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How to Start a Bible College

  1. Be sure to have a local church that is already training its folks. The college will be a natural outgrowth of your ministry as a Biblical pastor or missionary.  Matthew 28:19-20, Ephesians 4, II Timothy 2:2,
  2. Have the knowledge and ability that the people can see, want, and imitate
  3. Where do I get teachers. Do not use other missionaries unless they are in agreement with you.
  4. Daytime Bible College versus Night time Bible Institute
    1. Explain credit hours
    2. Remember they need more training than someone who grew up in church
    3. You can have 1 hour classes or 2 hour classes
    4. If you give enough homework you can give credit for an extra hour on any class
    5. Allow independent study classes for those who really want it and are really willing to pay the price
    6. Class hours
      1. Monday night 6:30 to 9:00 for two hours of class and 1/2 of chapel
      2. Tuesday night 6:30 to 9:00 for two hours of class and 1/2 of chapel
      3. You can go longer or start earlier, remember that they can take one or class or all the classes
  5. What level of training do you want to have?
  6. What age group do you choose to teach?
  7. Requirements to enter Bible College
    1. Saved, baptized, active church member
    2. Tithing
    3. Serving
    4. Separated
    5. One year of growth
    6. Willingness to submit to the authority and leadership of the Bible College
    7. Be involved in a ministry in your church

