January 19, 2015
The Doctor of Ministry at Sioux Falls Seminary is a practical, professional degree program that enables individuals to reflect critically upon their vocations, engage in rigorous theological reflection and advanced learning experiences, and grow in ministry competence. Doctor of Ministry students come from a wide variety of ministry backgrounds with a desire to learn and to gain a clearer understanding of how God’s kingdom is at work in the midst of their lives and ministry contexts.
One such student is Marcel Mitchell, the lead pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Medicine Hat, AB, Canada. The emphasis of his doctoral studies is pastoral leadership that enables a church to move from a traditional expression of church to a more missional expression of church. He believes that many churches and church-leaders have lost their primary calling of mission in the world and neighborhood. He envisions a church that is different from the world–set apart, unique from the trappings of the surrounding culture so as to be a refreshing and attractive difference in the world.
Church leadership is a key to moving churches in a more missional direction. Divinely-appointed church leaders have a responsibility to teach that throughout redemptive history, God has revealed himself to be missional. Moreover, leaders must help local churches understand that mission has often become a lost practice and that the consumeristic nature of church needs to be replaced with a missional emphasis.
Mitchell believes that church leaders must lead in a process of “inculturation” in which congregants learn the heart of the culture, things such as values, beliefs, history, social norms, and cultural dynamics with the desired outcome of establishing significant relationships with the people. There is biblical support for such an approach to ministry in both the Old and New Testament.
When a congregation transitions from doing church to being church, there are some tangible changes which take place. Success is no longer measured by the number of people who attend Sunday worship services or by the amount of money in the treasury. Such criteria often result in listener-centered rather than Christ-centered sermons or worship services that are focused more on their entertainment value than on Christ.
Mitchell references Reggie McNeal’s Missional Renaissance: Changing the Score Card for the Church in suggesting a progression from doing church to being church: 1) From Internal Focus to External Focus; 2) From Program Development to People Development; and 3) From Church Based Leadership to Kingdom Based Leadership.
The information in this brief report was gleaned from a Directed Learning assignment submitted recently by Pastor Mitchell. It is clear that he takes seriously the work of research and writing. More importantly, he understands the challenges and importance of the pastoral ministry to which he has been called – the living out of God’s kingdom in our midst.
If you are serving in ministry and have a desire to learn and gain a deeper understanding of how God’s kingdom is at work in the midst of life and ministry, I encourage you to inquire about our Doctor of Ministry program.