Theology & Ministry

The division desires to have an impact on every student's life through the required foundational studies courses. During your studies you will gain a broad understanding of the Bible and theology. You will acquire the tools necessary to adequately interpret the Scriptures. These studies aim to provide you with the foundation for a dynamic Christian life that critically engages our culture and the world. We hope you will enjoy this wonderful opportunity!

If you sense God's call to vocational Christian ministry, the division also provides a variety of majors to prepare you for your calling. Whether you feel called to ministry among adults, youth, or children in a local church or in a cross-cultural setting, we have carefully designed the curricula to include both theoretical underpinnings and experiential opportunities for your ministry.

Theology & Ministry Department Mission

To foster students in serving the mission of God in the world by developing them as disciples of Jesus Christ who are empowered and led by the Spirit to think, act and worship biblically as the church.

Bible and Theology Major

Simpson’s Bible and Theology major is ideal for any student who desires a deeper relationship with God through deeper reflection upon his Word and the world.

As a student in the program, you learn one of the biblical languages, either Hebrew or Greek, and develop a foundation in biblical or systematic theology. Then you choose one of the three concentrations: Old Testament, New Testament, or Theology.

The Old Testament and New Testament concentrations allow you to pursue interest in specific books, such as Genesis, Job, or Daniel in the Old Testament or the Synoptic Gospels, Johannine Literature, or Pauline epistles in the New Testament. Both concentrations include the possibility of a study tour in Israel. Finally, as a capstone, you will investigate the critical issues and the theology of one of the testaments.

The Theology concentration builds a foundation for theological reflection by developing a deeper understanding of God, humanity, Christ and his church. It too includes courses in areas of particularly interest, including History of Early Christianity, Women in Church and Society, or Theology of World Mission. As a capstone you will grapple with issues in contemporary theology.

All three of these concentrations are designed to develop stronger understanding of the Bible and Christian theology. Graduates will be better prepared to understand and assess life’s future challenges in biblically and theologically informed ways.

Cross-Cultural Studies Major

Are you challenged and intrigued by the diversity of the human race? Are you interested in cultural differences around the world? Do you long to serve a culturally diverse world? If you answer yes to such questions, you may want to consider the Cross-Cultural Studies major.

It is difficult to reach out to people if you cannot understand their ways of life. As a student in the cross-cultural studies program you have opportunity to develop skills in understanding others. You will first develop a broad understanding of cultural anthropology, cross-cultural communication, religions, language acquisition, and theology. Then you will concentrate in one of four areas: Ministry, Business, Transformational Community Development, or Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

Through the Muslim-studies track you can gain understanding into one of the most challenging blocks of people in the world today. Students also have opportunity to participate in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities overseas study programs. As a capstone, students are required to successfully complete a cross-cultural internship.

The Cross-Cultural Studies major combines marketable skills with empathy for other ways of life. As you leave Simpson you will have begun a lifetime of understanding the many different peoples that God loves so much.

Discipleship and Education Ministries

You will begin by developing a broad foundation in spiritual formation, small group ministries, evangelism, preaching, and leadership. Then you will focus on particular ministries of interest, such as children’s ministry, youth ministry, adult ministry, together with the educational skills, psychological understanding, and counseling skills necessary to be effective. For a capstone you will be required to successfully complete a ministry internship.

As a Discipleship and Education Ministries major, you will gain firsthand knowledge of the value of teamwork and relationships, as you learn alongside other students who share your passion for this facet of ministry. Most importantly, you will leave Simpson with a foundation to serve Christ and his church.

General Ministries Major

Are you interested in ministry, but don’t know where God is calling you? 

The General Ministries major lets you explore a variety of ministry opportunities as you wait to understand God’s plan for your life. Whether you are interested in going to seminary or are just seeking to serve God better, this major provides you with basic knowledge and skills needed for ministry. Through courses on spiritual formation, small group ministries, biblical studies, leadership, and preaching, you will be exposed to a wealth of knowledge and experience that will provide a foundation for your future ministry decisions. 

