University Offers Ministry Courses at South Florida Megachurch

Dr. Jonathan Grenz, dean of the School of Ministry, speaks during a Master of Divinity class at Memorial Presbyterian Church in 2016. Student interns at Church by the Glades can take courses at the church that count toward their bachelor of arts in ministry degrees.Church by the Glades interns can take courses toward their bachelor’s degree at the Coral Springs megachurch through a partnership with PBA.

PBA faculty teach courses to 18 students in a classroom at Church by the Glades and online, said Dr. Jonathan Grenz, dean of the School of Ministry. On average, there will be two courses per semester at Church by the Glades and three online. Students are Church by the Glades interns for the entirety of their bachelor of arts in ministry program.

Their classroom learning brings up new questions about their ministry experience and vice versa, Grenz said.

“Experience and the classroom are in conversation,” Grenz said.

The interns serve in a variety of ministries, such as children’s and youth programs, first impressions, media production and worship. Church by the Glades is among the fastest-growing and largest churches in America, drawing 9,700 people to its multiple locations each week, according to Outreach magazine.

The youngest student-intern is 17 and the oldest is 50, said Brittany Henson, associate director for admissions operations. The median age is 20. The demographics defy expectations that the partnership would primarily attract students who just graduated high school, Grenz said.

Students are required to gain acceptance to both the church’s internship program and the University, said Vice President for Admissions Tim Worley ’94.

They can earn their PBA degree for a discounted $10,000 per year and remain eligible for state and outside aid. The bachelor’s degree plan is set up in such a way that students can complete the accelerated bachelor’s and Master of Divinity program if they choose, Grenz said.

Grenz and Worley hope to replicate the partnership — and what PBA and Church by the Glades learn together — at other locations.

“We want to take this opportunity to other churches throughout the state and, potentially, out of state,” Worley said.

Photo: Dr. Jonathan Grenz, dean of the School of Ministry, speaks during a Master of Divinity class at Memorial Presbyterian Church in 2016. Student interns at Church by the Glades can take courses at the church that count toward their bachelor of arts in ministry degrees.