More than 60 candidates were interested in pursuing a master
of divinity degree in international church planting earlier this year at
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Students who sign up to take two years of classes on campus
in Wake Forest will then spend the next two years (known as 2+2 program)
through the International Mission Board’s International Service Corps (ISC). Or
they can join the 2+3 program which puts the candidate in the career apprentice
“When they finish that the next natural step is to become a
career missionary,” said Scott Hildreth, director of the Lewis A. Drummond
Center for Great Commission Studies.
The program began at Southeastern in the mid-90s, with the
first groups going out in 1995.
As of May 2009 about 470 IMB missionaries had come through
Southeastern. About one in 10 IMB missionaries have ties to Southeastern.
Hildreth said many of them since 1995 would have come through 2+2 program.
Recent budget shortfalls at the IMB have raised concerns for
Southeastern students hoping to go overseas.
“When the International Mission Board limits overall
deployments it trickles (down to Southeastern),” Hildreth said.
“Our students aren’t guaranteed an appointment. We do
everything we can to smooth that process.”
While stateside, students pursue a rigorous class schedule
to stay on track for the two-year mark.
“To finish the core of that in two
years the students have to go at a very intense pace,” Hildreth said.
“Not all students can or are willing to keep that pace.
Students are taking fewer hours than years past.”
Each of the deployment groups focuses on moving to different
locations for logistical and educational reasons. While at Southeastern,
students acquaint themselves with others in the program going to the same
region. They also begin to learn more about their destination — customs,
history, education, cooking, etc.
“I think anything that a person can learn that prepares them
for living overseas is a good thing,” Hildreth said.
“They are able to pray together,” he said. “They develop
relationships on campus that sometimes translates to their area of work.”
Assigning groups to a particular group or region builds camaraderie
and helps with travel, Hildreth said.
“We like to think that as a result of our training we send
out a high quality missionary,” Hildreth said.
“It’s all geared to make that missionary unit as strong and
healthy as we can produce.”
The deployment portion of the program also includes an
Professors are sent a couple times every six to seven months
for modulars. Students enrolled in the program come to take part in the classes
(which vary depending on the professors available).
Families are invited to take part. Churches from the United
States go to handle child care and provide other Bible studies and enrichment
for the families.
The students get credit for studying their people group
language and are required to work with a mentor (who must also have a master of
“The International Mission Board loves the program,”
Hildreth said. “Our students who go through it love the program.”
Hildreth indicated a high degree of students who complete
the program go on to serve on the mission field.
“The International Mission Board considers the 2+2 program a
very important part of their missionary strategy for reaching the nations,”