This program is also perfect for tailoring your own ministry education. With a wide variety of ministry electives to choose from, you and your academic advisor can work to create an education focused on your interests, whether administration, youth ministries, women’s ministries, or even missions.

Between the rich course opportunities, internships, and a faculty dedicated to your personal educational success, the General Ministries major at Simpson may be just what you need to prepare for a lifetime of work and service.

Pastoral Studies Major

As a Pastoral Studies major, you have the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for pastoral ministry in a local church.

The required Bible and theology courses will not only familiarize you with biblical content, but will also will provide the backbone for your ministry. You will also develop a broad ministry foundation through courses in spiritual formation, small group ministries, evangelism, and leadership, and then focus on the skills required for effective pastoral ministry through specific courses in preaching, administration, and counseling. As a capstone, you will be required to successfully complete an internship with a pastor.

This major is ideal for anyone who wants to serve God’s people through leadership in a small church or on the staff of a larger church.

World Missions Major

Are you concerned about those who do not yet know Christ?  Do the world’s peoples intrigue and amaze you? 

Many who have answered yes to such questions have found that the World Missions major at Simpson University prepared them for careers in world service. As the “Gateway to World Service,” Simpson has long been known for its missionary heartbeat.

Building upon strong biblical foundations, the World Missions major seeks to prepare students for cross-cultural ministries. Courses in religions, anthropology, and cross-cultural communication will contribute to your understanding of other peoples; courses in evangelism, preaching, and language acquisition will build skills required for ministry. As a World Missions major you have the option of choosing the Muslim Studies track, which focuses upon one of the world’s least-reached peoples, or on a general ministry track. You also will have the opportunity to participate in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities overseas study programs. Successful completion of a cross-cultural internship will round out your preparation.

If you have been blessed with the courage, faith, patience, and skills necessary to venture into another culture, then the World Missions major will provide you with an educational foundation to help you on your journey.

Youth Ministries Major

Why do many youth leaders burn out? Why do a majority of students graduating from high school emerge from youth ministry without a cohesive Christian worldview? Why do students, who appear to have a solid faith in high school, often abandon their faith soon upon entering the university or marketplace?

These questions have many answers. However, part of the solution is to prepare Youth Leaders adequately for the complicated world of adolescent ministry. Part of the problem is that we have allowed anyone to do Youth Ministry as long as they "love God and love people," such criteria is necessary but inadequate. Youth Ministry by its very nature is multi-disciplinary.

The Youth Ministry major at Simpson University will challenge and equip you to minister holistically. First, you will cultivate skills to become responsible with scripture. Second, you will be encouraged to become theologically alert. Third, you will be influenced to become culturally savvy.

The multi-disciplinary nature of youth ministry necessitates that a leader understands poverty issues, communication skills, administrative skills, leadership development, a philosophy of ministry, and the ability to construct and teach a Christian worldview.

If you have the gifts, talents, abilities, and passion for Youth Ministry, you will be challenged to develop them fully. Our desire at Simpson University is that you graduate uniquely equipped in head and in heart. This major fosters faithfully service for God's kingdom purposes in wisdom and in the power of the Spirit of Christ.

Honors Program

If you are a Bible and Theology major, you may be able to choose the honors program. To take part in the honors program you have to have the approval of full-time Bible and Theology faculty.

The honors program requires three supervised research and writing projects and receives special recognition at graduation. As an honors program student, you will be supervised and advised by a member of the faculty.

Admission is limited by the availability of the faculty supervisors. If you are interested in the honors program you should apply as soon as possible. You need to have a cumulative 3.0 GPA and a 3.5 GPA in at least 12 hours of Bible and Theology courses you took under the foundation studies requirements. You also need to have a 3.5 GPA within your major by graduation to qualify. Contact your advisor for more information.

Darren Gordon, Ed.D. candidate

Assistant Professor of TESOL
Theology and Ministry Division Chair


Darren Gordon is a graduate of Simpson University (1995). He and his wife, Erin (Simpson 1997) were members of Wycliffe Bible Translators for 15 years, serving in various countries in Southeast Asia. For two years during that time, Professor Gordon taught communication and linguistic courses at Simpson (2002-2004).

