case, in new digital education

opportunities

00;14;24;26 - 00;14;27;24

and then the push factors might

be ones that are sort of

00;14;28;27 - 00;14;32;11

pressures

that are leading toward more creativity.

00;14;32;11 - 00;14;33;08

And so I want to

00;14;33;08 - 00;14;36;00

go through some of the pull factors

and then some of the push factors

00;14;36;00 - 00;14;36;27

as you understand them.

00;14;36;27 - 00;14;39;27

Jason So in terms of the pull factors,

00;14;40;03 - 00;14;42;18

what is the

you can even think of this like

00;14;42;18 - 00;14;45;21

it's like a marketing analysis

or a market analysis of sort of

00;14;46;23 - 00;14;51;01

the possibilities

of an online seminary platform.

00;14;51;07 - 00;14;53;17

What is seminary now trying to meet?

00;14;53;17 - 00;14;56;17

What's the demand

that they're trying to meet?

00;14;56;18 - 00;14;57;10

Yeah, we'll start with that.

00;14;57;10 - 00;15;01;03

Where we do understand is sort of the

the state of affairs

00;15;01;03 - 00;15;05;10

that would lead people

to want to do online seminary education.

00;15;06;26 - 00;15;09;11

Yeah, good question.

00;15;09;11 - 00;15;14;12

I would say,

first of all, that our product,

00;15;14;12 - 00;15;17;12

so to speak, or our delivery

00;15;18;08 - 00;15;21;02

channel is quite well known now.

00;15;21;02 - 00;15;23;08

So I mean, people have Netflix

subscriptions,

00;15;23;08 - 00;15;26;17

they have Disney Plus subscriptions,

they have masterclass subscriptions.

00;15;26;17 - 00;15;29;21

So when they see seminary,

now they have a mental model

00;15;30;01 - 00;15;32;09

as a comparison point

to understand what it is.

00;15;33;22 - 00;15;35;06

I would say that

00;15;35;06 - 00;15;38;14

another component of this

is that in my view,

00;15;38;25 - 00;15;42;10

in a lot of ways

with respect to online content,

00;15;43;15 - 00;15;46;15

not just educational,

but including on social media

00;15;47;01 - 00;15;50;08

and other places,

I would say video is king.

00;15;50;14 - 00;15;51;04

Mm hmm.

00;15;51;04 - 00;15;54;01

So there's a

you know, just when you think about what

00;15;54;01 - 00;15;57;24

people are spending time

on, YouTube is a big part of that.

00;15;58;23 - 00;15;59;28

For better or worse.

00;15;59;28 - 00;16;03;24

You know, these one minute short videos on

Tik Tok and reels

00;16;03;24 - 00;16;04;22

and those sorts of things,

00;16;04;22 - 00;16;07;22

and I'm not saying

that's even a good thing necessarily with

00;16;07;28 - 00;16;11;01

what it might mean for attention

spans of people and those sorts of things.

00;16;11;01 - 00;16;14;01

But I think

all of these are indicators that

00;16;14;23 - 00;16;18;17

people really video is king in the

digital age in which we live.

00;16;20;05 - 00;16;20;29

And compared

00;16;20;29 - 00;16;24;03

to, you know, if you go back

to the early days of correspondence,

00;16;24;03 - 00;16;27;22

distance education, you know,

in universities or colleges or seminaries,

00;16;28;20 - 00;16;30;26

this is quite far from that.

00;16;30;26 - 00;16;33;26

It is on demand or asynchronous.

00;16;35;05 - 00;16;38;02

But you're you're getting a sense

of the person, right?

00;16;38;02 - 00;16;39;16

You're watching the video.

00;16;39;16 - 00;16;43;01

We're trying to create them

in such a way that you

00;16;43;07 - 00;16;48;03

you can almost see yourself in a classroom

with that person or begin to

00;16;48;23 - 00;16;51;16

imagine what it would be like

if you were talking to that person

00;16;51;16 - 00;16;53;02

or learning from that person.

00;16;53;02 - 00;16;56;08

So I think that's

all of what you can do with video.

00;16;57;04 - 00;17;01;02

The fact that it's very high

production value I think is esthetically

00;17;01;11 - 00;17;04;16

pleasing for people and they like that

component of it as well.

00;17;04;28 - 00;17;07;28

So I think that's some of the background

and context

00;17;08;21 - 00;17;13;26

that preexisted us entering this

space that is really provides

00;17;15;10 - 00;17;17;23

good ground for us to come into.

00;17;17;23 - 00;17;21;15

One the one thing I'm

a historian of American religion and

00;17;22;18 - 00;17;25;00

seminary now to me

is like the modern version of something

00;17;25;00 - 00;17;27;13

that is at least dates

back to the 19th century,

00;17;27;13 - 00;17;30;24

which is like the correspondence course

or the audio course of the

00;17;31;27 - 00;17;33;08

of the mid 20th century.

00;17;33;08 - 00;17;35;00

Do you ever think about that?

Like sort of that?

00;17;35;00 - 00;17;39;01

There's every generation sort of has

its way of every generation of seminaries,

00;17;39;01 - 00;17;42;23

you could say, have their ways

of trying to get their curriculum out

00;17;42;23 - 00;17;45;23

to a broader group of people, both

to recruit, but also because they think

00;17;46;06 - 00;17;49;08

the broader church needs more education.

00;17;49;14 - 00;17;50;26

I don't know if you ever reference

that stuff

00;17;50;26 - 00;17;54;06

when you're talking

sort of the earlier versions of distance,

00;17;54;06 - 00;17;57;21

asynchronous education

coming out of seminaries and colleges.

00;17;58;01 - 00;17;59;27

Yeah, I like that comparison.

00;17;59;27 - 00;18;01;11

I think you're right.

00;18;01;11 - 00;18;03;23

And I would say this is an example

00;18;03;23 - 00;18;07;28

of just embracing technology,

quite frankly.

00;18;07;29 - 00;18;11;00

I mean, if you go back early

enough to what you're talking about,

00;18;11;12 - 00;18;14;12

I would imagine that that colleges were

00;18;14;16 - 00;18;17;24

literally sending

VHS tapes in the mail. For.

00;18;18;01 - 00;18;19;20

You know, cassettes or whatever it is.

00;18;21;02 - 00;18;23;08

And of course, with technology today,

00;18;23;08 - 00;18;26;26

not only is it online, but it's streaming

00;18;26;26 - 00;18;29;26

so that, you know, there's no downloads.

00;18;30;04 - 00;18;33;16

And really, in that sense,

that's where accessibility comes in.

00;18;34;08 - 00;18;37;27

Literally, anyone with an Internet

connection can access this content.

00;18;39;21 - 00;18;42;27

Yes, of course, in our part of the world.

00;18;42;27 - 00;18;45;27

But, you know, the international side of

this is

00;18;46;11 - 00;18;48;20

important as well.

00;18;48;20 - 00;18;52;04

Well, on that point is your I don't know

00;18;52;04 - 00;18;55;04

you want to share your actual audience,

but your intended audience.

00;18;55;16 - 00;18;56;05

How broad is it?

00;18;56;05 - 00;18;59;05

Is there is there a desire

to sort of reach a global

00;18;59;23 - 00;19;02;28

Christian community

or are you mostly focused on

00;19;03;15 - 00;19;07;07

sort of English

speaking or North America type students?

