The Teachers and the Students: Who Learned More?

How a New Doctor of Ministry Course was Born

It was the Fall of 2008 and Professors Sherwood and Judith Lingenfelter had been invited to be Senior Mission Scholars at OMSC. In this capacity they would act as mentors to a group of international missionaries and teach a one-week seminar on Leadership. During their four-month sabbatical they were also planning to do some research and reflection. So, how did their seminar for church leaders from Nigeria, Uganda, Madagascar, Palestine, India, Indonesia, Burma, and Korea lead to the birth of a new course in a doctor of ministry program? 

Prior to their sabbatical, Judith, who has a PhD in Anthropology and Education, had been invited to review a book called Leadership Can Be Taught by Sharon Daloz Parks. The book was the result of a research project on the educational effectiveness of a class on leadership taught at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. After preparing her review, Judith encouraged Sherwood to read the book also. So, during the first weeks of their sabbatical at OMSC they read and discussed this book, as well as several other books on leadership. Through this research they came to the conclusion that the methods they had read about could also be adapted to Christian leadership training.

When the time came for them to lead their seminar at OMSC, they instituted a critical component of their research, which was to have the seminar participants help them process their own leadership crisis. Sherwood presented his personal leadership crisis as a case study in both written and oral formats. He divided the participants into groups of five, and asked them to reflect together on his case. As Sherwood says, “I was absolutely stunned at the insights I gained from these men and women…I pondered why I had not sought this kind of consultation during the time of my crisis.” He went on to say, “This exercise opened a whole new line of thinking for me about how I would approach future leadership challenges and how I might teach leadership.”

In the spring of 2010, both Judy and Sherwood were invited to teach a course in the new Doctor of Ministry program at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, NY. By 2011 they had developed a distinctive course requiring students to reflect on, and learn from, their own personal leadership crises. 

Sherwood reflects, “Thanks to this wonderful Fall at OMSC in 2008, Judy and I have been on a five-year journey of learning and teaching, based on that experience.”

Sherwood Lingenfelter is Senior Professor of Anthropology at Fuller Theological Seminary

Judith Lingenfelter is Affiliate Professor of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary