One of my passions is personal growth. I want my life to be a life of 'progress' so that I develop my full potential (see 1 Tim.4:12-15). I want to be the very best I can be - for the glory of God and then benefit of other people.
Growth happens through personal study, learning from others, and through life experience. I have also found great benefit in formal training.
Right after I finished high school, I completed a two year Certificate of Theology at Portland Bible College in the USA. I wasn't sure about my future back then but this course, and the experiences I had, provided a very good foundation for my life and ministry.
Since then I've completed a Diploma of Business Management through Stotts College here in Melbourne (back when I was the Church Administrator). After that I completed a Master of Arts in Theology at Ridley College. These courses were all done part time over a period of years, fitting my studies around a full time job, as well as family and ministry life.
Right now I am almost finished a Doctor of Ministry degree through Fuller Theological Seminary in the USA. The DMin is a practical degree directly related to improving the practice of Christian ministry. I have really enjoyed this course and have learnt a lot through the training.
Here are the courses I have completed so far:
Life and Leadership Development - with Terry Walling and Steve Addison
Spirituality - with DallasWillard
The Minister's Personal Growth - with Arch Hart
Preaching - with Haddon Robinson and Rob Bell
Church Multiplication - with Robert Logan
Each course involves 6 months of pre-reading (usually 3000 pages of material on the subject), 1-2 weeks of intensive 'in-class' time with the lecturer and a small group of students (12-25 people), followed by 6 months to complete a variety of assignments.
I'm now starting to work on my final project, which will be a Ministry Focus Paper. The topic I have chosen is 'A Strategy for Identifying and Developing Pastoral Leaders for CityLife Church'. This will specifically serve our ongoing growth as a church, especially with our multi-site strategy.
The Ministry Focus Paper final project is a 125-175 page document that has to be well researched. It includes three sections: an analysis of the local context, biblical and theological reflections on the topic, as well as a practical strategy for implementation.
All going well, I hope to finish my final project by November 2008, so I can graduate in June 2009. My aim is not so much for the title (Dr. Mark!) but for the ongoing education I'm receiving.
One of things I like about Fuller is that they are committed to lifelong learning. To enhance this, they offer graduates the opportunity to continue to audit any classes they are interested in for the rest of their life.
P.S. I have now finished my final project and attended my graduation. So I'm now officially 'Doctor Mark' :) (June 2009)