Leadership Foresight Cohort
Learn to expertly pivot and engage what’s next
Application Deadline: April 26, 2024
Starting June 2024 (Summer Quarter)
This pilot cohort is designed to allow students to complete their DMin degree within three years.
In Fuller’s DMin Leadership Foresight Cohort, students will develop an ability to predict cultural and societal changes, then create theologically informed ministry innovations that foster spiritual and social transformation in cultures and societies in transition.
This cohort will provide the church pastor or ministry leader the skills they need for foresight, cultural reconciliation, theological orthodoxy, and transformational application. Innovations and options will include, but not be limited to, new expressions of the church, moving away from attractional methodologies, the resurgence of microcommunities, partnering with a church’s status quo, multicultural mutuality, addressing socioeconomic disparity, and embracing deep reconciliation.
Guest speakers, including thought leaders and ecclesial practitioners from Los Angeles and Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley, will help students develop foresight, biblical fidelity, theological orthodoxy, and greater participation in the missio Dei.
Fuller’s Leadership Foresight DMin Cohort is a learning community of leaders who desire to integrate their ministry experiences with a deep understanding of how cultural attunement and astute forecasting can lead to lasting social transformation.
By the end of the DMin program, every cohort participant will:
- Develop an ability to predict cultural/societal changes and then create theologically informed ministry innovations.
- Evaluate cultural/societal need-meeting through the lens of theology and transformational practice.
- Appraise the appropriateness and usefulness of emerging church pivots including, but not limited to: “movement,” from attracting to sending; “vision,” from inward to outward; “size,” from large to communal; “network,” from alone to partnered; “mix,” from monocultural to multicultural; “history,” from church growth to transforming growth (e.g., transforming lives, economies, and communities); and “power,” from organizationally empowered to spiritually empowered.
- Design an ecclesial roadmap for the future that will integrate foresight, theological fidelity, and transformational practice for enhanced participation in the missio Dei.
Meeting Future Needs with the Missio Dei: Foresight and Culture (16 units)
SM 2024: Reading (June-Sep); In-Person Seminar (July 22-26, 2024, 6 units)
FL 2024: Research Module (Sep - Dec, 4 units)
WN 2025: Writing Module (Jan - Mar, 6 units)
Year One will equip the leader with the theology, principles, and procedures of cultural exegesis and forecasting. In partnership with Fuller’s Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, guest speakers will include leading thinkers and futurists from the communication industries of Southern California. The course will examine how assessment of cultural changes, a biblical theology, and societal needs can help a leader forecast organizational and cultural shifts rather than just react to them. The student will learn how to pivot vision and methodology while retaining orthodoxy and increasing multicultural reconciliation. This course will equip tomorrow’s leader with the tools required to lead others into greater participation in the missio Dei.
In this year students will also work on developing skills for research, with a focus on library research to discover who has written in their field of study. Students will complete part one of their proposal.
By the end of Year One, students will:
- Increase in their ability to assess historic, contemporary, and emerging cultures.
- Develop their skill in forecasting societal and spiritual needs.
- Learn transformational practices that can pivot vision and methodology in ecclesial organizations, while retaining orthodoxy and fostering deep reconciliation.
Planning Your Future in Advance: Foresight and Strategy (16 Units)
SM 2025: Reading (June-Sep); In-Person Seminar (July 21-25, 2025, 6 units)
FL 2025: Writing Module (Sep - Dec, 4 units)
WN 2026: Writing Module (Jan - Mar, 6 units)
Year Two discusses goals, methodologies, and evaluation strategies that can help an ecclesial organization increase its ability to meet future societal and spiritual needs. In partnership with Vintage Faith Church of Santa Cruz, California, and leaders in the technology industry from San Jose, California, the student will look at the increasing influence of technology through biblical, spiritual, and multicultural lenses. Topics discussed will include, but not be limited to, artificial intelligence, virtual/augmented realities, new expressions of the church, instantaneous communication, microcommunities, social disparity, and the challenge of electronic depersonalization. Impact upon and opportunities for the church will be examined, including topics such as moving away from attractional methodologies, not leaving behind the status quo, multicultural mutuality, addressing socioeconomic disparity, embracing deep reconciliation, and the church’s relevance in a virtual future.
