Fostering Transformative Christian Leadership

Progress has been made on this goal as part of the strategic plan. See more about guest lecturers and programs at the Transformational Leadership page.

–updated March 17, 2022

Position for Leadership

Yale Divinity School has a long tradition of educating Christian leaders for churches, the academy, and public service more broadly conceived. In a world in which Christianity is changing rapidly, YDS will undertake initiatives designed to equip our students for transformative leadership in these various domains. We need to continue to build strong connections with denominations, while creating capacities for reimagining ministry and translating Christianity in new and exciting ways. We will continue to attract and retain world-class faculty, capable of training a future generation of leading scholars. And we will forge stronger links with Yale’s other professional schools and with Christian leaders across the professions to equip our students with new forms of creative and entrepreneurial leadership in a shifting landscape.


Leadership for Changing Churches

  • Develop a series of weekend-intensive credit-bearing courses taught by prominent leaders whose work models transformative Christian leadership, whether in not-for-profit organizations, higher education, law, or the corporate world, and who can lead students through case studies that will inspire intelligent, creative leadership. Topics could include the changing face of American Christianity; non-profit management; the impact of immigrant populations on church life; and strategies for church growth and renewal.
  • Establish a program to bring in a “Practitioner in Residence” who would offer a mini-course or full course, perhaps team-taught with YDS faculty, on a specific leadership area currently facing Christian leaders, e.g., youth, end-of-life ministry, immigrant populations, the environment, health care justice, the challenge of working cooperatively with different faith traditions in a community. This program would require an endowment of $3 million.
  • Devote an edition of our journal Reflections to case studies of congregations that are flourishing.
  •  Develop the Summer Study program in ways that support creative and entrepreneurial leadership in the churches.
  • Develop online resources to support lifelong learning for clergy and other church leaders.

Leadership for the Academy

  • Ensure that new initiatives do not erode our traditional strength in attracting and maintaining a faculty at the leading edge of the theological disciplines, and capable of inducting a new generation of scholars into these fields of study.
  • Seek an endowment of $6 million to enhance library acquisitions.

Leadership for Society

  • Review and develop our joint-degree programs with other Yale professional schools, e.g., Forestry, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. We might, for instance, develop websites for each joint-degree program, with feature stories on recent graduates of these programs as well as successful professionals in these fields, links to useful resources, practical advice on how to move through the program, and the like. Appoint YDS faculty members to serve as liaisons for each of the joint programs. Grant one course release to each newly appointed faculty liaison to allow him or her to take a relevant course in the respective professional school and become conversant with its discourse. Appointments could be for a three-year renewable term, and responsibilities would involve advising students enrolled in these programs; forging connections with faculty at the other Yale professional schools; encouraging inter-faculty dialogue through faculty forums or colloquia on, say, Law and Religion or Forestry and Religion. (A designated YDS faculty member might lecture in a sister school, and vice versa.)
  • See Bullet 1 under Leadership for Changing Churches.
  • Work to establish a Visiting Research Professorship in Divinity and the Professions to bring in a visiting scholar for a semester or a year. This person would have a specialty that links Divinity with one of the professions represented at Yale: Forestry, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. He or she would teach one course per term, offer a public lecture, and lead a workshop in his/her area of expertise. He or she would also work closely with the faculty member liaison for the relevant joint program to identify ways to strengthen it. This would require an endowment of $3 million to $5 million.
  • Consider devoting an edition of Reflections to the theme of theology and the professions. This might include feature stories on successful professionals whose work embodies innovative forms of Christian leadership in that profession; a rationale for the joint-degree program within the missions of the schools involved; essays on issues facing religion and medicine, say, or churches as “non-profit organizations”; one or more of the faculty lectures suggested above; student responses to the joint programs as they presently function and as they might exist in the future.
  • Creatively consider ways the current comprehensive M.A.R. program can be used to support and train students interested in non-traditional forms of ministry and other kinds of Christian leadership, and to complement the joint-degree programs. For instance, we might explore ways to allow students with interest in and talent for journalism or broadcasting to pursue a program in the intersection of religion and media. Toward this goal we might develop a lectureship or offer occasional courses on the topic. YDS would provide the foundational divinity courses, and a program coordinator (or academic dean or faculty advisor) would help the student develop a course of study that aimed toward the student’s particular vocational goal.

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