Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University has created a new Youth and Family Ministry concentration for its Master of Arts in Ministry degree.
Colleen Derr, Wesley Seminary's assistant professor of Christian ministry and congregational formation, says that the new degree-an expansion of what was originally a youth ministry concentration-will help church leaders minister to people from every generation.
"I have this huge desire to see the church be more aware and fully supporting of the family unit," Derr said.
The program encompasses ministry to children, youth emerging adults, families, senior adults and other niches represented within the church.
"The courses are designed to take a look at what is going on within the 21st century home...what is the impact of that on how faith formation is happening? And what can the church do to come alongside and empower the home?" Derr said.
Derr said that senior adult ministry is an especially growing field in light of the entrance of Baby Boomers into this expanding demographic. "For a long time we [the church] were unaware that they required unique attention and unique ministry focus," she said.
Derr notes that this change follows the lead of The Wesleyan Church, which in recent years expanded it Youth Department to encompass all levels of spiritual formation.
"I think for me the greatest excitement about the program is that we have this tremendous opportunity to partner with the home in the local church," Derr said. "When we truly partner with the home, then the opportunity for spiritual formation of our people grows astronomically."
The first class for the new concentration starts in January, and the seminary is accepting applications now.
Indiana Wesleyan University is an evangelical Christian comprehensive university of The Wesleyan Church, which has its world headquarters in Indianapolis. The University was founded in 1920, and is committed to liberal arts and professional education.
More than 3,200 students are enrolled in traditional programs on the University's main campus in Marion. Another 12,200 adult learners attend classes at education centers in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, and online.