  8.  Courses to teach in your Bible College. (Ideas—I am sure that you will need to add other courses and make your own modifications)
    1. Survey of the New Testament
    2. Survey of the Whole Testament
    3. Personal Soul winning and Discipleship
    4. Hermeneutics
    5. Biblical Separation
    6. Baptist Distinctives
    7. Basic Principles
    8. Grammar
    9. Evaluation of Music
    10. Personal Economics
    11. Creation vs. Evolution
    12. Ethics (How to ear, dress, modesty, carry yourself, be given to hospitality, personal cleanliness)
    13. Christian Family
    14. Genesis
    15. Calvinism
    16. Introduction to Missions and Evangelism
    17. Bible Doctrines (Bibliology, Theology, Anthropology)
    18. Bible Doctrines (Christology, Soteriology)
    19. Bible Doctrines (Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology)
    20. Bible Geography
    21. Bible Health
    22. Eschatology
    23. Cults
    24. Prayer and Spiritual Warfare
    25. Homiletics 1
    26. Homiletics 2
    27. Introduction to Youth Ministry
    28. Bus Ministry
    29. The gospels
    30. Pauline writings
    31. Daniel and Revelation
    32. Pentateuch
    33. Major Prophets
    34. Historical books
    35. Pastoral Epistles
    36. Historical Books
    37. The Book of Acts
    38. Poetical books
    39. Children’s ministry
    40. Baptist History
    41. Church History
    42. Counseling
    43. Church Administration
    44. Romans
    45. Revelation
    46. Raising Children
    47. Leadership
    48. Life of Christ
    49. Prayer
    50. Second man
    51. Contemporary Theological Issues
    52. History of Missions
    53. Charismatic movement
    54. Choir
    55. Demonology
    56. Cross cultural relations
  9. What kind of practical work do I have the students do?
  10. How to handle sin problems?
  11. Requirements to Graduate
    1. 130 hours of credits
    2. Minimum grade of 70 in each course
    3. Minimum of 80 in your major and Bible Courses
    4. Minimum of 50 credit hours in your major
    5. Have special practical training in your major under the leadership of an approved mentor
  12. Degree or Diplomas offered?
    1. You cannot give a degree unless it is a Bible degree.
    2. To do a 4-year degree a student needs 128 semester hours of credit. I use 130 hours of credit since I have added some extra courses. That is typically called a Bachelors Degree
    3. To do a 3 year degree a student needs 96 semester hours of credit and that is usually called a Graduate of Theology Degree
    4. To do a 2 year degree a student needs 48 semester hours of credit and that is usually called an Associates degree
    5. To do a one year degree a student needs 32 semester hours of credit and that could be a Bible Diploma
    6. Credit hours are calculated by the number of hours the student is in class each week. If you have classes on Monday night for two hours and then give them an extra hour of homework each hour you could count that as three hours.
    7. The problem with an evening school is how long it will take to finish the usual amount of hours. At 6 hours a semester it will take you a little over 5 semesters to get just the diploma
    8. You can accept any credits they already have and add them to their needed credit hours
    9. You could give extra hours for work done in different activities such as Children’s Church, Vacation Bible School, Personal Evangelism, Discipleship, etc.
    10. I have given credit for those who work very hard and very faithfully in my ministry as Practical Work, maybe 2 hours a semester
  13. How do I pay for the Bible College?
  14. Develop a handbook with the rules and what you expect from the students?
    1. Attend all the services of their church. If they are not faithful to church they can not receive any credit
    2. They must arrive on time for every service and activity of the church and that means 15 minutes early
    3. They must participate in the visitation and soul winning program of their church
    4. They must wear a shirt and tie to all classes and even services of the church
    5. Ladies of course will wear modest skirts or dresses
    6. Since we are preparing leaders all men and women will have to live by the standards of separation that the school has. If they do not have any standards of their own they can borrow ours
    7. Must arrive on time to all classes
    8. Must do all indicated homework
    9. Turn in a weekly activity report that shows whether they attended church services, went visiting, saw anyone saved, how many contacts were made, did they do their personal devotions, who are they discipling, what lesson are they in, have a place where their pastor or departmental supervisor will sign to verify what they put on the report
    10. Have a listing of the different types of students that you accept
    11. List the courses and what they are about
    12. List the professors once you have several with experience
  15. Develop an Application to enter the Bible School
    1. Application that gives personal information
    2. Have them write out their personal testimony on one sheet
    3. Have them write out their call to the ministry if they feel that God has called them
    4. Have them get references to enter
    5. Have them give you a copy of all post graduate studies that they have done to evaluate it and see if you can allow them to transfer some courses.
    6. See if you can find an entrance exam that shows what they know about the Bible that you can give them after their studies to show how much they have learned
  16. Open a file on each student
    1. Keep their application in the file
    2. Keep a list of their grades and courses that they have taken
    3. Keep their Ministry reports in their file
  17. How do you determine how much credit to give for a class
    1. A three hour credit means that the student will have been in class 48 hours
    2. A two hour credit is 32 hours and a 1 hour class is 16 total hours
    3. You judge what they should get based on how long they will study and work on the class
    4. If they have a class period of one hour each week for 16 weeks and you give them a good solid hour of class each week then you could give 2 hours credit for the class if they complete the homework, etc.
    5. Be careful to give only a number of hours for a class that another school would see and understand or you will not be able to transfer credits if someone wants to transfer to another school
  18. Set up some modular classes with visiting professors or conferences that might be attended?
    1. Have someone in to train Children’s workers, youth workers, choir, teach on missions, have a prophecy conference, stewardship conference, and have the students attend and do extra work giving them up to 3 hours credit
    2. Remember that a real college meets for 16 weeks and a 3-hour course meets for 3 hours per week so if you are going to do a modular consider 48 hours of class time normally. If they meet for 20 hours then give them a bunch of homework if you want to give them 3 hours credit and less if it is 2 hours credit
  19. Run the school on 3 different levels
    1. Folks can audit the course
    2. Can take the course and get a certificate of completion (less homework and less stringent rules)
    3. Can take the course for credit
  20. Charge for the school
    1. There should be an application fee
    2. There should be a matriculation fee
    3. There should be a per course fee
    4. Let people audit the course, fee
    5. Let people be in the certificate course, fee
  21. Remember a semester is 16 weeks long.
    1. Give a mid term exam and a final exam
    2. Have homework each week, things to read, things to investigate, papers to write
    3. Give a test each week as they come in over what you taught the week before
    4. All professors keep a grade book
    5. The school keeps a permanent record in each student’s file
    6. Don’t forget you may be transferring someone’s grades to another school and so you will have to keep up with all they do
  22. I would consider sending out advertisements to all the churches in the area and also put it in your newsletter so that others will sign up to study. Do not let the devil convince you that no one else will be interested.  I would put together a list of every other independent Baptist Church in the county and any others that are close enough to make the trip
  23. Have a graduation and recognition service every year for your students
  24. From the students that you have begin to see who shows real loyalty and desire to take part in your ministry. Give them small jobs to do and if they do them then begin to take it up and up allowing them to help you in the ministry and develop them into leaders that God can use
  25. How do you make lesson plans?
    1. You must take the material you plan to cover in the semester and divide by 14 or 15 since you will need time for discussion and testing. Daytime courses are 16 weeks by 1, 2 or 3 hours meaning you divide your material by 16, 32, or 48 segments.
    2. Remember to plan heavy homework so that the students will earn the extra hour you are giving them for doing the homework if it is a night time institute
    3. If you are teaching a book or series of books divide the reading by the number of days that are in 16 weeks and have them read a certain number of chapters each day. Do it on a daily basis if it is a daytime Bible College.
  26. All teachers need to know that they are committing to 16 weeks of classes minimum. If they have to miss then they can get a substitute to take their class and have that teacher approved by the administration (you)
  27. Realize that you are not really concerned about what others think or how many quit. You are just looking for those students who really want to give their lives and have God use them. If you spend 3 1/2 years and can only train 11 decent men you will have done a world changing ministry

Historical Overview

The origins of academic dress date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, when universities were taking form. The ordinary dress of the scholar, whether student or teacher, was the dress of a cleric. With few exceptions, the medieval scholar had taken at least minor orders, made certain vows, and perhaps been tonsured. Long gowns were worn and may have been necessary for warmth in unheated buildings. Hoods seem to have served to cover the tonsured head until superseded for that purpose by the skull cap.

A statute of the University of Coimbra in 1321 required that all “Doctors, Licentiates, and Bachelors” wear gowns. In England, in the second half of the 14th century, the statutes of certain colleges forbade “excess in apparel” and prescribed the wearing of a long gown. In the days of Henry VIII of England, Oxford and Cambridge first began prescribing a definite academic dress and made it a matter of university control even to the extent of its minor details.

The assignment of colors to signify certain faculties was to be a much later development, and one which was to be standardized only in the United States in the late 19th century. White taken from the white fur trimming of the Oxford and Cambridge B.A. hoods, was assigned to arts and letters. Red, one of the traditional colors of the church, went to theology. Green, the color of medieval herbs, was adopted for medicine, and olive, because it was so close to green, was given to pharmacy. Golden yellow, standing for the wealth which scientific research has produced, was assigned to the sciences.

European institutions have always had great diversity in their specifications of academic dress and this has been a source of confusion. In contrast, American colleges and universities opted for a definite system that all might follow. A significant contribution to the development of this system was made by Gardner Cotrell Leonard of Albany, New York. Mr. Leonard designed gowns for his class at Williams College in 1887 and had them made by Cotrell and Leonard, a firm established by his family in Albany, New York. He was greatly interested in the subject and following the publication of an article by him on academic dress in 1893, he was invited to work with an Intercollegiate Commission made up of representatives of leading institutions to establish a suitable system of academic apparel. The Commission met at Columbia University in 1895 and adopted a code of academic dress, which besides regulating the cut and style and materials of the gowns, prescribed the colors which were to represent the different fields of learning.

