Life-Changing Education at Seminary

Alan Kropp was born in Hiroshima, Japan, the son of missionaries with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He spent a portion of his childhood in the United States before returning to Japan in high school and then attended college in Georgia. Although he ended up going to a seminary in Columbia, South Carolina, he met his wife seventeen years ago as a prospective student considering Alliance Theological Seminary. Now he and his wife are living in Japan as missionaries with their four children. They are working in a part of Japan that was hit by the 2011 tsunami, “seeking to show and share the love of Jesus there and have an impact in the Kingdom of God.” 

Why Alan Chose Alliance Theological Seminary

Alan’s long-term plan in Japan is to plant a church, but he’s beginning with a relational foundation. “We’re just trying to get people saved first. We realize there are different ways to start churches. Our approach for the last four years has been laying a foundation of trust and credibility in the community, and now we’re focusing on Bible study and sharing the Gospel—a lot of evangelism.” In his model, he invites members of the community to come to Jesus, get baptized, and gather for worship.

Alan is currently working towards his Doctor of Ministry degree at Alliance Theological Seminary. “I joined this program about a year or so ago—just sensing that the Lord was telling me to prepare myself. My wife graciously released me and has been my greatest cheerleader. This program has changed me. It’s changed us. It’s changed my family. And so, we’re thankful. It’s a privilege to be here.” 

Alan chose Alliance Theological Seminary on the testimony of others. “I was at General Council talking to people who had been through the program. I kept hearing this theme of I’ve been changed, I’ve been transformed, I’ve been developed. And these are people who’ve been in ministry for a while—five, ten, or more years. It’s a practical program. It’s not just content information. This is life-change-type stuff. That really intrigued me.” 

The Best Parts of Alliance Theological Seminary

Part of what Alan appreciates most about the Doctor of Ministry program at Alliance Theological Seminary is that so much of the content is practical and immediately applicable. “They’re always challenging you to bring it back home. What does this look like in your context? I think that kind of practical piece is really, really helpful. You leave each module with tools to really apply what you’re learning, so it’s not lost. It’s being used. It’s being implemented. It’s integrated into who you are.”

In addition to a great education, Alan has found community at Alliance Theological Seminary, and that, in turn, has made the whole process even more valuable for him. “It’s not just about the information—the content—that you’re learning, as good as it is. It’s also the people that you’re studying with that make this program phenomenal. You’re debriefing, you’re processing, you’re praying, you’re crying together, you’re laughing together, and you’re going out to meals afterwards. You’re staying in touch throughout the year. It’s just a phenomenal way to learn, because I think spiritual formation—development—it’s not meant to be done alone. It’s meant to be done in community. That’s the power of this program, in my experience.”

Education and community intersect at Alliance Theological Seminary to create a unique and immediately applicable experience for each student. “This program has us thinking in terms of culture—thinking in terms of the values and the motives behind the way people think and behave and things like that. So it’s been very applicable. It’s been right on with where I am in my ministry, to be asking not just questions, but the right questions so we can actually find the right answers. That’s been a huge piece of this program. It’s spot on.”

Attending Alliance Theological Seminary was transformative for Alan from the first week of classes. Even though he grew up in a Christian home and has attended a Bible college and seminary, he is learning new and transformative things as part of his doctoral program at Alliance Theological Seminary. “It’s changing almost everything that I do. Honestly. It’s changed the way that I look at myself or understand myself. That’s a big piece. Self-awareness is a big aspect of this program—coming to terms with who you are and who God’s made you to be. Issues of identity and how that impacts everything. The Holy Spirit just made it real for me at a deeper level. Ministering and living from that place is powerful. If that identity piece is secure, if it is solid, then it’s so liberating and freeing and powerful. Experiencing that myself and then now being able to share that with others so they can experience it and be led on a path of holiness that can be used by God in some powerful ways.”

The curriculum also asks students to share and learn from past mistakes they’ve made as leaders and/or in ministry. It is an opportunity for greater self-knowledge and growth. “Understanding the why’s or the motivations behind my behaviors and behind the decisions that I make—that has been really helpful. Examining past failures and analyzing them and trying to understand the reasons behind them. When you’re more aware of those types of things, it really equips you. Not that you won’t ever make mistakes again, but at least you can learn from those mistakes and that can set you up for success. I think that’s a helpful tool.”

Even though he is just in the first year of the program, Alan has already been greatly impacted by the experience. When asked to list the words that come to mind when he thinks about Alliance Theological Seminary and his time there so far, Alan said the following, “Transformation, development, authority, power, love, community, to name a few.”