00;19;08;17 - 00;19;13;16

Yeah, I would say that today we have

00;19;13;25 - 00;19;17;16

we certainly have international

persons using the platform.

00;19;19;01 - 00;19;20;12

We want to do more with that.

00;19;20;12 - 00;19;23;28

So the majority certainly

today are in North America.

00;19;24;25 - 00;19;28;05

We're wanting to be in the next year

or two a bit more intentional

00;19;28;16 - 00;19;31;16

with reaching international folks.

00;19;32;06 - 00;19;34;15

Probably the way that we'll do

that is through

00;19;34;15 - 00;19;38;09

coordinating and networking

with mission agencies and denominations.

00;19;40;08 - 00;19;43;08

And so that is on our horizon

for the future,

00;19;43;20 - 00;19;47;19

but partly because of just again,

the accessibility and the affordability of

00;19;47;19 - 00;19;50;27

it compared to what this would cost

00;19;50;27 - 00;19;53;27

for persons to do more formal education,

00;19;54;09 - 00;19;57;03

we think this is a really good fit

for international audience.

00;19;57;03 - 00;20;00;15

Yeah, one other aspect of the pull factor,

I wonder if you could talk about.

00;20;00;15 - 00;20;03;16

So we talked about the sort of demand

for this

00;20;03;17 - 00;20;06;25

being largely individuals

or church leaders.

00;20;07;01 - 00;20;10;22

Is there any sort of institutional demand

you just mentioned, like denominations or

00;20;12;08 - 00;20;13;11

NGOs or

00;20;13;11 - 00;20;16;11

or non-profits, or are those types of

00;20;17;05 - 00;20;19;16

clients

or audiences that you're trying to reach?

00;20;19;16 - 00;20;23;27

Or is this largely sort of individuals

signing up on their own volition?

00;20;25;11 - 00;20;26;25

Yeah, it's all of the above.

00;20;26;25 - 00;20;28;26

So we have

00;20;28;26 - 00;20;31;25

we do marketing to individuals, obviously.

00;20;31;25 - 00;20;34;25

So I mean, people could find us through

00;20;34;25 - 00;20;38;19

an email that goes out through a partner

or they could find us through a Facebook

00;20;38;19 - 00;20;42;12

ad or they could find us organically

from people sharing about seminary

00;20;42;12 - 00;20;43;09

now on social media.

00;20;43;09 - 00;20;45;24

So that's

sort of that individual component.

00;20;45;24 - 00;20;48;01

We also have

00;20;48;01 - 00;20;49;23

a church subscription.

00;20;49;23 - 00;20;52;27

So for those people who want some of

or now for their whole church,

00;20;53;13 - 00;20;57;00

there are also nonprofits

who use it for their staff.

00;20;57;03 - 00;21;00;27

So from a leadership development

standpoint or discipleship standpoint,

00;21;00;27 - 00;21;03;03

Christian nonprofits

who use it for that purpose.

00;21;04;03 - 00;21;07;03

There are also regional

00;21;07;11 - 00;21;10;15

groups of same denominations that use it.

00;21;11;12 - 00;21;14;20

But yes, so, yes, we're

and we're we're having conversations

00;21;14;20 - 00;21;19;25

with networks and nominations and agencies

and such as well.

00;21;20;00 - 00;21;21;13

Yeah.

00;21;21;13 - 00;21;23;00

One last aspect on the poll.

00;21;23;00 - 00;21;25;25

Is there a sense from your side

00;21;25;25 - 00;21;28;25

that there's a particular need for

00;21;29;06 - 00;21;33;04

seminary education right

now, like as opposed to 20 years ago?

00;21;33;04 - 00;21;36;04

Is there some like analysis

of a decline in

00;21;37;19 - 00;21;40;20

education level of of of Christian leaders

00;21;40;20 - 00;21;43;26

or or particular needs in particular

topics

00;21;44;29 - 00;21;46;03

or not?

00;21;46;03 - 00;21;46;14

I don't know.

00;21;46;14 - 00;21;48;07

I'm just thinking

of some of the other guests

00;21;48;07 - 00;21;51;14

we've had on the program

have talked about sort of a

00;21;52;25 - 00;21;55;06

some of them have talked about the crisis

in Christian education

00;21;55;06 - 00;21;59;15

or in sort of the level of literacy

and engagement that a lot of Christians

00;21;59;15 - 00;22;02;19

have with the Christian tradition

or with the Bible.

00;22;03;11 - 00;22;05;28

Do you have that same sense

or is that sort of not part

00;22;05;28 - 00;22;06;19

of how you're thinking of it?

00;22;08;06 - 00;22;09;22

Yeah, I do.

00;22;09;22 - 00;22;11;06

And of course, there's a lot of variables

there.

00;22;11;06 - 00;22;14;06

It partly depends on your church, right?

00;22;14;28 - 00;22;19;07

Tradition and to what degree

they value education now.

00;22;19;07 - 00;22;23;03

And I don't want to equate education

with seminary

00;22;23;03 - 00;22;26;03

degree programs because obviously

00;22;26;03 - 00;22;30;09

I want to find multiple ways

to be educating people.

00;22;30;09 - 00;22;33;06

And that's not always in the form

of a master's degree.

00;22;33;06 - 00;22;36;11

And that depends on the audience

and various people involved.

00;22;36;17 - 00;22;41;06

But there certainly are plenty of churches

00;22;41;06 - 00;22;45;01

and church traditions that don't value

00;22;45;16 - 00;22;48;05

education,

00;22;48;05 - 00;22;51;27

and there's sort of some theological

undergirding to that that I could probably

00;22;51;27 - 00;22;54;27

pontificate about for some for some time

00;22;55;13 - 00;22;58;18

related to, in my opinion, the

00;22;59;12 - 00;23;03;02

the desire to learn is really,

quite frankly and humility.

00;23;03;20 - 00;23;06;02

So one of the virtues, in my opinion,

00;23;06;02 - 00;23;09;15

of education is humility. And

00;23;10;15 - 00;23;12;12

I don't want to disparage

00;23;12;12 - 00;23;15;11

people who don't value education

the same way that I do,

00;23;15;19 - 00;23;19;11

but I sort of have seen occasionally there

that there's maybe

00;23;19;11 - 00;23;22;11

even a certain pride in it, like a go

it alone.

00;23;23;08 - 00;23;26;02

You know,

I don't need other people's help.

00;23;26;02 - 00;23;30;14

Or what that means for me is that I can't

00;23;30;27 - 00;23;34;17

benefit from from their learning, right.

00;23;34;20 - 00;23;37;28

And I can't benefit from the work

that they've done.

00;23;37;28 - 00;23;41;12

I use it as an example for this

sort of thing quite frequently.

00;23;42;17 - 00;23;44;07

I have my Ph.D.

00;23;44;07 - 00;23;49;13

mentor, Daniel Bloch, spent, say,

15 years studying the work of a zookeeper,

00;23;50;08 - 00;23;55;03

and the result was a two volume

commentary here that in total was,

00;23;55;03 - 00;23;58;16

I don't know, 1600 pages,

or maybe it was 2000 pages.

