PARTNER SPOTLIGHT: Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary & College

Peter[1] exemplifies the type of students the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary and College (CSBS&C) exists to train. With a background in the cosmetics industry, he used his business to fund mission work in regions of East Asia closed to the gospel. Then he came to CSBS&C in search of deeper theological knowledge and training in the use of business as a ministry platform. Now on the cusp of graduating, he plans to return to Asia and use his newfound theological knowledge to help plant 50 churches in a closed country over the next five years—while setting up the church planters in the cosmetics business to fund their work.

CSBS&C focuses on “training God-called men and women for 21st-century leadership in tough places,” academic dean Steve Booth said. Now, a partnership with the BibleMesh Institute will amplify and extend that vision.

The seminary is well located to pursue its vision. Sociologically Canada is known as a nation of immigrants, and spiritually it is definitely postmodern and post-Christian. Though 55 percent of Canadians claim to be Christians, only about 20 percent attend religious services weekly. More than a third (36%) of Canadians say they never pray, and 67 percent say belief in God is not necessary to be moral.[2]

The need for gospel salt and light in Canada led Canadian Southern Baptists to found CSBS&C in 1985 and establish its campus in Cochrane, Alberta. Impetus for the school stemmed in part from a desire to expand the ministry training work of Henry Blackaby, a former Saskatchewan pastor whose discipleship training study Experiencing God has sold more than 7 million copies and been translated into 45 languages. Blackaby’s son Richard was president of CSBS&C for 13 years, and Henry Blackaby’s nephew Rob Blackaby has been president since 2007.

With approximately 85 students, CSBS&C offers a range of accredited graduate and undergraduate degrees, including a Master of Divinity, a Master of Christian Ministry, and a Bachelor of Christian Studies. The school also offers graduate and undergraduate certificate programs for students who want ministry training but not a full degree.

CSBS&C began its partnership with the BibleMesh Institute in 2019, and it remains the Institute’s only Canadian academic partner. Under an agreement between the two institutions, CSBS&C will accept up to 50 percent of the required hours for a graduate or undergraduate program as transfer credit from BibleMesh Institute courses, which are delivered entirely online. Up to 42 credit hours may be transferred for the Master of Divinity and 60 hours for the Bachelor of Christian Studies.

The BibleMesh Institute also has helped provide new content in the CSBS&C curriculum at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Additionally, Booth’s wife Susan, who is on the CSBS&C faculty, has joined BibleMesh’s team of academic tutors.

“We recognize that the coursework BibleMesh delivers is quality education,” Steve Booth said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic led the Alberta government to suspend in-person class meetings at all schools March 15, CSBS&C was able to make a rapid transition to fully online course delivery—thanks in part to the content available through BibleMesh and in part to the seminary’s manageable size and technological capacity. Some classes have continued to meet via Zoom. Others were already online in an asynchronous format.

The transition to fully online delivery was akin to a NASCAR pit stop, Booth said. “The car whips into the pit stop, and within seconds all the tires are changed, the oil has been changed. Then you drop it back down, and off it goes. That’s basically what happened to us.” The faculty “didn’t miss a beat.”

CSBS&C will continue to have an on-campus program following the coronavirus pandemic. But the experience of fully online ministry education likely will amplify the curriculum’s online component. As it does, partnerships like the one with BibleMesh could become increasingly important.

“We’re really focused on ministry training,” Booth said, regardless of the means by which courses are delivered.

For more information about CSBS&C, visit https://csbs.ca/. For more information about the BibleMesh Institute, visit https://biblemesh.com/institute/.

[1] Name changed for security purposes.

[2] Mike Lipka. “5 Facts About Religion in Canada,” Pew Research Center, July 1, 2019, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/07/01/5-facts-about-religion-in-canada/ (accessed April 1, 2020).