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New Approaches to Theological Education

This Blog series is not just about sharing Northwind Theological Seminary’s new approaches to theological education but also about the exciting benefits they have in the ways we serve our students.

New Approach to Administration

My Doctoral Degree paper was titled “ Transforming Institutional Administration into Institutional Ministry using a Demassed, Chordic TEAM Approach.”

My approach to demassed institutional ministry flattens administrative structure by hyper-centralizing decision-making and decentralizing the implementation of both mission and policy. Demassed administration flattens traditional hierarchical structures. This approach is flexible by design, distributes its workforce, and is evaluated by effectiveness. The conventional evaluation of institutional administration was success (measured by numbers); the evaluation of a demassed approach to institutional ministry is effectiveness (narrative based on relationships).

My approach to Chordic Institutional ministry recognizes that we only ‘see’ one frequency of light. This has caused me to avoid the ‘vision’ paradigm of leadership. Instead, we ‘hear’ eight octaves. My mentor, Len Sweet, often said the church (and its institutions) needed to “hear and feel the vibration of God’s Spirit.” Len often said it was time for the church (and its institutions) to “get horizontal and vibrate.” I describe the chordic approach as empowering staff to function horizontally within established policies to the point that no one person can ‘see’ all the effective ministry that is happening.

My approach to using TEAMs in institutional ministry is based on the Disney Institute's approach to leadership. The Disney Institute has developed an acronym for T.E.A.M.

  • Teamwork = Northwind views the administrative role to be an integrated activity.Using the teamwork approach of the Disney Institute allows us to

  • Enrichment = Northwind encourages our Leadership TEAM to engage in professional development.

  • Achievement = Northwind celebrates all the achievements of our Leadership TEAM.

  • Morale = Northwind takes responsibility for maintaining the positive morale of our distributed workforce.

What are the other new approaches we are using at Northwind?

Distributed Workforce

At Northwind, we have an entirely distributed workforce using cloud-based cloud-based connective technology. This provides a way for the administration and faculty to be connected wherever they are. Using video conferencing for administrative meetings allows the staff to integrate their areas of responsibility. Using video-conferencing in all our courses connects our Faculty with their students wherever they are. Our cloud-based software allows staff to share all our documents and provides real-time access to their Unofficial Transcript and Degree Plans.

Academic Centers

Each Academic Center has a Faculty Mentor.

The Faculty Mentor nominates any required faculty to the center

Students only study with the faculty in their center.

  • Rob DuncanThe Center for Leadership and Specialized Ministry

  • Michael ChristensenThe Center for Theology and Spiritual Formation

  • Tom OordThe Center for Open and Relational Theology

  • Carl Savage

The Center for Archaeology and Biblical Studies

  • Len Sweet

The Center for Semiotics

Revenue Share

Northwind does not employ full-time salaried employees.

All of the Administration and Staff are Independent Contractors.

Compensation is based on a revenue share of fees and tuition:

  • Student Fees support the administration and operational expenses,

  • Tuition supports the faculty and academic expenses.

To learn more about “the new thing” that is happening at Northwind, visit:

This current Blog series will include:

  • Guided Education & CBTE

  • Articulation Agreements and Contextualization Partners

Stay tuned … we have a lot to share …


Rev. Dr. Robert J. Duncan, Jr.

Founder & President of Northwind Consortia

Academic | Institute | Seminary | Press

Professor of Leadership & Specialized Ministry

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