What is Learn Local NW?
Learn Local Northwest is a discipleship and leadership development ministry that links on-line seminary level study with local communities through mentor-lead cohorts where students learn together, in-person, right where they live. The Northwest Church Planting Network sponsors Learn Local to help build up church members and future leaders.
It connects Covenant Seminary’s online courses with the local church by creating local learning centers called Campus Cohorts where advanced content is studied in community under the mentorship of a pastor or other qualified leader.
The internet is transforming the way people learn by delivering unimaginably vast amounts of information around the world. The Church should embrace the potential of the information age with enthusiasm, but not naiveté. Content needs community.
It is no accident that 75% of the books of Bible are named after people or places. Truth has content and comes from above, but it can only be known in a specific place by people who learn it and live it together. Through Campus Cohorts, NW Learn Local provides that by delivering a campus-commons in your neighborhood.
Since universities were established, students have met in the commons to engage in free-flowing discussion, mutual discovery and a little (or not so little) debate. The Campus Cohort learning model localizes online content by bringing people together in mentor-led, peer engaged study groups to learn where they live. The Cloud delivers content.
Under the tutelage of a pastor with subject-matter proficiency and local ministry experience, the Northwest Learn Local students gather with other motivated learners to engage, critique and apply course content in their own settings. They learn where they live so they can live what they learn.
- How does Covenant Seminary's online program work?
- What is the relationship between the network and the seminary?
- Who should consider exploring a call to vocational ministry?
- Who are the campus cohort mentors?
- When will Learn Local NW Launch? When is the application deadline?
- Are Scholarships available?
- What should I do if I'm interested?
Why are we doing this?
To equip the church members and to raise up ministers.
Our vision is to fulfill two of the Church’s callings with one unified effort.
We want to provide advanced theological training to “build up the Church” so that it can reach full maturity, just as Paul commanded us.
In obedience to Christ, we pray for laborers and then follow our prayers by building a training and vocational discernment ministry that helps those who are interested explore a call to ministry.
Whether a student simply wants to grow in understanding or explore their calling, advanced study in the context of a local cohort led by an established pastor gives every participant the chance to grow in grace.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
1. What is a campus cohort?
The cloud delivers content. Campus Cohorts deliver community.
Campus Cohorts are local learning communities sponsored by the Northwest Church Planting Network of at least five students enrolled in degree or graduate certificate programs or as auditors.
They exist to fortify online study with mentor-facilitated discussion in a community of learners exploring course content and implications in a local ministry and life context.
They begin each semester with a common meal. Then, they meet a minimum of seven times a semester for 90 minutes per session to discuss lecture and reading materials.
Campus Cohorts are led by mentors who have been approved by the Northwest Church Planting Network.
2. How do you know if you are ready for this?
Curiosity is a better student than genius.
Curiosity and a willingness to work at it are the most important factors for any student. This is especially true for auditors who can listen and read without the demands of papers and exams. That allows self-governed leaders to glean and internalize course material according to their own objectives and at their own pace.
Students who take courses for credit apply through the seminary’s admissions office and receive counsel about their readiness to engage graduate level study. Like most seminaries, Covenant does not require graduate entrance exams, but a B.A. or B.S. is necessary.
3. How Much Time does a Learn Local Course Take?
Not more than binge-watching.
Auditing students simply need to listen to lectures, do the reading and attend the Campus Cohorts every other week. A standard class would offer three hours of lectures per week. Reading assignments vary but you should assume substantial reading opportunities. Cohorts last an hour and a half.
Degree or Certificate students take courses for credit and so commit to all course work outlined in syllabus. Like any Masters’ level program, the work can be challenging. It is also stimulating.
Whether online or on campus, completing a degree or certificate as a part-time student would take several years. A significant advantage of online study, however, is that students can fit lectures into their life-style more fluidly.
Learn Local uses Covenant Seminary’s online program, so courses follow the standard semester plan.
4. How could Learn Local change me and my community?
“…make disciples and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you”
More study is not the enemy of authentic, life-changing ministry. More study in isolation, however, is. Learn Local combines content with community.
Let’s start with content—
More and deeper study has always been central to discipleship. Paul preached on the Sabbath, and he taught daily at the Lecture Hall of Tyrannus (Acts 19.9). And he walked side-by-side with his disciples teaching them all along.
Ongoing, deep study is vital because Scripture is a saturating grace. It can work by thunderbolts and cloud-bursts, but its real power is more like a Northwest winter rain. It soaks the soul. Learn Local is a micro-climate where disciples can engage the Gospel at greater depth than commonly found in small groups or on Sundays.
