Doctor of Ministry

DMIN: Leading Change


Intensive Week Dates:
Year One: June 18-26, 2018
Year Two: June 17-21, 2019
Year Three: June 22-26, 2020


In a rapidly changing world, the primary task of leadership is to energize a community of people toward their own transformation in order to meet the challenges of the uncharted terrain before them. It is what Ronald Heifetz calls “adaptive leadership” and defines as “the practice of mobilizing people to tackle tough challenges and thrive.” Transformational Leadership is the product of a leader’s own personal competency, relational congruence and adaptive capacity.

The key thought is this: Transformational Leadership is absolutely dependent on the leader’s own ongoing transformation and ability to lead others into a process of shared transformation through ongoing learning and navigating loss.


Part 1: Introduction to the Class and the Biblical and Theological Foundation of Leadership

The course of study begins with introducing the core concepts, the Transformational Leadership diagram and the critical difference between ‘stewardship’ and ‘leadership'. We will examine a definition of Leadership as a process of personal and communal growth and transformation in a changing environment, exploring competing views along the way. Then, this class will feature a biblical and theological overview of leadership as an overlooked and often misunderstood concept in Christian tradition. An examination of biblical metaphors, case studies of biblical leaders and the necessity of leadership as a ‘function’, ‘practice’ and ‘gift’ of the whole people of God for God’s mission in the world will be examined. Concepts to explore include: Leadership and the Mission of God, Leadership as Role vs. Function, Leadership vs. Stewardship, Leadership as a Missional Necessity, Leadership and Public witness.

Part 2: All Transformational Leadership begins in Technical Competence

In addition, in this class, the student will explore the necessity of developing credibility through personal and technical competence as a prerequisite for leadership. Preparatory assessment work using three tools (a church/organizational assessment device and a personal assessment device) will be completed prior to the first class. This class will feature a discussion of the core competences of missional and pastoral leadership, the place of those competences in a transformational process and the need for new competences in a changing world. While traditional pastoral competences will be examined, emerging and often overlooked competences (governance, team building, experimentation, vision casting, healthy conflict, difficult conversations) will also be explored. This class will also feature a section on strength’s based leadership, and the necessity for leaders to create cultures of ongoing assessment, experimentation and healthy conflict.



Relational Congruence and Trustworthy Leadership

John Calvin began his Institutes by declaring that all “True and sound wisdom” came from the “knowledge of God and of ourselves.” This second Section will look at the spiritual, psychological and emotional capacities necessary for effective leadership. While leadership begins in “Technical Competence”, it is validated in the leader’s “Relational Congruence”. These two weeks of study will take the leader through exercises and discussion about his or her own internal and external congruence, sense of self, and the spiritual resources necessary for healthy leadership. The Ignatian Spiritual Exercises will be introduced and practiced during these two weeks of classes.


Adaptive Capacity and Transformational Leadership

The particular temptation for leaders who are engaging in adaptive leadership is to believe that knowledge of the concepts of Adaptive Leadership is sufficient to bringing organizational transformation. In fact, reliance upon knowledge is a classic expression of ‘work avoidance’. The class sections will feature an in-depth look at the process and practices of adaptive leadership with an emphasis on writing and discussing verbatim case studies on presenting challenges from the student’s project. Some key process skills to be explored are Identifying Adaptive Challenges, The Observations-Interpretations-Interventions model, the necessity and use of healthy conflict, enacting change politically, and the use of a Transformation Team to institutionalize the desire change. In addition, this year will feature significant amounts of time with students in online peer-peer and professor-student coaching conversations.


Tod Bolsinger joined Fuller Seminary as vice president for vocation and formation in March 2014 and as assistant professor of practical theology in July. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1993, Dr. Bolsinger served as senior pastor of San Clemente Presbyterian Church since 1997. Prior to that he was associate pastor of discipleship and spiritual formation at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood.

With a PhD in theology and Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary, he has taught graduate-level classes in theology for the past 14 years at Fuller’s regional campus in Orange County. He has extensive experience in church and nonprofit consulting and executive coaching. He writes frequent weblogs on church and leadership formation. His faculty role at Fuller includes team-teaching the new Touchstone class that all master’s-degree students will take to begin their course of study, leadership classes, and the development of a leadership cohort for DMin students.

The author of two books, It Takes a Church to Raise a Christian: How the Community of God Transforms Lives and Show Time: Living Down Hypocrisy by Living Out the Faith, Bolsinger has also written a chapter about building community in a virtual world in the book The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ.