TRENTON, NJ, (BRN) – Students who attend one of the six seminaries affiliated and supported by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and have ties to an SBC church are automatically eligible for a tuition discount, and, depending on the seminary, can slash their credit hour costs by 30%.
These seminaries dot the United States, covering ground from the East Coast to the West Coast, but most are positioned in the southern portion of the nation. They include: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky; Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans, Louisiana; Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention in Ontario, California; Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina; and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri.
For many of the students attending these seminaries, including pastors and SBC church members, the discounted tuition prices make furthering their education and biblical knowledge affordable and even, for some, possible at all.
Pastor Brennan Coughlin, Senior Pastor at Fellowship CrossPoint Church and Baptist Resource Network (BRN) Executive Committee Member, is one of the many students who has benefited from the tuition discount funded by the Cooperative Program (CP).
Calling this tuition discount a “total game changer,” Coughlin explained how the Cooperative Program enabled him to pursue the call he felt towards growing in his theological understanding.
“[I] wanted to be better equipped for ministry and felt called to pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree. I was blown away to realize that as a part of the Cooperative Program, as an SBC church, we actually get a 50% reduction on tuition,” said Coughlin.
Coughlin attended Southeastern Theological Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he recently earned his Doctor of Ministry degree in expository preaching.
“What was, like, this dream…because of the Cooperative Program, all of a sudden [was] doable. And it was just really encouraging to feel like the Cooperative Program wants to get behind its members and say, ‘Hey, we want to help you get equipped.’”
At Fellowship CrossPoint, Coughlin isn’t the only one who has benefited from the CP tuition discount. Currently, the church has six congregation members attending one of the six SBC seminaries – including one who came to CrossPoint because of hearing about the Cooperative Program.
“We had a young man who was kind of gravitating to a Master of Divinity and to become a pastor. He actually told me, which was a little disorienting at the time, but he actually said, ‘Hey, one of the reasons that I felt led to your church was I found out about the Cooperative Program, and I found out that I would get a 50% tuition reimbursement,’” recalled Coughlin.
After prompting the young man with a half-joke about there being other reasons to attend church and a good laugh, Coughlin was reminded of the impactful purpose of the Cooperative Program.
“When I think of the Cooperative Program, I think it’s just like this idea that we’re better together. So, we have across this huge network – that is the SBC – churches who are recognizing that when we pull our resources together we can accomplish more for the Kingdom,” said Coughlin.
Fellowship CrossPoint, which is a church plant founded by Coughlin in 2014, has also benefited from the CP through internship opportunities and evangelism grants offered by the BRN.
The Accelerated Internship Program is an initiative that was birthed out of Wrightsdale Baptist Church in Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania, and has recently been adapted by the BRN. It is a program crafted to give churches the opportunity to mentor the next generation and meet needs in their communities by employing interns.
For interns, the program grants them a 10-week paid summer experience that is on-site with a local church in the BRN. Each internship experience is molded to the student’s gifts, talents and ministry areas of interest.
Fellowship CrossPoint has budgeted for interns in the past and regularly hosts interns in the summer, but through the Accelerated Internship Program the church has been able to take their internship experience to “the next level.”
“The Accelerated Internships have given us structure. So, we have better structure going into this summer [and] we’re really working in a more intentional way to develop our interns spiritually. I think it’s put some muscle behind our intern program, which has been really really helpful,” said Coughlin.
This summer, Fellowship CrossPoint is hosting two interns: A young woman from Cedarville University in Ohio and another young woman who regularly attends CrossPoint and is a teacher at a charter school in Philadelphia.
“It’s just awesome to know that the BRN wants to invest in the next generation, and it’s not just a talking point, but they’re putting their money where their mouth is. They’re actually investing dollars in this internship program.”
Throughout the years, CrossPoint has also benefited from CP dollars through evangelism grants provided by the BRN.
Evangelism grants have allowed the church to be creative in their outreach and show the gospel to the Trenton, New Jersey, community. Grants from the BRN have aided the church in offering free gas to their community, feeding local gas station workers, hosting a Kids Adventure Camp and packing meals for their Hunger Stops with Us campaign.
“We’re striving to live on gospel mission…and the evangelism grants, just on a very practical level, put some fuel in your tank because you’re trying to get out there and really engage with your community,” said Coughlin.
To hitting the books at an SBC seminary or endowing the next generation with ministry experience, Fellowship CrossPoint has seen and experienced the perks of giving to and receiving from the Cooperative Program.
“It’s a privilege to be able to contribute, but we’re profoundly blessed by what we receive. I think it’s just really cool to see churches across the nation just really banding together and recognizing that we can accomplish more together.”
Hear more about how your cooperative giving is impacting Pastor Brennan Coughlin and Fellowship CrossPoint Church in this month’s episode of Celebrating Cooperative Missions (this podcast is also available on Spotify, Apple, Google, and Amazon Music):