How can our online students get good training in public speaking and preaching? They are required to have a local group of people willing to listen to their speeches or sermons and critique them. Some work with a Sunday School class they are teaching. Others assemble some family members and friends. Of course, the mentor should be present. When the IRTC instructor gives an assignment, he also gives instructions for what the audience needs to be looking for. The student passes this on to the audience and asks them to give a critique that particularly speaks to these points. The student then sends the results of the audience critique to his instructor. The mentor may wish to send an e-mail himself with his observations. The student also sends his outlines to the professor and recorded speeches are evaluated by the instructor, as well.
In our counseling course, students are required to work out biblical principles and recommended counseling practices in their own lives (together with spouses where applicable) and this with the counsel of their local pastor or mentor. To do this, an assignment is given with each lesson that gives direction for what the student is to be working on in his own life or that of his family. The steps that a pastor takes to give counsel to people with problems, the student must first take for himself. He or his pastor can consult the instructor for advice regarding anything that may come up. In addition to this practical experience, in their written assignments, the students also work through a number of hypothetical counseling cases, such as situations of anger, depression, anxiety, addiction, and marital distress.
In other courses, the distance instructors also give practical assignments. For example, church history often requires the writing of a paper of good academic quality. In addition to this, the students may be assigned to rework this material (or part of it) with the purpose of sharing it in some way with members in their church, community, or family. The instructor can then evaluate how effectively the student can communicate what he is learning to people who are seeking less complicated teaching. Of course, the student’s pastor or one of the elders of the church will also want to see how well he does this kind of teaching.