I knew that starting the LGP program would be life changing but I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew going back to school meant reading more books, writing papers, and having teachers issue grades. However, I was surprised to find out just how personable and accessible all the advisors and lead mentor have been. I was surprised to find colleagues becoming friends, I’ve been surprised at just how practical the readings/teachings have been to my personal ministry, and I’ve been surprised at how this program has impacted my heart and deepened my relationship with the Father.
In one of our first semester readings, David F. Ford in his book, Theology: A Very Short Introduction asks the question, “How can dialogical and comparative theology flourish?” Ford goes onto explain “Mutual hospitality, conversation, facing differences, rigorous argument, friendship with integrity: if those are not possible between people who pursue theological wisdom in different disciplines, faith communities, and nations, then what hope is there for the world? I learned this first hand during our Advance to Cape Town, South Africa. The Advance in Cape Town was like a fire hose to my senses. Not only was I experiencing a new culture, filled with diversity, racial challenges and beauty, but also I was meeting the men and women that would be guiding this DMIN journey. I went in apprehensive and went home exhilarated for the adventure ahead. These men and women have done just what Ford suggested.
As the year has gone on I have seen Ford’s challenge most greatly play out in my cohort. To refresh my memory for this assignment I went back to the DMINLGP site and read through many of this past year’s blog posts. In the past year our cohort has read and written reviews on books about theology, visual ethnography, sensory ethnography, social theory, consumerism, leadership and many more. These books have shaped me in this past year but just as helpful have been the comments and feedback from my cohort. I’ve been blessed to be a part of a group of men and women that are wickedly smart and genuinely care about each other. This was not an aspect of this program that I anticipated. Yet, it has become a highlight of the program for me to interact with my cohort, pushing each other, challenging each other, learning from one another, and becoming friends. The past year has shown me how I too easily choose to surround myself with like minded, homogenous people, instead of challenging myself and growing through relationships that differ in background, ethnicity, and experience from me.
The Personal Leadership and Development Plan that our Lead Mentor, Jason Clark, assigns every semester has been very helpful in navigating my own personal life plan. In a recent assigned reading we read, “the church needs navigators tuned to the voice of God, not map-readers. Navigational skills have to be learned on the high seas and in the midst of varying conditions produced by the wind, waves, currents, fogbanks, darkness, storm clouds and perilous rocks.” While life is navigated, it is still wise to drop destination markers along the way, prepare for the seas ahead, and chart for your estimated course. The PDLP has been just that for me. By looking at the unique make up of who I am and where I am headed, I’ve been able to identify holes in my plan and weaknesses to work on. As the upcoming year comes I will be navigating my way but thanks to the PDLP I won’t be going in blind.
The way I lead and look for leadership in my church has also been challenged and has improved because of this program. I have long wrestled with the leadership style carried out in many churches. It’s a top down vision and too often the Senior Pastor carries an unfair weight/burden. While that has most often by my experience, it has left me uncomfortable and wanting a more inclusive vision. My advisor, Caroline Ramsey, has given me a great vision for leadership and healthy church life. In regards to leadership Ramsey says, “leadership (or maestro di cappella) is in effect a partnership with each member giving way to the other as their part in the piece took centre stage.” The LGP program has taught me a leadership practice that is bigger then just myself, which encourages the best in others, and one that helps everyone to play their important role.
My first year in the LGP program was more then I could have hoped for and I eagerly look forward to the coming year.
 David F. Ford, Theology: a Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000), 174.
 Ibid., 174
 Leonard Hjalmarson, Broken Futures: Adaptive Challenge and the Church in Transition, Unpublished, Chapter One.
 Caroline Ramsey, “Provocative Theory and a Scholarship of Practice,” Management Learning, (March, 2011) 8.