Recognizing the call to Christian leadership in those whose vision transcends traditional boundaries, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary provides theological education combined with discernment practices and relevant practical preparation for mission-oriented ministry through the Master of Divinity program with Church Planting Emphasis.

The arc of the program begins with listening—listening again to the call that brought you to seminary, listening to the new environment, listening to the students ahead of you in the cohort, listening with a church to hear God’s work in their midst.

From a posture of waiting for God, we listen and learn, pray and practice, gather and encourage. Field education, mentorship, and cohort-based learning come alongside coursework to form habits that will sustain dynamic ministry long term.

About the M.Div. with Church Planting Emphasis Program

In addition to the regular requirements for Master of Divinity students, those pursuing the church planting emphasis must also complete:

  • Courses in church planting and evangelism
  • Concentration in gospel and culture and church leadership and ministry in selected courses
  • Specialized internships emphasizing observation of, participation in, and cultivation of new worshiping communities. These three components may be completed in separate internships (part-time during an academic year or full-time in a summer) or a one-year, full-time supervised internship in church planting.
  • Participation in a cohort with other church planting emphasis students while enrolled in the emphasis. Participation in a cohort will include retreats, regular reflection on coursework and internships, and shared spiritual practices.
  • A short-term international experience related to church planting.

Careers for M.Div. Church Planting Emphasis Grads

This list of church plants across denominational traditions that have been started by PTS alums is ever growing.

  • Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community Founded by the Rev. Jeff Eddings '08 and the Rev. Jim Walker '03, and now pastored by Jeff and the Rev. Mike Holohan '10, and supported by the Rev. Maggie Smith '16, Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community is sharing God's word in Pittsburgh's South Side and beyond. Learn more. WATCH VIDEO
  • Judah Fellowship Christian Church The Rev. Shanea Leonard '05 leads Judah Fellowship, a church committed to being a voice in the community, a leader in justice, a beacon of hope and love for the wounded, and a true witness of the gospel message of Jesus. Learn more.
  • The Open Door A missional church community, The Open Door serves Pittsburgh's East End and is led by the Rev. BJ Woodworth '07 (pastor) and the Rev. John Creasy '06 (associate pastor). Additionally, John is also director of the Garfield Community Farm. Learn more.
  • Roots of Faith is a community ministry led by the Rev. Ben Phipps '15 and located in Sharpsburg, Pa. Read his story. Listen to the NPR story. Learn more.
  • Sanctuary Missional Fellowship Organized by the Rev. Laura Bentley-Nusser '16 and Jane Larson '17 is a Christian community for the faithful and the doubt-filled to eat, listen, learn, encourage, and give together. Learn more.
  • Oakland Commonwealth Organized by the Rev. Mike Holohan '10, and joined by Erin Angeli '18, Oakland Commonwealth brings together community residents—those who attend the universities, those who work in the universities, those who sleep on the streets, and those who are housed in the community for meals, fellowship, and engagement with their common story. Learn More.
  • Zoe Organized by the Rev. Dan Isadore '12, Zoe brings people from various communities around Pittsburgh together in Dan’s home to celebrate monthly the Eucharist, eat together, dwell in the Word, and pray, and all of it to receive the Life that Jesus offers together.
  • Ephesus Project Organized by Rev. Joan Prentice '11, Ephesus provides a distinctly Christian environment of spiritual and educational excellence for those who are looking to experience relevant and empowering ministry that transforms lives and builds leaders and communities. Learn More

Other Church Planting Programs at Pittsburgh Seminary

Read about our Church Planting Initiative or Graduate Certificate in Church Planting and Revitalization.

"It hasn't been a predictable process by any means. It's been a journey, an adventure, something that God's led us on." - Chris Brown ' 08

Pittsburgh Seminary Blog

Seeing God in the World through Short-term Mission

September 18, 2017

In the fall of 2014, my wife, TJ, encouraged me to look into going on a mission trip through Pittsburgh Seminary’s World Mission Initiative. I was apprehensive in the beginning because this was my first year in seminary and I had never been outside the United States or Canada. After looking at the different trips offered in the spring, I joined a group that regularly met over lunch to share about their relationships with folks that they met while in Southeast Asia on previous WMI mission trips. Through the stories I heard and the learned reality of God’s people in this land, I had to go for myself and witness [...]

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What a Church Planter Needs

July 21, 2017

This morning I had breakfast with a church-planter. Starting a new worshiping community is a different beast from pastoring an established congregation. To quote The Wizard of Oz, “Now that’s a horse of a different color.” “There has been vocational confusion, dark times,” my church-planting friend told me, now four years into this endeavor. Of course, I thought, there has to be vocational confusion and dark times. After all this pastor has had to wear more hats than I can imagine: visionary leader, construction foreman, preacher, worship leader, volunteer organizer, community developer, grant writer, meal planner, non-profit director, fundraiser, coffee-shop barista, spiritual director, cheerleader, landlord, entrepreneur, marketer, community events organizer, [...]

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