The passion for a vibrant Bible-based, Christ-centered, mission-focused training center for church laity and professional ministers began in the life and ministry of Dr. Jim Leggett, founder and senior pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Katy, Texas.
Originally, in 1996, Grace Fellowship envisioned creating a school offering seminary-level training to laity. Initially visualized as a “Growth Institute”, the idea evolved into a “Bible Institute” under the leadership of Grace Fellowship Teaching Pastor, Paul Helbig – a former teacher and key leader at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston,Texas.
In the spring of 2008, the church officially established a Bible Institute to begin teaching laity a series of courses covering all 66 books of the Bible. The classes were designed to be highly engaging and transformative, a joy and not a burden, taught by seminary-trained, credentialed instructors, and more intensive than typical Bible studies, but not quite as intense as a full-level seminary class.
The original Bible Institute courses included Bible Study Methods (the first and only prerequisite class), three Old Testament and three New Testament classes, and one missions class. Elective options included Holy Land Tour Prep (Geography of the Holy Land, Soul Care (Christian counseling), Perspectives on World Christian Missions, and others. The program revisions in 2017 added a new course and more elective options, as well as instituted some other changes.
Each Bible Certificate courses generally meet one night per week for eight weeks, with some exceptions. During the six year span between the first class offered in the spring of 2008, and the spring of 2014, more than one thousand students enrolled in Bible Certificate courses. The first twelve students to complete the Bible Certificate program track graduated in December 2011.
Also in 2008, several key Grace Fellowship members began working diligently with Dr. Leggett and others to develop The Bible Seminary as a separate, independent, non-denominational organization, including establishing bylaws, a Board of Trustees, core values, doctrines, ethos, financial support, incorporation in the state of Texas, institutional policies, and a program track for a three-year Master of Divinity degree aimed at attracting full-time, residential students. These tasks were completed or advanced significantly under the leadership of seminary Board Chair, Dan Dunham, and seminary Vice-President of Finance and Administration, Rick McCalip.
In the fall of 2010, the newly elected Board officially named Dr. Jim Leggett President of The Bible Seminary, and hosted a fundraiser targeted toward the Grace Fellowship congregation. Ultimately, more than 260 church members and friends committed in excess of $1,100,000 to help launch the seminary.
In December 2010, the Board launched a nationwide search for an Executive Vice-President/Provost. In July 2011, Dr. K. Lynn Lewis – a dynamic professional with more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneurial businessman, educator, fundraiser, and ministry leader – accepted this position. A former administrator at one of the largest private Christian schools in Georgia for 9 years – where he helped lead the advancement, communications, programming, and campus redevelopment of a 236-acre, 1700 student school – Dr. Lewis is also an ordained minister with 8 years of experience as a senior pastor. A former engineer, founder and President of the media communications company, InspireUSA, Inc., he has worked in both public and private secular and Christian schools, colleges, and universities; published and produced articles, books, a cable TV show, magazines, music, web sites, and videos; served as CEO, Board Chair and a board member of a variety of community, educational, and ministry organizations; and helped raise more than $35 million for churches, ministries, and schools.
In March 2011, The Bible Seminary was granted an exemption for its Master of Divinity program by the Texas Workforce Commission, and received a similar exemption in May 2011 from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. In July 2011, the Bible Institute was officially transferred from Grace Fellowship UMC and integrated into The Bible Seminary.
In April 2012, The Bible Seminary was approved for Affiliation with Association for Biblical Higher Education. The seminary also relocated from the campus of Grace Fellowship UMC to the adjoining campus of the Great Southwest Equestrian Center. Expanded facilities included a suite of four offices, a welcome center and reception area, a library/conference room, and a well-equipped classroom capable of seating up to 56 persons.
On September 4, 2012, The Bible Seminary officially launched the Master of Divinity graduate program with an initial cohort of 12 students.
During the 2013-14 school year, the seminary offered an expanded slate of classes and options for both the Bible Certificate and Master of Divinity programs, and added a new Biblical Leadership Series of monthly seminars on various topics.
In January 2014, Founding President, Dr. Jim Leggett, began transitioning to a new role at the seminary, and the Board of Trustees selected Dr. K. Lynn Lewis to serve as the new President of The Bible Seminary.
In the spring of 2014, the seminary launched a nationwide search for a new Provost (Chief Academic Officer). In October 2014, TBS welcomed Dr. Steve Adamson – a seasoned corporate and academic manager with worldwide experience – as the seminary’s new Provost.
In 2015, the seminary launched a new Master of Arts degree program, Licensed Professional program, and Holy Land Study Tours program. In November 2015, TBS Bible Certificate program was approved by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) as a provider of continuing education units for K-12 Christian education teachers.
In 2016, the seminary began expanding course offerings into the northwest Houston region in association with churches and ministries in that area.
In 2017, the seminary hired a new Provost with 36 years of experience serving professionally as a pastor, principal, superintendent, professor, Development Director, teacher, coach, archaeologist, and more - Dr. Scott Stripling. The seminary also hired a new full-time faculty member - Dr. Douglas Petrovich. The Board also approved a revision of the Bible Certificate program and added two new courses to the overall educational offerings.