Bulgarian students working outside of church to reach community
Bulgarian Evangelical Theological Institute (BETI) began in the 1980s with a small group of key Christian leaders. By the early 1990s, the full-time program began in Sofia with students from all five major Bulgarian evangelical denominations and over 200 church leaders involved in extension programs. Prior to BETI’s founding, most pastors had little to no training because no other Protestant theological educational institution existed in Bulgaria for 45 years.
Today, the institute of 354 graduates is the only interdenominational theological institution in the country. Extension programs have been further developed: seven locations now with more than 85 students enrolled. Within the next five years, BETI plans to add a master’s program to make further training available without having to go abroad.
Curriculum has undergone changes to address more contextual realities. Each student is also continually involved in practical ministry and has a personal mentor who supervises not only his/her academic achievements but also personal growth and character formation.
Presently, the greatest challenge for the Church is community urbanization. Pulpit preaching no longer reaches most of the people, and BETI wants their students involved in more positions outside of the church building, including in Turkey and the Middle East.
Bachelor of Theology student Vladimir Krustev says, “I realized the need of good Christian counseling…In order to be well-prepared and to have the fundamentals for future service, I became a student at BETI, knowing I can obtain knowledge and skills based on Christian values.”