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Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D., Professor of Theology and Center Director

The Master and Doctor in Specialized Ministry degrees with a concentration in
Faith-Based Community Development at Northwind Seminary
prepare leaders to help communities and congregations engage the systems of power in neighborhood settings (new parish model), and work for the peace and shared prosperity (shalom) of the place that they have been sent by God to minister.

"'Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper… For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" – Jeremiah 29:7-11


Beyond personal acts of kindness, church outreach, and ministries of service, God’s mission in the world includes social justice, reconciliation, collaborative ministry, and community transformation. Northwind offers a professional certificate and degree concentrations in faith-based community development and fresh expressions of ecclesia for the postmodern, post-denominational era of missio dei.


Students will learn how to study their communities, engage systems of institutional racism, generational poverty, immigration, environmental crises, and changing neighborhoods.  

Graduates will know how to lead congregations and community organizations in ministries of healing, health, and reconciliation so that all people in the neighborhood parish can flourish.  


This program is ideal for those who are:


  • Called and committed to compassionate ministries, rural or urban community development, and multicultural collaboration  

  • Already involved in community-based, non-profit ministry connected to local churches

  • Community leaders and practitioners inspired by the place-based community development work of Communities of Shalom, Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), or the Parish Collective

  • Church leaders with a personal passion for congregational revitalization and community transformation in the NeXt Church or “New Thing” God is doing in the world (Isaiah 43:19)

Michael J. Christensen, PhD

Director of The Center for Theology, Spirituality, and Ministry at Northwind

Professor of Theology, Academic Dean

Michael is an ordained United Methodist minister and Executive Director of WorldHope Corps—an international development agency that provides clean water and community development training in Africa and elsewhere. Formerly National Director of Communities of Shalom of The United Methodist Church, he is the author or editor eleven books on spirituality and social justice, including: Children of Chernobyl, City Streets City People, The Samaritan’s Imperative, and Equipping the Saints: Mobilizing Laity for Ministry


Faculty Mentors in Northwind’s Faith-Based Community Development


Core faculty, visiting professors, and guest lecturers serve as Faculty Mentors in the program, offering original lectures, recommended resources, and periodic participation in group discussions and doctoral committees. In addition to Professor Christensen, this year’s program faculty include:



Associate Professor for Global Missions - Assistant Dean for African Outreach

Caroline is an expert in international development involved in program design and ABCD in Uganda, Malawi and Palestine through WorldHope Corps; and formerly as an assistant general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. 



Northwind Institute Faculty for Faith-Based Community Development

Annie is a local pastor, certified trainer, and experienced facilitator in community development, broad-based organizing, social justice advocacy, and non-profit leadership. She teaches practical theology courses on strategies, skills, systems, and stories for community transformation. 



Northwind Institute Faculty for Social Innovation

Rachel is an emerging voice and trainer in the relatively new field of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in community settings; and Director of the Brink Small Business Development Center at the University of San Diego. 

Listen to Amy Moritz’s interview with Northwind Faculty mentor Annie Allen on her personal story of institutional racism, and the hope she finds today in new stories of faith-based community development and fresh expressions of church as a healing and reconciling body:

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Virtual Team Meeting

Master in

Specialized Ministry

30 Credits

Course of Study

 Northwind Institute

FBCD Courses

Specialized Skills

Social Innovation

Social Justice

Northwind Seminary

Master's Courses


Intro to Grad Studies

Research Methods

Research Course

Capstone Paper

Degree Awarded by

Northwind Seminary

Doctor in 

Specialized Ministry

36 Credits

Course of Study

Christian Tradition

Global Perspectives

Readings in FBCD I

Readings in FBCD II

Doctoral Research Methods

Research I

Research II

Doctoral Paper

Degree Awarded by

Northwind Seminary

Program Outcomes

These degrees focus on formation, biblical study, vocational discernment, theological reflection, and integrated practice. , the Doctor of Ministry helps you connect your journey of discipleship with what God is doing in the world. Through the degree programs, students develop and demonstrate competency in their area of specialized ministry.

Customized Learning Experiences

Learning experiences have been built around an invitation for students to explore some aspect of their vocation, Christian thought and practice, or the human experience. Students progress through these learning experiences in the way that is most helpful to them in their context and vocation. They work with faculty members to create customized learning experiences that help them develop vocational excellence and expertise. 

Final Project

The Kairos Degrees includes a final project integrating the student's learning, theology, and practice. The project is intended to provide vocational context by planning, conducting, and reflecting on a project completed in the student's ministry context. Students work with a mentor team to customize or concentrate on any area of interest. Students can focus on anything from missional theology, systems design, thinking, pastoral care, or chaplaincy to biblical languages, spiritual formation and direction, finances, strategic leadership, and much more.

Contextual Learning

Throughout the program, students work with a mentor team to design learning experiences entirely shaped by what they are doing (or will do) in their current or desired ministry or vocational context. Are you planting a church? Building a youth ministry program? Developing curriculum? Then use that in your program! Are you managing finances? Writing code? Building homes? Developing software? Leading teams? Then use that in your program! If an experience or project is connected to what it means to flourish in your ministry or vocation, use it to progress in your program!

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