As the GProCommunity, we aim to share developments and new initiatives in both formal and non-formal training of pastors. With this goal in mind, for this month, we highlight the Lucent University, “a Higher Education Institution focused on preparing God’s people for the ministry by offering affordable online training in all the world’s major languages.”
As you may be aware, even if pastoral leaders can afford the financial costs, many often face the tremendous decision to abandon their congregations and leave their families in order to receive training so they may then better serve the very churches they had to leave.
If you know pastoral leaders who desire a good foundation of biblical theology at an affordable cost without having to physically leave their current ministry posts, here is a fine resource to share with them.
Watch the quick video from Lucent and then enjoy the interview below with brother Carlos Oliveira, the founder of Lucent, to learn more about their great effort to make pastoral training affordable and accessible to as many pastors as possible.
GProCommunity Team: What is Lucent?
Carlos: Lucent University is a higher education institution focused on preparing God’s people for the ministry by offering affordable online training in all the world’s major languages. The ministry was born from the dream of equipping men and women to more effectively serve Him by using the best professors combined with the best technology available.
GProCommunity Team: What was the reason for starting Lucent?
Carlos: Lucent is the result of years of work by the Holy Spirit preparing the right people and the right technology to deliver high-quality Biblical education in multiple languages to those who are called to the ministry all over the world. We are using the opportunity that the Internet affords us to reach and equip as many people as possible. After years developing the programs, we launched on September 20, 2017.
GProCommunity Team: Who are the people that run Lucent?
Carlos: Lucent is a combined effort of dozens of volunteers in the technology, educational and ministerial sectors. The team is comprised of technology experts that have worked for IBM, Microsoft, and SAP, distance education specialists, and people with years of experience in local and international ministries.
GProCommunity Team: How big is the staff population at Lucent?
Carlos: Our operation relies heavily on technology. Computers manage almost every aspect of the day-to-day operation. Our fixed team is only six people. Our volunteer staff includes about a dozen volunteers and professors that have joined us so far.
GProCommunity Team: Can you share one recent praise report/testimony from a pastor you trained?
Carlos: Our students don’t cease to be amazed by the quality of education and the opportunity that is afforded to them. We get emails on a daily basis thanking Lucent for allowing them the opportunity to be better equipped to serve the Lord in their churches and communities.
GProCommunity Team: How many months does it take to graduate with a Masters from Lucent if you already have your bachelors?
Carlos: All the programs we offer last 24 months and have a total of 60 credit hours.
GProCommunity Team: What countries have the lowest and highest monthly tuition?
Carlos: We use the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) of the World Bank to adjust the cost of the programs according to the purchasing power of the country where the student lives. The PPP takes into consideration the purchase power: the average income and the cost of living. The lowest cost for training is for those students from the Central African Republic, where the monthly tuition for a certificate in ministry is only $1.23USD. Our highest cost is for United Arab Emirates students enrolled in the Masters’ program, where the monthly tuition is $315.89 USD. To check the prices for different countries, go here.
GProCommunity Team: Your prices are so affordable. How is this possible? Do you have donors who help underwrite the costs?
Carlos: There are several factors enabling us to operate at a low cost. Number one is technology. For example, all the work that goes into enrolling and managing students is done by computers costing us minimal overhead so we can in turn pass on the savings to our students. The second factor is that our professors do not receive a salary. They get paid through royalties. That means that we don’t have to put money upfront to pay professors, and also the faculty is not a fixed cost. How much we pay professors is dependent on the revenue of the institution. Last, but not least, there are several individuals and organizations that donate to scholarships. All these combined factors allow those students that live in under-resourced areas of the world to have access to a world-class education.
GProCommunity Team: How many are currently enrolled in your programs total?
Carlos: In our first four months of operation, we have 108 students in 25 different countries.
GProCommunity Team: What programs does Lucent offer, according to the education a student already has?
GProCommunity Team: What is your greatest challenge in training pastors through online education?
Carlos: Online education is very different from the traditional seminary education. The same reasons that make online education appealing also may pose as a challenge to some students. The fact that students can study anywhere at any time, review classes as many times as they want, and study at their own pace makes distance education a very attractive proposition. However, it also presents challenges. One such example is student participation. Students in a formal classroom setting tend to interact much more with their professors and one other. On the other hand, online studying can be isolating. The absence of face to face community can cause students to get discouraged and drop off the program.
GProCommunity Team: What is your biggest concern for the pastors you train?
Carlos: Our number one concern is safety. Governments can take action against students if they find out that their citizens are studying the Bible in their homeland. Unfortunately, we are concerned that one day students will inevitably suffer persecution as a result of studying at Lucent. We try our best to take precautions and keep the identity of students anonymous, but some governments have the financial resources to hack into any system and steal information with the names of the students who are taking classes in those countries.
GProCommunity Team: Is financial aid available to students?
Carlos: Partial scholarships are generally available for students in need of financial aid, though no full scholarships are offered, unless someone gives a donation to Lucent specifically to pay for a student’s tuition. To apply for a scholarship, the candidate must send an email to Lucent explaining the reason why he or she needs assistance. To apply for a scholarship, candidates can go here. At the end of the page there are instructions on how to apply for scholarships.
GProCommunity Team: How can someone from the GProCommunity learn more about Lucent and the programs you offer?
Carlos: Lucent can serve the members of the GProCommunity by providing continuous education programs. Some churches and denominations require that their leaders have formal theological or ministerial training. An Associate or Master’s degree will meet the educational requirements of most organizations when considering someone for a pastoral or leadership position. Members of the GProCommunity can learn more about Lucent by visiting our website.