Leadership in a Changing Church Context - Doctor of Ministry Program


Leadership in a Changing Church Context

Informing spiritual passions by…
Forming mentored learning communities, thereby…
Transforming ministers and ministries for a lifetime.

Dates and Locations:
Year One: June 10-19, 2024 Retreat Center, Harrisburg, PA;
Year Two: June 9-20, 2025 Charlotte, NC Campus
Year Three: June 8-19, 2026 Hamilton, MA Campus
Primary Faculty Mentors: Dr. Phillip Thorne

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Who are you as a Leader?  What is the nature of the church or organization in which you provide leadership?  How will you lead? And how do you understand and process the changes in our church culture? Each residency in this doctoral study program will add a layer of learning around these questions.

The key thought is this: Leadership is absolutely dependent on the leader’s own ongoing transformation and ability to lead others into a process of shared transformation.

We will study the impact of the changing church culture upon the competencies of pastoral ministry (preaching, teaching, discipleship, evangelism, worship, and pastoral care).  The variety of topics to be studied will include examination of leaders from scripture and church history in their contexts. There will be a focus on self-awareness, governance structure awareness, how to lead change, how to guide congregations, and how to engage better with younger generations.


As a Doctor of Ministry student, you attend three two-week intensive residencies (seminars), one each year for three years. The residencies consist of lectures, case studies, participant reports and individual consultations. The classroom sessions are collegial in style and stress learning within a community context. In preparation for each residency, you read between 2,000 and 3,000 pages of assigned and collateral reading. Sample reading includes:

  • Bolman, Lee G. and Terrence E. Deal. Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership, 5th Ed. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2013).
  • Crouch, Andy. Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP, (2008).
  • Laniak, T.S. Shepherds After My Own Heart: Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible. (Leicester, UK: IVP, 2006).
  • Nouwen, Henri J.M. The Wounded Healer. (Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1972).
  • Steinke, Peter L. How Your Church Family Works: Understanding Congregations as Emotional Systems. (Herndon, VA: Alban, 1993).

To order these books through Christian Book Distributors, go to our online bookstore:

GCTS Bookstore


To resource students through a biblically-grounded educational program taught by faculty who are committed to God’s Word and the application of principles of Scripture to the issues of contemporary culture.

  • Students will be able to look more thoughtfully at leadership from a biblical perspective and see how they can follow in his steps, believing that Jesus has clearly disclosed God’s way for our lives.
  • Students will be able to understand the changing place of leadership within God’s redemptive history.

To form in students a sound foundation of theological and biblical inquiry in their professional doctoral program’s specialized track that they are able to integrate into the life of Christian ministry.

  • Students will be able to develop adequate tools for evaluating the biblical and theological assumptions regarding leadership in undergirding various congregational renewal methodologies through increased awareness of varied theological perspectives concerning issues of evangelism, renewal, and discipleship.

To provide students with the skill set and understandings in a specialized area of ministry to such an extent that they can impact their congregation or community more powerfully for God.

  • Students will be able to grow in awareness of the contemporary literature of leadership, missional theology, and culture change.
  • Students will be able to develop competence in assessing the environment and needs of the local congregation for more effective transformation.

To create through the cohort model of the program a dimension of Christian community and spiritual nurturing so that students form strong friendships with one another and enter long-term relationships with the scholars who guide the learning experience.

  • Students will be able to recognize that Christian ministry flows out of the character of believers and through their shared experiences together will want to grow in the knowledge of our life in Christ and to learn more of the beauty of His holiness.
  • Students will be able to develop an appreciation of the responsibility of the minister to be a peer support for fellow ministers by becoming a contributor to fellow students’ formation for ministry efforts.

To develop in students a deeper understanding of Christ’s lordship in all areas of life for the common good of the contemporary world.

  • Students will be able to analyze the sociological, psychological, and spiritual factors involved in the various leadership resources studied.
  • Students will be able to develop an historical perspective as a basis for evaluating contemporary leadership and missional practices, including developing insights for evaluating the nature of contemporary congregational transformations in the light of historical, biblical, and theological principles

To cultivate within students through critical reflection and careful research through the residencies and projects an enriched Christian witness in the places of society they are called to serve.

  • Students will be able to critique his/her ministry in light of biblical and theological perspectives on leadership.
  • Students will be able to apply the principles of missional theology to his/her own ministry setting.
  • Students will be able to implement and evaluate specific leadership strategies within a local congregation.

To instill in students a refreshed view of their ministry as it relates to the proclamation of the Gospel among all people.

  • Students will be able to discern principles of leadership transformational and missional strategies that have played a key role in the spread of the gospel around the world.
  • Students will be able to explore dynamics of congregational leadership through site visits.

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