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Asian context

Ministry and Leadership in Changing Asian Contexts

Application Deadline: April 25, 2025
Decisions Sent: May 15, 2025


Ministering in Asian American contexts - two young men praying


The future of Christianity is in the “majority world”—that is, in Asia, South America, and Africa. And while the church is indeed growing rapidly in Asia, it also faces unique challenges, such as contextualizing the gospel in diverse cultures and engaging with the other major religions of the world (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Confucianism, and Daoism). Tribalism and nationalism compete with globalization, stretching church and mission leaders to extremes, resulting in unprecedented levels of burnout, stress, and even resignations. In our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world, the pressing need is for a new paradigm of adaptable leadership. Fuller’s new Doctor of Ministry cohort offers contextually dynamic and adaptive approaches that are paramount for leaders across Southeast Asia and the Asian continent.

What is the mission of the local church in the world today? How do pastors and lay leaders assess the effectiveness of Christian mission in Asian contexts? How can the church address contemporary challenges such as interfaith issues, social and political issues, migration, and discipleship in multifaith contexts?

This three-year cohort, launching Summer 2025, will present a groundbreaking paradigm for church and mission leadership: polycentric leadership, which is founded on a trinitarian theological paradigm. Working collaboratively, pastors and mission leaders will learn new and sustainable ways to lead missionally within their local and regional cultures. Particular attention will be given to spiritual formation, disciplemaking, and adaptive, collaborative leadership in the Southeast Asian context, enabling leaders to thrive in ministry and accelerate mission.

Students will rediscover the role of the church in Asia; gain a deeper understanding of mission in all its biblical, historical, cultural, and strategic dimensions; and evaluate how local churches and NGOs can better serve in complex situations.


Year One

Resilient Leadership (16 units)

Summer 2025 Reading/Seminar: August 11-15, 2025, in Chiang Mai, Thailand (6 units, hybrid)
Fall 2025 Doctoral Project Research (4 units, online)
Winter 2026 Integration Course (6 units, online)

The first year will focus on biblical and theological foundations for spiritual formation in a chaotic, rapidly changing, fast-paced world, with particular emphasis on the unique context of Asia. Leaders will cultivate greater attentiveness to their inner life and walk with God. We’ll mine the theological roots for resilience alongside adaptive leadership principles while exploring spiritual practices for a thriving life, leadership, and ministry.

Year Two

Polycentric Leadership (16 units)

Summer 2026 Reading/Seminar: August 10-14, 2026, in Chiang Mai, Thailand (6 units, hybrid)
Fall 2026 Doctoral Project Proposal Development (4 units, online)
Winter 2027 Integration Course (6 units, online)

Year two looks at polycentric leadership as a new paradigm of leadership for the complex cultural and historical contexts in which we live, with specific focus on Asia. Students will delve into six themes of the theoretical model and review case studies to explore ministry praxis. They will examine the importance of disciplemaking as a core ministry focus for fruitful practice.

Year Three

Ministry Acceleration (16 units)

Summer 2027 Reading/Seminar: August 9-13, 2027, in Chiang Mai, Thailand (6 units, hybrid)
Fall 2027 Integration Course (6 units, online)
Winter 2028 Doctoral Project Writing (4 units, online)

Year three focuses on accelerating ministry by exploring approaches and leadership for church planting and mission movements. Students will become familiar with global voices (especially Asian practitioners) who will amplify the importance of leadership in an adaptive, complex world. In year three, leaders will be equipped with the skills to lead in collaborative fashion.



Rev. Joseph W. Handley, Jr., PhD, has devoted his life to accelerating leaders for mission movements. He is the president/CEO of A3, a global network that equips leaders for the Church ( and marketplace ( He serves as a Global Catalyst for Leadership with the Lausanne Movement and as an affiliate faculty member at Fuller. Prior, Dr. Handley was founding director of Azusa Pacific University’s Office of World Mission and lead mission pastor at Rolling Hills Covenant Church. His book, Polycentric Mission Leadership can be found at


Rev. Satanun Boonyakiat, PhD, is from Thailand. He has been actively involved with local church ministries for more than 30 years and has taught and equipped students at McGilvary College of Divinity at Payap University, Chiang Mai, Thailand, for more than two decades. He was a dean of McGilvary College of Divinity, chaplain of Payap University, and assistant president of Payap University. Dr. Boonyakiat earned his PhD in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and his MDiv from Trinity Theological College, Singapore. He is author of A Christian Theology of Suffering in the Context of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand (Langham Monographs, 2020) and A Thai Christian Theology (OMF Publishers, 2017), the first theological book in Thai language written by a Thai.

Learn More and Connect with an Admissions Counselor

If you are interested in pursuing this program in Korean, please visit this page to learn more.

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Joel Short

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