God is still making masterpieces, one life at a time, one leader at a time. Cohorts launch every January and July.

Church Planting for the 21st Century

Whether you have already planted a church, find yourself contemplating a new launch or are experimenting with multi-site congregations, this cohort trains church planters in essential skills and strategies to start healthy, disciple-making congregations.  Recognizing that few “church planter boot camps” offer extended reflection and support on the theological, historical, cultural and organizational aspects of this kind of spiritual work, our faculty mentors and coaches help you develop critical perspectives and practices that result in vibrant, reproducing communities.  They do so with a commitment to equipping you with missiological, social science and leadership skill sets needed for culturally relevant communities.

Participants in this cohort:

  • Revisit biblical, theological and missiological foundations for the practice of extending and establishing the church.
  • Gain missional awareness on how your calling, capacity, community and context (especially denominational and cultural contexts) can be leveraged for strategic impact.
  • Experience immersion in field-based learning, enjoy extended sessions with nationally-recognized church planters, and develop support networks in your own local regions and denominations.
  • Receive special emphasis on Wesleyan evangelism, lay mobilization and community formation factors.


Dr. Art McPheeDr. Art McPhee was a pastor for 23 years, more than half of them in churches he also planted. He has been a denominational overseer of church planting, a church planter coach, and, since the mid-1990s, a professor of evangelism with a specialization in new church development. Art is the Sundo Kim Professor of Evangelism and Practical Theology at Asbury Seminary. He has both North American and international experience. For the past 18 years, he has taught and conducted research on church growth in Southern Asia.


Peace-Building & Conflict Transformation

Conflict:  always a matter of when, not if.  Conflict is never really managed nor resolved, despite our faithful attempts.  To many in the church, it can only be viewed as ungodly or even diabolic. But is this all there is to conflict for people of Christian spirituality?  In this cohort conversation, field-tested faculty mentors seek to replace this conventional wisdom with a practical and positive vision for peace-building and conflict transformation.  Using robust case study and constructive learning methods, participants leverage theology, theory, analysis and practice to cultivate restorative conflict intervention principles.  This cohort explores mediation, forgiveness, reparative justice, and structural and policy change at the personal, community and regional/issues levels.

Participants in this cohort will:

  • Solidify perspectives on the Church’s theological identity as a historic agent of peace-making and reconciliation.
  • Develop a wide theological, theoretical and analytical exposure to dimensions of conflict transformation processes (issues, actors, rules, structure and outcomes).
  • Distinguish between positions, underlying interests and conflictual methods practiced to advance those interests.
  • Gain increasing applied mastery in narrative mediation protocol, styles of conflict, organizational diagnostics for peace-building and transformational intervention.


Dr. Virginia T.  HolemanDr. Virginia T.  Holeman is currently Professor of Counseling at Asbury Seminary, where she has served since 1995.  Known as “Toddy” to one and all (that is short for her middle name), Toddy is passionate about teaching in general and about helping people learn how to repent, forgive, and reconcile.  Toddy’s professional interests include active participation in the Kentucky Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and in the Christian Association for Psychological Studies.  She is a licensed professional counselor and a licensed marriage and family therapist in Kentucky.  When not on campus, she is most likely in her flower garden in spring and summer.


Dr. Sègbégnon Mathieu GnonhossouWith a commitment to socially engaged theological praxis, Dr. Sègbégnon Mathieu Gnonhossou is a Certified Trainer in workplace conflict mediation, a Board Certified Coach, and a court-approved Family Mediator at the Court of Justice of Kentucky. He’s been in ministry for the past 16 years and is most known for his passion for church renewal aimed at positive impacts on society. This has led him into a number of ministry ventures, including co-founding an indigenous missional movement (Mouvement Missionnaire pour l’Evangile de Christ), as well as current efforts at introducing restorative justice in neighborhoods and schools in Benin. Mathieu finds pleasure in spending time with his children, doing restorative mediation in schools and neighborhoods and using his intercultural abilities to serve immigrants in Lexington, Ky., especially those that are conversant in French. He loves to play and watch football, called soccer in the U.S.


