"The Discipleship Project is one of many signs that a new day is dawning at CTS."

- Matthew Myer Boulton, President
  Christian Theological Seminary

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The Discipleship Project

How would Jesus teach?  It’s a question Christian Theological Seminary seeks to answer anew with its launch of The Discipleship Project, a groundbreaking approach to theological education inspired by Jesus’ pedagogy in the New Testament Gospels.

Each fall semester, CTS will offer 12 scholarships for full-time, residential M.Div. students, including tuition and a $12,000 annual stipend.  In addition to their regular M.Div. coursework, each year’s cohort of scholars will meet regularly with two faculty mentors, engage outstanding community leaders, and visit vibrant congregations to learn first-hand about what works – and what doesn’t – in Christian ministry today.  Each cohort’s final year will culminate with a visit to an international site (such as Jerusalem, for example), the better to “walk in Jesus’ footsteps,” as CTS president Matthew Myer Boulton put it.

“According to the Gospels, the ‘school’ Jesus had in mind was often in the field and on the move,” said Boulton.  “It was immersive, experiential, and grounded in the idea that learning happens best through mission and mentorship.  And so it took the form of a relatively small group – the word ‘disciple’ means ‘student’ – learning together with Jesus, and then staying connected with each other in ministry along the way.”

The Discipleship Project is in part a response to the renaissance of interest across the country today in both new and traditional forms of intentional community and spiritual formation.  “Christian ministry is a relational, community-based adventure,” said Scott Seay, CTS faculty member and interim director of The Discipleship Project.  “And so we believe the most promising education for ministry will be likewise grounded in community life:  concrete acts of love and justice on the one hand, and holistic formation through challenging spiritual practices – prayer, worship, scriptural study, and so on – on the other.”

But if the biblical and formational dimensions of the new program are fundamental to its design, so is its financial dimension.  “We aim to recruit the most promising students in the country, and we don’t want financial means or student debt to hinder them as they follow God’s call,” said Boulton.  “Again, our inspiration here is the early Christian movement:  we want to help build a local and global network of excellence in ministry, all for the sake of God’s emerging realm of love and justice – what Jesus called ‘the kingdom of God.’”

Learn more
Carol Johnston is the project's director. Professors Wilma Bailey and Bill Kincaid work closely with the students as mentors, and Dean Edwin Aponte provides academic oversight. Questions about the program should be directed to Carol Johnston at

Which degree programs are eligible?
For the program's initial phase, M.Div. degree applicants are eligible to participate.  However, one of the key questions the CTS faculty will be exploring over the months and semesters ahead is whether the program can eventually be expanded to include other degree programs as well.
What is included in a Discipleship Project scholarship?
A Discipleship Project scholarship includes tuition; a stipend ($12K) for use on housing, books, and other living expenses; and participation in the experiential pedagogy outlined above. Each cohort of up to twelve scholars will meet as a group regularly with two faculty mentors, building relationships with colleagues that will last a lifetime – and meeting with community leaders, virtuoso practitioners, and other invited guests. Along the way, each cohort will collaboratively design a “rule of life”: a challenging set of spiritual practices, selected by the cohort itself with guidance from their faculty mentors, for engaging their ongoing process of spiritual formation. Once per semester, the cohort and mentors will go on an intensive, immersive site visit to a vibrant, excellent congregation: meeting with pastoral and lay leadership, attending worship and staff meetings, experiencing community ministries, and so on. Each cohort’s third and final year will include a visit to an international site (such as Jerusalem, for example). And what’s more, for the two years following graduation, CTS will support the cohort in staying connected through online networks and periodic reunions.

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