Equipping God's People to Create Missional Culture

Interview with Jason Clark about the New Global Missional Leadership DMin Program at George Fox

George Fox

Are you thinking about pursuing a Doctor of Ministry? If so, you should check out this new program starting at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. It is called the Global Missional Leadership Doctor of Ministry (DMin), and the lead mentor for this program is my friend Jason Clark, so I decided to interview him about this degree. Check it out.

1. How is the new Doctor of Ministry in Global Missional Leadership (GML DMin) at George Fox Evangelical Seminary distinct from other DMin programs at other campuses?

International venues: Our face-to-face ‘Advances’ or learning intensives are held in several locations around the world, including the UK, Germany, Kenya, and Malaysia. To that end, we have established partnerships with seminaries from each location who will host us and whose faculty and students will join us in the learning experience.

Social media: We think that our integrated approach to the use of technology and social media tools is unique to our program. Social Media tools allow students to meet, learn, and interact with one another. Moreover, students are able to use these tools to extend their experience by creating content online. These materials and conversations will be available to other students and to the church at large.

Open Source: The Global Missional Leadership DMin program is ‘open source’ in that most of the work and conversation among students, instructors, and advisors are freely available online for those outside of the program to access and engage. Instructor and advisor feedback for student work will remain private.

What this means is that people unable to study full time might want to read along and participate in the online discussions. Additionally, the public will be able to join in with parts of the face-to-face ‘Advances’ or learning intensives. We are hoping that the GML DMin will result in an extended learning community that shares resources and forges relationships with others from around the world.

Peer learning: We ask each student not only to choose an area of specialization for research but also to share their research with the extended learning community. This will allow them to ‘road test’ their ideas with others from around the world.

The Global Missional Leadership DMin will provide students with a ‘thick’ understanding of Mission, Culture and Leadership. We accomplish this by meeting internationally on three continents, through vigorous theological reflection, engagement with social theory, and relational peer-to-peer learning experiences.

2. In the purpose of the program, you talk about gaining a “thick understanding” of global culture and ecclesiology, what do you mean by this phrase?

I borrow the term ‘thick description’ from Clifford Gertz, who coined it. He argues that it is not enough to describe how people are behaving. We need to understand the context to that behavior to really understand what is going on.

We want students not only to understand their cultural milieu utilizing the tools of social theory, but also to develop and use theological skills to assess their contexts. For instance, we can describe how people prefer organic metaphors for life and relationships, namely, of ‘starfish and spiders’ to ‘machines’ and ‘institutions’, but how do we understand what kind of human being those metaphors produce? More importantly, if we use a certain set of metaphors to order our lives and practices, do they produce authentic Christian identity, or do they produce something very different.

So we want to enable students to explore deeply the contours of world/culture, church, and leadership through social theory, theology, history, and real world experience.

3. As you interact with various pastors and church leaders in North America and Europe, what are the two to three areas of need that you have noticed that this program will address well?

Many leaders in churches, Christian organizations, and mission communities recognize that the world is rapidly becoming interconnected economically, technologically, culturally and politically. Moreover, in our increasingly consumer-oriented market-based society, people often regard churches of all stripes as a matter of personal preference and convenience. At the same time, leaders are often culturally aware, yet they lack any confidence and grounding in Scripture, church history and theology. Consequently, they find themselves struggling to adapt in order to fruitfully and effectively proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in this context.

We have designed the Global Missional Leadership DMin program to address these areas of need.

4. If you had to summarize some of the major philosophical, cultural, political, sociological, religious and scientific trends that this program will address, how would you summarize them?

There are so many major themes and trends to attend to for a ‘thick’ understanding of our emerging global context. We think some of the key trends and areas to explore include: secularism, consumerism and religious fundamentalism, post-modernity, colonialism, social justice, the environment, family and gender-related issues. These are the major areas that are shaping our world today. It is within this environment that people now form their identities and organize their relationships. The church must engage this world, if it hopes to facilitate the formation of Christian identity in an incarnational manner.

5. What excites you most about this new DMin in Global Missional Leadership?

So many things! The opportunity for collegiate peer based learning, the ‘open source’ nature of the program, the extended learning community possibilities, the opportunity to introduce and connect students to missional church leaders from around the world, and the chance to create an online hybrid educational experience that significantly impacts students.

We hope that this program will equip Christian leaders relationally, theologically, and practically for their own lives, their churches, and their arenas of mission.

6. What is one last thing that you would like to say about this program that I haven’t asked you about?

I think George Fox Evangelical Seminary offers a unique relational experience at all levels, in all of their programs. I am confident that this program will be life changing for both the Global Missional Leadership DMin students and the extended learning community.

Jason  turned 40 recently, celebrated his mid life crises with buying a motorbike and getting a tatto. Married with three teenage kids, he is a church planter on the SW edge of London at Vineyard Church Sutton, having previously spent 8 years in the City of London as an investment adviser. He holds a doctor of ministry degree in theology and leadership, and is currently in the middle of a theology PhD at Kings College London, researching the impact of Consumerism and Secularism on Church and Christian identity formation. He travels internationally to speak, lecture, and teach in areas of Church and Culture, and this year sees two chapters of his writing published in a book by Baker Academic. An avid blogger, you can find him at Jason Clark, Deep Church and Reflective Practice. Jason will serve as the lead mentor of this new Global Missional Leader DMin program at George Fox Evangelical Seminary.

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