Leading Congregational Vitality

Healthy things grow.  It’s fundamental in the natural world; it’s fundamental in the spiritual life.  When vitality is lagging, whether it be in the lives of leaders or congregations, the spiritual work needed is revitalization – starting inward, then working outward.  In this cohort, Asbury’s Doctor of Ministry Program partners with FaithWalking to offer their widely-tested “Congregational Transformation” process that helps leaders master a retreat-based formation process.  The process begins with leaders and their core team and is replicated eventually throughout a congregation to as many who are willing to engage in this discipleship renewal process.  The experienced faculty mentors for this cohort are convinced that if leaders can find safe places to surrender masks, reinvest in spiritual intimacy and avail themselves freshly to the Spirit’s leading, everything changes.  Everything basic to a disciple’s life–from communion, ministry workplace patterns, staff relations, marriages, preaching, budgets, membership expectations, missional outreach and witness–undergoes transformation.

Participants in the cohort will:

  • Experience a series of FaithWalking Leadership Renewal Retreats (See: 101-401 Retreats at FaithWalking.us).
  • Reflect theologically and socially on the transferrable implication of formation principles experienced during pre- and post-residency coursework.
  • Diagnose revitalization opportunities and obstacles in the systems and practices of congregational communities represented.
  • Replicate this renewal process in the communities they lead, conducting evidence-based ministry transformation research projects as they do.


Jim HerringtonRev. Jim Herrington is a pastor of 41 years. He has served as a denominational executive, and  has worked with hundreds of congregations from a variety of traditions around the challenges of personal and congregational transformation. He is the co-author of three books, and currently serves as the Team Leader for Faithwalking, a multi-year spiritual formation process that equips individuals and congregations for missional living.


Rev. Trisha TaylorRev. Trisha Taylor is a Fellow in the American Association of Pastoral Counselors and a licensed psychotherapist.  Along with Rev. Jim Herrington, she is a co-author of The Leader’s Journey:  Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation and is a co-founder of the discipleship process FaithWalking.  Together, they have worked intensively on fostering personal and congregational transformation through the Ridder Church Renewal process with Western Theological Seminary and the Reformed Church in America and their partners.  This course is based on their learning from that process.


Dr. Bryan D. SimsDr. Bryan D. Sims is Associate Professor of Leadership and Lay Equipping at and the Director of the Center for Lay Mobilization within the Beeson International Center at Asbury Theological Seminary. He has worked since 2001 as a Leadership and Organizational Change Coach with Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI) where he has trained and coached leaders, teams, churches, and organizations over extended periods of time to bring spiritual awakening and missional effectiveness. He is now integrating his work with SLI with his work at the seminary. In each of these places, significant transformation is occurring in leaders, churches, and communities. He has also led groups of business leaders through WorkLife Incubators in which leaders are growing in Christ and learning new ways to integrate their faith and work. He and his wife MyLinda have been happily married since 1997 and have four children: Isaiah, Luke, Silas, and Lydia.


Leading Healthy Ministry

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon noted the importance of proper portions in life in order to maintain steadiness in life and in ministry. Balance is sought after by many, but difficult to attain. All too often our ideal for self-mastery, discipline and time management disappears in the daily grind of the urgent. Using the latest research, this cohort provides a comprehensive understanding of stress in ministry and explores the causes and nature of stress, along with effective coping strategies to maintain balance everyday.

Participants in this cohort will:

  • Concentrate on the health of a leader by exploring the various factors that comprise personal and vocational health.
  • Apply systems thinking to organizational structures, understanding its relationship to congregational and organizational health and its role in assessment and restoration.
  • Discuss various transitional events and learn strategies for successful navigation.
  • Promote health within the leader, as participants consider and implement spiritual, emotional, physical and relational practices.


