Oct 8, 2013

Announcing Dr. Sinclair Ferguson as the Dean of the Doctor of Ministry Program at Ligonier Academy

4 Min Read

Longtime friends and supporters of Ligonier Ministries are well-acquainted with Dr. Sinclair Ferguson. He has spoken at numerous Ligonier conferences and written for Tabletalk magazine and Reformation Trust. In recent years, he has also taught courses in the Ligonier Academy Doctor of Ministry program.

Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies is therefore delighted to announce that Dr. Ferguson has joined us as the Dean of the Doctor of Ministry program. Dr. Ferguson’s many years of pastoral ministry in the United States and Scotland as well as his extensive and profound understanding of Reformed theology give him a unique ability to serve the pastors who are studying in the D.Min. program.

In his role as the Dean, Dr. Ferguson will assist in the evaluation of the overall curriculum, and be involved in the selection of D.Min. professors. He will also be a point of contact for the students, available for consultation and counsel in person as he hosts the on-campus classes and continues to teach in the program, and by phone and email during the rest of the year. Dr. Ferguson will also be involved in evaluating the students’ Major Project proposals, and in the promotion of the D.Min. program.

Dr. Ferguson explains why he is excited about serving as the Dean of the Ligonier Academy Doctor of Ministry program:

Many years ago I was struck by a Reformation scholar's "throwaway" comment that "Calvin became a theologian in order to be a better pastor." In many ways this reflects the vision of Ligonier Academy's D.Min. program. The whole point of theological study is to grow us in the knowledge of God and as a result make us better ministers—not necessarily better than others, but better than we ourselves would ever be without it.

The entire program is driven theologically rather than pragmatically; it is staffed by scholars who grasp that the academy serves the church and not itself; and it is dominated by the big idea famously expressed by E.M. Bounds that while men are looking for better methods, God is looking for better men.... men are God's methods. The D.Min. coursework all serves this end. If my own experience of being with the men in the program is anything to go by, each course serves as something of a spiritual retreat.

The ordinary working pastor needs to continue to feed himself beyond the work he does for pulpit preparation. He needs the refreshment of iron sharpening iron. He also needs—as the Lord Jesus himself did—time away from the overwhelming demands of ministry to be refreshed. I would be troubled if every church's elder or leadership board decided that their minister needed to study for a Ph.D. But I would be thrilled if they grasped that helping him work on a D.Min. would mean that he became a better preacher and pastor to the flock they jointly love and serve.

For these reasons, as well as affection for Ligonier, for the Faculty who staff the program, and for the pastors I have come to know through it, I feel privileged to be given this special opportunity to serve and encourage fellow-servants of Christ and his church in this new role as Dean of the D.Min. program.

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson is one of the most well-respected Reformed theologians in the world today. He was born in Scotland and earned his M.A., B.D., and Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen. He taught systematic theology full-time at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia for many years and continues to teach there as a visiting professor. He has also been on the faculty of Redeemer Seminary in Dallas since 2009. His service to the church has not, however, been limited to the classroom. He served as the minister of St. George’s Tron Church in Glasgow from 1998–2003 and more recently served as the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, S.C. from 2005 until his retirement in 2013. He has written and contributed to dozens of books for children and adults and is a regular speaker at conferences around the world.

I have said many times that my friend, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, is one of my favorite theologians in the whole world. It gives me great pleasure, therefore, to welcome him as the new Dean of the Doctor of Ministry program at Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies. While Dr. Ferguson has served for many years in the seminary classroom, he is no ivory tower theologian. He is also a pastor, who has faithfully served in the local church. He knows how theology and ministry relate from first-hand experience. Pastors considering a Doctor of Ministry program could not ask for a better leader to guide them through this program of study. —R.C. Sproul

Ligonier Ministries is thankful to the Lord for the gifts that He has given Dr. Ferguson, and we trust that his service to the pastors in the D.Min. program will be a blessing to the church.

On September 27, 2013, we were joined by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson for a conversation on pastoral ministry, some of the concerns facing the evangelical church, and an update on what ministry looks like for him since his retirement. You can re-watch the Google Hangout here or below.