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Missiology for the 21st Century

Early Application Deadline: April 26, 2024
Final Application Deadline: July 26, 2024
Decisions Sent: August 26, 2024


This cohort is designed for leaders who desire to lead their organizations and churches in bearing witness to the whole gospel in the context of today’s changing world. Students will draw on both academic and practical scholarship in various disciplines, including theology and the social sciences to engage a “post-everything” world (postcolonial, post-Christendom, postmodern, etc).

Over the course of the program, students engage in their own individualized research within a community of mutual support and learning. Attention will be given to the students’ own spiritual and missional formation over the course of the four years.

The first three years of study each focus on a specific emphasis: the nature of missiology as an interdisciplinary study (Year 1); contextualization, both local and global (Year 2); and leadership and organizational development (Year 3). In the final year, students will integrate their research in these domains and apply their findings to their own ministry context and contribute to the broader field of missiology. Their work will culminate in a Contextualized Applied Research Dissertation (CARD).


Year One

Missiology: Anatomy of an Interdiscipline (14 units)

Fall 2024: MB769 (4 units, live online)
Winter 2025: MI770 (4 units, hybrid with in-person intensive in Pasadena, January 7–11, 2025)
Spring 2025: MI771 (6 units, live online)

The focus of Year 1 is on missiological frameworks—that is, interdisciplinary constructs that draw from a broad range of topics including biblical theologies of mission, the social sciences (e.g., cultural anthropology, political science, communication theory), and area studies (e.g., Latin American studies, urban studies). After a broad survey of the literature, students will design their own unique course of study to explore missiological issues relevant to their ministries. Students will become familiar with the overall dissertation outline, library research, and academic writing, and will be prepared to engage in relevant research on their topic. By the end of the first year, students will have acquired an in-depth knowledge of the literature associated with their lines of inquiry and identified gaps in the field that require further study. The conceptual frameworks developed in the literature review provide the foundation upon which students design and conduct field research in Year 2.

Year Two


Fall 2025: MB774 (4 units, live online)
Winter 2026: MB773 (4 units, hybrid with in-person intensive in Pasadena, January 5–9, 2026)
Spring 2026: MB775 (6 units, live online)

The focus of Year 2 is on theories of culture and processes of contextualization. Building upon missiological frameworks developed in Year 1, students will be equipped with tools to study cultural dynamics at play on both the global and local levels that have impact on their area of focus. They will be introduced to a variety of approaches (e.g., ethnography, case study, thick description, praxis, etc.) and methods (e.g., interviews, surveys, focus groups, participant observation, etc.) common to missiological research. Students will then begin to collect and analyze the data, which will: 1) give them a better understanding of their ministry context; 2) inform their application project; and 3) contribute unique research to the broader field of missiology.

Year Three

Church, Mission, and Leadership (14 units)

Fall 2026: ML777 (4 units, live online)
Winter 2027: ML776 (4 units, hybrid with in-person intensive in Pasadena, January 4–8, 2027)
Spring 2027: ML778 (6 units, live online)

The focus of Year 3 is on the crucial relationship between church and mission, as well as the leadership necessary to lead the church in mission in the 21st century, particularly as it relates to students’ research findings. Students will draw conclusions from their findings that will inform them of personal, ecclesial, and organizational leadership capacities that need further development. These conclusions will serve as a guide for further studies in church leadership and missional spirituality.

Year Four

Integration (12 units)

Fall 2027: MI772 (4 units, live online)
Winter 2028: MB790A (4 units, online)
Spring 2028: MB790B (4 units, online)

Guided by frameworks developed in Years 1, 2, and 3, students will integrate the domains of missiology, contextualization, and leadership into a final, published dissertation. In addition to the literature review, findings, and conclusions chapters written in previous modules, they will develop an implementation plan that will be written up in the application chapter of their dissertation. Students will then revise, defend, and publish their work as a means of sharing what they’ve learned with their ministry partners and the broader missiological community.

Cohort Mentor

AJ Tilson

Al Tizon is lead pastor of Grace Fellowship Community Church in San Francisco, CA, and affiliate professor of missional and global leadership at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL.

Dr. Tizon has engaged in community development, church leadership, advocacy, and urban ministry in the United States and in the Philippines. Previous positions he has held include executive minister of Serve Globally, the international ministries of the Evangelical Covenant Church; holistic ministry director and then president of Christians for Social Action; and associate professor of holistic ministry at Palmer Theological Seminary of Eastern University near Philadelphia, PA.

Tizon is the author or editor of seven books, including Whole & Reconciled: Gospel, Church, and Mission in a Fractured World (Baker Academic, 2018) and Christ Among the Classes: The Rich, the Poor, and the Mission of the Church (Orbis, 2023). He received his BA in religious studies (1984) and his MA in church leadership studies (1987) from Vanguard University of Southern California. He received his PhD in missiology from the Graduate Theological Union (2005). Tizon is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

Amber smith

Amber Smith
[email protected]

BA in Religious Studies, Westmont College
MA in Education, Teaching, Azusa Pacific University
MA in Global Leadership, Fuller Theological Seminary
Doctor of Missiology specializing in Adult Leadership Development, Fuller Theological Seminary

Amber Smith has mobilized the church for mission for two decades by bringing together theology, education, spiritual formation, and leadership development to see new ministries emerge. Her ministry roles have included teaching, developing theological curriculum, and launching new training programs in Christian education and local congregations. Before joining Fuller as affiliate faculty, she served as Global Director for Reality Carpinteria, where she led a multisite ministry team to prepare and send cross-cultural workers and to educate the church on least-reached frontiers. Dr. Smith and her husband enjoy traveling and fostering intercultural friendships in the majority world. She resides in Ventura, California.

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Debi Yu

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