In response to trends of increasing secularization, shrinking churches, and growing student-loan debt, the faculty of Duke Divinity School have approved the Certificate in Missional Innovation. This certificate, which can be earned as part of a master of divinity degree, is intended for students interested or involved in innovative forms of ministry, who will receive training in contextual evangelism and church planting. The focus of the certificate will be to train students to convert, gather, and disciple people who are often neglected or unreached by existing conventional church structures.
“One of the key leadership development priorities for the church today is for clergy and lay leaders to develop a theological foundation and skill set in missional innovation,” said Elaine Heath, dean and professor of missional and pastoral theology. “Missional innovators in the church have the capacity to launch and lead a new kind of faith community, develop a social enterprise, or equip congregants with the tools of asset-based community development. I’m very excited that Duke Divinity School is launching a certificate program that can provide this kind of formation.”
Fundraising efforts for the certificate are intended to allow graduates to incur less loan debt and financial burden so that they can, if necessary, pursue bi-vocational mission. The certificate program will also seek funding to support instructional and ministerial programs to prepare students for ministry in their communities.
As part of the certificate program, church leaders who are working in missionally innovative ways will be invited to Duke Divinity School to participate in fruitful conversation about mission and to develop connections between those doing mission and those in training.
“In the new certificate in missional innovation, we seek to form leaders with the capacities to imagine, develop, and lead ecclesial communities that likely do not exist today,” said Jeff Conklin-Miller, associate dean for academic programs and faculty co-sponsor for the certificate with Douglas Campbell, professor of New Testament, and Laceye Warner, Royce and Jane Reynolds Associate Professor of the Practice of Evangelism and Methodist Studies. “The certificate will draw from the great strengths of Duke Divinity School, integrating rigorous scriptural and theological study with practical engagement and reflection on the practice of ministry. Following that path, we envision students will be prepared with an innovative imagination and the ability to put it to work.”