Thompson Scholars

The Thompson Scholars program brings pastors and other church leaders with an interest in evangelism, to the seminary campus each spring.

This annual intensive study experience focuses on a variety of topics to prepare evangelism leaders for the future. Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, Peachtree Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth, serves as director.

This program includes not only lifelong learning opportunities, but also courses for basic and advanced degree students. Course work focuses on the church’s evangelistic mission in the rapidly changing context of North America and across the globe.

Who Should Apply

The program is open to clergy serving in congregations and other settings of ministry, Christian educators, lay pastors, judicatory staff, and in some cases other leaders fully involved in the life of the church who have an interest in evangelism in general and the annual topic under consideration.

Preference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars.

Program Structure

The seminar takes place over 3 days, generally Tuesday afternoon – Friday morning. Dr. Watkins and other leaders design a learning experience that draws on the knowledge and expertise of the leaders and participants alike.

Dates and Costs

The 2019 cohort will meet April 23-26, 2019.

Thanks to the Thompson Scholars’ endowment, the program fee covers all meals on campus during the seminar and all course materials. The program fee for the seminar is $175.00. It includes eight meals on campus, refreshments, and all program materials. Guest housing on campus is also available for a reasonable rate and  may be reserved at the time of acceptance and completion of registration.

Program Topics

We are pleased to announce the topic for the 2019 Thompson Scholar Cohort, “Tell Me Your Story and I’ll Know Why I Should Come to Your Church.”  The dates are April 23-26, 2019.

Congregations continue to be the most intentional presence of God in the world. They do good work in their communities: provide transitional housing, youth ministry, skills training, church school, meals and food assistance, and worship that encourages discipleship. Their stories are compelling, inviting and inspiring. Yet, we seldom hear about the great things our churches do. Why don’t more people hear the “good news” stories of our congregations? What can we do to be better storytellers?

This gathering will focus on the power of telling the story of your congregation, faith community or other ministry setting.  You will learn how to discern your story, to craft and tell it in ways that leave those who hear it yearning to be a part of it. Seminar leaders will share their expertise – and stories – and invite you to tell yours. Using that readily-available tool –  the cell phone  – participants will practice creating, editing and telling stories in ways that invite others in.

In additions to his work at the seminary and as pastor of The Wheat Street Baptist Church, Watkins is currently the executive producer of two televisions shows: Talk it Out with Dr. Ralph Basui Wakins and The Love Out Loud Broadcast.  Links to other examples of his documentary work may be found at

In addition to Watkins, the seminar will include the creative leadership of Terence Lester, executive director of LoveBeyondWalls.  Lester describes his work as using story to “raise awareness and mobilize an army of people who dare to get involved in breaking down barriers and dreaming up new solutions.” He is the producer of the award-winning documentary, “Voiceless: A Documentary on Systemic Poverty”

Recent topics include:

2017: Evangelism and Social Justice: Re-imagining Evangelism for Such a Time as This

2016: Can They See Your Church? Evangelism in the Digital Age

2015: Spiritual Pioneers: The Call, Risks and Blessings of Church Development

2014: A Different World: Evangelism for the Screenshare Generation

2013: Evangelism: A New Scorecard

2012: Breathing Life into Young Adult Ministry

How to Apply

The application for the 2019 Thompson Scholar program is located here. (

 Applications will be accepted until spaces are fullPreference will be given to applicants who have not participated in previous Thompson Scholar seminars.

About the Thompson Scholars Program

Thompson Scholars began in 1981 and is generously supported by an endowment in honor of Cecil Thompson, former professor of evangelism at the seminary.

For more information, please email Sarah Erickson, Director of Lifelong Learning, or call 404-687-4526.