Practicing What You’ll Preach: School of Christian Ministries

Head. Heart. Hands.

That’s the foundation of the new four-year process in the School of Christian Ministries (SCM).

Based on the H3 Model of ministry training developed by the SCM, the student experience in this program includes a highly intentional process that prepares them for real-life ministry.

“Our mission is to help students prepare for God’s call to ministry by offering the most effective undergraduate theological education and ministry training program in the nation,” said Dr. Joe Savage, executive dean of the School of Christian Ministries. “With more than 100 students enrolled in the School of Christian Ministries, we are rapidly growing and becoming a recognized leader in producing some of the most impactful Christian leaders in the world today.”


The H3 Model provides a rigorous academic curriculum for students that trains their head, a supportive spiritual environment to encourage their heart, and a variety of groundbreaking opportunities to serve with their hands.

The first part of the process includes 127 hours of academic coursework, including 46 hours specifically in the student’s major. The SCM offers majors and minors in theology and intercultural studies.

Within the theology major, students learn how to effectively transition declining churches into thriving, healthy congregations and gain knowledge in how to start new churches, lead women’s ministries, and work with lost individuals in any area. Students may also take elective coursework in subjects such as Biblical Hebrew, Biblical Greek, archaeology and pastoral counseling.

Students gain experience from the Residency Internship Program where they work with a ministry leader for a minimum of one semester or summer in the same field of service as the student feels called to minister. Every student serves as a member or leader of a ministry team, beginning in August 2014.

The intercultural studies major prepares students to serve crossculturally in a wide variety of ministry and service vocations: local language or ESL missions, urban ethnic ministry, humanitarian aid or international service. Some students serve overseas as teaching, business or medical professionals. This crossdisciplinary major offers a variety of coursework to help students build bridges across cultural barriers. Students receive training in cultural dynamics, cross-cultural leadership and conflict management skills, as well as language training and international travel.


Emphasis on the heart develops community within the School of Christian Ministries family with annual retreats and monthly chapel services just for students within this school.

These opportunities for individual students to grow spiritually and receive encouragement from SCM faculty and staff are a priority in developing a heart ready to serve God and others.

This is where the hands training begins.

“Currently, we have more than 90 students serving weekly in a variety of ministries along the central Gulf Coast through our Hands-On Ministry Teams,” explained Savage. “Collectively, our students are serving more than 400 hours per week.”

Colton Taylor, a junior majoring in theology, served on the Student Ministry Team last semester.

“The ministry teams have meant so much because they are a way to get our hands and feet moving in service,” he said. “This semester I have taken a part-time job as a youth pastor so I am now on the church ministry team. We meet regularly… share our triumphs and struggles, and pray and give each other advice.

“We have amazing professors who deeply teach us theologically and make sure we have our head knowledge, but my favorite part about the SCM is they make everything so practical and push us in opportunities to get our hands involved. We can take what we learned and actually put it into practice,” he continued.

There are currently eight Hands- On Ministry Teams established, with student recommendations for additional teams or projects considered on a regular basis:

Black Ops Team

An elite, highly trained team designed to carry out classified ministry projects in some of the darkest places around the world.

Church Ministry Team

Students serving weekly in local congregations of various denominational affiliations along the Gulf Coast.

Community Development Team

Assisting local nonprofit organizations, disaster relief, and developing ministries to people in the workplace to meet physical and spiritual needs. Examples include working with the homeless and impoverished, tutoring and mentoring at-risk children, assisting with medical care for the needy, and numerous other relational outreaches.

Creative Media Team

Using administrative, technical and creative gifts to reach others with the Gospel. Web developers, graphic designers, video producers, writers and those with marketing and administrative skills provide resources designed to develop others spiritually and market the work of the ministry teams.

Music Ministry Team

Serving in an official capacity in church music programs or campus ensembles including Impact, Voices of Mobile, True Spin and RamCorps.

Social Justice Team

Work the front lines of social justice and religious freedom by ministering the Gospel to victims of human trafficking, working with orphans and foster children, alleviating poverty, and working with international refugees living in Mobile.

Sports Ministry Team

Conduct sports camps and work with organizations including Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Senior Bowl, Mobile BayBears, Strickland Youth Center, local parks and more.

Student Ministry Team

Focus on middle, high school and college student ministry through student camps, DiscipleNow weekends, and student ministries in local churches and organizations. In addition to local ministry teams, every ministry major will participate in at least one international service project.

“Students anticipating ministry in the local church need exposure to what it going on in the rest of the world, the challenges fellow Christians face, and the needs of the lost,” said Dr. Doug Wilson, dean of the School of Christian Ministries. “They need to walk alongside missionaries highlighted in the missions-offering materials their churches promote. Students planning to work in urban ministry or international service need the experience of being surrounded by the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that are completely unfamiliar to them. This way, they will be prepared for the culture shock that comes with working with another culture or living in another country.”

Numerous mission opportunities are available each year both domestically and abroad.

Wilson said, “From the bush of Africa to the streets of Europe, from the Amazon basin to the remote villages of India, our students have and are serving on the front lines of missions around the world. With international service projects, our students stand shoulder to shoulder for a few days with individuals and families who are investing their lives in serving others internationally.”

Colton said, “In the international mission project class, we first learn the head knowledge of different cultures. Then we are taught to make sure our hearts are in the right place to serve, and to finish the class we are required to use our hands and go on a foreign mission trip.”

Savage said University Missions celebrated sending mission teams to its 50th and 51st nations.

“This is a great accomplishment and one which we thank the Lord for allowing us the privilege,” Savage said. “The 50th nation is Haiti. We sent a team to work with orphans and to assist with the construction needs there. The 51st nation is Moldova. We worked with orphans, evangelized a college campus of 30,000 students, hosted medical clinics, and worked with local leaders in bringing solutions to human trafficking.”


Each year of the four-year plan focuses on specific aspects of the hands-training process. The first two years are aimed at preparation for ministry with teaching and modeling as a priority. The second half of the program emphasizes the deployment of students in the field.

“You won’t find more hands-on ministry opportunities in any other college program in the United States,” noted Savage. “In the School of Christian Ministries, students will have the opportunity to not only learn in a classroom setting, but be given ample opportunity to apply what they are learning in the real world.”

Colton, who recently returned from the Haiti trip, said, “It was truly a life changing and ‘God Boss’ moment. God taught me more about service and how to relate and love on His people on this mission trip than I could have ever learned in the classroom. For that I thank the SCM department at UMobile for offering such opportunities for us to put our faith into practice and for giving us chances to start our ministries for God’s glory.”

For more information about the School of Christian Ministries, call 251.442.2406 or visit
About the Author

Lesa Moore

Lesa has over 25 years experience in marketing and public relations including the high-tech industry, retail marketing and higher education. Numerous local and national advertising, PR and design awards have been achieved under her direction. Lesa received her Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of South Alabama and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Mobile. She enjoyed a successful career as Director of Marketing Communication at Xante Corporation before joining the UMobile staff in 2002. She serves as Executive Director of Marketing and Public Relations as well as an adjunct instructor in marketing at UMobile, and is a member of the American Marketing Association, Public Relations Council of Alabama and Baptist Communicators Association. Lesa lives in Mobile with her husband and high school sweetheart, Jay, and their two children, current UMobile student Logan and high schooler Olivia. She is an active member and life group leader at Cottage Hill Baptist Church.