Since most christian colleges emphasize service almost as much as academic excellence, their student body can count on opportunities to take a school sponsored mission trip or two each academic year. While many christian schools offer degree programs in more mainstream majors and disciplines, some of them adhere to their original missions to equip christian leaders to share the gospel in word and in deed. For example, students who attend some christian universities can get degrees in biblical studies with concentrations in missions. The curricula for these types of programs often include intensive bible study, missions preparation training, language learning and the development of a trade skill that can be used in the field. Here are some of the typical course topics that are used to prepare students for short term mission trips in college and a lifetime of biblically based service.
Doctrinal and Historical Biblical Studies
Before a student takes off on a christian college sponsored mission trip, they usually complete extensive bible study in preparation. Understanding biblical principles and knowing how to convey them effectively to others are the foundations upon which mission trips are built. These students also undertake extensive analysis of the historical periods associated with the Hebrew law, prophets, writings, gospel accounts and apostolic epistles. These course topics are designed to give students a clear picture of the lifestyle that the bible promotes, is acceptable to the Creator and is applicable to all of humanity.
Global Mission Awareness
One of the biggest challenges faced by those who seek to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” is the existence of other religious beliefs and rites that have been practiced by the world’s people for millennia. Global mission awareness training exposes mission bound students to a number of the world’s religions and teaches them how to share their faith in context without compromising biblical standards. These christian college students often learn about anthropology, intercultural communications and the common challenges that missionaries face when evangelizing abroad.
Principles of Language Learning
Christian universities often sponsor short term mission trips to international locations for students who plan to become full time missionaries after they graduate. Since a number of these full time mission positions are in places where English is not widely spoken, missionaries are usually called upon to learn the official languages of the region that they have chosen to serve. A course in the principles of language learning instructs students about how to analyze a language’s phonetics and grammar while learning to speak it. The course also emphasizes to students the importance of listening to intonation and speech patterns of native speakers so that they can correctly mimic them.
Applying Practical Trades in Missions
Nearly all of the heroes of the faith had skills that they could use to support themselves or help others while they fulfilled their spiritual missions. For example, Jacob kept livestock, Peter was a fisherman, Tabitha of Joppa was a seamstress and the Messiah himself was trained as a carpenter. They gave clear examples that missionaries should not go out into the field empty handed when it comes to valuable trade skills. Subsequently, many colleges offer minors or specializations in trades like nursing, education, construction and farming. At least one bible college has an aeronautical program that trains and prepares missionaries to become pilots and mechanics for mission work.
Study abroad programs, internships and other forms of experiential learning opportunities have gained ground in secular universities over the years. The administrators and degree program developers at these universities recognize the value to students and industry of putting academic theories into practice. Meanwhile, christian colleges have traditionally offered students short term mission trip opportunities that rival the most comprehensive of secular study abroad programs.