John knew God was calling him to pursue theological education. But he also knew God wanted him to remain in his job as an emergency medical technician in Pennsylvania. That’s where the Carolina College of Biblical Studies (CCBS) came in.
By enrolling in CCBS’s online program, John was able to complete both an associate and a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies without having to leave his job or the church where he was actively involved in ministry. And he gained a new family of CCBS Christian brothers and sisters in the process. When John graduated with his bachelor’s degree, online classmates in various states drove for hours to attend his commencement ceremony. Today, John is putting his CCBS degrees to use through both a teaching role in his local church and discipling fellow EMTs.
John’s experience personifies the CCBS vision. The Fayetteville, North Carolina, school aims to deliver theological education with a family atmosphere for a diverse array of nontraditional ministry students. A partnership with BibleMesh is helping to expand that vision across the world.
“We’re very ministry focused,” CCBS Provost Chris Dickerson said. “Our mission statement is that we exist to disciple Christ-followers through biblical higher education for a lifetime of effective servant leadership.”
CCBS was founded in 1973 as an interdenominational Bible college for southeastern North Carolina. From its beginnings in a 1,200-square-foot house, the college has grown to approximately 180 students in 20 states. About 60 percent of its students are African American, 30 percent are Anglo, and 10 percent represent other ethnic groups. The average student is 45 years old. Roughly half the students are on campus. The other half are working toward their degrees fully online.
Launched in 2013, the online program offers all undergraduate degrees fully on the internet, including degrees in apologetics, biblical studies, and leadership. CCBS’s Master of Arts in Theological Studies is transitioning to fully online delivery, and a second graduate degree is set to launch in the fall—a Master of Arts in Bible Translation in partnership with the Bible translating ministry Wycliffe Associates.
Both on campus and online, CCBS students regard themselves as “a family,” Dickerson said. Everyone knows each other, and “campus students walk right into the president’s office and sit down. There’s an openness of accessibility.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, CCBS was forced to test whether it could maintain academic excellence and warm relationships in a fully online environment. Thus far, it has passed the test.
Professors have posted periodic personal video updates online to stay connected with students. On-campus classes have moved to a synchronous online format utilizing Zoom videoconferencing software while online classes have continued in their asynchronous format without interruption.
CCBS’s partnership with BibleMesh launched in 2017 and allows BibleMesh Institute students from every continent to transfer up to 60 BibleMesh credit hours toward a CCBS bachelor’s degree or 30 hours toward a CCBS associate degree. A forthcoming update to the partnership will allow BibleMesh Institute students to transfer master’s-level credits as well. CCBS students can supplement their studies with BibleMesh Institute courses that are not available online through the college, including biblical language and biblical theology courses.
“We’re looking to BibleMesh for some things that are unique that we don’t have,” Dickerson said.
Graduates of CCBS enter a range of ministry vocations from the pastorate and military chaplaincy to prison ministry and international missions.
Through technological innovation, COVID-19, and beyond, Dickerson said, the college’s vision remains constant: “to produce graduates who will launch and lead healthy ministries worldwide.”