DMin Contextual Theology and Ministry for Asian American Churches

Application deadline: February 10, 2018


This new and unique cohort offered by the Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry is designed for both Asian American and non-Asian American leaders seeking deeper proficiency engaging Asian American congregations and contexts.

As anyone in the trenches can attest, ministry in the Asian American church is complex and multifaceted. Though the issues and demands can be intuitively familiar, the realities are so often wrought with nuances that the challenges (and blessings) can be difficult to pinpoint or articulate. Not only are better skills necessary for transformative practice, but deep theological and socio-cultural reflection is also called for—reflection that emerges from context and informs such practice.

Additionally, cultural competencies and humility are increasingly vital for pastoral leadership. As conversations and critiques of race and racialization become commonplace aspects of public discourse—and increasingly part of evangelical consciousness in North America—it is more necessary than ever to embrace, articulate, and celebrate the gift of being Asian American (and the Asian American church). But who does that involve and what does that mean? And what is the role of the Asian American church in encouraging ethnic identity, formation, and consciousness, especially as it relates to God’s ministry and mission of reconciliation, justice, and healing in and through the church?

It is our conviction that being Asian American is not incidental or ancillary to God’s ministry and mission, but central to what the gospel of Jesus Christ looks like in our world. Asian American churches contribute uniquely to the beauty of God’s inbreaking kingdom by being Asian American. God through Christ has clothed Asian American congregations in particular flesh, cultures, and ethnic identities in order to be with people, just as Jesus was with people, in solidarity with their struggles and sufferings, their hopes and dreams. Without the particular voice and presence of the Asian American church, God’s many-colored kingdom is somehow lesser for it.

This is why Fuller has created a unique Doctor of Ministry program to help students identify, articulate, and reframe the socio-cultural and theological challenges operating in Asian American contexts. The goal is to assist students in the flourishing of their congregations for mission by providing tools to analyze the student’s own social location, the living theology of their congregations, and the cultural dynamics of their local context. Specifically, students will become skilled practitioners of a hermeneutical lens at the intersection of (1) Asian heritage, (2) migration, (3) American culture, and (4) racialization, while engaging in critical analysis and reflection necessary to engage missionally in their specific context. Students will work to listen to the Spirit and reimagine what God may be saying to the Asian American church for our times.


  • Students will gain a foundational understanding of the Asian American Quadrilateral (AAQ) presented in this seminar:

    The AAQ is a hermeneutical lens at the intersection of Asian heritage, migration, American culture, and racialization. Students will become more adept at identifying, analyzing, articulating, and engaging the realities and dynamics in various Asian American contexts through this interpretive lens.

  • Students will explore Asian heritage as personal story and reflect on how cultural awareness impacts understandings and practices of leadership in context:

    Students will learn to identify and articulate ethnic-specific Asian cultural archetypes operative as “lived religion” in Asian American contexts that shape dynamics for (or against) transformative change. Students will think through the kind of leadership necessary to meet the demands of leading/nurturing their churches as the people of God in these Asian American contexts.

  • Students will consider how patterns and conditions of migration have affected the cultural realities of one’s congregation, neighborhood and the broader American context:

    When, how, and why did those in Asian American communities come here to the U.S.? How do the answers (and stories) related to these questions shape an Asian American understanding of the gospel, ecclesiology, and mission? How do these realities help or hinder the ministry to and with first-, second-, third-, and fourth-generation Asian Americans?

  • Students will analyze ways that church practice in the North American Protestant church has relied on assumptions of modernity/Christendom:

    Students will examine the cultural conditions of post-Christendom for application in their own ministry contexts and reflect on how Christendom habits of church might undercut mission. Students will learn to craft theological responses that result in new (or renewed) practices addressing the cultural challenges posed by post-Christendom.

  • Students will reflect upon the Asian American experience of racialization in America and how the minority experience shapes identity, ethos, theology, and development of Asian American communities:

    How does one’s own awareness and understanding of race shape a church’s posture and engagement within its wider context? Students will examine why concepts of “colorblindness” or “diversity” are inadequate to address the challenges of increasingly multicultural and liminal realities amidst continuing structural and institutional inequities and injustices. What can we learn from the perspectives of minority and marginalized voices—our own and that of others? Students will explore the kind of leadership required to navigate and equip a community toward the kingdom of God (and a new humanity) in these complex and racialized times.

  • Through both quantitative and qualitative study and socio-theological reflection, students will gain a more thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing their church for renewed mission:

    Participants will become fluent in the considerations and contextual issues facing Asian American congregations around gospel, ecclesiology, and mission.


