Why I am at AMBS
“After having served as a church leader for more than 30 years, I am so grateful to be a part of this vibrant academic community where people from across the world learn with each other. It is wonderful, at this stage of life, to be immersed in the rich diversity of this campus and to think together about how the church makes God’s wisdom known in the world.” —David W. Boshart, PhD
David Boshart brings a variety of administrative and leadership experiences to his role as AMBS’s fourth President, which he began in January 2020. Prior to coming to AMBS, he served as Executive Conference Minister for Central Plains Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA (2010–19). As part of this role, he was responsible for supporting emerging congregations and staffing a partnership with Mennonite Mission Network and Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (Colombia Mennonite Church) in support of Anabaptist networks in Ecuador and Venezuela. David pastored for more than 25 years in congregations in Iowa and Virginia. His teaching experience includes serving as Appointed Associate Professor at the Andrews University School of Education (2009–present) and as an Adjunct Faculty member at AMBS (2014–15) and Eastern Mennonite University (2010–15). He has served on the Mennonite Church USA Executive Board (2007–19), including as moderator (2017–19), and also was a member of the AMBS Board (1999–2007), serving as chair from 2003 to 2005.
How does approaching the Bible with an Anabaptist vision shape your vocation?
We are living in challenging times. The world is a place of increasing polarization, individualism and isolation. One of the great contributions of the Anabaptist vision is a conviction that it is possible to discern God’s will if we study the Scriptures together under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Equipping leaders to guide the church in this work is one of the most important things we do at AMBS.
How do you encourage students to hold together excellent academics with deep spiritual formation?
At AMBS, we understand our students to be whole people. Their spiritual formation is as important as their intellectual development. I love the relational culture of AMBS. All at AMBS are co-learners and mentors—enriching the path of discipleship with and for one another.
What are some of the diverse communities you look to within and outside of the North American Mennonite Church to shape your work?
There are many expressions of the church that precede North American and Western European histories, and many powerful expressions of the church that have emerged independent of Western influence. It is essential for us to listen deeply to nondominant voices in the church and to “de-normalize” whatever preconceptions we might have about what it means to be the church. In my own experience, my understanding of God’s presence, love and grace has been greatly enriched as I have related to Indigenous and refugee communities in Ecuador, the church that is emerging in Venezuela in the face of national economic collapse, and Hmong immigrant communities in North America.
What are some of the most pressing challenges you see facing current and future church leaders and Christian scholars?
I believe that current and future leaders face significant challenges as the shape of mission and shared expectations for the church undergo frame-breaking change. The church is becoming less programmatic, less Sunday-morning-focused. It isn’t about “ticking the boxes” of church involvement. Participation in the church is about helping people develop strong Christian practices that nourish their faith, help them discern their spiritual gifts and enable them to find the places where their gifts can bear witness to God’s healing and hope to all that is broken in our world.
My goal for students
My hope for students is that they will find a rich, diverse learning community at AMBS. Here they will be accompanied by fellow travelers who are being formed in the study.
I want students to conclude their AMBS studies as faithful interpreters and teachers of our sacred text who can lead others to develop a fuller understanding of and express more fully God’s love for the whole world as revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
I want students to be the kind of people who seek wisdom, love mercy and walk humbly in a daily relationship with God and who can lead the community of faith to discern carefully what it means to be the people of God, the body of Christ, and the first fruits of the new creation.
“Developing a Missional Culture in the Church” in Fully Engaged: Missional Church in an Anabaptist Voice, edited by Stanley Green and James Krabill (Herald, 2015).
“Vital witness on the rural frontier: Six handles for contextual theology” in Vision: A Journal for Church and Theology, Spring 2013, pp. 46–54.
“Revisioning mission in Post-Christendom: Story, hospitality and new humanity” in The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2010, pp. 16–31.
Becoming Missional: Denominations and New Congregations in Complex Social Contexts (Wipf and Stock, 2010).