Over the past 10 years, Southeastern has been reinventing the traditional higher education model through partnerships with churches across the nation. The university’s goal is to meet students where they are with accessible and affordable education while investing in the local church.
Through these partnerships, known as the SEU Ministry Network, students have the opportunity to earn degrees from SEU while taking classes online or at a church near them. A part of the program encompasses ministry students serving the local church while enrolled in practical coursework. Recently, SEU announced the merging of the Barnett College of Ministry & Theology with the SEU Ministry Network. Previously, the network operated independently under the department of Unrestricted Education.
“As a university, we are always evaluating every aspect of what we do and how it plays into our mission,” said SEU President Dr. Kent Ingle. “At our core, SEU’s heart is to train the next generation of ministerial leaders to serve Christ and the world around them.” SEU started with six partner sites in 2012 and currently has over 200 sites with more than 2,100 students enrolled in more than 40 states. Through the SEU Ministry Network students have completed more than 2.5 million service hours in local churches around the country.
History of Ministry Training
Since its founding in 1935, SEU has trained over 5,974 graduates in the field of ministry who are serving around the world. Nearly half of those graduates (2,259) trained for ministry in the last 10 years. In the 2020-21 year alone, 2,415 of SEU’s 9,546 students were enrolled in classes to prepare for ministry-related positions, making SEU the largest Pentecostal university in the United States.
The merging of the Barnett College and the ministry network will allow the university to provide even more experiential learning opportunities for students as they are placed within churches – offering hands-on experience, learning from leading pastors in the nation and providing students with the opportunity to be placed in a church staff position upon graduation.
“By taking these steps, we believe SEU will be the flagship institution in our nation for training ministerial leaders,” said Dr. Ingle. “We want to be the university students want to attend because they know that they will be equipped with the knowledge and the tools they want and need to impact the kingdom of God. And we want to be the university that churches and nonprofits look to when it comes to recruiting their ministry leaders.”
To lead the Barnett College in this new season, SEU introduced a new dean, Nick Wallsteadt, who most recently was the vice president for network development and advancement. He will also continue to oversee network development. Since first starting at the university in 2014, Wallsteadt has served in various roles including vice president of unrestricted education, which encompassed extension site partnerships, regional campuses, the online learning platform and certificate programs. Prior to coming to SEU, Wallsteadt was in local church leadership, serving on the executive team at a multisite church in the tech suburbs of Seattle, Washington.
“Southeastern’s focus on coming alongside the local church, specifically for ministry students, has allowed SEU to expand beyond on-campus ministry education, with students preparing on campus, online and at partner sites,” said Wallsteadt. “The multi-modality delivery provides educational access for ministry students across vast socio-economic tiers, and it allows SEU to fulfill its first and primary mission: to prepare students for effective vocational ministry.”
Dr. Alan Ehler, who previously served as the dean of the Barnett College, will transition into the role of senior director of Assemblies of God relations and ministerial education. Ehler started as the dean of the college in 2013. Under Ehler’s leadership, the college grew from 766 to 1,175 students and added 28 new degrees, including the college’s first doctoral degree. In his new role, he will serve as a liaison between SEU and Assemblies of God churches, district offices and ministries.
“Dr. Ehler has played a pivotal role in helping SEU shape the next generation of leaders in ministry,” said Dr. Ingle. “We would not be where we are today without his leadership. We believe this new role will accentuate all of his giftings and abilities, and his leadership will continue to grow and advance the university in this next season.”