Dr. Anthony J. HeadleySince 1990, Dr. Anthony J. Headley has served as professor of counseling at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is an ordained elder in the Free Methodist Church and has pastored churches in the USA and Caribbean. He is also a licensed psychologist in Kentucky. His formal interest in self-care and the health of ministers goes back almost 30 years when he began his training in psychology and family studies at the University of Kentucky (UK). At UK, he completed masters degrees in counseling psychology, family studies and a PhD in counseling psychology. During this period, he also served as a National Institutes of Mental Health Trainee in the Behavioral Science Department, College of Medicine at UK and was awarded a certificate in medical behavioral science. For the last 25 years Dr. Headley has brought this training to bear on the health and wellness of ministers and churches through speaking, consulting and writing. He has conducted seminars and retreats, as well as written books, on health-related issues for clergy nationally and internationally.


Dr. Steve StrattonGrowing up as the eldest son in a United Methodist pastoral family, Dr. Steve Stratton “caught” the importance of self care and family care in the midst of parish care.  Now a licensed psychologist and Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, he “teaches” pastors and counselors how to care for self, family and parish in a way that makes space for God to move. He has provided health care services to adolescents and adults in hospitals, community mental health centers, and college student services since 1983.  Dr. Stratton’s publishing and presenting are typically in the areas of forgiveness, contemplative and meditational practices, relational attachments and interpersonal neurobiology, and the growth of sexual identity in college populations.  In 2010, he was named “Psychologist of the Year” by the Kentucky Psychological Association for his work in psychology and the state community.


Leading Incarnational Mission: Activating Missional Communities

The missional church movement, through a renewed focus on the mission of God as revealed by Jesus and empowered by the Spirit, is challenging Christians to rethink concepts and practices related to mission, discipleship, spirituality and leadership. A missional church fashions its practices on the belief that just as the Father has sent the Son and Spirit into the world to accomplish the purposes of the Father, so too has the church been sent into the world. A church configured to express this missional nature will see God differently, read Scripture in a new light, and give birth to new expressions of mission in the neighborhoods and nations next door.  Asbury’s Doctor of Ministry Program is partnering with Forge America to convene this cohort conversation. Participants will be introduced to the missional network paradigm of Forge’s pastors/theologians, authors/activists, and disciples/missionaries, all with the intent to help learners assess and apply the missional readiness.

Participants in this cohort will:

  • Apply biblical, theological and historical depth to discerning the operative paradigms influencing U.S. congregations at macro (institutional) and micro (local congregation) levels.
  • Understand the paradigm shifts generated by the missional church movement and apply them to missional forms of church, discipleship, spirituality, and leadership.
  • Evaluate and employ the distinct teachings of the Forge America Mission Training Network to discover new forms of missional-incarnational life and ministry, especially gaining insights into leadership that sustains missional communities and activates missional movements.
  • Generate a working theory for their ministry intervention by establishing a biblical, theological, missiological, and theoretical warrant for research endeavors.
  • Conduct on-the-ground, action-reflection learning in partial collaboration with the Forge Mission Training Network and members of the cohort.


Alan HirschDr. Alan Hirsch is the founding director of Forge America Mission Training Network. Currently he co-leads Future Travelers, an innovative learning program helping megachurches become missional movements. Known for his innovative approach to mission, Alan is considered to be a thought-leader and key mission strategist for churches across the Western world. His experience includes leading a local church movement among the marginalized, developing training systems for innovative missional leadership, and heading up the mission and revitalization work of his denomination.


Scott NelsonRev. Scott Nelson serves as the Director of Theology for the Forge America Mission Training Network and is also a Ph.D. Candidate in Congregational Mission and Leadership at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn. He is the author of the five Forge Guides for Missional Conversation (InterVarsity Press) and loves the thrill of helping people discover how God is calling them to participate in His mission to the world. Scott and his family live as missionaries in their condominium complex and have recently planted a missional community/house church that is attempting to discover how to be a missional church in the suburbs of Chicago. When he is not participating in the missional church conversation through his writings, studies, or teaching, Scott enjoys a wide variety of athletic activities (particularly running, tennis, and disc golf), board games of all kinds, and sharing meals with neighbors, friends, and anyone else God sends his way.