00;23;59;07 - 00;24;01;05

And I think that

00;24;02;14 - 00;24;03;16

it would be

00;24;03;16 - 00;24;06;16

hubris for me or anyone really to think

00;24;06;16 - 00;24;09;22

that they can't learn

from all the work that he did,

00;24;10;21 - 00;24;13;19

which isn't to say that

there is an evaluation and that you don't

00;24;13;19 - 00;24;17;16

think for yourself, obviously,

when you're reading his work on it.

00;24;18;20 - 00;24;22;12

But that to me is an example

of the kind of posture

00;24;22;12 - 00;24;26;02

we ought to have with education

that we do need to learn from others,

00;24;26;14 - 00;24;30;14

not only because some of those folks

are maybe smarter than me,

00;24;30;14 - 00;24;33;17

but also they've spent more time

on those areas

00;24;34;14 - 00;24;38;13

for the average church leader

or the average person in the pew, even

00;24;39;13 - 00;24;45;00

their calling in life is not to spend

five years learning Hebrew, many of them,

00;24;45;13 - 00;24;49;26

or not to spend 15 years

living with the Book of Ezekiel.

00;24;50;27 - 00;24;52;00

But for the

00;24;52;00 - 00;24;55;01

rest of

us, we do want to learn from those people.

00;24;55;01 - 00;24;59;13

And that's for me, represents

sort of the broader point of the value of

00;25;00;02 - 00;25;03;26

seminary education and learning

from people who have gone before

00;25;03;26 - 00;25;07;05

and put in that work

and really had a life calling to

00;25;07;05 - 00;25;10;05

to learn and educate others.

00;25;10;13 - 00;25;13;15

Yeah, I think of my own case,

00;25;13;15 - 00;25;17;00

and I've had good pastors

along the way who

00;25;18;02 - 00;25;18;23

never gave off.

00;25;18;23 - 00;25;22;01

The sense that you didn't need to learn

more is actually, you know,

00;25;22;01 - 00;25;25;02

you learn a little and you realize

how much more there is to learn.

00;25;26;00 - 00;25;29;00

And that creates

sort of a posture of always wanting

00;25;29;00 - 00;25;32;29

to learn more and realizing

none of us, certainly not.

00;25;34;22 - 00;25;37;09

Well, I won't even

I wouldn't even go to ages, but certainly

00;25;37;09 - 00;25;41;27

not not even the oldest of us

has a totally comprehensive or worked out

00;25;42;14 - 00;25;43;13

understanding of something

00;25;43;13 - 00;25;46;13

as complex as the Bible and the history

and the languages and everything else

00;25;46;15 - 00;25;48;02

that goes along with that, let alone

00;25;48;02 - 00;25;52;15

all the other areas of seminary education

and theology and elsewhere.

00;25;52;15 - 00;25;55;15

So yeah, really resonate with that.

00;25;55;18 - 00;25;55;24

Okay.

00;25;55;24 - 00;25;58;01

I want to move on

to some of the push factors.

00;25;58;01 - 00;26;02;11

So we've talked a bit about what

might attract a place like Northern.

00;26;03;05 - 00;26;07;03

Someone like you, Jason, to jump

into the online seminary education.

00;26;07;17 - 00;26;09;03

I want to think a bit

about the push factors.

00;26;09;03 - 00;26;12;23

So these would be ones

that have made seminary now sort of

00;26;14;12 - 00;26;17;11

maybe I don't know if it's necessary,

but more feasible in recent years

00;26;17;11 - 00;26;22;02

and and as part of changing

seminary education landscape.

00;26;22;02 - 00;26;26;16

So I don't know exactly which which angle

00;26;26;22 - 00;26;30;16

to enter into with, but are there

things happening in the seminary world?

00;26;30;16 - 00;26;33;16

And you can use Northern as an example,

you can just talk more generally

00;26;33;20 - 00;26;36;26

that make the need to move into the online

space

00;26;37;21 - 00;26;41;05

more pressing

now than then, certainly maybe

00;26;41;05 - 00;26;45;04

before COVID, but even in recent decades,

you talked about at at Northern,

00;26;45;04 - 00;26;49;07

you were already experimenting with online

even before even before COVID.

00;26;49;26 - 00;26;53;29

What's the sort of interest on the part

of the seminary to get into that space?

00;26;54;05 - 00;26;56;26

Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. Good question.

00;26;56;26 - 00;27;02;01

I mean, I'd like to say that first

it is mission, so I want to start there.

00;27;02;02 - 00;27;02;13

Sure.

00;27;03;23 - 00;27;04;18

In other words,

00;27;04;18 - 00;27;07;18

if our core mission is to educate

00;27;07;18 - 00;27;10;27

primarily church leaders and others, then

00;27;11;02 - 00;27;14;28

I don't want to limit ourselves

to just one form of doing the

00;27;16;05 - 00;27;20;02

particularly ever expensive form

and one that's hard

00;27;20;02 - 00;27;23;14

to sustain in the 21st century. So.

00;27;24;06 - 00;27;26;21

So that's it is mission? Absolutely.

00;27;26;21 - 00;27;31;06

I think you're also right,

there is an institutional

00;27;31;20 - 00;27;34;20

push on this that

00;27;35;01 - 00;27;37;07

seminaries, I think, in the 21st

00;27;37;07 - 00;27;40;07

century are and will be more struggling.

00;27;40;20 - 00;27;43;20

Many seminaries are declining

in enrollment.

00;27;43;22 - 00;27;47;29

The future on that

probably will be mergers

00;27;47;29 - 00;27;52;01

and those sorts of things so that people

seminaries can share resources.

00;27;52;10 - 00;27;55;26

It's a quite costly venture

when you think about all of the

00;27;55;26 - 00;27;58;17

the professors involved

and the administrative components

00;27;58;17 - 00;28;02;10

and whether there you have a residential

campus and all those sorts of things.

00;28;03;06 - 00;28;06;09

And so, yes, that's absolutely a pressure

00;28;06;09 - 00;28;11;24

point for seminaries

that relates to this bridge

00;28;11;24 - 00;28;15;16

that we want to create

from seminary now to seminaries.

00;28;16;03 - 00;28;18;27

And we think that there will there

00;28;18;27 - 00;28;22;11

always will be placed

for seminary degree programs,

00;28;23;11 - 00;28;25;12

maybe not for every person.

00;28;25;12 - 00;28;28;11

But we want to provide,

00;28;28;11 - 00;28;33;02

as I said before, pathways

for people to be able to start,

00;28;33;07 - 00;28;36;04

get their feet wet

and see where God is, is

00;28;36;04 - 00;28;39;04

calling them and leading them

to in terms of further education.

00;28;39;10 - 00;28;42;05

So if that means that in the end

00;28;42;05 - 00;28;45;05

we have more students

00;28;45;07 - 00;28;49;20

matriculated into degree programs

at seminaries,

00;28;50;01 - 00;28;54;19

which is one of our two outcomes,

then that will be something positive for

00;28;55;05 - 00;28;58;05

for sustaining seminaries

in the 21st century.

00;28;58;12 - 00;29;02;13

What's your read

on the declining demographics,

00;29;02;13 - 00;29;05;18

I guess you could say, of

or the pool of students that want to

00;29;06;17 - 00;29;08;21

join seminaries and get degrees?

