I’m In, It’s On, Here We Go!
Awhile back, I mentioned that I had applied for a doctorate program.
Well, I got in.
Here’s what they told me:
I know what you’re asking…”what the heck is a Doctor of Missiology program anyway?”
I’ll try to explain.
To me, missiology is the study of how the good news about Jesus goes out to the world through the church. That’s my laypeople’s definition. Want a more, er, robust definition? Try this one, from this post:
“Missiology is an interdisciplinary discipline which, through research, writing, and teaching, furthers the acquisition, development, and transmission of theologically-informed, contextually-grounded, and ministry-oriented knowledge and understanding, with the goal of helping and correcting Christians, and Christian institutions, involved in the doing of Christian mission.”
On second thought, go with mine.
Simply put, I’m going to spend the next four years journeying alongside a cohort of ministry leaders from around the world learning about how the church can do a better job fulfilling its God-given mandate. I’m anticipating a lot of fun, some serious hard work, and near constant reading and writing. At the end of the program, I’ll be writing a dissertation and defending it before a committee.
And on the front end, DMiss students are tasked with presenting their “problem,” the particular missiological issue that they will be exploring. I’m told that everyone’s problem gets tinkered with early in year one, but for now, see below for what I’m thinking I’ll be tackling. I’m looking forward to bringing y’all along with me!
It is safe to say that I would not be the person, disciple or minister that I am today were it not for the influence of godly women. Indeed, in 2 Timothy, when Paul exhorts Timothy to recall the faith of his grandmother and mother, I can identify with Paul’s young protege. Likewise, in my life, God has used female family members, peers, partners, mentors and followers to form me spiritually more fully into the likeness of Jesus.
And for more than 16 years of ministry with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, it has been my privilege to share in the formation of women as well as men. Many of my enduring ministry partnerships cross gender lines, and today I lead a ministry where women are empowered to use their gifts to their fullest in pursuit of our campus mission.
Still, along the way I have experienced challenges, both internal and external. I’ve had to face my own gender brokenness. I’ve come up against the systemic patriarchy both in American culture and in my organization. And, from time to time, I have had to engage with theological opponents in conversations that have been both taxing and painful. After all, it is never easy to be called a “false teacher” because you are allowing women to preach in your ministry.
Because of this, I am interested in expositing models for healthy gender equal ministry partnerships where both men and women can flourish. I want to construct a set of cross-gender competencies by which we could measure whether such a ministry partnership is successful. And I am eager to discern ways to help both men and women become more competent and ready to establish mutually empowering partnerships. In the end, I want to push against what I believe to be the church’s frequent conclusion that men and women cannot simultaneously flourish in ministry with one another.
Accordingly, I propose a DMiss study entitled “Women and Men Flourishing in Mission: Models of Healthy Gender Equal Ministry Partnerships.” This study will take place within the context of my organization, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, where I serve as a Divisional Director in central California. My intention is to do my field research both locally, in the portion of InterVarsity that I am responsible for, and nationally. For this latter portion, I intend to rely on the access provided by my supervisors as well as by InterVarsity’s National Women’s Council.
No leader can choose their legacy. But if I could, it would be to articulate and then field test a paradigm of cross-gender ministry partnership where both men and women are fully flourishing. My hope is to leave such a thing as a gift, to InterVarsity, to the church, and to the advancement of God’s mission in the world.