Doctorate in Preaching

Program Description

Preaching is offered as a specialization of both the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) and the Doctor of Theological Ministry (DTM). Unlike the DMin, the DTM degree is open to students with a Master of Arts degree.

This new Doctorate is built on Northern Seminary’s New Kind of Preacher (NKP) program, which is funded by the Lilly Foundation. Focusing on the life of the person, rather than the product of the sermon, the NKP program trains seminarians and Pastors holistically. The program focuses on five core aspects of the Preacher’s life: worship leader, proclaimer, collaborator, community builder, and missionary.

Preachers today must adapt to rapidly changing cultures and congregations. The earliest sermons were preached extemporaneously to audiences throughout the ancient world. This Doctorate in preaching will combine the best of ancient and modern practices to challenge preachers to adapt their messages each week to the needs of their audiences. Drawing on the resources of ancient rhetoric, jazz, and ancient and modern media, we will study, learn, and grow together as leaders of congregations. Preachers will leave with a publishable thesis that will contribute to this ancient and new way of delivering sermons and will prepare the preacher for a life of ministry in any context.

The Preaching Doctorate is designed for preachers who are seeking to

  • Engage their congregation as active participants in worship and discipleship
  • Integrating the preaching life into their lives of ministry through pain, endurance, and prophetic witness
  • Commission congregants to engage their cultures
  • Develop improvisational skills that can be used in public settings
  • Understand and serve their local contexts
  • Become ambassadors of reconciliation
  • Describe or expand their vision for their local congregation
  • Learn to work as a team in worship planning and evaluation
  • Respond to community and congregational crises effectively
  • Immerse and retell scripture as part of the preacher’s life and ministry
  • Receive ongoing feedback as part of their growth as persons

Students will learn from the following professors:

  • Dr. Bill Shiell, President and Professor of Preaching at Northern Seminary
  • Dr. Lynn Cohick, Provost and Dean of Academic Affairs at Northern Seminary
  • Dr. Scot McKnight, Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary
  • Dr. Marshall Hatch, Associate Professor of Ministry at Nothern Seminary and Senior Pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church of West Garfield
  • Dr. Beth Felker Jones, Professor of Theology at Northern Seminary

Program Requirements 


Course Schedule

DM7753 “The Preacher as Worship Leader” (Dr. Marshall Hatch) September 12-16, 2022, New Pilgrim Baptist Church, Chicago

We explore the preacher as worship leader in the following areas: the preacher’s importance, purpose, mission, distinctives, and power. We explore the historical aspect of Christian worship, the sociological aspect of preaching, the theological functionality of the preacher, and the ecclesiological aspect of worship. We discuss the concepts of the New Kind of Preacher model and help the preacher form a preaching and worship planning group in the congregation. This group addresses the person of the preacher and the formation of the congregation as much as the content and outcome of the message.


DM7751 “Preaching in the Ancient World” (Dr. Scot McKnight & Dr. William Shiell) January 9-13, 2023, Lisle Center, Chicago

Preaching is a multimedia experience of delivery and reception. Since the first century, preaching has involved oral, visual, written, and auditory forms of communication, retention, and community formation. Congregations participated in the experience, and the preacher and the listeners were shaped together by the preparation and resurrection power of the proclamation. In this seminar, students will examine preaching from the perspective of the ancient churches and discover how they can apply these methods to the practice of studying and delivering sermons from scripture. Students will learn to study scripture passages using methods from oral, rhetorical, and biblical performance criticism; to examine the role of the ancient audience in the reading of texts and preaching of sermons; to reflect on the importance of these methods for biblical preaching today; and to practice these methods on their congregation.


DM7752 “Preaching in Jesus’s Context”  This is a trip to Israel. (Dr. Scot McKnight & Dr. William Shiell) OPTION 1: April 27-May 8, 2023; OPTION 2: April 5-14, 2024


DM7754 “Prophetic Preaching to Audiences and Cultures” (TBD) August 2023

From issues of sin, racial reconciliation, justice, cultural change, and congregational needs, preachers have multiple audiences and multiple needs. As preachers, we are called to be representatives of God, speaking on God’s behalf to the churches as well as the cultures in which we live. Therefore, in this course, we will explore Prophetic Preaching from a Biblical perspective, all it sought to accomplish in ancient times in an effort to discern how we are to use it today to address and confront the sin and injustices we face. We do this in an effort to bring justice, reconciliation, and peace to the many and varied contexts to which we are called to speak. We will also discuss the role of the listener in preaching and how preachers prepare to understand their audiences and adapt their messages.


DM7045 “Biblical and Theological Method” (Dr. Lynn Cohick & Dr. Beth Felker Jones) January 8-12, 2024, Lisle Center, Chicago

Each of us lives and acts according to our own convictions, however explicit or implicit. DM 7045 seeks to enhance our ability to serve in ministry by integrating sound theological understanding into the practice of ministry leadership. Particular attention is paid to the integration of scripture, reason, tradition, and experience in our theology and ministry. To this end, the course moves from these sources to theological reflection, with a focus on ministry and leadership the local context. Particular attention is given to addressing one’s theology of preaching and developing a pattern of sermon exegesis for use in a local congregation.


DM7050 “Thesis Design” (TBD) August 2024

The Thesis Design course will assist students at the thesis stage of their program in the conception, formulation, research process, preparation, and writing of an acceptable thesis proposal. The course will provide step-by-step instruction concerning the various segments of the thesis proposal and will assist the student in formulating the required sections of the proposal.


DM7015 “Becoming Doctors of the Church” (TBD) January 2025

This is the foundational core course that helps clarify a ministry issue which will serve to focus the DMin project and thesis. Particular attention is given to addressing an issue of strategic leadership that preaching and worship will address at the thesis stage. Participants will grow in confidence in their leadership and vision by expanding their work from DM 7751. Particular attention will be given to the role of telling stories, shaping narratives, memorizing, and paraphrasing scripture, delivering sermons and speeches from memory, and improvising sermons, prayers, and speeches in public and liturgical spaces.


DM7190 Write Thesis


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