00;29;08;21 - 00;29;10;14

Is that just sort of a demographic ethic?

00;29;10;14 - 00;29;13;01

Is destiny

demographics is destiny type thing

00;29;13;01 - 00;29;16;09

where there's just less, I don't know,

00;29;16;17 - 00;29;19;23

less Christians in the country or

something, and so fewer them

00;29;20;24 - 00;29;23;23

are interested in seminary education,

00;29;23;23 - 00;29;25;09

is there?

00;29;25;09 - 00;29;25;21

Yeah. Yeah.

00;29;25;21 - 00;29;28;29

What do you think the sort of situation

is in terms of the demand

00;29;28;29 - 00;29;30;09

for seminary education?

00;29;30;09 - 00;29;33;00

Mm hmm. Yeah.

00;29;33;00 - 00;29;35;19

I take sort of an all of the above

approach on this.

00;29;35;19 - 00;29;39;25

I think part of it could be

the decline of decline of the church

00;29;40;07 - 00;29;43;27

or some degree of Christian faith

in our culture in general.

00;29;45;12 - 00;29;47;04

I don't think that's solely it.

00;29;47;04 - 00;29;50;04

I think part of it

could be something I referred to before,

00;29;50;27 - 00;29;53;27

which is that some church traditions

aren't

00;29;53;28 - 00;29;56;14

expecting or requiring that level

00;29;56;14 - 00;29;59;13

of formal education for pastors.

00;29;59;15 - 00;30;01;16

And so

00;30;01;16 - 00;30;03;18

that's certainly a component of it.

00;30;03;18 - 00;30;04;04

Mm hmm.

00;30;04;04 - 00;30;08;00

It's also possible that people are able

00;30;08;00 - 00;30;13;05

to get educated in a less

formal way through books.

00;30;13;05 - 00;30;16;27

Yes, but but dare I say,

even YouTube as well, whether it's

00;30;17;12 - 00;30;21;11

professors or who are lecturing

or doing podcasts, obviously

00;30;21;11 - 00;30;25;16

there's a lot of learning out there

on any number of topics that you can do.

00;30;26;07 - 00;30;30;04

And so those are all probably factors

that perhaps

00;30;30;04 - 00;30;33;10

give people alternatives

to feel like they can

00;30;34;09 - 00;30;35;19

educate themselves to some

00;30;35;19 - 00;30;38;19

degree in a less formal way.

00;30;38;23 - 00;30;40;14

Yeah.

00;30;40;14 - 00;30;40;29

Okay.

00;30;40;29 - 00;30;45;27

Let's talk a bit about the challenges

to this type of online education.

00;30;45;27 - 00;30;48;27

Can you just telling me

about some of the challenges you've faced

00;30;49;16 - 00;30;51;16

with seminary now,

or are there any particular

00;30;51;16 - 00;30;54;16

sort of perennial challenges or

00;30;55;13 - 00;30;57;09

they could even be technical ones,

I'm not sure, but

00;30;57;09 - 00;31;00;11

but yeah, would have been the sort of most

00;31;00;13 - 00;31;03;25

interesting problems

that you've confronted with seminary now.

00;31;04;23 - 00;31;07;10

Mm hmm. Yeah.

00;31;07;10 - 00;31;10;10

That's a good question.

00;31;12;05 - 00;31;15;18

Part of it is a little bit

00;31;15;26 - 00;31;18;26

just on the networking side.

00;31;19;21 - 00;31;24;02

We have reached a lot of audiences

00;31;24;22 - 00;31;28;10

through, for example, our partners

and that sort of thing.

00;31;29;12 - 00;31;32;12

I think our brand awareness is growing,

00;31;32;23 - 00;31;35;22

but I think there's still a lot more room

to be reaching more people

00;31;37;08 - 00;31;39;09

so that we can have a greater impact.

00;31;39;09 - 00;31;41;05

That's certainly part of it.

00;31;41;05 - 00;31;43;20

From an educational standpoint,

00;31;43;20 - 00;31;46;20

I think we've wrestled with

00;31;47;03 - 00;31;48;29

what what are we

00;31;48;29 - 00;31;51;29

accomplishing with

what I would call the level of content?

00;31;52;01 - 00;31;52;15

Mm hmm.

00;31;52;15 - 00;31;56;03

In other words, the first thing

that we've done in these Noncredit courses

00;31;56;16 - 00;31;59;27

is, you know, a relatively short,

00;32;00;13 - 00;32;03;13

compact, concise video courses.

00;32;04;02 - 00;32;08;11

They're not at the level

of the masters of Master's credit.

00;32;08;11 - 00;32;11;03

Certainly.

00;32;11;03 - 00;32;14;13

So I think I have wrestled

a little bit with

00;32;15;11 - 00;32;17;26

should the content actually be deeper?

00;32;17;26 - 00;32;20;14

Should it be more involved and I think

00;32;20;14 - 00;32;23;14

we're addressing that now

with these four credit courses

00;32;23;29 - 00;32;28;01

whereby people who for most people,

00;32;28;01 - 00;32;31;28

the content in its current form

is probably right for them.

00;32;33;03 - 00;32;35;04

But for those people

00;32;35;04 - 00;32;38;13

who do want to start there

but then want to go deeper,

00;32;39;08 - 00;32;42;03

I think these four credit classes

that we're developing

00;32;42;03 - 00;32;44;23

are providing an avenue on that.

00;32;44;23 - 00;32;48;03

And with these four credit,

just to clarify the model,

00;32;48;03 - 00;32;53;07

so is the idea that you

you take some some classes through the

00;32;54;15 - 00;32;55;20

seminary now

00;32;55;20 - 00;33;00;07

and then those transfer into a a seminary

whether it's northern

00;33;00;07 - 00;33;02;25

or maybe there's other ones

that are also accepting credits.

00;33;02;25 - 00;33;03;21

Okay. Yeah.

00;33;03;21 - 00;33;05;27

We have about five seminary partners

right now.

00;33;05;27 - 00;33;08;27

And the vision is that

00;33;09;01 - 00;33;12;04

each partner school would offer courses.

00;33;12;05 - 00;33;15;05

So you're actually taking a course

from that school.

00;33;15;29 - 00;33;17;22

And at the end of the day,

you will receive

00;33;17;22 - 00;33;20;22

a transcript with credits

from that particular school.

00;33;21;07 - 00;33;25;00

But the courses being delivered

through the Seminary Now system

00;33;26;01 - 00;33;29;01

and so in that sense is a little bit

of a mediated

00;33;29;15 - 00;33;33;14

experience of that partner school,

but it's that partner schools professor

00;33;33;14 - 00;33;37;18

and that and you're really engaging

and we're trying to really give them

00;33;37;23 - 00;33;40;21

an experience of what it would be like

00;33;40;21 - 00;33;44;05

to take a course from that school

or from their professors.

00;33;44;19 - 00;33;47;04

But yes,

it's mediated to the seminary system.

00;33;47;04 - 00;33;51;13

And then our goal is

that these are really exploratory.

00;33;51;17 - 00;33;54;17

It provides people a taste of seminary.

