pillar 3: Leadership

the need

Gospel leaders are entering a complex culture that is increasingly skeptical of God’s church and ministers

the vision

Equip future pastors and leaders with the needed tools for faithful, compassionate leadership in this complex cultural moment



  • Establish the Center for Ministry Leadership Formation, including the new Faith and Work Institute
  • Equip all full-time students pursuing vocational ministry degrees with quality mentored Field Education experiences
  • Establish a Church Planting track within the MDiv field education program
  • Provide leadership training resources for the local church to help facilitate elder training, church leadership development, lay ministry leader education, and more

PILLAR 3: The Goal




At Covenant Seminary, we have a deep conviction that effective leaders for God’s church and Kingdom must be transformed by the gospel of Christ and also equipped with the skills to navigate and impact our present and future church and culture. Leading others well through the joys and challenges of life requires: humble strength, a heart of conviction, a calming and non-anxious presence, and a personal understanding of the gospel of grace and truth. Training and equipping leaders, who can in turn train and equip others toward this goal, is the purpose and passion of Covenant Seminary and the Center for Ministry Leadership Formation.


Dr. Mark Dalbey

The work of a Christian leader, whether in vocational ministry or another role, is increasingly more challenging. Leaders are often expected to be change agents, visionaries, and those who can inspire, while at the same time caring for those they lead, navigating conflict, and bringing peace amid chaos. The task of training such leaders does not happen overnight or by accident. Mature leadership is formed over time in the context of community. Covenant Seminary’s commitment to training leaders who themselves have been transformed by the gospel is key to seeing this leadership established in our churches.”


  • Provide support for the first three years of CMLF program costs.
  • Complete funding for the endowed faculty administrator position.
  • Expand our Field Education program to provide more opportunities for contextualized ministry training, including intentional interactions with experienced ministry practitioners for each student pursuing a vocational ministry degree.
  • Establish a specific Church Planting Track for qualified MDiv students.
  • Provide expanded conferences for ministry leaders on cultural engagement, faith and work, and city ministry, including the Pastors Summit and Intersect Forum.
  • Provide lifelong learning opportunities for our alumni and other church leaders across the St. Louis community and in the broader church.
  • Provide strategic research and publishing on the topic of grace-based leadership, pastoral sustainability, and best ministry practices.
  • Expand international partnerships for faculty and students, including both sending and receiving faculty and students with international perspectives and ministry experience.

background for pillar 3: Resilient Ministry

Since 2004, we have conducted extensive research into the trends and factors that contribute to effective and sustained ministry leadership. The findings of this research, as published in the book Resilient Ministry, have provided groundbreaking insight into how pastors and leaders should be trained for their ministry and callings.

As we look toward the future, our vision is to build on the momentum of the last ten years as we train missionary-minded leaders to engage all areas of life with the gospel. We believe that the next phase for developing leaders at Covenant Seminary is to expand our ability to offer practical, mentored ministry leadership training in a way that will also provide significant resources to our students, the church, and lay leaders across our denomination and around the globe. To carry forward this vision effectively in and through our students, we are establishing the Center for Ministry Leadership Formation (CMLF).




Department of State
Foreign Service Officer, 
Former Deputy Director of the Counterterrorism Policy
Office, Washington, D.C.

“My professors in seminary helped me see that God cares about international affairs and justice in governance. I joined the Foreign Service in 2003, and have served in Israel; Chile; Washington, DC; Afghanistan; and California as the Foreign Policy Advisor at Naval Special Warfare. I try to think biblically about the breadth of issues on which I work (counterterrorism, governance, human trafficking, drugs, money laundering, terrorist finance, energy, and nonproliferation), and I wrestle regularly with what it means to be full of faith and engaged in a world that could easily leave one cynical or apathetic. I am amazed that God, in his kindness, continually uses me in people-to-people ministry with my American colleagues and international contacts around the world. Covenant helped me to see the bigness of the gospel—that God is making all things new—and that a just God loves his whole world. Good policy must reflect that.”

what is required of today’s pastors?

Dr. Dan Doriani

Vice President of Strategic Academic Initiatives
Professor of Theology

First fruits

Announcing the New MDiv Church Planting Track

Covenant Seminary is pleased to announce the launch of a new Church Planting Track for its Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program, to begin in the fall of 2018. The track, funded in part by a generous grant from Mission to North America’s (MNA) Antioch Fund for Church Multiplication, provides a way for students interested in and called to church planting to enhance an MDiv degree by specializing in this area of ministry.

The new track is part of the Seminary’s ongoing commitment to meet the growing need for gifted and trained church planters in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and other denominations by both increasing the number of church planters graduating from the Seminary and also deepening and strengthening their level of preparedness. The track will include classes focused specifically on church planting, provide multiple assessments of gifting and readiness to be a church planter, provide mentored oversight and regular evaluation of developing church planters, and offer church planting internship and apprenticeship opportunities. A limited number of Church Planting Scholarships will be available each year to students who qualify.

Established as part of the MDiv degree, the Church Planting Track is an outgrowth of the Seminary’s recent expansion of its Field Education program, which seeks to provide students with practical mentored ministry experiences in a variety of contexts to better prepare them for the daily realities of life in ministry. The track, along with the Seminary’s recently announced Philip and Rebecca Douglass Chair of Church Planting and Christian Formation, is also a tribute to Covenant’s resident church planting expert and Professor of Applied Theology Dr. Phil Douglass and his wife, Rebecca, who have been instrumental in helping to identify, evaluate, mentor, and equip hundreds of future church planters over the last 30 years.

Dr. Philip D. Douglass, Professor of Applied Theology & Director of the DMin Program

Dr. Mark Dalbey, president of Covenant Seminary, said, “We have seen the need for a specialized track in church planting for quite some time, and are excited to now be able to offer it as an option for those who believe they may be called to this uniquely challenging form of ministry. We are grateful to the Antioch Fund for the generous grant that enabled us to develop this track. We are grateful as well for the lifelong church planting and mentoring work of Phil and Rebecca Douglass and the inspiration they have been to us in thinking through what this new track should look like. We are eager to see how the Lord will use those trained through this program to further build and strengthen his church and Kingdom.”