At BBC Practical Ministry experience has always been and continues to be a high priority across all our study programmes.
We are concerned to offer students academic theological knowledge, while simultaneously equipping them holistically for Christian life and service, through the integration of academic, experiential and spiritual engagement. In the courses, Cert HE; Dip HE and BA in Theology courses we have intentionally enshrined this ethos within each qualification. Students have the opportunity to experience different ministries, which may equip them for a future vocation or indicate that their skills lie in a different direction.
Weekly Practical Ministry Placement
In the first two years of study, it is mandatory to fulfil a Practical Ministry Placement each week of term.
The emphasis is on service and consistent attendance, as such service fosters personal Christian growth and is an opportunity for students to gain an insight into practical application of their faith. The Practical Training Co-coordinator, assists students in finding an appropriate placement among churches and/or Christian organisations, throughout Northern Ireland. The placement will involve 3-4 hours per week service, under the auspices of a Christian leader. This Placement Supervisor will guide and direct students in the ongoing ministry experience as well as provide constructive feedback to them and to the college, on their experience of supervising the students, assigned to them.
There are many and varied placement opportunities. Some students fulfil roles with youth, children, pastoral care or worship leadership in churches. There are other administrative roles in both churches and Christian charities/organisations. Work with alcoholics, prostitutes, elderly, night ministry or focused evangelism is also available. The variety is as wide as the Christian population’s vision in Northern Ireland and the student's curiosity and commitment. No student is forced to undertake a role, which is outside their capability, but students often reach beyond their initial comfort zone and are rewarded by the learning and experience of a different role.
Block Ministry Placement
In addition, students who are on either the Diploma or BA programmes must, at some point in their course of study, complete a Ministry Placement Module, which will entail spending at least 4 weeks full-time, working in a Christian ministry.
This may involve engagement in some kind of cross-cultural ministry, which will usually take place overseas (although the overseas principle may not be rigorously enforced and consideration will be given to particular circumstances.) Our staff support students in exploring potential options and discuss the ways in which they might use the experience to confirm a sense of particular vocation and to discover previously unidentified gifts.
Ministry Placement is an integral part of the training for service in ministry. As students plan, prepare and get involved in a ministry context there are valuable opportunities to integrate the theory and practice of Christian service with a holistic approach involving 'head, heart and hands'. Ministry opportunities can have a significant impact on each student; they strengthen character, convictions and commitment. Thus this aspect of our curriculum is critical for ministerial formation and it is expected that students will give careful thought to the module so as to make it an enriching learning experience.
The central assignment for this module allows students the opportunity for a closer examination of a personally selected issue, which is of significance in the context of the placement. Rather than being merely descriptive, this part will allow the student to identify a problem or question and engage biblical, theological and/ or missiological principles in an attempt to address the issue. This is a rich learning climate because of the student’s motivation towards exploring a topic of their own choice.
The block placements may take place in many different countries - generally if the country is not at war or other potential health risk, as the safety of our students is of prime concern for us. In 2015 students have travelled to, Cambodia, Canada, Mexico, Morocco, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Spain and USA. Some have had block placements in churches in Dublin, parts of England and all over Northern Ireland. Others worked in the HSC Trust as pastoral visitors, RNIB, Prospects in Lisburn, SU, New Wine, Armoy Christian Family Centre and Quaker Connections at Maghaberry Prison.
Queen’s University Belfast Degree Plus
QUB students, studying at BBC, have the opportunity to undertake a Certificate in Practical Ministry, either completing 2 semesters of weekly placement or 4 weeks of block placement and submitting a written assignment of 1000 words.
This is agreed with the Practical Training Coordinator and successful completion leads to a Degree Plus award. This incurs no extra charge for BBC students and is available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at BBC.