Now about community:
Learn Local builds communities where students can wrestle with the information and the implications of their study. And relationships have the power to leverage learning and turn it into living.
Ultimately, the fruit of the Learn Local experience rests with the student, but here’s what participants might expect from Learn Local’s “truth plus one another” formula:
- Expand your soul. Few Christians will grow as much as they know, but no Christian will ever grow beyond what they know. If you want to know how high and wide and deep the love of God is you will need to do more than study, but you will certainly not be able to do less.
- Learn yourself. The very first words of John Calvin’s famous Institutes claim that all true knowledge consists of two parts: Knowledge of God and knowledge of self. Mentors and cohort fellows can help willing souls learn about both and grow in self-knowing and the understanding of God’s glory.
- Love God. God makes himself known through his Son in the Scriptures, by the Holy Spirit. Learning well makes loving God more fully possible. Again, it takes more than doctrine to love God, but it certainly doesn’t take less.
- Discover your call (or part of it, at least). Jesus summed up the Law with “Love God and love your neighbor.” Your calling in life flows from those two fountains. By examining the Bible in community, you can learn how to do both and gain insight into how God made you to love him by loving others.
- Become more useful. Arrogant Christians full of head knowledge are not helpful, but humble people who haven’t tried to learn more aren’t the answer. Learning about God and his ways is good for the Church and world.
- Have your brain pastored along with your heart. Our pastoral mentors have the experience and training to shepherd your mind as well as your heart. How you think is just as critical for how you live as what you love.
5. How does Covenant Seminary’s online program work?
Covenant’s online program is accredited and conforms to the standards of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Northwest Learn Local partners with Covenant, but Learn Local Campus Cohorts are not under ATS oversight.
Covenant offers a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.) and a Graduate Certificate (G.C.) online. The M.A.T.S. is a fully accredited degree and would take two years to complete as a full-time student, but online students are usually part-time and can take up to four years depending on their study pace.
The G.C. does not confer a formal degree; however, the learning experience is exactly the same. Students complete all course work, receive grades, feedback and credit and have the same access to professors as degree-seeking students. Covenant’s certificate program meets all ATS standards.
Covenant online is accessed through a proprietary web-portal that links to audio or video lectures. Online students participate in discussion boards with the professor’s input included. The system is designed to provide community and contact with the Professor as well as other students.
6. What is the relationship between the Network and the seminary?
The Northwest Church Planting Network works closely with the administration at Covenant, but is not formally connected to the institution. The seminary provides admissions, administrative and technical support, governance over all instructional content and has the sole authority to grant credit.
The Campus Cohort Systems is a parallel instructional platform under the auspices of the Northwest Church Planting Network and is designed to augment online instruction and embed learning in our own missional context.
7. Who should consider exploring a call to vocational ministry?
First, it is important to note that most Campus Cohort participants will not be considering vocational ministry. Most will be pursing personal enrichment and augmentation of their lay-service gifts and training. These folks are an important part of this ministry.
God calls men and women into vocational ministry at all stages of life and from all different backgrounds. So, it is not possible to determine a categorical profile. Seek him in prayer. Still, throughout history the Church has recognized that rising leaders often emerge from her ranks with the following characteristics:
- They are within seven years of college or vocational training. Or, they presently attend a local university, artisan or trade training center and participate in one of our congregations. Identifying candidates in this life-stage offers the most promise for a life-time of ministry and, generally, engages them in a more malleable life situation than later in life.
- They participate in ministry at a level that distinguishes them as lovers of Christ and his Church.
- They exhibit influence among their peers at church, work or school.
- They exhibit elements of Christian maturity and potential for further growth.
- They pursue study of the Word.
- The exhibit communication, relational and intellectual gifts suitable for the ministry.
- They engage unbelievers with the Gospel.
- They are inquisitive about the work of ministry and the Word of God.
8. Who are the campus cohort mentors?
- Mentors are usually ordained ministers who have been approved by and serve for the Northwest Church Planting Network.
- Lay leaders with advanced training or proven content expertise relevant to a course may mentor a Cohort with the Network’s approval.
- Non-PCA ministers or academics with relevant course expertise may be approved as mentors.
9. When will NW Learn Local launch and what are the application deadlines?
10. Are scholarships available?
11. What should I do if I'm interested?
Registration & Contact
If you are interested in joining a Learn Local Cohort, or have any questions about the program, please contact us using the adjacent form.
Learn Local Cohort participants must also apply through Covenant Seminary's Masters program, Graduate Certificate program, or auditor program. Fill out the adjacent form for more information about these different tracks.