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September Intake: The Centre for Ministry and Mission

An interview with Dr Daniel Duda, Transitional Head of the CMM

On 29 January 2021, Newbold College of Higher Education announced the launch of the Centre for Ministry and Mission, immediately replacing the Department of Theological Studies (DTS) with the new Centre of Ministry and Mission (CMM). The current Trans-European Division (TED) education director, Dr Daniel Duda, is the transitional head of the new centre.

A former Theology lecturer and College governor, Dr Duda will be on secondment to the college from his role at the TED until 31 December 2021. The next few months are set to be busy as finalisations are made ahead of the new academic year in September.

Dr Duda shares his insights into the motivation behind this major change; what he aims to achieve in his appointed role; the plans for the relaunch; and how the new centre can equip ministers, evangelists and life-changers of the future:

  • Many readers will be familiar with the ‘Department of Theological Studies’ at Newbold, but it was recently announced that the College is launching the ‘Centre of Ministry and Mission’ – why is this?

The Board of Governors made the decision at their extraordinary meeting of 30 September 2020. The reason was that they see Newbold as playing a significant role in all 14 of the TED Unions/Fields. The goal is to recast a vision for Newbold’s mission in the multicultural and generally post-Christian context of twenty-first-century Europe by revising the curriculum to inspire and equip men and women for front-line service. The TED needs about 30 theologians in its five higher-education institutions; and over 300 front-line church planters, pastors, evangelists, Bible workers and leaders will be needed to replace retiring church workers in the next five years.

  • Can you offer insight into your role as the transitional head of the centre, and what you aim to achieve?

The new Centre for Ministry and Mission needs to have implemented this change of direction by September 2021. My role is primarily to mobilise my colleagues in the department so that this reorientation is in place and we all provide the inspirational spiritual leadership that begins in the classroom, but also nurtures the learners in their placement and subsequent internship and sets them on a path to continued education. Newbold is just one player in the training of pastors and church workers. Other entities need to play their important roles too.

  • Plans for the relaunch are well underway. Can you give us an idea as to what this new approach will look like?

Six different panels have been made operational that deal with different aspects of college life, current operating model, organisational structure, accreditation, modes of delivery, use of buildings, and overall finances. The public will hear about the results of their work and recommendations once the Board of Governors approves their conclusions and suggestions.

There will be a restructuring of the curriculum offered by the centre on campus. The four programmes currently on offer with the University of Wales Trinity Saint David will be maintained (BA Hons, graduate diploma, MA and postgraduate certificate). We are pursuing formal academic degrees, not just certificates and short courses. Teaching of the biblical languages (Greek and Hebrew) will be preserved, as well as three streams within the MA degree (Biblical Studies, Theological Studies and Pastoral Studies). However, the curriculum will be restructured to reflect this reorientation, with greater emphasis on Pastoral Studies. The framework for developing the adjusted curriculum is the Seven Pastoral Competenciesdocument voted by TED field leaders not long ago.

  • Should prospective students expect any key changes to be made to the existing curriculum?

The command of Jesus is to make disciples which make new disciples (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:2). If done right, this will lead to the multiplication of disciple-makers. Therefore, CMM will provide a mix of on-campus intensives and a combination of online and classroom training. We will do our best to preserve the campus experience, together with hybrid training for full-time and part-time programmes.

The current BA programme has 44% of credits in Biblical Studies, 22% in Theological Studies, and only 17% in Pastoral Studies. In the new BA all three streams will be balanced (each at 28%; plus 11% for Biblical Languages and 5% for the dissertation). The PG Cert will offer three practical modules addressing the pastoral experience in twenty-first-century Europe, rather than exegetical classes.

  • Will the educational experience in the new centre offer practical, hands-on opportunities?

Yes. There will be a revamp of the placement experience, with more consistent supervision from the CMM side. Also, more training of supervising pastors will be offered. A discussion is taking place on how to make placement part of Pastoral Studies modules on the BA level.

The placement will be compulsory also on Grad Dip level. There is also a recommendation that students who came through the Grad Dip stream and thus had only one year of placement (versus three years of BA students) should continue their placement during the two years of their MA programme.

  • What do you think ministry of the future will look like? How will the new centre prepare students for a successful career in it?

Nobody knows what the future ministry will look like. Clearly, the world after the pandemic will not go back to pre-pandemic realities. If Jesus does not come soon, our current graduates will be in ministry 30 years from now. How do we prepare them for ministry in a world that none of us can even imagine? That is a difficult task. We need to provide them with tools, rather than answers.

Thus, we will teach them principles of reviving existing churches, planting new churches for new target groups of people, understanding worldviews, and engaging contemporary European culture. We will help them to feel at ease with digital discipleship – and, above all, to understand how to approach the Bible not as a code book for recipes, but as a source of principles that are timeless.

  • Is the subject of theology really for anyone?

Yes and no. If you are a believer and you reflect on how your life and spirituality are going, you are already ‘doing theology’ (though if you don’t know you’re doing theology, you might not be doing it well). On the other hand, a Master’s degree in the UK academic environment is not a basic human right that everyone is entitled to – you will not get it for sitting in the classroom, or for providing only descriptive work – but classes like Old Testament Apocalyptic, Reformation Theology and its Legacy or Approaches to Mission will broaden your perspectives, challenge your thinking, and develop your spiritual walk with God.

  • What will the mission side of the centre look like?

The offering of One Year in Mission and Service will be maintained. Beside the on-campus offering, a new intensive BA programme will be offered for the Baltic Union and the two unions on the former Yugoslavia territory. This will be offered through Andrews University, as it allows the students to work through their native languages. There is also a plan to offer an off-campus MA starting in September 2022. All these will take into consideration the unique missional side of different parts of the TED territory, and will thus improve students’ service.

  • What is the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone who is considering studying Theology?

If you feel the call from God, go for it. Your life will be transformed, and you will experience a ride more exciting than you can imagine. You will gain new tools to deal with difficult questions and doubts, and you will be able to help other people as well.

But, of course, one does not need to be a pastor to serve the Lord; so, once this CMM reorientation is in place, we hope to reintroduce non-Theology programmes. We will still keep the name ‘Newbold College of Higher Education’, as we do not want to reduce Newbold to a seminary only. There are different ways to serve the Lord in twenty-first-century Europe, and short courses will be offered for lay people too!

  • Can you recommend any academic work or literature as a starting point for those wanting to learn more about Theology as a subject?
  1. T. Wright writes not only scholarly works, but also popular works for everybody (as Tom Wright). He has been dubbed ‘the C. S. Lewis of the twenty-first century’. I recommend three books by him: Simply Jesus(2012); Simply Good News(2015); and Spiritual & Religious(2017), which is an excellent analysis of how modern Christianity has dissolved into a baptised paganism and humanism.
  2. If someone wants more challenging reading: Alister McGrath, Theology: the Basics(2017).
  • We’re going to play three rounds of this or that – ready?

– Bagels or toast? Bagels.
– Alaska or Hawaii? Alaska in summer.
– Bugatti Veyron or Bugatti Chiron? Bugatti Chiron. I have seen it: it looks astounding! Just the price is outside the reach of a pastor’s [and most people’s] salary!

This interview was originally published in the February 2021 edition of The Messenger, found here.

Wednesday 3 March 2021
Written by Felicity Brodrick