I just returned from a week in Chicago – actually Lombard, Illinois. I was at Northern Seminary for a Doctor of Ministry seminar. I started the Doctor of Ministry program at Northern in August of 2012. It is amazing to think that when I finish the course work for the two classes I am in right now, I will be more than halfway done with the program.
The way Northern’s program works, once a year, DMin students attend a core seminar on campus. These core seminar’s are designed to introduce the student to the program and prepare them for the thesis/ministry project they will eventually do when their coursework is complete.
The rest of the DMin program is focus specific coursework. Northern has cohort based programs, partnership based programs, and a traditional program. My focus is a partnership program with 3DM. I have taken a class every 6 months in the program that aligns with the Learning Community process.
- Building a Discipling Culture
- Multiplying Missional Leaders
- Launching Missional Communities (Which I am in now and will finish in March)
- Leading Kingdom Movements (I will start in April and complete in September)
Each class has provided an in depth theological and sociological look at what we are doing in each phase of the LC.
I will complete my 3DM coursework in September and in January 2015, I will return to Lombard to have my thesis approved so I can start my ministry project. My ministry project is going to measure the spiritual formation experience of people as they journey through a huddle (at least that is the plan).
The core seminar I just took was Biblical and Theological Reflection with Dr. Geoffrey Holsclaw. This course is designed to get us to think or maybe rethink how Scripture, Tradition, and Culture work in our own theological framework and methodology. Most of us are 7 to 10 years removed from our seminary (master of divinity) training and have, by participating in pastoral ministry, seen a shift in some of our doctrinal positions. Most people participate in a denomination or movement with doctrinal positions that at least give a basic position to these things as well, so we reflected on how those either align or do not align with our own positions.
It was interesting, for example, to see how much being a Vineyard pastor for the last 7 years has shaped my view of the Spirit’s inspiration of and role in the interpretation of scripture as well as the formation of the community that interprets the text.
All in all, it was a fun week.
I also wanted to share a few things about Northern that I highly recommend after spending a few years in their DMin program:
- Highly personal and accessible. Northern Seminary is small and everyone on campus is highly involved in the student’s success. I have had access to everyone when I have been on campus or when I have needed something from home. I was struggling to figure out how to pay for school before Emily went back to work this year and they worked with me to catch up on my account. In that process, we found out I still had GI Bill benefits remaining and will be able to pay for the rest of my program. The staff at Northern has been awesome helping me figure that all out.
- Missional. Missional is a buzzword that can seem quite annoying around the evangelical scene. But, at Northern, there are pastor theologians who are actually doing this stuff, not just theorizing about it.
- Diversity – The students who make up my classes at Northern are diverse and the religious background of the students is diverse – mostly evangelical, but more mainline than my own experience. Because of this, my experience so far has been incredibly rich. Also, the seminary is committed to diversity in the theological experience. I have been exposed to a theological spectrum that I was not exposed to for my MDIV. Still evangelical, but more willing to give us center or left of center voices. Also, much more Anabaptistic given Fitch’s influence, I think. Also, I have been exposed to Black and Hispanic theology which has been refreshing.