00;33;54;22 - 00;33;58;02

We won't let them take half

a degree program

00;33;58;02 - 00;34;00;09

or a whole degree program

through seminary.

00;34;00;09 - 00;34;04;10

Now they'll be able to take three or four

or five or six classes,

00;34;04;29 - 00;34;07;27

roughly a semester's worth of classes.

00;34;07;27 - 00;34;12;14

And then really from there, we yes,

we want them to move to convert

00;34;12;14 - 00;34;15;14

or to matriculate into a degree program

at a partner seminary

00;34;15;14 - 00;34;19;09

and all of those credits

that they earned through this exploratory

00;34;19;09 - 00;34;23;09

experience will apply or be credited

towards their degree program.

00;34;23;10 - 00;34;25;24

Right. Okay. That makes that makes sense.

00;34;25;24 - 00;34;29;12

You mentioned sort of the role of YouTube.

00;34;29;15 - 00;34;34;00

You even mentioned Tik-tok as sort of

one of these video is King platforms.

00;34;34;01 - 00;34;36;00

I wonder if this has been

a challenge at all, Which is

00;34;36;29 - 00;34;38;29

your mission is to deliver

00;34;38;29 - 00;34;42;14

much more substantive content

00;34;42;14 - 00;34;45;19

than either Tik-tok or YouTube varies.

00;34;45;19 - 00;34;46;21

There's a lot of good stuff on YouTube,

00;34;46;21 - 00;34;50;15

but there's also a lot of junk

and sort of light light fare as well.

00;34;50;27 - 00;34;54;12

Has that been the challenge to try to,

I think even on the production side, like

00;34;54;12 - 00;35;00;10

how do you make a video about a sort

of theological topic or a biblical topic

00;35;01;14 - 00;35;04;14

interesting in a way

that would hold the attention of people

00;35;04;25 - 00;35;08;27

of the same way that YouTube does or that

all these other or Netflix or whatever?

00;35;09;07 - 00;35;12;03

Is that is that sort of a conversation

that goes on in the production level?

00;35;12;03 - 00;35;16;04

Is it can't I assume it's

not just take your lecture notes

00;35;17;00 - 00;35;20;12

that you would give in class,

read them in front of the camera

00;35;20;12 - 00;35;24;00

and then voila, we have a great,

you know, a great video.

00;35;24;00 - 00;35;26;08

I assume there's a lot more work done

into it, too,

00;35;26;08 - 00;35;29;15

to make those high production values

and to make it in some way appealing

00;35;29;15 - 00;35;33;11

to people who are used to

other online video content.

00;35;34;14 - 00;35;35;20

Yeah, it's a good question.

00;35;35;20 - 00;35;38;20

And that actually, in a sense

is one of the challenges

00;35;38;20 - 00;35;42;01

that and you asked about that earlier, it

00;35;43;02 - 00;35;45;05

if you if I were to say well who

00;35;45;05 - 00;35;48;05

what is the what are the alternatives

that are out there for people

00;35;48;17 - 00;35;52;11

or what are the even

the competitors to seminary now?

00;35;53;12 - 00;35;57;04

I think in a sense that the biggest

competitor is just all the free content

00;35;57;04 - 00;35;58;14

that's out there in the world.

00;35;58;14 - 00;36;02;24

And so why should people pay

for our content?

00;36;02;24 - 00;36;04;24

Granted, it's very affordable price.

00;36;04;24 - 00;36;08;18

That is before I mean, essentially $20

a month is access to all of our content.

00;36;09;02 - 00;36;12;02

So it's intended to be very affordable

for people, but nevertheless,

00;36;12;08 - 00;36;17;26

why pull out your wallet and actually

pay for this content when you can get it?

00;36;19;20 - 00;36;21;24

Or similar things on YouTube right.

00;36;21;24 - 00;36;24;11

I think it's a couple of answers.

00;36;24;11 - 00;36;27;11

One of them is, is that YouTube

00;36;27;25 - 00;36;30;25

often is podcasts, and podcasts are great

00;36;32;20 - 00;36;35;19

or podcast type interviews,

those sorts of things.

00;36;35;19 - 00;36;40;15

But also a lot of it is lecture recordings

which are quite low production value.

00;36;40;15 - 00;36;44;05

So I do think that the production value

side of it, just from a video standpoint,

00;36;44;16 - 00;36;47;12

is a distinguishing factor

and people feel like

00;36;47;12 - 00;36;51;23

they're signing up for something that's

similar to master class in that regard.

00;36;52;11 - 00;36;55;02

Also, I would say

the exclusivity of the content.

00;36;55;02 - 00;36;58;19

So like, you know, if you're

if you're talking about master class,

00;36;59;15 - 00;37;03;05

if I want to go learn from Steph Curry

00;37;03;05 - 00;37;06;05

about how to dribble a basketball,

00;37;07;01 - 00;37;10;03

that's probably

that's probably on YouTube, right.

00;37;10;03 - 00;37;12;20

Like so and at least not in the same way.

00;37;12;20 - 00;37;15;20

And so there's an exclusivity component

that this

00;37;16;01 - 00;37;19;01

this content is only accessible now.

00;37;19;12 - 00;37;21;01

There are things that are similar.

00;37;22;06 - 00;37;22;20

We have a

00;37;22;20 - 00;37;25;20

course with John Walton on Genesis one.

00;37;25;20 - 00;37;26;27

Mm hmm.

00;37;26;27 - 00;37;30;17

And you could probably find lectures

00;37;31;09 - 00;37;34;29

of him

talking about that topic on YouTube,

00;37;37;04 - 00;37;40;00

but probably not quite in a course format

00;37;40;00 - 00;37;44;08

in a sort of a coherent,

structured teaching way.

00;37;44;22 - 00;37;48;09

So I think that there are a lot of ways

in which our content is different than

00;37;48;09 - 00;37;51;17

in unique then from some of that content

that's out there for free.

00;37;53;06 - 00;37;56;11

And then you also you asked about

one more thing I think you asked about.

00;37;57;18 - 00;38;00;07

Well, just just sort of the production

values or the

00;38;00;07 - 00;38;03;07

the attention span,

I mean, thinking and just about how

00;38;03;07 - 00;38;06;19

how to reach the people you want to reach

who are really conditioned.

00;38;06;23 - 00;38;10;02

And I would count myself in this, by the

way, conditions are sort of really short,

00;38;10;20 - 00;38;14;07

catchy video content, and then you're

asking for something longer.

00;38;14;22 - 00;38;16;09

Yeah, a couple of things.

00;38;16;09 - 00;38;19;03

When we're selecting teachers,

00;38;19;03 - 00;38;22;08

we are thinking about and factoring in to

00;38;22;08 - 00;38;26;03

that selection who can talk in

an engaging way, quite frankly?

00;38;26;03 - 00;38;28;15

Mm hmm.

That's not true of everybody. Right.

00;38;28;15 - 00;38;32;06

But that's not relevant

if you're picking up a book.

00;38;32;17 - 00;38;33;08

Right? Right.

00;38;33;08 - 00;38;36;11

That that author does

have to be an engaging speaker.

00;38;37;07 - 00;38;40;06

But for this delivery format,

that is certainly something

00;38;40;06 - 00;38;43;17

we're taking into consideration

with respect to length.

