I am very excited to announce that Talbot School of Theology will be launching a new Doctor of Ministry track in Asian-American Ministry in June of 2013. This is a 2-week residency that will run from June 3rd to the 14th, 2013. This track will be taught and guided by some of the most experienced leaders, instructors, and practitioners in Asian-American ministry. The track is geared towards anyone who pastors or leads Asian-Americans in a church or parachurch.

The big question that is often asked is “why an Asian-American Doctor of Ministry program to begin with?” Shouldn’t seminary training or a bible college degree be enough? These are excellent questions and there are many valid reasons for this program. First, most seminaries in America are typically geared towards preparing student to serve in more Westernized churches and ministries. While this kind of training may be helpful in learning one’s theology, learning how to preach, studying the Scriptures, and grasping church history, there are some important cultural aspects that are missing. The Asian-American church is very different from Westernized churches. The people are different. The languages are different. The theology is different. Even the humor is different. But most all, the way that Asian-Americans do church is pretty different as well. For this reason alone, a program such is this at Talbot should be valuable. Our goal here is to re-train pastors and leaders in order to empower them in their cultural context of ministry.

A second reason is that many Asian-American pastors and leaders are very tired and discouraged. They are desperately in need of renewal. The original intent of a Doctor of Ministry program was to help pastors who have been out of seminary for a few years to get some re-tooling and renewing for personal learning and growth. After serving in an Asian-American church for many years myself, I knew that I needed some refreshment and renewal for my own soul. Being a part of a group of fellow co-laborers who are together for 3-5 years will create a supportive accountability group that should aid the person in his ministry.

A third and final reason for the track is to bring training to reform the Asian-American churches in the future. This will hopefully happen through the training and mentoring of leaders so that they can be equipped to train and mentor future up and coming leaders. The whole goal of this is to raise up the next generation of pastors and spiritual leaders. This includes healthier and better equipped leaders who will be able to affect the Asian-American community for the future.

We have gone to great measures to bring a team of stellar teachers and practitioners to be a part of this track. These instructors understand both the culture and ministry through years of experience in serving the Asian-American church. First, we have Reverend Cory Ishida, the founding lead pastor of Evergreen Church San Gabriel Valley. He has served at the church for over 35 years and he brings over 40 years of ministry experience to the track. Next, we have Dr. Sheryl Silzer, a Japanese-American missionary who has served in Indonesia doing Bible translation for many years. She is also a cultural expert in Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism and continues to train missionaries in cultural awareness. Our next instructor is Reverend Michael Lee who is the lead pastor of Young Nak Celebration Church, the largest English speaking Korean-American ministry in the United States. He is a former church planter, an amazing preacher, and denominational leader for the Korean Presbyterian Churches of America (KPCA), one of the largest Korean-American denominations in America. In addition, we will be having Mr. DJ Chuang, who works as a strategy consultant for the Ambassador Network for Multi-Asian and Multi-Ethnic Churches. He is probably the most well connected Asian-American in the United States through Twitter, his blogs, and Facebook. His vision is to bring support and resources to pastors and leaders. Finally, I will be the directing faculty mentor for the program. I have served as a pastor, professor, and parachurch leader for over 20 years. I hope to bring not only experience and encouragement, but also guidance and mentorship to all the participants in the cohort. My main focus has been in working closely with Korean-American churches in the United States.

I am thrilled of the prospects of this new Doctor of Ministry track. Talbot School of Theology has supported this new program fully. I believe that it is a unique program and a first for any Evangelical seminary in the United States. We hope to limit the number of students for each residency to 20 so that we, all of the cohort instructors, can have a personalized and focused emphasis on mentorship with each student. Please inquire further for more information here. You can also apply online at the same site. Hope to see many of you as a part of this program this June!