In 1932 the American Council on Education authorized the appointment of a committee “to determine whether revision and completion of the academic code adopted by the conference of the colleges and universities in 1895 is desirable at this time, and, if so, to draft a revised code and present a plan for submitting the code to the consideration of the institutional members of the Council.” The committee reviewed the situation through correspondence and conference and approved a code for academic costumes that has been in effect since that year

A Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies, appointed by the American Council on Education in 1959, again reviewed the costume code and made several changes. In 1986, the committee updated the code and added a sentence clarifying the use of the color dark blue for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

The Academic Costume Code

Gowns recommended for use in the colleges and universities of this country have the following characteristics. The gown for the bachelor’s degree has pointed sleeves. It is designed to be worn closed. The gown for the master’s degree has an oblong sleeve, open at the wrist, like the others. The sleeve base hangs down in the traditional manner. The rear part of its oblong shape is square cut, and the front part has an arc cut away. The gown is so designed and supplied with fasteners that it may be worn open or closed. The gown for the doctor’s degree has bell-shaped sleeves. It is so designed and supplied with fasteners that it may be worn open or closed.

Material. As a means of adaptation to climate, the material of the gowns may vary from very light to very heavy provided that the material, color, and pattern follow the prescribed rules. Color. Black is recommended. (For permissible exceptions, see below.)

Trimmings. Gowns for the bachelor’s or master’s degrees are untrimmed. For the doctor’s degree, the gown is faced down the front with black velvet; three bars of velvet are used across the sleeves. These facings and crossbars may be of velvet of the color distinctive of the disciplines to which the degree pertains, thus agreeing in color with the binding or edging of the hood appropriate to the particular doctor’s degree in every instance.

For all academic purposes, including trimmings of doctors’ gowns, edging of hoods, and tassels of caps, the colors associated with the different disciplines are as follows:

Agriculture Maize
Arts, Letters, Humanities White
Commerce, Accountancy, Business Drab
Dentistry Lilac
Economics Copper
Education Light Blue
Engineering Orange
Fine Arts, including Architecture Brown
Forestry Russet
Journalism Crimson
Law Purple
Library Science Lemon
Medicine Green
Music Pink
Nursing Apricot
Oratory (Speech) Silver Gray
Pharmacy Olive Green
Philosophy Dark Blue
Physical Education Sage Green
Public Administration, including Foreign Service Peacock Blue
Public Health Salmon Pink
Science Golden Yellow
Social Work Citron
Theology Scarlet
Veterinary Science Gray

In some instances American makers of academic costumes have divided the velvet trimming of the doctor’s gown in such a fashion as to suggest in the same garment two or more doctor’s degrees. Good precedent directs that a single degree from a single institution should be indicated by a single garment.

As usually followed by American colleges and universities, but following the specifications listed below.
Material. In all cases the material must be the same as that of the gown.
Color. Black, in all cases.
Length. The length of the hood worn for the bachelor’s degree must be three feet, for the master’s degree three and one-half feet, and for the doctor’s degree, four feet. The hood worn for the doctor’s degree only shall have panels at the sides.
Linings. The hoods are to be lined with the official color or colors of the college or university conferring the degree; more than one color is shown by division of the field color in a variety of ways, chevron or chevrons, equal division, etc. The various academic costume companies maintain complete files on the approved colors for various institutions.
Trimmings. The binding or edging of the hood is to be velvet or velveteen, two inches, three inches, and five inches wide for the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees, respectively; the color should be indicative of the subject to which the degree pertains (see above). For example, the trimming for the degree of Master of Science in Agriculture should be maize, representing agriculture, rather than golden yellow, representing science. No academic hood should ever have its border divided to represent more than a single degree.

In the case of the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree, the dark blue color is used to represent the mastery of the discipline of learning and scholarship in any field that is attested to by the awarding of this degree and is not intended to represent the field of philosophy.

