Tuesday, March 08, 2011

a little pause to celebrate: the missional masters begins

Yesterday was for me a bit of milestone, which at the risk of being self-indulgent, I am pausing to mark.

Yesterday the Missional Masters cohort began and for 2.5 hours, I sat with a group of church leaders. Together we wrestled with Luke 10 and found ourselves both encouraged and challenged by the expression of mission. We began a conversation with Graham Ward, Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice searching for theological themes that might make sense of our passion – to be change agents, fueled by a Kingdom vision, in and amongst ordinary churches around Australasia. We agreed on a common practice, to spend the next weeks collecting stories of the Kingdom being near in the lives of ordinary folk.

In August last year I was flying to Tasmania to work with their Synod. At 30,000 feet my brain started to do some free wheeling. For a number of years, Uniting College has been offering a Masters in Ministry. It is an exceptionally well-designed course, offering collegiality, flexibility and a practical theology focus.

At the same time, I have, for the past five years, taught a one-year course on Missional Leadership. Generally by the end, students feel like they are just starting. I don’t think this is because I am a poor teacher. Rather, I think it is a reflection on the long haul nature of being missional in leadership. The course needed more time, more years – not so much in lecturing from the expert, but more in accountable, collegial relationships.

At 30,000 feet I began to wonder what it would look like to apply this existing degree to the challenge of developing missional leaders in context.

  • To shape the existing thesis into an action/research journal documenting missional innovation
  • To shape the existing entry level papers on research design into a focus on action research
  • To shape the existing theological reflection paper into a leadership evaluation process
  • To shape the existing colloquim into a cohort specifically focusing on supporting each other in missional change
  • To shape the existing Guided readings into a shared experience of reading mission texts together.

The last five months have involved moving this through academic processes, writing some thought pieces on the methodology (here and here and here and here), recruiting participants, seeking inputers.

Yesterday the work became a reality. I had hoped for 5 to 8 (adventurous) participants in first year, and then to add 4 to 5 each year after, which over a part-time 4 year degree, builds nicely toward a cohort of around 15 to 20.

Well, we began yesterday with 4 folk and expect another 3 more joining mid year, so looking on track.  (This should include 1 in NZ, 2 in Queensland, 2 in rural South Australia, so certainly the distance thing seeming to be helpful.)

At the same time, numbers in our existing Masters/Doctor of Ministry have increased, an overall doubling of our enrolments, with over 30 folk involved in study. (That still leaves the PhD programme, of which we at Uniting College are involved in supervision of more than 10 candidates). The existing part of the programme began last week, and also started exceptionally well, a group of students reflecting on images of God in relation to disability and depression. Grounded, thoughtful and honest.

Hence the little, slightly self-indulgent, pause. Yesterday was a moment to celebrate.

Posted by steve at 09:04 AM


  1. Well done Steve, celebrate the success and enjoy the conversation and action to mission

    Comment by Geoff — March 8, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  2. glass raised – mine’s a nice little whiskey 🙂


    Comment by steve — March 9, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

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