00;38;43;18 - 00;38;46;18

And that's, I think that's what you were

alluding to a little bit there.

00;38;46;20 - 00;38;49;10

One of our values

00;38;49;10 - 00;38;52;10

or practices is short video segments.

00;38;53;00 - 00;38;56;00

So we've we've basically decided that

00;38;56;03 - 00;39;00;14

however long our total video

content is for a course,

00;39;01;05 - 00;39;04;15

typically that's two and a half to 3 hours

for these Noncredit courses.

00;39;05;09 - 00;39;08;08

But for the four credit courses

which we're creating right now, it's

00;39;08;08 - 00;39;09;28

going to be significantly longer.

00;39;09;28 - 00;39;11;24

Like four of those four credit courses

00;39;11;24 - 00;39;15;19

will probably produce

five times as much video content.

00;39;15;19 - 00;39;18;26

So instead of two and a half hours,

it might be 10 hours of video content.

00;39;19;07 - 00;39;22;20

But in both cases we're chunking it

00;39;23;20 - 00;39;27;24

so even if it's 10 hours of video,

we're going to put it

00;39;27;24 - 00;39;33;01

in a bite size format because we do

think there is something about,

00;39;34;14 - 00;39;36;11

you know, the human psyche

00;39;36;11 - 00;39;39;11

or, you know, pedagogically about,

00;39;39;23 - 00;39;43;01

you know, not sitting down

and watching a 55 minute video.

00;39;43;11 - 00;39;45;19

And I think the

the outcome is the same. Right?

00;39;45;19 - 00;39;49;04

You can sit down and watch two

or three of those in one sitting.

00;39;49;19 - 00;39;53;01

But I think psychologically it just feels

a little bit different compared

00;39;53;01 - 00;39;56;19

to feeling like you have to make it

through a 55 minute video.

00;39;56;23 - 00;39;59;23

Yeah, I even think I think of something

00;40;00;02 - 00;40;01;16

another type of online thing.

00;40;01;16 - 00;40;04;25

I was just doing for

for another part of Upper House work

00;40;05;03 - 00;40;09;01

that had a similar thing

where it chunked out like a 50 minutes.

00;40;09;16 - 00;40;12;08

Well, it was

it was produced on five minute levels was

00;40;12;08 - 00;40;16;04

it was ten five minute videos,

which just psychologically feels better

00;40;16;04 - 00;40;19;19

than 150 minute video for whatever

reason, partly because you can put it down

00;40;19;19 - 00;40;22;21

and then pick it back up again

and you know where you were and stuff.

00;40;22;21 - 00;40;25;21

But yeah, yeah, that's definitely,

00;40;26;15 - 00;40;29;18

definitely a smart thing to play into

in terms of the human condition.

00;40;29;18 - 00;40;32;13

I think getting getting bite size.

00;40;32;13 - 00;40;34;01

Okay. Just a couple more questions here.

00;40;34;01 - 00;40;37;23

I did wonder your thoughts on

you mentioned you mentioned a bit

00;40;37;23 - 00;40;41;23

about the relationship of seminary

now to sort of adult education

00;40;41;23 - 00;40;45;24

in the church and other forms of education

that might be available.

00;40;46;00 - 00;40;48;09

The series is on Christian education

more broadly.

00;40;48;09 - 00;40;52;01

So we're thinking in this series

of everything from a formal seminary

00;40;52;01 - 00;40;55;23

degree to Christian colleges

to a Sunday school at church

00;40;56;23 - 00;41;00;12

to K-through-12 education,

all types of Christian education.

00;41;01;02 - 00;41;03;08

How do you see seminary now relating?

00;41;03;08 - 00;41;05;14

You'll have to go through all those,

but in sort of a broader

00;41;05;14 - 00;41;08;14

ecosystem of Christian education,

what role do you hope it plays

00;41;08;26 - 00;41;11;26

in the broader

ecosystem of Christian education?

00;41;12;13 - 00;41;13;27

Mm hmm. Yeah.

00;41;13;27 - 00;41;17;07

Maybe the thing that those different use

00;41;17;07 - 00;41;22;03

cases and contexts

and audiences have and have in common

00;41;22;03 - 00;41;25;03

or the way to differentiate them,

00;41;26;11 - 00;41;29;20

is partly their purpose

00;41;29;20 - 00;41;32;20

and what they're using it for.

00;41;32;29 - 00;41;34;08

But I would say that

00;41;34;08 - 00;41;39;05

we definitely think the content can meet

all of all of those needs.

00;41;39;05 - 00;41;42;07

So I mentioned, for example, I don't know

00;41;42;07 - 00;41;45;07

if I referred to this

when I talked about it earlier, but

00;41;45;16 - 00;41;48;16

we've had some conversations with a group

00;41;48;25 - 00;41;53;08

from InterVarsity University Christian

Fellowship, I think probably rooted at UW

00;41;53;08 - 00;41;57;05

Madison about that class of people

00;41;57;26 - 00;42;01;14

that are academics and may be professors.

00;42;01;23 - 00;42;04;15

Maybe they're in PhD programs.

00;42;04;15 - 00;42;07;09

And yet you think about campus ministry

00;42;07;09 - 00;42;11;05

and how are we ministering to

00;42;11;05 - 00;42;14;08

and educating

and forming Christians on campus.

00;42;15;24 - 00;42;16;26

That is one

00;42;16;26 - 00;42;20;06

of, I think, an important

use case for seminary now.

00;42;20;24 - 00;42;24;02

And so we've done some work with them

to make seminary

00;42;24;02 - 00;42;27;02

known among those sorts of folks as well,

00;42;28;11 - 00;42;29;23

from a from a Christian,

00;42;29;23 - 00;42;32;23

a lay Christian audience standpoint

as well.

00;42;33;02 - 00;42;36;25

Of different people in

the pew are at different levels.

00;42;36;25 - 00;42;39;19

And I mean that in the best way.

00;42;39;19 - 00;42;42;23

There are some people who

perhaps aren't ready

00;42;42;23 - 00;42;45;27

for our level of content yet,

but many are.

00;42;46;02 - 00;42;48;23

And and each

course is a little bit different.

00;42;48;23 - 00;42;51;23

Some of our courses are more

00;42;52;16 - 00;42;55;14

in tune for that sort of use case.

00;42;55;14 - 00;42;58;06

Let me give you one example.

00;42;58;06 - 00;43;00;23

One of our courses is from Sandor Richter.

00;43;00;23 - 00;43;03;24

It's called The Stewards of Eden,

which is a course about scripture

00;43;03;24 - 00;43;07;13

and environmental stewardship and creation

care and those sorts of things.

00;43;09;05 - 00;43;11;27

Or another one is from Carmen Ames.

00;43;11;27 - 00;43;16;07

She has a book called Beer in God's Name,

and it's sort of an introduction

00;43;16;07 - 00;43;19;21

to Old Testament theology,

but it's something that really resonates

00;43;19;21 - 00;43;23;08

with the average Christian who's

trying to make sense of the Old Testament.

00;43;23;19 - 00;43;26;21

So a lot of content in that sense

that that's just really good

00;43;26;21 - 00;43;29;03

for small group use

00;43;29;03 - 00;43;32;03

and in adult education in churches.

