ProMETA delivers seminary courses online
Hernan is a member of Vida Abundante Del Sur Church in Desamparados, Costa Rica. He leads a discipleship program of 200 people within his church of 700 members, on top of his full-time job as a field representative for a large Christian non-profit.
As a father, husband, career man, church board member and discipleship leader, Hernan (like thousands of other Latin American pastors) has little time for seminary classes, let alone the money or the means to travel to them.
However, with ProMETA (the Spanish acronym for “Accessible Master’s Programs in Theological Education”), Hernan has been able to take seminary classes without sacrificing the other responsibilities in his life.
“ProMETA for me was God’s answer to prayer,” Hernan says.
Sharp students, accessible courses
ProMETA is an online, non-profit seminary program started in 2006 by ReachGlobal – after six years of testing. Based in San Jose, Costa Rica, ProMETA offers flexible and accessible Biblical training to Latin American leaders, all in Spanish, though additional materials are available in English and Portuguese.
A full 60-hour master’s degree curriculum costs about $4,200. Students can earn a master’s degree either in contextualized biblical theology or Christian leadership.
ProMETA currently has 109 students from 19 countries (incoming students must have a college degree). The average student age is 42, and many are professionals who come with a master’s degree or even a Ph.D. Many students also work as pastors, either full-time or in addition to other full-time careers such as engineering or medicine.
However, most have no formal Bible training — and it’s the Bible training they really want, says Ted, ProMETA’s Academic Dean.
“You’re talking about people very thirsty for learning more. So they’re sharp people with a lot of motivation.”
— Ted, ProMETA academic dean
“They’re in ministry – this isn’t preparation for ministry,” Ted says. “So they are looking for answers, they’re looking for ways to improve their ministry, deepen their knowledge and skills.
“You’re talking about people very thirsty for learning more. So they’re sharp people with a lot of motivation. That makes it a wonderful learning experience – for the teachers, above all.”
Education made relevant
A typical ProMETA class might have 10 students from four or five different countries connected through the class forums and, often, live discussions over Skype. Through its online forums and discussions, ProMETA wants to make theological education both flexible and available for Latin American leaders like Hernan, says Keith, ProMETA’s director.
“We are targeting the Hernans of Latin America that can take principles and craft something … that is relevant to their culture and totally biblical,” Keith says.
Hernan, 44, has been attending ProMETA classes since 2010 and has completed about 40 percent of his theology degree coursework. His goal is to pass on what he’s learned as a ProMETA student to other leaders in his church. His hope is to increase the number of people in the church’s discipleship program from 200 to 560 – 80 percent of the church.
Along with Vida Abudante del Sur’s pastor and other leaders, Hernan developed all of the discipleship material from scratch. The discipleship program teaches basic theology and doctrine of Christianity, leadership, and other key ministry values—for example, excellence, discipline and friendship.
Hernan leads the committee that produces the materials, and he then assists in teaching the leaders within the program who go on to teach their own private groups. That kind of vision and initiative exemplifies what ProMETA tries to instill, according to Keith.
“The advantage that Hernan has is he’s writing it as a Latin American and he knows how to contextualize it,” Keith says. “The way he writes it, the examples that he uses, the words — they all connect with the new believers, whereas a missionary would be totally oblivious to all of that. So that produces more effective disciples.”
Hernan, who has not yet finished the program, says he is enjoying his education and the professors so far. He has found the program rigorous and relevant to Latin American culture.
“I have developed skills and knowledge and ambition as a leader — ambition that all of our members of the church become disciples,” Hernan says. “The program has helped me to serve better in my church.”
And that really is the motivation behind what ProMETA does.
“We’ve got a very strong feeling and desire to equip those people who are in a position to make the biggest impact on their region so that there’s a strong ripple effect from these folks,” Ted says. “They’re capable of teaching other people already. We just want to make them effective in that.”
- For students’ lives, ministries, and nations to be transformed as a result of their studies with ProMETA.
- That ProMETA will find new ways to make the school accessible to a wider audience of Christian leaders in the region.
- That ProMETA will find new sources of long-term funding for its programs.
- That ProMETA will attract and retain students who can train others in solid theology and practice.
- For the health and growth of churches that ProMETA students lead and minister in.
- That God would widen the positive influence of ProMETA students and their churches so that the gospel of Jesus can penetrate more and more communities.
See a photo gallery about one area of ReachGlobal’s work in Costa Rica.
Read more about ReachGlobal’s work in Latin America.