Students will also focus on academic writing in Year Two. Students will work to submit their HSR pre-screening, HSR certificate, and part two of their proposal (project implementation and assessment, which will be written during Year Three).
By the end of Year Two, students will:
- Compare and create methodologies/evaluations that will help an ecclesial organization increase its ability to meet future societal and spiritual needs.
- Combine foresight and strategy into measurable plans that will increase the leader’s and their organization’s participation in the missio Dei.
The Immutability of God and the Elasticity of Methodology: Foresight and Theology (16 Units)
SM 2026: Reading (Jun-Sep); In-Person Seminar (July 20-24, 2026, 6 units)
FL 2026: Writing Module (Sep - Dec, 6 units)
WN 2027: Writing Module (Jan - Mar, 4 units)
Year Three will develop within the student an ability to predict cultural/societal changes and then evaluate them through theologically informed inquiry. It will investigate how the future and an orthodox theology intersect and/or conflict. And it will assist the student in assessing the theological, ethnic, and historic beliefs of the denomination or informal network in which they serve. This course will also assist the leader with the creation of a theology of ministry that takes into consideration God’s unchangeableness (immutability) in character, will, and nature. The student will strengthen their own theological foundations while simultaneously forecasting future questions and conflicts for their theology. Theologians from Fuller Seminary will be guest speakers. The goal of this and all courses in this cohort is foresight, cultural reconciliation, biblical fidelity, and transformational application.
Students will also work to complete their doctoral project in Year Three, writing an introduction and conclusion and revising all previously submitted chapters.
By the end of Year Three, students will:
- Evaluate and contrast their theology and methodologies from this and previous courses through theologically informed inquiry.
- Assess the theological, ethnic, and historic viewpoints of the denomination or informal network in which they serve.
Bob Whitesel (DMin, PhD) is a speaker, award-winning writer, and leadership coach on organic outreach, church management, and church growth, and has been called “the key spokesperson on change theory in the church today.” He is founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, where he served as professor of Christian ministry and missional leadership until his retirement in 2018. He earned his DMin and PhD from Fuller Seminary and was the recipient of the prestigious Donald McGavran Award for Outstanding Leadership in Church Growth in 2007. Dr. Whitesel is the former president of both the Great Commission Research Network and the Academy for Evangelism in Theological Education and was one of the inaugural fellows of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College.
His 14 books include: Preparing for Change Reaction: How to Introduce Change In Your Church (2008), co-winner of the 2008 Resource of the Year in Leadership by Outreach Magazine, and Inside the Organic Church: Learning from 12 Emerging Congregations (2006). Two additional books, Waypoint: Navigating Your Spiritual Journey (2010) and Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (2010), include personal interviews Whitesel conducted with national leaders on their spiritual transformation, including Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, Dan Kimball, Sally Morgenthaler, and Len Sweet.
His book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (2011) was called by Scott Thumma of Hartford Institute for Religion Research, “a wake-up call and transformational challenge for all those clergy still embracing a ‘modern’ approach to congregational leadership. Whitesel offers an insightful and well-researched recipe for the cultivation of authentic, organic leadership for this new reality.” His most recent book is Growing the Post-Pandemic Church (2021).
When not teaching or writing, he is researching the leadership secrets of John Wesley at libraries across England. Whitesel is at the forefront of understanding how Wesley’s leadership method can grow and revitalize churches today.
Bob Whitesel has been married to his college sweetheart since 1974 and together they are the parents of four daughters. Never one to be inactive, Whitesel is a professional ski instructor, a sailing enthusiast, and an avid surfer.
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