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D.Min. Track: Small Town Churches


We all know that small town ministry is different. What works in suburban churches, city churches, and megachurches often does not work in a more rural setting. Churches in small towns have their own distinct strengths and their own unique challenges. In this track, with Dr. David Odegard serving as your faculty-mentor, you will be equipped to conduct a specific ministry assessment of your community and your church and then design a gospel strategy tailor-made for your town, which places your church in the very heart of your community.

In this Small Town Churches specialty track within Biola's Doctor of Ministry program, you will learn:

  • How to think and preach in a time of subjective relativism.
  • How to love in an era where tolerance and compassion have been politicized to the point where it brings harm to its recipients.
  • How to pray in the internet age.
  • How to be a faithful presence and witness of Christ in a world that is perishing.

Together, we will seek to revitalize your church and ministry to implement a faithful and winsome strategy to reach your town with the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ.

Next Available Track: Spring 2025

Application Deadline

November 1, 2024 

Residency Dates

  • May 19–30, 2025 (New Cohort)
  • May 18–29, 2026
  • May 17–28, 2027

The Strategy

Year One: Assessing Your Community and Engaging in Prayer

Your first year will focus on getting to know your church’s strengths and particular culture. You will identify the community which you and your church are called by God to reach with the gospel. You will conduct a comprehensive assessment of that particular community to ascertain its worldviews and cultures, its strengths and weakness, its unity and divisions. Finally, you will explore and deepen your commitment to prayer. Prayer is the greatest essential of all. Disregard it and most of your work will come to nothing. Prioritize it, and you will be surprised by the hand of God continually in your ministry and so will your people!

View Year One Overview Video

Year Two: Designing Your Strategy and Deploying Your Church

Your second year will focus on the nuts and bolts of presenting the gospel to the various people in your community. This will be an exploration into a general understanding of what the gospel is and practical methods of daily, winsome apologetics. You will learn various arguments to challenge the claim of intellectual superiority from both the naturalists and the postmodernists. You will develop the habit of spiritual formation by loving God with all of your mind as well as soul and strength. You will reflect on four essential elements of how to demonstrate the validity of the gospel: Love, Prayer, Preaching, and Time. This will include an emphasis on mobilizing your congregation through your determined, loving leadership. You will greatly appreciate having a cohort group to support you as you implement your gospel strategy through bold action in your local church and community.

View Year Two Overview Video

Year Three: Refining Your Strategy and Revitalizing. Your Church

Your third year will focus on practical application of everything you have learned. You will implement your strategy to engage every person in your community with the gospel. You will reassess your strategy and fine-tune it based on the feedback given by your faculty-mentor. By now you should have spent two solid years praying for the individuals in your community by name. You have also spent one year loving and serving them, demonstrating God’s love in a multitude of practical ways. Remember that this is a long-distance run, not a sprint. It is likely that you will show better returns on the investment of your time the longer you and your church apply your strategy, tweaking it when necessary. With the support of your cohort and faculty-mentor, we hope that this will lead to the renewal of your soul, revitalization of your church, and revival in your community.

View Year Three Overview Video

The Faculty Mentor

Dr. David Odegard (D.Min., Talbot School of Theology) was born and raised in eastern Montana. Dave began pastoring in his small town church when he was 17 years old. He also filled many pulpits in many churches in Eastern Montana. In 2011, God called Dave to step down from his 3rd generation family-owned construction company to go into full-time pastoral ministry. He has pastored at Union Chapel church of God in Bryan, Ohio, and at Wharton First Church of God in Wharton, Ohio. He is now serving as the president of his denomination, the Churches of God, General Conference (CGGC), not to be confused with the Church of God General Conference (COGGC). Dave and his wife Kathy live in the Ohio countryside with their six children.

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