00;43;32;04 - 00;43;35;25

So our we call church subscriptions

include

00;43;36;03 - 00;43;39;10

both of those facets, both leadership

00;43;39;10 - 00;43;42;10

development and discipleship.

00;43;42;13 - 00;43;45;13

We want it to be that a church can send

00;43;46;09 - 00;43;49;21

emerging leaders through a learning track,

00;43;50;12 - 00;43;53;26

and that's sort of their

their leadership development

00;43;55;00 - 00;43;57;08

program, if you will.

00;43;57;08 - 00;44;01;06

And incidentally, some churches aren't

even thinking about those sorts of things.

00;44;01;06 - 00;44;03;08

But we want them to be thinking about them

more.

00;44;03;08 - 00;44;03;15

Right.

00;44;03;15 - 00;44;07;07

Other words,

how are you identifying and equipping

00;44;07;07 - 00;44;11;03

and training your emerging leaders

and your current leaders?

00;44;11;27 - 00;44;14;28

And we think seminary now, quite

frankly, is just a good tool for that.

00;44;15;21 - 00;44;18;13

We want to come alongside churches

in that regard, like

00;44;18;13 - 00;44;21;17

you would really at the end of the

day, they're implementing.

00;44;23;06 - 00;44;24;16

They might be the ones to

00;44;24;16 - 00;44;27;19

provide the structure

and the accountability

00;44;28;09 - 00;44;33;02

and maybe even some group dynamics around

how people experience that content.

00;44;33;02 - 00;44;36;02

So it's it's collaborative in that sense.

00;44;36;12 - 00;44;39;14

But we want to be a tool

that churches can use

00;44;39;26 - 00;44;41;24

for both the leadership development side

00;44;41;24 - 00;44;46;01

as well as the adult education

or the discipleship side of it as well.

00;44;46;03 - 00;44;50;15

Yeah, that makes sense with a digital

asynchronous way to do it right,

00;44;50;15 - 00;44;54;09

that makes it so much more convenient for

churches in particular to get on board.

00;44;55;02 - 00;44;56;05

Yeah. Yeah.

00;44;56;05 - 00;44;59;05

Then I'm just thinking of like

staffing and,

00;44;59;27 - 00;45;01;22

you know,

if you do it, the traditional way,

00;45;01;22 - 00;45;06;08

having a staff person sort of take up

seminary classes can be, you know,

00;45;06;10 - 00;45;09;13

a big part of their job for the next two

or three years or however long it takes.

00;45;10;05 - 00;45;10;16

Exactly.

00;45;10;16 - 00;45;12;26

And this would be a way to

maybe mitigate some of that

00;45;13;27 - 00;45;16;04

some of that commitment,

00;45;16;04 - 00;45;19;03

at least in terms of time and

and location.

00;45;19;28 - 00;45;22;21

Okay, Jason, just a couple questions

on a bigger picture

00;45;22;21 - 00;45;24;01

here, too, to close us out.

00;45;24;01 - 00;45;27;01

So I want to pull back from just

00;45;27;03 - 00;45;30;16

digital education and the seminary

now platform and just get your sense of

00;45;30;29 - 00;45;34;18

what when I when you think of

sort of Christian higher education

00;45;34;18 - 00;45;38;13

or even just the seminary world,

what is the what are the hurdles

00;45;38;13 - 00;45;42;08

that you're facing right now

as an institution, as an educator?

00;45;43;06 - 00;45;46;25

And then I'll ask you about where

you think we're going in the near future.

00;45;46;25 - 00;45;50;26

But first, just what are the top

couple things that come to mind

00;45;51;05 - 00;45;54;18

when you think of hurdles on the broader

education landscape right now?

00;45;55;14 - 00;45;57;01

Mm hmm. Mm hmm.

00;45;57;01 - 00;45;57;12

Yeah.

00;45;57;12 - 00;46;01;23

I mean, probably the first thing is

just the sustainability question

00;46;01;23 - 00;46;03;03

that we referred to earlier,

00;46;04;20 - 00;46;07;02

which is to say

00;46;07;02 - 00;46;09;19

this seminary now in its current

00;46;09;19 - 00;46;13;29

or traditional format,

is costly and thinking through

00;46;14;20 - 00;46;18;09

how to make it sustainable

for the 21st century.

00;46;19;13 - 00;46;20;04

So that's probably

00;46;20;04 - 00;46;23;11

I mean, to be honest with you,

that's an existential question, of course.

00;46;23;12 - 00;46;25;29

And so I think in that sense,

that's probably

00;46;25;29 - 00;46;29;20

what's on most seminaries minds right now.

00;46;29;28 - 00;46;32;25

That's both a challenge

and an opportunity, right?

00;46;32;25 - 00;46;35;24

Because on the one hand, you could

00;46;36;28 - 00;46;42;01

shrink, so to speak, to challenge

and then double entendre here, shrink

00;46;42;05 - 00;46;45;05

sort of in numbers as well.

00;46;46;08 - 00;46;48;17

Or you could lean into that and say,

well, what

00;46;48;17 - 00;46;52;18

how can we innovate and evolve

and how can we meet

00;46;52;24 - 00;46;53;12

the new

00;46;53;12 - 00;46;55;04

the new demands and the new needs

00;46;55;04 - 00;46;57;26

that people have out there

and meet them where they are.

00;46;57;26 - 00;47;03;00

And so I think in that sense, something

like seminary now is an example of that.

00;47;04;18 - 00;47;07;18

Other challenges,

00;47;08;11 - 00;47;12;11

I think denominational seminaries

00;47;13;12 - 00;47;16;12

might be challenged a little bit as well,

00;47;17;14 - 00;47;19;15

that there's fewer students to go around

00;47;19;15 - 00;47;22;20

if people have a strong pipeline

from their denomination.

00;47;22;20 - 00;47;25;20

And sometimes that can go well. Mm hmm.

00;47;25;20 - 00;47;29;00

What we've seen at Northern Seminary

is that

00;47;29;26 - 00;47;32;03

when people can do

00;47;32;03 - 00;47;35;03

probably most seminaries these days

without moving.

00;47;35;18 - 00;47;35;26

Right.

00;47;35;26 - 00;47;39;06

So like distance programs

and not even just in the old

00;47;39;06 - 00;47;42;06

asynchronous way, but but in these newer

00;47;43;00 - 00;47;46;00

synchronous

and video conference type ways as well.

00;47;46;21 - 00;47;50;05

People can pick one of 100 seminaries

00;47;50;16 - 00;47;53;16

and they don't have to move to Houston or

00;47;54;03 - 00;47;56;09

Los Angeles or wherever else.

00;47;56;09 - 00;47;59;05

So that does really it's

it really becomes a marketplace

00;47;59;05 - 00;48;01;28

for people to select their seminary.

There's a variety of factors.

00;48;01;28 - 00;48;06;00

Sometimes it's denominational,

but one, it's not denomination.

00;48;06;07 - 00;48;09;15

I think at the end of the day,

it's a little bit about who is your tribe,

00;48;09;25 - 00;48;11;21

for better or worse? Mm hmm.

00;48;11;21 - 00;48;14;22

And it's also a bit about

00;48;15;25 - 00;48;19;24

learning

from people that you regard to be,

00;48;20;14 - 00;48;23;01

you know, the people, the types of people

that you read their books.