Year One: The AA Minister (Social Location)

Dates of on-campus intensive: July 9-13, 2018

  • Introduction of the thesis project: Why contextual theology?
  • Introduction of major conceptual frameworks of the Asian American Quadrilateral (AAQ): Intersectionality of AA heritage, migration, racialization, and American/Western culture.
  • Linguistic Competency: Identification, reflection, and articulation of AAQ factors and variations, particularly as they pertain to student’s ethnic identity, history, formation, and ministerial experience.
  • Create a coherent personal narrative (one’s social location) by interacting with AAQ factors and variations, with special attention to identity formation, role of tradition, spiritual formation, calling, concepts of maturity, and leadership.
  • Key Questions: How has one’s narrative and social location been shaped by inherited understandings of the gospel, ecclesiology, and mission? Based on reflections from class, how is God reshaping or renewing those understandings? How must one change or adapt in order to more effectively lead the church into God’s missional future?

Year Two: The AA Congregation in Context (Ethnography)

Dates of on-campus intensive: July 8-12, 2019

  • Identify, critique, and articulate congregational identity, history, and dynamics using frameworks offered by the AAQ. Create a coherent narrative of the congregation and surrounding context with regard to identity formation and mission.
  • What is the church? What is tradition? Welcome to post-Christendom. Introduction of theological concepts of missio Dei, incarnation, the practices of the body.
  • Identify the major socio-cultural forces and ideologies impacting the congregation, particularly with regard to missional engagement. How has our world changed? What are the structural realities that shape habits? How do these habits impinge upon our ability to be the church?
  • Introduction of ethnography and qualitative and quantitative research methods. How to conduct a good research project. Researcher as participant-observer. Role of appreciative inquiry.
  • Key Questions: What is the congregation’s current lived theology and ecclesiology, especially as it relates to mission? How does your understanding of the AAQ shed light on those dynamics? What do you hypothesize are the major issues currently facing the congregation—internally and in relation to its wider context? How does the church understand itself with regard to gospel, ecclesiology, and mission? How do those understandings help or hinder mission? What are you hoping to further discover about your congregation through your research project?

Year Three: Missional Ecclesiology (Shaping the AA Church for God’s Mission)

Dates of on-campus intensive: July 6-10, 2020

  • What is the church (revisited)? Where is the church in relation to the kingdom of God? The church participating in God’s mission in the world.
  • Why an Asian American church? Unique challenges and contributions. The unique position and posture of the AA leader.
  • Leadership for an unknown future: How do we lead when everything has changed? The contextual leader. Social imaginaries. Adaptive versus technical change. Ethnography as pastoral skill.
  • Developing a contextual theology: Bringing the congregation (field of research) into dialogue with culture. Data, analysis, discovery, reframing.
  • Opening the church to the future: Thesis design. The role of a provocative proposal.
  • Key Questions: What are the primary socio-cultural dynamics impacting the congregation’s missional engagement with its context? How do the insights gained from the AAQ shed light on these dynamics? What theological reframing must occur regarding the congregation’s understanding of gospel, church, and mission if it is to participate in God’s in-breaking kingdom in its context? What is the role of the leader/pastor in this process?


Rev. Dr. Kevin Doi is a church planter and founding pastor of Epic Church in Fullerton, California. He is also co-founder of JOYA Scholars, a non-profit organization inspiring and preparing students from working-class neighbors in Fullerton toward higher education. In 2012, Kevin was recipient of the Ambassador of Peace Award, a congressional honor for his work with JOYA Scholars. He has also served on the boards of Solidarity and Oasis USA, local community development organizations with global reach. Kevin earned his Doctor of Ministry with distinction in Contextual Theology from Northern Seminary in 2016 and received his M.Div. from Fuller Seminary in 1994. Kevin is a contributing author to "Starting Missional Churches: Life with God In the Neighborhood" (IVP, 2015). He and wife Dorene have two teenage children, Jarron and Charis.
Rev. Dr. Daniel D. Lee is the director of Fuller's Center for Asian American Theology and Ministry and an adjunct assistant professor of Asian American Ministry. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Daniel has served in a number of ministry contexts, including campus ministry, chaplaincy, immigrant church, pan-Asian ministry, and multi-ethnic churches. He is a member of the Association for Asian American Studies, the American Academy of Religion, and Karl Barth Society of North America. Daniel is the author of the upcoming book Double Particularity: Karl Barth, Contextuality, and the Asian American Theology (Fortress, 2017) and a contributing author to The Voice of God in the Text of Scripture (Zondervan, 2016).

Other contributing faculty from the Center of Asian American Theology and Ministry include Rev. Dr. Ken Fong.

This cohort will also feature guest lecturers from the fields of Asian American/ethnic studies, ethnography and research methodology, local engagement, and pastoral ministry in Asian American contexts.

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