BGU’s DMin has never been normal. Under new DMin Director Dr. Wayne Weathers, it stays true to its founding principles but is more relevant than ever to the needs of advanced, global, urban leaders.
For several decades, the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) degree was the chosen path for pastors with MDiv’s who wanted to go to the next level in their studies and careers. The MDiv and DMin were intricately connected so that a DMin required a MDiv as a prerequisite. The emphasis of both degrees was local church ministry, mostly focusing on the pastoral roles of preaching, leading, and equipping. DMin programs advertised that having a DMin would allow pastors to “lead with distinction” as they advanced their careers and gained increased the respect from others with the “doctor” title.
Then along came Ray Bakke in the late 1990s with a different idea of what a DMin should be. As an urban pastor in Chicago, Ray wasn’t on the path to become “distinguished,” and attracted others who were not the “normal” DMin candidates. He viewed ordination and doctoral degrees not as a means to increased privilege, but a Philippians 2 route to increased sacrifice of personal rights to serve others.
Ray Bakke saw the purpose of the DMin was to expand the vision of pastors/non-profit leaders to see beyond the program of the local church and see God’s work in global cities. The BGU DMin focused on training pastors to go beyond the Church Gathered on Sunday morning to the Church Scattered in the community and workplace throughout the week. For urban leaders, the BGU DMin was a place to expand their vision; fall in love with their city in new ways; become more committed to a “Theology of Place” in the hard neighborhoods where they served; and see the amazing global work of God in history and in the present. As a leader within the Lausanne Movement, Ray organized over 250 immersion events in the largest cities of the world between 1982 and 2000 demonstrating the whole church, the whole gospel, and the whole world in new ways. Starting in 2001, the new BGU DMin required every student to cross the ocean at least once to participate in one of these unique city immersions. Cities became laboratories. Practitioners became the professors. A whole new kind of learning was born.
Randy White succeeded Ray Bakke as BGU’s DMin Director and innovated the DMin to a whole new level. Randy’s long time experience of living and hosting students in his Fresno neighborhood allowed him to understand new ways to do urban immersions that were not just “tours” by outsiders but events that furthered the influence of BGU’s hosts. Urban immersions moved from being staff-initiated to BGU
alumni-initiated and these alumni led with their first-hand relationships in their cities.
Since 2003, BGU has graduated over 500 leaders with DMin degrees giving them the ability to host DMin immersions, recruit, and mentor the next generation of DMin students. Many BGU DMin graduates lead global non-profits, urban training networks, and have created new forms of church and urban ministry.
Now over 70% of BGU students live outside of North America. BGU often looks like a cooperative – many leaders owning the school and shaping it to serve their calling in the world. They are sold out to the principles Ray and Randy taught them but have the passion of front-line practitioners to take BGU’s DMin to a whole new level.
Dr. Wayne Weathers has tenaciously studied both the foundational principles that BGU’s DMin was founded upon, but also the new needs that church and organizational leaders face as they influence their communities and nations. BGU’s DMin doesn’t just discuss emerging global theological topics in theory. Instead, with students often from over 8 time zones in each class, they have a first-hand relational experience with fellow students and professors who are shaping these trends.
BGU’s DMin: Always Innovative. Always Improving. Never normal.