Cotton poplin, broadcloth, rayon, or silk, to match gown are to be used; for the doctor’s degree only, velvet.
Form. Mortarboards are generally recommended.
Color. Black.
Tassel. A long tassel is to be fastened to the middle point of the top of the cap only and to lie as it will thereon. The tassel should be black or the color appropriate to the subject, with the exception of the doctor’s cap that may have a tassel of gold.
Other Apparel
Shoes and other articles of visible apparel worn by graduates should be of dark colors that harmonize with the academic costume. Nothing else should be worn on the academic gown.

Some Permissible Exceptions

  • Only members of the governing body of a college or university, whatever their degrees, are entitled to wear doctor’s gowns (with black velvet), but their hoods may be only those of degrees actually held by the wearers or those especially prescribed for them by the institution.
  • The chief marshal may wear a specially designed costume approved by the institution.
  • It is customary in many large institutions for the hood to be dispensed with by those receiving bachelor’s degrees.
  • Persons who hold degrees from foreign universities may wear the entire appropriate academic costume, including cap, gown, and hood.
  • Members of religious orders may suitably wear their customary habits. The same principle applies to persons wearing military uniforms or clad in special attire required by a civil office.
  • It is recommended that collegiate institutions that award degrees, diplomas, or certificates below the baccalaureate level use caps and gowns of a light color, e.g., light gray

Additional Guidance on Costume
In the light of large numbers of requests for advice about academic dress, the Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies offers the following observations and recommendations for the guidance of colleges and universities in making decisions about regalia for ceremonial occasions.

First, it should be noted that it is impossible (and probably undesirable) to lay down enforceable rules with respect to academic costume. The governing force is tradition and the continuity of academic symbols from the Middle Ages. The tradition should be departed from as little as possible, not only to preserve the symbolism of pattern and color, but for practicality as well (when radical changes are adopted manufacturing problems and scarcity of inventory may ensue).

Second, the fundamental guidelines of the academic costume code may be adapted to local conditions. Such adaptations are entirely acceptable as long as they are reasonable and faithful to the spirit of the traditions which give rise to the code. They are not acceptable when they further subdivide the recognized disciplines and designate new colors for such subdivisions. The spectrum of colors which manufacturers can utilize and which can be clearly identified as distinct from other colors is, for all practical purposes, exhausted. Problems may arise with emerging broad interdisciplinary areas; it is recommended that these be resolved by using the color of the discipline most nearly indicative of the new area. New disciplinary designations for colors traditionally assigned would not be readily recognizable or useful.

Third, in response to a number of questions about gowns and hoods appropriate to the associate degree, the committee’s recommendation is

  • that the gown be of the same type as worn by recipients of the bachelor’s degree,
  • that the color of the gown be light gray, and
  • that the hood be of the same shape as the one worn by Bachelor of Arts except that it have no velvet border, that the institutional colors be on the lining, and that the outside be black.

Fourth, six-year specialist degrees (Ed.S., etc.) and other degrees that are intermediate between the master’s and the doctor’s degree may have hoods specially designed

  • intermediate in length between the master’s and doctor’s hood,
  • with a four-inch velvet border (also intermediate between the widths of the borders of master’s and doctor’s hoods), and
  • with color distributed in the usual fashion and according to the usual rules. Cap tassels should be uniformly black.

Fifth, as a particular courtesy to guests who are expected to wear academic costume, institutions should provide robes and mortarboards of an appropriate type, even if hoods cannot be supplied.

An Academic Ceremony Guide
In response to numerous requests from institutions, the Committee on Academic Costumes and Ceremonies in 1959 prepared the following academic ceremony guide:

Many factors, such as the nature of the institution, the size of the graduating class, the weather, and the place of the ceremony (indoors or outdoors), affect the details of the various kinds of academic ceremonies. Institutions have wide latitude in meeting these conditions. It is therefore recognized that the following suggestions do not answer all pertinent questions concerning any specific ceremony.

