Rod Light | January 31, 2020

Residency week in January marked the all new M.A. in Theological Studies, a program that will equip students for more effective ministry and a deeper personal understanding of the Bible and Pentecostal theology.

Will Barrow, Pastor of Father’s House Church in Atascadero, Calif. wanted a graduate degree in theology that would add value to his ministry, specifically with a Pentecostal distinctive. He says the M.A. in Theological Studies (MATS) at Life Pacific University is just the right fit.

“I am excited about the courses that look at the prophets and the culture of the biblical text, learning Greek, and studying different aspects of Pentecostal theology,” Will says. He joins other ministry leaders in his cohort representing a variety of ages and vocational backgrounds from California, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia and Washington.

Program Chair Dr. Eric Lopez says the MATS is an accelerated, online program designed for graduate students who want to sharpen and deepen their understanding of the Bible and theology in an engaged, online community. As students explore their questions about faith, they also grapple with contemporary challenges and opportunities as they gain confidence in understanding and teaching on key issues in their context.

Nathan Meade, Associate Pastor at North Church in Spokane, Wash. thoroughly enjoyed the residency week for the MATS program held in January on the LPU campus in San Dimas, Calif. Residency week gathers MATS students for intensive on-campus classes and personal meetings with professors and program leaders to monitor progress and outcomes.

“The professors have been top notch, they are great, and it’s sunny California,” Nathan says of his residency week experience. “You can’t beat that. And, being here with a group of people who share the same passion to reach others, to learn about the Bible, and to learn more from some great minds, it’s a no brainer.”

Local pastors and leaders joined MATS students participating in residency week for “The Theological Studies Lecture Series” offered by LPU as a free service to the general public. The keynote session featured Dr. Amos Yong, Professor of Theology and Mission and Dean of the School of Theology and the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary.

After residency week, Nathan says his mind is already engaged and his thinking has been stretched, particularly in the area of contemporary issues that confront the Church at large. “Theology provides us with clear tools to study the Bible,” he says. “The MATS program helps us apply the material we’re learning with a deeper understanding of the Bible and how it can benefit the Church.”

The program also holds an appeal for people like Kyle Randleman, Lead Pastor of Valley Hope Community Church in Lebanon, Ore. who has no background in Bible or theology. His education and professional experience are in criminal justice and administration and he explored the Internet for the right graduate program that would equip him for his current ministry role.

“The MATS program lined up with everything I was searching for,” Kyle says. “I wanted to go deeper in the Word of God and in my relationship with Christ and learn how to be more effective as a pastor of a small church.”

Eric Lopez thinks the MATS program has wide appeal for pastors and leaders but also believes it adds value to Christians who want to explore the questions and challenges of their faith. He says some believers pursue answers to their questions through the lens of leadership, others through counseling and pastoral studies and still others through the theological disciplines.

“Just as there are many gifts and roles that help the Church flourish, all of these lenses are needed for the church to bear witness in the world faithfully,” Eric adds. The MATS program focuses on exploring these questions and challenges through theological disciplines. The program helps students build and refine their ability to understand the Bible and critically engage theology with an eye toward understanding educational and spiritual formation processes for themselves and their communities.

Will Barrow offers an encouragement to prospective MATS students. “If you are sitting at a place where a masters program sounds scary, it sounds huge, and you think you’re not ready for it – I would encourage you to seek God. He will give you the grace to go through this program,” he says.

Eric believes MATS students benefit by intentionally exploring how God shapes their learning by drawing them closer to Christ and transforming them by his Spirit throughout the learning experience. 

“The MATS program will equip you for your role in whatever aspect of ministry you’re in,” Will says. “It will take you into new levels of what God has for you in those places.”

January 2020 began with three graduate residencies on the LPU campus in San Dimas, CA. Watch the video below to get a glimpse of residnecy week. Are you interested in graduate education? Click here to request info.

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