00;48;23;01 - 00;48;25;23

And maybe they're your theological heroes.

00;48;25;23 - 00;48;27;17

Now, there's a little bit of a danger

there.

00;48;27;17 - 00;48;29;12

I don't some.

00;48;29;12 - 00;48;32;02

To some degree, it just is what it is.

00;48;32;02 - 00;48;36;21

I don't I don't want to create

a celebrity culture around that either.

00;48;37;03 - 00;48;40;03

But that is one component of

00;48;40;19 - 00;48;43;20

the seminaries that are doing well

and maybe some of the seminaries

00;48;43;20 - 00;48;44;22

are doing well.

00;48;44;22 - 00;48;48;03

Just from a sheer

demand and interest standpoint.

00;48;48;24 - 00;48;50;05

Yes. I hear you say two things there.

00;48;50;05 - 00;48;56;10

One is that there is an element of

of what you said, what tribe be part of.

00;48;56;10 - 00;48;57;12

So I'll say tribalism.

00;48;57;12 - 00;48;57;23

I don't know.

00;48;57;23 - 00;49;01;21

Maybe that that's ratcheted up too far,

but a sense of some people are being more

00;49;01;21 - 00;49;02;25

discerning based on

00;49;04;00 - 00;49;05;14

based on variety of

00;49;05;14 - 00;49;09;04

theological, cultural, other factors

where they want to go to seminary.

00;49;09;09 - 00;49;11;10

And the other thing

I heard you saying was that

00;49;11;10 - 00;49;14;21

the marketplace has sort of nationalized

or even internationalized

00;49;15;01 - 00;49;18;29

in a way where location matters much less

now that now that you can go to any

00;49;20;04 - 00;49;23;13

any well-known seminary, maybe,

you know, top five, No.

00;49;23;13 - 00;49;26;13

One seminary

and can probably get a degree there

00;49;26;18 - 00;49;29;18

in a way that would be

00;49;30;06 - 00;49;33;19

would be like going to somewhere

that's more local,

00;49;33;19 - 00;49;36;24

maybe that that that sort of flattens

the marketplace in a way.

00;49;36;24 - 00;49;39;26

It means being in a certain region

doesn't really help you

00;49;39;26 - 00;49;42;16

as much as it used to as it is.

Yeah. Okay.

00;49;42;16 - 00;49;43;24

So that's that's really interesting.

00;49;43;24 - 00;49;47;02

And I can definitely get a sense of that.

00;49;47;02 - 00;49;50;27

Just even reading the sort of chronicle

of higher education news coming out

00;49;50;27 - 00;49;54;17

about the struggles of certain seminaries,

that that helps make sense.

00;49;54;17 - 00;49;57;17

A bit of of why

they might be under so much pressure.

00;49;57;20 - 00;49;58;08

Yeah.

00;49;58;08 - 00;50;02;19

Last question is just giving

Give us a sense of maybe one thing

00;50;02;19 - 00;50;06;25

that you're looking for in the future

for Christian higher education.

00;50;06;26 - 00;50;08;10

Is there either some

00;50;10;21 - 00;50;11;00

well,

00;50;11;00 - 00;50;14;00

you could say a looming thing

that sort of is haunting your

00;50;14;00 - 00;50;17;00

your dreams or something

that you're looking forward to

00;50;17;22 - 00;50;20;22

in the next few years or decade or so

00;50;21;03 - 00;50;23;15

in in Christian higher ed?

00;50;23;15 - 00;50;24;20

Mm hmm.

00;50;24;20 - 00;50;24;26

Yeah.

00;50;24;26 - 00;50;27;28

Maybe I'll mention a couple of things

that I am hopeful about

00;50;28;20 - 00;50;31;20

Slash excited about.

00;50;31;25 - 00;50;34;24

I think one of them is

00;50;35;05 - 00;50;39;20

the idea that institutions

can begin to work together more.

00;50;39;25 - 00;50;41;11

Mm hmm.

00;50;41;11 - 00;50;44;25

You know, is that an efficiency

of resources issue? Yes.

00;50;45;13 - 00;50;48;13

But I think a little bit

it's laying down our,

00;50;49;23 - 00;50;51;08

you know, survival instincts.

00;50;51;08 - 00;50;54;08

A bit free for each of us and coordinating

00;50;54;08 - 00;50;57;08

so that that excites me for the future.

00;50;57;11 - 00;51;00;17

Another component of the a little bit

different is

00;51;01;18 - 00;51;04;18

I'm pretty interested in

00;51;04;26 - 00;51;08;29

what you might call

dual enrollment type situations

00;51;09;28 - 00;51;12;00

that could happen at a variety of levels.

00;51;12;00 - 00;51;15;08

I mean, you've got juniors and seniors

in high school

00;51;15;16 - 00;51;18;19

who are taking college credit

and it sort of counts both ways.

00;51;19;04 - 00;51;22;18

But that can also happen at the undergrad

and graduate level.

00;51;23;16 - 00;51;25;25

Of course, there are

00;51;25;25 - 00;51;27;24

sort of a short

00;51;27;24 - 00;51;31;00

that we talk about like a five year

bam diff program,

00;51;31;00 - 00;51;32;24

which would traditionally

take seven years.

00;51;32;24 - 00;51;38;08

And some schools have collaborated

to find ways to reduce the redundancies

00;51;38;28 - 00;51;42;09

across degree programs

and have dual credit

00;51;42;26 - 00;51;45;14

options, such that

00;51;45;14 - 00;51;48;00

some of those classes

are counting in both directions.

00;51;48;00 - 00;51;51;00

That's really interesting to me

and I think

00;51;52;10 - 00;51;56;28

an important part of the future

so that we can provide pathways for people

00;51;56;28 - 00;52;00;24

and more efficient ways for people

to to go deeper in their education.

00;52;01;24 - 00;52;02;17

Really interesting.

00;52;02;17 - 00;52;04;09

Thanks for those thoughts.

00;52;04;09 - 00;52;08;16

For those listeners who do check out,

not in the way

00;52;08;16 - 00;52;12;19

that you need to subscribe to it,

but check out the Seminary Now website.

00;52;12;23 - 00;52;17;19

It's an interesting sort of presentation

that does look a lot like a masterclass,

00;52;17;19 - 00;52;18;17

if you're familiar with that

00;52;18;17 - 00;52;22;21

or some of these other online platforms

in terms of production values and stuff.

00;52;22;21 - 00;52;27;03

So really interesting to think about

how much that's going to shape,

00;52;27;10 - 00;52;30;13

particularly people going forward,

their experience of Christian education.

00;52;30;25 - 00;52;33;25

Are these

these platforms like seminary now?

00;52;34;02 - 00;52;35;13

So, Jason, thank you for

00;52;35;13 - 00;52;38;16

joining us on with Faith in Mind

and sharing about your work.

00;52;39;15 - 00;52;40;06

You're very welcome.

00;52;40;06 - 00;52;43;06

Happy to be with you.

00;52;43;20 - 00;52;45;05

Thanks for joining us.

00;52;45;05 - 00;52;48;01

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00;53;01;01 - 00;53;04;01

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00;53;04;12 - 00;53;05;18

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