What to know: AMBS’s DMin in Leadership

Published: January 24, 2023

Picture of seven adults smiling
(l. to r.): Charles Buller (MA 1992) of Goshen, Indiana; Arthur Stewart of Fresno, California; James Rissler of Atlanta, Georgia; Janeen Bertsche Johnson (MDiv 1989) of Goshen; Doug Luginbill (MDiv 1997) of Bluffton, Ohio; Kaz Enomoto of Fresno; and Hyun Hur of Pasadena, California (originally from Korea). 

By Annette Brill Bergstresser

In January, a cohort of seven students began studies in AMBS’s new Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Leadership degree — the only DMin in the United States to be deliberately developed with an Anabaptist framework. It’s also the first DMin in the U.S. and Canada approved by the Association of Theological Schools to be designed from the outset as a competency-based program.

“We’ve learned from consultations with pastors and leaders in the church, as well as from feedback from our own alumni, that the church needs leaders who continually grow in specific competencies,” said Beverly Lapp, EdD, Vice President and Academic Dean. “We’ve shaped and focused our new DMin in response to these needs. This program will enable ministry professionals to build on what they’ve gained from their prior studies and leadership experiences and will be an important part of our strategy to resource leadership for the church.” 

DMin Program Co-Directors named

(l. to r.) AMBS Doctor of Ministry Program Co-Directors Dan Schrock, DMin, and Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, PhD
(l. to r.) AMBS Doctor of Ministry Program Co-Directors Dan Schrock, DMin, and Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, PhD (Credit: Rachel A. Fonseca)

Dan Schrock, DMin, and Jewel Gingerich Longenecker, PhD (MA 1992), began Sept. 19 as DMin Program Co-Directors. They’re sharing the half-time position, overseeing the program’s faculty and curriculum as well as guiding student advisory groups and doctoral research project committees. Both will continue in their existing AMBS roles — Jewel as Dean of Lifelong Learning and Dan as Core Adjunct Faculty in spiritual direction. 

Here’s why they stepped up to serve:

Dan: “This degree comes at a tender time in the life of the church, when what often worked well in the past will probably not work so well in the future. We are looking for fresh expressions of church life that engage the realities of our time. For such a time as this, we need leaders who have a higher degree of competence.”

Jewel: “It felt natural and right to say ‘yes’ once I learned that Dan would be Co-Director. With his extensive experience in pastoral ministry, spiritual direction for leaders, and seminary teaching, I felt that my background in competency-based education, leadership theory, and administration of Lifelong Learning programs could be a helpful complement in the startup phase for this new degree.” 

DMin program details

Designed for: mid-career pastors and ministry leaders

Goal: to strengthen students’ leadership capacities for the advanced practice of ministry

Hours: 32 credit hours

Length: three years (9–12 credits per year)

Structure: Students do most of their coursework online while based in their professional ministry or leadership context, coming to campus each January for one week of in-person coursework.

Process: Using the question, “What more do I want to know, become or do as an Anabaptist leader?,” students will create a customized learning plan to gain expertise in five key competencies: Anabaptist Leadership, Intercultural Leadership, Teaching Leadership, Change Leadership and Resilient Leadership.

They’ll also take core leadership courses, develop a leadership portfolio and complete a doctoral research project. Throughout the program, they’ll gain knowledge about leadership, apply it to their work, and reflect on how this experience is deepening their leadership identity and expertise.  

Community support: Each student will be part of a cohort and will work closely with a faculty mentor and an advisory ministry group.

Benefits for congregations: DMin graduates will help their congregation/organization to: 

  • be more resilient when unforeseen events happen;
  • adapt to intercultural relationships;
  • use thoughtful processes to navigate changes the church wants or needs to make;
  • deepen the church’s biblical and theological insights;
  • strengthen its Anabaptist identity.

In addition, the church benefits from having leaders who have fresh ideas and new enthusiasm for congregational life.

Cost: The total cost is relatively low for doctoral studies. A congregation that budgets $6,000/year for three years would help their leader cover most of the cost.

Application deadline: Application materials, including the application fee, are due Sept. 15 for the cohort that begins in January. Learn more and apply 

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