Besides his involvement in linguistic fieldwork and regional administration, Professor Gordon taught in the graduate linguistic program at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand and taught ESL at Candlelight Language School in Vientiane, Laos. One of his biggest joys in teaching is the opportunity to mentor students along their life's journey.

Outside the classroom, Professor Gordon enjoys time with his wife, any activity that his four children are doing, hiking, camping and reading.

Educational Background

  • Ed.D., Educational Leadership, George Fox University, in progress
  • M.A., Applied Linguistics, Northern Territory University (now Charles Darwin University)
  • B.A., Simpson University

Courses Taught:

  • Language Learning
  • Language Acquisition
  • Phonology
  • Semantics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • TESOL Theory
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Oral Communication
  • Rhetorical Theory
  • Faith and Culture
  • TESOL Materials and Methods
  • TESOL Practicum
  • TESOL Curricula and Assessment
  • History of English


Stephen Bailey, Ph.D.

Professor of Intercultural Studies


Dr. Stephen Bailey was involved in relief and development work in Thailand and the Lao People's Democratic Republic for 17 years with CAMA Services. From 2006 to 2009, he served as Associate Director of the International Fellowship of Alliance Professionals. From 2001 to 2011, he was Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies and Director of the Alliance Graduate School of Missions at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York. Since 2002, he has been serving as a Senior Associate with the Institute for Global Engagement to promote religious freedom in the Lao PDR. His work on issues of Religious Freedom takes him back to Laos twice a year. Stephen now serves as Professor of Intercultural Studies at Simpson University.

Stephen has been married to Jacqui since 1983. They have four children and live in Redding, California.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D. Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • M.Th. Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • M.Div. Alliance Theological Seminary
  • B.A. Wheaton College

Courses Taught:

  • Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods
  • Communicating Cross-Culturally
  • Religions of the World
  • Buddhism
  • Introduction to Community Development
  • Transformational Theology
  • Power Dynamics and Development
  • Qualitative Community Research
  • The Christian and Social Justice
  • Micro-Enterprise Development


William Griffin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Ministry and Bible


Bill has taught at Simpson University since 2004. He is a mission pastor serving house churches in Redding and has 25 years of parish experience. Ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, he has degrees in biblical studies, divinity and bacteriology.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley
  • M.Div., Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary
  • B.A., University of California, Davis

Courses Taught:


Michael A. Lyons, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Old Testament


Dr. Michael Lyons joined Simpson University's faculty in 2007. His research interests include compositional strategy in prophetic literature, innerbiblical quotation and allusion, hermeneutics, and the history of interpretation.

Dr. Lyons has published two books: From Law to Prophecy. Ezekiel’s Use of the Holiness Code, LHBOTS 507 (New York: T&T Clark, 2009); and Transforming Visions: Transformations of Text, Tradition, and Theology in Ezekiel, ed William A. Tooman and Michael A. Lyons, Princeton Theological Monograph Series 127 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, Pickwick Publications, 2010).

When he's not in the classroom, Dr. Lyons enjoys backpacking, playing bass guitar, and eating good food with friends.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • M.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • M.A., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
  • B.S., Multnomah College

Courses Taught:


R. Jackson Painter, Ph.D.

Professor of New Testament


Dr. Jack Painter came to Simpson University in 2002 after serving as a missionary with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Manila, Philippines. His experience includes music and youth ministry in church and camp settings, academic administration, as well as teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Dr. Painter teaches with enthusiasm and a passion for God's word and Truth. His interactive teaching style engages students on intellectual and spiritual levels. In addition to teaching undergraduate students at Simpson, he also teaches several master's degree courses for A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary. Dr. Painter is the faculty liaison with Jerusalem University College and leads student trips to Israel periodically. He served three years as faculty president.

