At the center of the Shepherds Institute is the Master of Theological Studies program, a 42-hour accredited degree taught by the faculty of Shepherds Theological Seminary. The MTS combines the highest quality academic experience with the personal guidance and discipleship of Shepherds Institute staff. At most seminaries this degree would take two to three years to complete, but students at the Shepherds Institute can complete the intensive MTS in one year.
Classes are taken in a module format, and members of the cohort work together through a prescribed schedule in 12 months. Subjects range from Hermeneutics and Old and New Testament Studies to Life of Christ and Historical Theology. As students complete classes in sequence, they receive a biblical foundation that builds upon itself throughout the year.
The MTS has two purposes: (1) for the lay minister, to gain an advanced understanding of the Bible and theology; (2) for those anticipating vocational ministry, to prepare for further graduate studies, especially the Master of Divinity Program.
Shepherds Theological Seminary is committed to the idea that all degree-seeking students should visit the Holy Land. Our Israel Initiative study trip reflects the importance of two realities: Israel as God’s ultimate visual aid and Israel’s accessibility.
We believe a good teacher seeks to incorporate visual aids for the students, and there is no better visual aid to the Bible than seeing in person the land where the bulk of its history took place. Our professors believe that teaching students on location provides the best and most enriching way to help them grow in understanding the biblical narrative. For our students, Israel becomes their giant blackboard, their real-life PowerPoint as the pages of Scripture come alive when they walk in the footsteps of Jesus, David, the Prophets, and other heroes of the faith.
We live in a remarkable and very narrow window of history during which the land of Israel – a land which was functionally closed for visitors from AD 70 to 1967 – is actually accessible. Scripture clearly teaches that Israel has a special place in the plans and purposes of God. The Apostle Paul testified to a special love for the people of Israel, and his desire was that all believers would have an affection for Israel as well (Rom 9:1-5; 11:28-36). The modern State of Israel is the most dramatic and important concentration of Jewish people and culture since AD 70 and that nation is much cherished at Shepherds and Shepherds Institute because of our literal-historical-grammatical approach to understanding the promises of God.
Already in the opening pages of Genesis, Jordan is significant in the biblical landscape. Abraham’s nephew Lot chose to dwell among the well-watered cities of the plain (Genesis 13). After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah his descendants possessed the regions which came to be known as Ammon and Moab (Genesis 19). The descendants of Esau dwelled to the south in Edom (Genesis 36). Later Moses was allowed to view the Promised Land from Mount Nebo before Joshua led the children of Israel across the river (Deuteronomy 32–34). The amazing scenes made famous by films like Lawrence of Arabia and Raiders of the Lost Ark await our students as they pass through the desertscapes and learn about Israel’s relations with her ancient neighbors. Numbers 33 lists 42 sites visited by the Israelites as they wandered in the wilderness en route to the Promised Land—and 8 of these are associated with the area that became known as Petra. The natural and architectural wonders of Petra (Numbers 20) reveal the impressive capital of the Nabateans, an Arab tribe famous for their control of trade routes that linked various oases between the Euphrates and the Red Sea during Intertestamental and New Testament times. Its theater and Street of Facades is reminiscent of the architectural influence of the Romans who eventually conquered the city under Trajan in 106 A.D. Our students have the privilege of exploring this land so rich in historical and theological significance.