Online Training is a ministry of the Richard and Julia Wilke Institute for Discipleship at Southwestern College. The Institute was chartered by Southwestern College, a United Methodist-affiliated 4-year university in Kansas, on April 20, 2001.  Named for Bishop Richard Wilke and his wife, Julia, the Institute is dedicated to carrying on the Wilkes’ legacy by providing educational opportunities that build Christian communities, encouraging small groups that sustain and uplift their members, engaging in high quality theological content, and resourcing a global church.

Since 2006, has been committed to providing quality, online educational experiences with roots in Wesleyan theology. We offer online studies, workshops, and courses on a variety of ministry, formation, and leadership topics.  Our goal is to make rich learning experiences accessible to church leaders and laity, no matter their location or life situation.

Before you take any of the online course, please contact Emily Harding, and give her the title of the course. Some classes that are offered are not approved credit courses for Lay Servant Ministires.  After the course is completed, you must present your certificate to the Lay Servant Committee for course credit.

The following are upcoming online courses that will give you advance course credit for all Certified Lay Servants, Certified Lay Speakers and Certified Lay Ministers:

Leading Public Prayer- Nov. 6-17

Teacher: Rev. John Zimmerman

Cost: $70.00

As a Lay Speaker/Servant/Leader you may find yourself the one leading prayer in worship services, as well as in other settings.  It is vital then that you are knowledgeable and lead well. This course may challenge some of your assumptions, test some of your preconceived ideas, stretch your thinking and enrich your prayer life. It will, at the very least, present you with an opportunity to grow in the discipline of leading prayer.  The primary objective for this course is to enable the Lay Speaker to effectively prepare and lead various prayer forms, primarily in worship settings.

This course follows the required text, Let the Whole Church Say Amen! by Laurence Hull Stookey (Abingdon Press, 2001). Each participant will need a copy of this workbook and should obtain it well before class begins. The book is not included in the course fee. You will be expected to access the online workshop daily and stay current with the assignments. Therefore, obtain, read, and complete the workbook prior to the start of the course for better time management when the course begins. You will also need access to a United Methodist hymnal during the course.

Life Together in the United Methodist Connection- Oct. 30-Nov. 17

Teacher- NBSI vice president and United Methodist deacon Beth Galbreath

Cost- $70.00

Image result for the method of our missionBe ready for the new program year with the answers to questions your folks may ask, as United Methodists move forward into a new four-year cycle. This course will help newcomers to the UMC get their bearings, and longtime members consider the specific structural challenges the church faces in the 21st Century.

Participants must obtain the book The Method of Our Mission: United Methodist Polity & Organization by Laceye C. Warner, which is not included in the course fee.  Note: This is the new official book for this course chosen by Discipleship Ministries. Participants should be prepared to read assignments and post their reflections on the discussion boards daily, but there is no set time to be online. This is an intense course. Participants are strongly urged to get the book and read it before the course starts, to make it more relaxed and fun. This session follows a schedule of five new assignments per week. This course has been approved by Discipleship Ministries as an advanced course in Lay Servant Ministries, and is the “polity” course required for Lay Speaker certification.

Your Ministry of Leading Worship 101 (Leading Worship course)

 November 6 – December 8, 2017

Teacher-Daniel Benedict


Would you like to prepare to do “pulpit supply” or lead worship with your pastor? This course will focus on basic understandings of worship, gaining skills for Lay Servants planning and leading worship, and fulfill requirements for Lay Speaker Certification. Particular emphasis will be given to students’ role in relation to other leaders and the congregation.

All students are expected to have or have access to The United Methodist Hymnal (1989)and The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992).  All other course materials are included as downloads in the course.

Note: Be aware that this course has daily assignments and there is an expectation of daily online group participation. Students should expect to spend a minimum of an hour a day on weekdays.

Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts- Dec. 4-15

Teacher- Beth Perry


All participants in the Body of Christ depend on the spiritual gifts God has given them. Those gifts differ but they provide the foundation for whatever ministry we do. Learn more about your spiritual gifts – and how to help your congregation learn more about theirs – in this two-week course.

Participants will interact via online discussions, journals, and videos throughout the two weeks. Participants are also expected to read the Discipleship Resources book, Each One a Minister, by William J. Carter, and Spirit Gifts, by Patricia Brown. (If Spirit Gifts is not available, notify the instructor as soon as the course opens to receive another inventory.) It is highly recommended that you acquire and read the books before the online course begins.

PLEASE NOTE: Participants must commit to posting in Discussion Board and Spiritual Gifts Journals every weekday. If you are going to be unavailable for more than one day during the course, please wait to register until a time when your schedule will permit full participation.

This course has been approved by Discipleship Ministries (formerly the General Board of Discipleship) as an advanced course in Lay Servant Ministries and qualifies for 10 contact hours for Lay Speakers.