Dr. Painter is active with his family at Neighborhood Church of Redding, where he leads a weekly small-group Bible study. An experienced kayaker, Dr. Painter commits several hours each week to honing his skills on the water.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • M.Div., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • B.A., Samford University

Courses Taught:

  • Gospels and Paul
  • Greek
  • Hermeneutics
  • Philosophy of Music in the Church


Craig Slane, Ph.D.

Frances P. Owen Distinguished Professor of Systematic Theology


Craig J. Slane is a recognized international scholar, having lectured widely and written extensively on the life and legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He currently serves on the board of directors for the International Bonhoeffer Society. Previously he served seven years as the society's official bibliographer. His book Bonhoeffer as Martyr: Social Responsibility and Modern Christian Commitment (Brazos, 2004) has been received with enthusiasm as a superior treatment of the controversy surrounding Bonhoeffer's death.

Dr. Slane's most recent research interests focus on the project of the Christian university in a postmodern situation. He also cultivates his love for baseball and computer programming through an original simulation baseball game (Nostalgia Simulation Baseball) that he operates on the Web.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Lutheran School of Theology
  • Th.M., Lutheran School of Theology
  • M.A., Wheaton College
  • B.A., Wheaton College

Courses Taught:


Michelle A. Stinson, Ph.D. Candidate

Associate Professor of Old Testament


Michelle Stinson joined Simpson University's faculty in 2007. She earned her undergraduate degree in English/PlanII Honors. During college, she was actively involved with Young Life, a ministry outreach directed toward non-churched high school students. This love for literature and students led her to complete a certification in secondary education in the areas of English and history.

After a season of serving in church and parachurch ministries, Ms. Stinson completed a master's in Biblical Studies and doctoral coursework in Biblical Theology/Old Testament.

Ms. Stinson's courses often draw together her passions for literature, ministry, and biblical studies. Her desire is that students grow in their knowledge of the biblical texts and in their love for the God they reveal.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D. Candidate, Trinity College Bristol
  • M.A., Denver Seminary
  • B.A., University of Texas

Courses Taught at Simpson University:

  • Literature of the Old Testament
  • Biblical Backgrounds
  • Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods
  • Job
  • Genesis
  • Old Testament History
  • Old Testament Theology
  • Research Methods


David K. Strong, Ph.D.

Frances P. Owen Distinguished Professor of Missiology


Dr. David Strong joined the faculty at Simpson University in 1997. Born in Oregon, David spent his early years in the Pacific Northwest. He pursued a degree in mathematics at UCLA and spent his junior year at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, during which time he met his wife, Cynthia. They married a year after his graduation, and David enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving as the supply officer aboard a nuclear submarine.

His service led him to Hawaii, where he and Cindi first felt called to missionary service. The Strongs and their three children embarked on their missionary pilgrimage in Seoul, Korea, under the Christian and Missionary Alliance. After Korean language study, David taught Bible in the Holiness Seminary and ministered to a number of interdenominational mission groups. After earning his doctorate in missiology, he joined the faculty of the Alliance Biblical Seminary (now Alliance Graduate School) in Manila, Republic of the Philippines, where he anchored the missions department.

David now serves as Frances P. Owen Distinguished Professor of Missiology and chair of the Theology and Ministry Division at Simpson University. He was voted Professor of the Year in 2004-2005. His current research explores the missionary activities of Irish and Anglo-Saxon monks in the Early Middle Ages. He has authored several articles on biblical, anthropological, and historical subjects relating to missions, and enjoys spending time with his four grandchildren.

David's favorite quote: "What are you then, human life? You are the way that leads to life, but not life itself, for you are a true way, but not an open one: brief for some and long for others, broad for some and narrow for others, joyful for some and full of grief for others, but for each and every one, you hurry on and cannot be called back. A way is what you are, a way, but you are not evident to all. For a road is to be walked on and not lived in, so that they who walk upon it may dwell finally in the land that is their home." - Columbanus, Irish missionary to the Continent, 6th century

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Fuller Theological Seminary
  • M.A., Fuller Theological Seminary
  • Th.M., Dallas Theological Seminary
  • B.A., University of California, Los Angeles

Courses Taught:

  • Faith and Culture
  • Introduction to Christian Theology
  • Courses relating to mission theology
  • Courses relating to mission history
  • Courses relating to cultural anthropology


Philip Vaughn, M.A.

