Interviewed and written by
Among us, probably no one would have imagined that 2020 would turn out like this. Since stepping into the 2020s, our world has been going through a drastic and unprecedented time. Uncertainties and changes have become a matter of daily life. The end of last year left us with miserable and mixed feelings. We lamented the hardships in life and could not wait to start a new year afresh. On the other hand, we were shocked to realize how time flew by so quickly. The effectiveness of the vaccine is hard to predict, and in the face of the pandemic of the century, the global economy is entering a harsh winter. How long will it take? It is indeed worrying.
However, God works in His own time. If we truly believe in this, how should we respond to His call in this time? How do we prepare and equip ourselves to serve, here and now?
The launch of the Doctor of Ministry Program (DMin) marks the response of CGST – a seminary and practice field of theological education movement – to God’s call in the present time. With the roll out of the curriculum review to cultivate “Reflective Collaborators” (RC) in 2018, CGST also sees the urgent need for the development of continuing education. Bernard Wong, Chairperson of the DMin Committee, Associate Dean and Associate Professor (Theological Studies) remarked, “Continuous learning is indispensable for lifelong ministry. As we witness the changes in our current context, we are increasingly Feature aware of the importance of integrating ministry practice with current situations. We no longer think that completing the Master in Divinity program (MDiv) will suffice. Then naturally one would ask: How would our graduates carry on learning?”
Following up on the 2018 new curriculum review and upholding the CGST spirit of pursuing strenuous scholarship with an open, critical and forward-looking orientation, the DMin curriculum places particular emphasis on interdisciplinary integration, collaboration with others and the personal growth of ministry practitioners. It encourages reflections in contexts and derives practices that live out the faith. Bernard explains, “While DMin is considered a professional degree, rather than an academic degree, it does not compromise the School ’s rigorous requirements for theoretical foundation and thesis writing. Our curriculum emphasizes the integration of biblical, theological and practical studies. We look for originality in research and theses so that the program can enrich our knowledge and contribute to the church’s ministries.”
Looking at the program name “Ministry” （教牧）in Chinese, one might assume that it is only meant for pastors（教牧）. Bernard smiled and clarified, “Absolutely not! Students with a Master of Divinity (MDiv) or Master of Christian Studies (MCS) degree can apply once they have five years of experience in ministry. Five years is a time for reflection, and engaging in further and in-depth learning. In fact, we envision this program not only for pastors, but also for Christian leaders, marketplace ministers or missionaries with different ministry backgrounds and experience to come and learn together. The DMin program carries on the spirit of the RC curriculum review. With MDiv and MCS students coming to learn together, we let them understand the roles of each other under various contexts, so they can learn to collaborate. Our DMin program is also designed to embrace this distinctiveness. More importantly, we strongly encourage each cohort of students to form a community that will uplift each other in the future.”
The program is offered on a part-time basis, in which students must complete a thesis of no more than 100,000 words and seven taught courses within six years. Among those taught courses, “Reflective Personal Growth and Collaborative Leadership”, “Practical Theology and Research Methodology”, “Ministry in Context” and “Biblical Hermeneutics and Theology for the 21st Century” are compulsory. Besides our own faculty members, we plan to invite adjunct professors from Hong Kong and overseas to teach and serve as supervisors. Dr Gordon T Smith, President and Professor of System and Spiritual Theology at Ambrose University of Canada, and Dr David W Pao, Professor and Dean of the New Testament Department at Trinity Theological Seminary in the US, have agreed to teach. In this time of turmoil and changes, ministers from various fields with different expertise and gifts will come together to share their unique insights and experiences, to expand the horizon of thoughts about the directions and actions of missional practice, and to encourage each other in going forward.