FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will offer a new, cross-disciplinary family ministry concentration this fall for students pursuing either the Master of Divinity or the Master of Arts in Christian Education degree.

Chris Shirley, assistant professor of adult ministry at Southwestern, said the concentration is considered unique to Southwestern and is the product of extensive research. Shirley worked on developing the concentration along with Richard Ross, assistant dean in the School of Educational Ministries.

“For too long, Christian parents have abdicated their role as spiritual leaders in the home with the expectation that the church would supply everything their children would need,” said Shirley.

“The greatest ministry we can provide for families in our churches is to empower parents to oversee the discipleship of their children and provide spiritual leadership in the home.”

Ross agrees and stresses that this focus on enriching the family as a whole “has become a hot topic,” though it has never been a new idea for Southwestern Seminary.

“Every childhood, youth and adult professor has been infusing his or her courses with a family ministry focus all along,” Ross said.  “I am thankful that the new concentration will give cohesion and visibility to the high-quality instruction already in place.”

The concentration is designed to prepare local-church vocational ministers for service. Graduates with the family ministry concentration will be equipped to serve as ministers heading up a family ministry for a church, to keep a family ministry focus in existing ministries, and to serve as pastors who take a lead role in family ministry.

Courses in the new concentration include The Role of the Minister to Families, Family Ministry and Counseling in the Church, The Christian Home, Ministry with Families of Teenagers, and Parenting and Faith Development.

The family ministry concentration also requires supervised field education in the area of family ministry. This encourages students to develop mentor relationships with faculty, staff and ministers to gain practical training experience.

For more information about this new concentration, contact Southwestern’s Admissions Office at 1-800-SWBTS-01 or visit the Web site at