DOCTOR OF MINISTRY in

CHURCH PLANTING

in Post Christendom Europe

The Doctor of Ministry program is designed for Christian leaders desiring to expand their knowledge and develop their leadership abilities.  Asbury Theological Seminary is the fourth largest seminary in the United States, and is an internationally recognised theological seminary, combining theological expertise, practical vision, and global reach.

The vision is to combine the expertise of Asbury with British and European leaders, delivering a robustly theological applied degree for leading practitioners in the fields of church planting and pioneering.  The prayer is for God to equip leaders theologically to plant churches and start fresh expressions of church in post-Christendom and secular European soil.  You will train with other key practitioners, and be part of a supportive learning group.

The impact of the Doctor of Ministry degree happens at three levels:

  • Personal: it is a personally challenging and stretching experience, increasing the capacity of leaders
  • Strategic: students work on their most significant ministry challenge, researching at depth in a dissertation, making them experts in the field of this work, and better enabling them to deliver church planting and pioneering on the ground
  • Kingdom: the degree is cohort-based, and the fellowship amongst the students and faculty is a key element to the success and enjoyment of the degree.  It is hoped that the London D Mins will generate a substantial body of work which can resource the British and European church for mission in our times.

Asbury’s material on the Doctor of Ministry degree can be read here:

See more

The Degree

The coaches are both American and British. In addition, an online step-by-step tutorial is available to students throughout the three years. The degree is an applied doctorate, spanning three and a half years.  It is both taught (the modules) and self-taught (the dissertation). It occurs both online and in-person. The dissertation work is guided by a mentor and an online tutorial.

The heart of the degree is the dissertation.  This would be 60,000 – 100,000 words, in five chapters.  The student, in conjunction with their dissertation supervisor, chooses a topic that combines

  • Their primary ministry challenge
  • Their personal passion and interest
  • The most usefulness to the wider church.

The dissertation is written throughout the degree, not just at the end (as is often the case in many doctoral degrees).  A template is provided by Asbury, which is essential to the writing of the dissertation.  Synchronous dissertation instruction is provided three times a year, and each student is assigned a dissertation coach, who checks in with the student once a month.  The dissertation coaches are practitioners in the fields of church planting and pioneering, who have studied at doctoral or higher levels. 

The dissertation is about a project designed and delivered by the student.  Examples would be the briefing of Anglican bishops on the launching of resource churches, or the assessment and delivery of an apprenticeship model of training church planters, or the assessment of the theological formation of church planters, or the encouragement of women pioneers and church planters, or how to ensure the spiritual and emotional health of church planters.  The dissertation is in five chapters:

  1. The statement of the problem to be researched
  2. The review of the literature concerning this problem
  3. A description of the project to be undertaken
  4. A writing up of the delivery of that project
  5. A statement of the conclusions and learning from the project.

Alongside the dissertation, there are six modules, which are grouped around the three annual ‘residentials’ of the degree.  Each module requires study and writing.  The modules vary, but typically each module requires the reading of between 4,000 and 5,000 pages, and the writing of four essays of about 500 to 2,500 words.  The essays are graded according to a set marking system.  Students are required to maintain a high mark in order to continue in the programme.

There are two ‘core modules’, which are an essential part of any Asbury Doctor of Ministry.  These will be taught on zoom by Asbury professors.  The other modules are tailored more specifically to European church planting and pioneering, and will be taught by a mixture of American and British practitioners.

The Experience

Although the Doctor of Ministry is robustly theological and requires the highest academic rigour, the heart of the doctorate is not a purely academic exercise.  Rather, it should be thought of as a spiritual practice in community, and approached in the same way as anything else in God’s kingdom.

  • Prayer and worship are central to the whole Doctor of Ministry
  • The cohort as a whole have a key part to play in supporting and encouraging each other.  It is estimated that the cohort will comprise 15 to 20 women and men
  • The cohort have a lot of wisdom and experience to share with each other.  Much of the input will be a facilitation of the sharing of this experience.  The cohort will be a varied group of practitioners, representing every stage of the pioneering and church planting process.  There will be bishops and movement leaders, resource church leaders, pioneers, church planters, diocesan missio enablers, some academics, those just starting out in church planting, who show potential to be movement leaders in the future.
  • Within the cohort as a whole, there will be three or four Legacy Groups, groups of four or five, who meet to pray and support each other throughout the doctorate.  This is often one of the richest elements of the whole D Min experience.
  • There is a bias to action.  Study is not seen as being something done for its own sake, but rather with a view to growing God’s kingdom on the ground in practical mission, pioneering and church planting.
  • There is an intercession team, praying for the cohort and the doctorate, and each student is encouraged to ask at least three people to commit to praying for them as they go through the doctorate.