Theology for Social Change

One critique of American Evangelicalism is that its theology fosters a fragmented spirituality, separating private/vertical faith from its social/horizontal implications. So when social issues, such as poverty, health care, corporate responsibility, crime, addiction, governmental policy or race relations, rise in the headlines or the home front, the church’s response is often mixed or absent.  Building upon Wesleyan practices of social transformation and renewal, this cohort conversation pursues practical questions about the church’s, the preacher’s and the lay community of believers’ calling in the face of a society’s hopes and challenges. This cohort makes public theology a matter of formation and mission.

Participants in this cohort will:

  • Deepen their biblical and theological foundation for engagement in the work of social transformation–both as regards the identification of needed change and the spiritual and social resources for change.
  • Build on their theological foundation with particular insights that can be framed as related to issues of public theological engagement.
  • Select a particular topic/issue in public theology through which the four courses of the track will be processed, offering their case learning to peers.
  • Demonstrate a grasp of the history of the topic and knowledge of the critical issues, terminology, and methodology utilized in forging the Ministry Transformation Project.


Dr. Kevin KinghornDr. Kevin Kinghorn is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Asbury Seminary. He has published articles in philosophy of religion, moral philosophy, epistemology and philosophy of action. He has also written a book, The Decision of Faith: Can Christian Beliefs Be Freely Chosen? (T&T Clark, 2005). In 2008, Dr. Kinghorn was elected to the theology faculty at Oxford University.


Dr. Charles “Chuck” GutensonDr. Charles “Chuck” Gutenson is a church consultant and former Chief Operating Officer of Sojourners (sojo.net). He previously served 10 years at Asbury Seminary in Kentucky, most recently as the Professor of Theology and Philosophy. He is a member of the International Society of Theta Phi, an honor society for theological students, scholars in the field of religion, and outstanding religious leaders. Chuck is the author of three books and numerous articles on a variety of theological and philosophical topics.


Transformative Preaching and Leading

The measure of a leader is not rank, title or fame, but the quality of community the leader has cultivated.  For Christian ministry communities, such as congregations and ministry organizations, their leaders need growing expertise in the practices that shape communities to be vibrant in Christian witness and discipleship. This cohort invites career ministry leaders to deepen three primary skill sets:  spiritual formation, biblical preaching and missional leadership.  In this conversation, participants will focus on deepening the spirituality of themselves and of those they serve, expanding their capacity as preachers and sharpening their organizational intelligence to better mobilize their communities toward witness within and beyond the walls of the church.

Participants in this cohort will:

  • Revisit ministry foundations in spiritual formation, preaching and leadership.
  • Examine the intersection between the leader’s formation (internal) and the leader’s ministry expressions of leadership and preaching (external), especially the ways in which these inform the shaping of ministry communities.
  • Receive practical faculty-mentor, peer and community feedback on preaching and leadership practices in ministry throughout the program.
  • Produce both a Leadership Formation Portfolio and a Ministry Transformation Research Project.


Dr. Russell WestLeadership educator, coach, scholar and author, Dr. Russell West is motivated to help leaders — executive and emerging — experience the kind of velocity that comes with living life on a mission.  He is most known for his scholarship that explores leadership as a reflex.  He gets energy from multiplying effort through teamwork:  he and his professional collaborators have founded non-profits (Leadership Training International, The Emergence Group), and have written leadership development books, journals, manuals and articles.  If you can’t find him, he’s probably somewhere mentoring emerging leaders, revising a book draft or plotting the next big sailing adventure with family and friends.


Dr. TumblinDr. Thomas Tumblin served 10 years in ministry at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church (Tipp City, Ohio) before joining the Asbury Theological Seminary faculty in 1999. He now serves as Professor of Leadership and Dean of the Beeson International Center at Asbury Seminary. He serves widely as a consultant to local congregations and as a leader in the academy.