Wearing the Costume
Those wearing academic costumes always wear their caps in academic processions and during the ceremony of conferring degrees. Men may remove caps during prayer, the playing of the national anthem and the alma mater, and at other specified times, e.g., during the baccalaureate sermon or the commencement address. It is traditional that all such actions be done in unison. Hence, the plan for each ceremony should be carefully prepared in advance. The participants should be notified beforehand and someone (usually the presiding officer) should be designated to give the cues for removing and replacing the caps.

There is no general rule for the position of the tassel on a mortarboard. However, numerous institutions have adopted the practice, during commencement exercises, of requiring candidates for degrees to wear the tassels on the right front side before degrees are conferred and to shift them to the left at the moment when degrees are awarded to them. This custom is, in some respects, a substitute for individual hooding.

Gowns. At ceremonies where degrees are conferred, it is proper for a candidate to wear the gown in keeping with the degree to be received.

Hoods. If a person holds more than one academic degree, he or she may wear only one hood at a time. The hood worn should be appropriate to the gown.

The traditional rule is that a candidate for a degree should not wear the hood of that degree until it is actually conferred. This rule still applies to those who are to be individually hooded during the commencement ceremony; they should not wear the hoods in the preliminary academic procession. However, when degrees are to be conferred en masse, without individual hooding, the groups involved, e.g., master’s degree candidates at large universities, may wear their hoods in the preliminary procession and throughout the ceremony.

Many institutions have dispensed entirely with bachelors’ hoods. It is quite appropriate for the bachelor’s gown to be worn without a hood.

Academic Procession in General
There is wide variation in customs concerning academic processions. In some institutions, the procession is led by a mace bearer, in others by the chief marshal. Either may be followed by a color guard. (On some occasions the colors are displayed on the stage and are not moved during the ceremony.) At some institutions there are more divisions in the procession than are indicated below, e.g., church dignitaries. Such groups have traditional places in the procession, determined by the individual institution.

Commencement Exercises
The Preliminary Procession.
The commencement procession is usually composed of the following divisions:

  • the speakers, trustees, administrative officers, and other members of the platform party;
  • the faculty; and
  • candidates for degrees, with candidates for advanced degrees in the lead and others in groups according to the degrees for which they are candidates.

The divisions may march in the above order, or in reverse order. If the latter procedure is chosen, the candidates for degrees after reaching their seats, face toward the center aisle as a mark of respect while the faculty and trustees proceed to their places.

The Commencement Ceremony. The essential elements of the ceremony are the conferring of degrees and the commencement address. Earned degrees are usually conferred in ascending order, with baccalaureate degrees first and doctorates last. Honorary degrees are conferred, with individual citations, after the earned degrees. (At some institutions, this order is reversed, with baccalaureate degrees conferred last.)

The Subsequent Procession. The platform party and faculty leave the hall in that order. Recipients of degrees may be required to join the procession or may be permitted to disperse from their seats when the first two divisions have left the hall.

The Baccalaureate Service
The preliminary procession for the baccalaureate service differs from that for commencement exercises in the following main respects:

  • the platform party, faculty, and degree candidates most frequently march in that order; and
  • candidates for degrees are not required to march in a special order determined by degrees to be conferred.

Inauguration Exercises
The Preliminary Procession.
When a president or chancellor of a college or university is to be inaugurated, it is traditional for the academic procession to include at least the following divisions in the following order:

  • delegates of colleges and universities arranged according to the dates when the respective institutions were founded;
  • delegates of learned societies and associations;
  • the faculty;
  • the trustees; and
  • the speakers and other dignitaries in the president’s party, with the person to be inaugurated marching alone at the very end of the procession.

The Ceremony. The essential components of the ceremony are the installation, usually by the chair of the board of trustees, and the inaugural address by the new head of the institution. Additional addresses preceding the inaugural address may be made by representatives of governments, churches, other institutions, alumni, etc., as appropriate.

The Subsequent Procession. The newly inaugurated president or chancellor leads the procession from the hall, followed by the five divisions listed above, in reverse order.

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