The Timetable

The D Min starts officially in September 2021, with the reading and assignments set for the first ‘residential’ in June or July.

The first cohort events are as follows:

  • The ‘core module’, ‘Habits That Sustain a Ministry’ will be taught (plus a day’s orientation and some dissertation training) online on 28 September – 1 October; and
  • The first Church Planting and Pioneering ‘residential’ is 17 to 22 October, 2021. It will take place in London. Students will be expected to sort out their own transport and accommodation for the ‘residentials’. One meal a day will be provided, plus refreshments throughout the day.

28 September – 1 October

  • Habits That Sustain a Ministry, taught by Drs. Chris Kiesling and Michael Matlock

17-22 October, 2021

  • Early Church Lessons for Twenty-First Century Church Planters and Pioneers, taught by Dr Winfield Bevins and Dr John Valentine

Summer 2022

  • Discovering God’s Missional Heart, taught by Dr Gregg Okesson
  • New Church Types and Networks, taught by Dr Winfield Bevins and Dr John Valentine

Summer 2023

  • Church Planting Movements, taught by Dr Ric Thorpe and Dr Christian Selvartnam
  • Missional GPS, taught by Dr Winfield Bevins and Dr John Valentine

Spring 2024

  • Graduation

The Cost

The total cost is £10,750. (It was £21,500, but Asbury have generously pledged to pay half.) This covers tuition costs in full. Students should also reckon to have a budget of about £400 per year for books.

The following funders, trusts and grant making bodies might be able to help towards the costs:

If you know of other sources of funding, please do share them.

Application

There was a livestream, put on by the Gregory Centre for Church Multiplication, on Monday, 1 February, in which Bishop Ric Thorpe and Drs Winfield Bevins and John Valentine talked about the D Min. This was recorded, and here is the link

  • Do contact John Valentine at John.valentine@ccx.org.uk, if you would like to talk about the D Min.
  • Asbury require a certain academic level to qualify for the D Min.  This does not translate exactly to British equivalents, and we are in the process of clarifying and agreeing what academic qualifications will be required.
  • In addition to the required academic level, applicants will be required to write a theological essay, set by Asbury, which will demonstrate the requisite academic aptitude.
  • The application process is handled by Asbury.  There is a non-refundable fee of $50.  Four referees are required. https://myaccess.asburyseminary.edu/apply/ or contact applytodmin@asburyseminary.edu
  • The deadline for applications for the London D Min is 31 March, 2021.  The reading for the assignments for the first ‘residential’ will be sent out in June or July.

Matters to consider

  • Do pray about whether or not the Lord is calling you to this D Min.
  • Begin to think about what your dissertation question might be.  Don’t stress about it, as the degree includes a process to refine your thoughts, but do begin to reflect on that intersection of your primary ministry challenge, your own passion and experience, and what might be of the widest use to the church.
  • Think and pray about funding.  You will need a financial plan before Asbury can accept your application.
  • Think about how you might fit in the study.  As a rule of thumb, it will take a day a week for the next three and a half years.  Everyone is different, and there are busier and quieter periods throughout the doctorate, and the dissertation should be around something you are already doing, but there is no getting round the size of the time commitment involved.
  • Do speak with your bishop (if you are an Anglican) or denominational head. This is partly because we want to honour them and their leadership, but also because then doctorate has a significant strategic value too, and your bishop or denominational head may want to think with you about how this doctorate might have the maximum impact.

Thank you for considering the D Min. 

Please do not hesitate to be in touch with John.valentine@ccx.org.uk if you would value a conversation about any of this.

LEAD PROFESSORS/PRACTITIONERS

Winfield Bevins, D.Min. equips others for missional engagement in a post-Christian context. He has helped plant churches and been instrumental in launching several church planting networks. He has trained global leaders and frequently speaks at conferences, churches, and seminaries on a variety of topics. He is the author of several books including, Marks of a Movement.

Ric Thorpe, D.Min. serves the  Church of England nationally and holds a variety of other roles that support bishops, dioceses, church
planters and pioneers to develop church planting strategies and to plant new worshipping communities to reach new people in new places in new ways.

Christian Selvaratnam, D.Min. worked with Alpha International for fifteen years in various roles, including Head of Alpha UK. He has personally planted two churches and is the Director of the St Hild Centre for Church Planting in the North of England.

John Valentine, D.Min. trains church planters, as well as researches and writes on the theology of church planting for the wider church. He planted a church from Holy Trinity, Brompton, which planted two other churches.