Assistant Professor of Youth Ministries


Professor Vaughn challenges students to become biblically responsible, theologically alert, and culturally savvy. Such an emphasis allows a Youth Ministries Major to investigate the multi-disciplinary nature of ministry. Vaughn proposes that multiple disciplines and perspectives are valuable and usable for youth ministry.

This multi-perspective approach was characteristic of Vaughn’s own ministry. He has worked with junior high, high school, and college age students for over twenty-five years in a variety of settings which include: Young Life, Youth for Christ, Juvenile Hall, taught in the public school system, coached football and basketball, and worked within the church all of which required a wide variety of approaches and practices.

A theme that runs through Professor Vaughn’s teaching is the importance of faith as it relates to culture. Jesus made ministry as easy as offering a “cup of cold water” to someone who is thirsty; it is also as complicated as communicating well in a pluralistic culture. If Christianity is the fulfillment of all human longings as theologian Paul Tillich proposes, then we seek to understand and imagine meaningful ways to offer this “cup of cold water” to our diverse neighbors and world.

Educational Background:

  • M.Div. (in progress), A.W. Tozer Theological Seminary
  • M.A., Azusa Pacific University
  • B.A., Simpson College

Courses Taught:

  • Engaging Theology
  • Youth Ministry 1
  • Youth Ministry 2
  • Youth Culture and Issues
  • Counseling Adolescents
  • Principles and Practices of Evangelism
  • Simpson in Historical Perspective
  • Internship 1 and 2
  • Ministry Seminar


Glenn E. Schaefer, Ph.D.

Frances P. Owen Distinguished
Professor of Old Testament Emeritus


Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Th.M., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
  • B.D., Bethel Theological Seminary
  • B.S., Nyack College

Courses Taught:


Charles Tieszen, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ministry


Charles Tieszen is a scholar of Islamic studies, specializing in the historic encounters between Muslims and Christians and the theological interface of Christianity and Islam. He is author of Christian Identity amid Islam in Medieval Spain (Brill, 2013) and A Textual History of Christian-Muslim Relations (Fortress Press, 2015).

Charles is also involved in religious persecution research. He is author of Re-Examining Religious Persecution (AcadSA/VKW, 2008) and his theological definition of religious persecution remains among the most widely cited.

Educational Background:

  • Ph.D., University of Birmingham, England
  • Th.M., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
  • M.Div., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
  • B.A., Simpson University

Courses Taught:

  • Introduction to Islam
  • History of Muslim-Christian Encounter
  • Popular Islam


Bible & Theology

Students will be able to:

  • Read: Exhibit proficiency in the careful reading of text—biblical texts in their original languages and theological texts in their historical contexts.
  • Study: Communicate awareness of interpretive options, implications, and ramifications pertinent to the discipline.
  • Engage: Tackle contemporary issues, problems, and crises in a biblically and theologically informed way.

Cross-Cultural Studies/World Missions

Students will be able to:

  • Think: Think theologically and contextually about intercultural ministry and service.
  • Love: Love God and his multicultural world.
  • Witness: Be witnesses to God’s mission through one’s skills, gifts and calling.


  • Think: Formulates a biblical theological basis toward a cohesive philosophy of ministry
  • Become: Growing conformity to the image of Christ
  • Lead: Embodies values and demonstrates skills necessary for effective ministry

Bible and Theology Certificate

Bible and Theology is also offered as a one-year certificate program. This degree is great if you are looking to add to your biblical knowledge. It can be used for your own personal growth or to give you a boost in your work for a local church or other ministries.

With this degree, you will take all the Bible courses listed below. These are the same as the Bible courses required in the traditional undergraduate foundational studies.

  • Literature of Old Testament
  • Literature of New Testament
  • Biblical Backgrounds
  • Hermeneutics/Bible Study
  • Faith and Culture
  • Intro to Christian Theology