Doctor of Missional Leadership: A Very Unique Doctoral Program if I do say so myself :)

I’ve been away for a week roaming Toronto – Hamilton – Niagra – St Catharines Ontario.  As a result, I am behind on my writing (including blog writing). So I thought I’d use the blog post this week to announce that Northern Seminary has opened enrollment for the 3rd cohort of our Doctor of Ministry in Missional Leadership. First class begins January 2016. The program teaches you contextual theology at its best and works it out intensely practically in your own context through your thesis project. The seven courses look like this:

1) The Mission Shaped Church in Post Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Church in Mission  (David Fitch)The practices of the N. American protestant church have largely been dependent upon Christendom assumptions that make mission a program of the established church. The theology of Missio Dei however calls these assumptions into question. The onset of new post-Christendom contexts in N. America presses for a fresh approach to cultivating missional congregations in ways not dependent upon Christendom. This course examines the cultural assumptions and theology that undergirds the practices of the church and how we might lead/reorient the practice of church for participation in life with God and His Mission in the post-Christendom contexts of N America. The course will a.) Explore the shift in cultural assumptions represented in post-Christendom and post-modernity and how this reshapes the practice of being His church. We will then b.) Examine how theology (or belief) plus practice shape a community into a disposition in the world. We will explore how doctrines have functioned in Christendom versus how they must function when society is no longer the backdrop for belief. Lastly we will c. Examine and re-describe the doctrines of missio Dei, incarnation and witness so as to inform the major practices of the church in formation around God’s MissionTheology in the West has often erred by separating doctrine (doxis) from life (praxis).  A missional theology however is belief, with corresponding practice to that belief, that shapes a people for the social incarnational presence/ministry of the gospel in the world. This course will leave each student with the wherewithal to examining his/her own inherited doctrine and practice with the goal of shaping a people for the Mission of God.2) Becoming Doctors of the Church: Ethnography as a Pastoral Discipline (Mark Mulder)This seminar orients the doctoral student to being a contextual pastor theologian. It seeks to place each student as a pastor within his/her own ministry context as opposed to a researcher above the context operating upon the field as an object for research. Instead, the pastor-theologian is placed within the context learning to see him or herself as a discerner of the times. The student will learn the basics of constructing an ethnographic project, how to define his/her “field,” record the narratives, ask the right questions, make substantive observations, and then reflect theologically about what has been seen and heard. The final assignment of the course is to structure one’s ministry issue as a reflective research endeavor.3) Biblical & Theological Reflection on Ministry & Culture (Fitch/Holsclaw)Each of us engages in life and ministry on the basis of our own “working” theology.  This course seeks to help the student define his/her own theological assumptions and to then be able to integrate sound theological understandings into the practice of ministry.  At the end of this course, the student should a.) Come to grips with several of the theological issues present in the contemporary church, become aware of how theological convictions lie at the foundation of his or her life and ministry (as well as at the foundation of how other people live), b.) Gain experience in pinpointing the theological convictions that are in fact operative in his or her ministry, and develop expertise in drawing from solid theological convictions to meet the challenges of life and ministry, and c.) Begin the development of a theological framework for engaging the ministry situation/issue the student anticipates as the main issue in the upcoming DMin thesis.4) Incarnating the Gospel in Culture (To be Determined)This course explores the notion of exegeting one’s cultural context in ministry. It explores the cultural issues one must engage as one seeks to listen to and understand the cultural ‘language’ of one’s context. The course will work at the inter-section of gospel, church, and culture by bringing biblical, theological, cultural and social science resources to the issues of engagement with one’s particular context. The deep patterns and structures of local community life within context are studied regarding how they influence an understanding of the gospel and contribute to the shaping of the church. Attention is given to assisting participants to reframe a congregation’s identity from a missional perspective as they provide leadership in helping the church to more faithfully participate in God’s mission in their particular contexts.5.) The Bible in Context: Gospel, Kingdom and Salvation (Scot McKnight)The contextual theologian must both understand the Bible in its original context and be able see his/her own context thru the Bible.  He or she must be able to move from the text to interpreting his/her local context through the lens of what God is doing as revealed in the Bible. This course examines several key themes of the Bible: gospel, kingdom, authority, along with the theological issues of atonement, conversion and women in ministry, learning to move between these two horizons. The class will explore each theme in its original Biblical context, how this theme has been interpreted into various contexts down through the history of the church, and then finally, how we can/must faithfully interpret these issues afresh for our own contexts as local theologians leading communities in context. The student will leave this course with a thorough understanding of gospel, kingdom, and church for the practice of interpreting these themes in a local context.6) Missional Leadership (Al Roxburgh)While North American culture is passing through a period of rapid, discontinuous change, little has been offered to church leaders in terms of frameworks and resources to understand and lead church systems through this change.  The methodologies and tactics of linear, rational strategic planning continue to shape the imagination of church leaders. This course provides an alternative framework for understanding the nature and effects of discontinuous change, transition and liminality.  It provides a constructive methodology for non-linear leadership based in the theologies of God as Trinity, creation, and the Spirit as one who forms a future among a people.  Using systems and complexity theory this course blends theology and ministerial practice in a new understanding of leadership. This course uses a series of assessment tools that enable leaders to identify the personal capacities and leadership competencies they will require for effective leadership in a period of rapid transformation.7) Thesis Design (Holsclaw/Fitch)This is a hands-on, how-to seminar on writing a thesis proposal.  More specifically, the seminar is designed to assist participants to understand the required components in the thesis proposal, sharpen critical, biblical/theological, and analytical skills for designing the thesis project and proposal, and formulate a plan for finalizing the thesis proposal with the supervisor and submitting it to the DMin committee for approval

The program is theologically challenging, intensely practical, aimed at not only shaping pastors/leaders to lead missional engagement, but shaping pastors/leaders for shaping other leaders and denominations for the cultural challenges we face for mission in N America
. It trains you into ethnography as a theological/pastoral discipline. It gives you a theological foundation for ministry in mission.

We accept 15 into the program every cohort so if you’re interested apply early. If you’re interested I urge you to begin the inquery process now. There is more information HERE although we’re updating the page in a month. Questions can be addressed to our admissions staff. We’re looking forward to talking to you.


BTW HERE is the announcment of Northern‘s new M. A. in Theology and Mission. And of course, check out this video on the new MA!

THEOLOGY AND MISSION: New Master of Arts from Northern Seminary on Vimeo.

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