MAR: Leadership Studies | Cincinnati Christian University

MAR: Leadership Studies

The MAR in Leadership Studies combines cutting edge research with on-the-ground application to prepare students for effective congregational leadership.

Program Description

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Program Overview

The MAR Leadership Studies is a fully accredited, 37-hour (12 classes) program that prepares students for leadership in local congregations. Courses combine cutting edge research with field application to allow students to explore best practices and how these can impact their current ministries. Courses are offered online and in a concentrated face-to-face classroom setting (= a course meets 3x during the semester)–to combine flexibility in scheduling with opportunities to connect and network with peers. The MAR Leadership Studies can be completed in 24 months for under $6000.


  • Convenient: all courses offered in non-traditional, flexible formats
  • Affordable: tuition cost is $499 per course, with available financial aid
  • No prerequisites: any accredited Bachelor’s degree or equivalent accepted
  • Multiple Locations: Cincinnati, Indianapolis
  • Mentoring and Coaching: both during and after the program through the Center for Church Leadership
  • Degrees can be finished within 24 (MAR) months
  • Classes combine cutting edge research with practical application

Course Overview

– Personal Spiritual Formation

This course introduces students to key principles and practices in the development of a lifelong personal spiritual formation program. While the content is academic, the application is intensely practical, with emphasis on a review and personal exploration of traditional spiritual disciplines; enhancing emotional and professional self-awareness; self-leadership (e.g., avoiding burnout; developing life skills critical to success in ministry; time management; boundaries; managing personal workflow); and, assessing and overcoming personal challenges.

– Cultural Frameworks of Ministry

This course is designed to help students understand the transitional atmosphere of the church in the post-modern era. It will assist in the interpretation of the world today and demonstrate how the church can be relevant while maintaining integrity and spiritual significance as the body of Christ.

– Leadership & Management for Ministry

This course examines biblical and contemporary principles of leadership and management, providing the student with foundational and relevant help in leading today’s church. Special topics include leading across boundaries and in diverse contexts; leading through transition; oversight of both paid staff and volunteers; motivation and accountability systems; and, upward/360 leadership.

– Assessing & Managing Congregational Health

This course explores a model for organizational health in congregations, with emphasis on application to the student’s current church. Topics include assessment of congregational culture and systems; the identification of challenges and opportunities; and, the development and implementation of effective strategies and plans.

– Models & Methods of Congregational Outreach

This course explores a range of principles and practices relating to the development and implementation of a comprehensive congregational outreach program. Special topics include: biblical/theological perspectives on evangelism; demographics and market research; branding and communications, including both internal and external communications; mobilizing congregants to reach their networks; attractional, missional, and other outreach models; first impressions services; and, basics of customer service.

– Human & Financial Resource Management

This course introduces students to a range of concepts, principles, and models relating to the business operations of the church. Building on principles discussed in PMIN540 (prerequisites), topics fall under two broad headings: Finance and Budgeting; and, effective oversight of Human Resources. Special subjects include: basic principles of organizational finance; developing and maintaining budgets; tying budget to larger planning processes; basic HR laws for the church; staff review and accountability systems; recruiting, training, and overseeing volunteers; planning for and overseeing effective meetings; and, technological tools related to budgeting and HR.

– Issues & Trends in Worship

This course surveys major issues, principles, and practices in public worship assemblies. Worship is explored as a key factor both in outreach and in the formation of the identity and spiritual life of a congregation. Topics include both trends and best practices and also philosophical principles that distinguish Biblical worship, promote spiritual growth and achieve active participation for worshipers in today’s church.

– Assimilation & Discipleship

This course explores strategies for engaging, capturing, retaining, developing, and mobilizing the members of a congregation. Topics include pathways for assimilation, discipleship, and leadership development; benchmarking and tracking involvement and spiritual formation; capture and retention systems and strategies; reducing churn rates; small group management; and, delegation.

– Pastoral Care & Counseling

This course surveys contemporary counseling theories and techniques that are particularly applicable to the practice of ministry. Topics include the counseling process, comparison of various theoretical approaches, an introduction to professional ethical issues in counseling, and the development and implementation of congregational counseling programs.

– Pastoral Epistles

This course offers a detailed exegetical study of 1-2 Timothy and Titus, with emphasis on critical questions, historical context, and issues of particular concern to the contemporary church: inner-congregational relationships; legalism; church/state relations; gender roles; leadership/polity; benevolent care; mentoring.

– Creativity in Teaching & Preaching

This course surveys contemporary models of preaching and teaching with an emphasis on the integration of preaching into the larger outreach, assimilation, pastoral care, and communications strategies of a congregation. Topics will include principles of adult learning; media and technology; and, the strategic integration of preaching into larger congregational systems and initiatives.

– Capstone Portfolio

For more info, contact [email protected]

Interested in Applying? Apply now.

Meet Our Team

Tom Thatcher


Tom Thatcher

Graduate 513.244.8172 [email protected]

Tom Thatcher is Professor of Biblical Studies and Dean of the Russell School of Ministry. He holds an MDiv from CCU and received his PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tom is the author of numerous books and articles on the New Testament and early Christianity, and he is also a Partner in the Elemental Churches consulting group.


Professor of Biblical Studies (1992). BA, MA, MDiv, Cincinnati Christian University; PhD, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville); University of Cincinnati.

David Ray


David Ray

Seminary 513.244.8182 [email protected]

Professor of Christian Ministries (2011). Associate Dean, Russell School of Ministry. BA, Johnson University; MDiv, Emmanuel Christian Seminary; DMin, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Ken Read

Russell School of Ministry/Music & Worship

Ken Read

Russell School of Ministry/Music & Worship 513.244.8195 [email protected]

If you ask Ken Read about himself, he would likely say that he is a highly-dysfunctional follower of Jesus who has discovered that he is not as talented as he had imagined and has better friends than he deserves. Then he would likely talk about his family and his ministry. Most people who know him would describe him as a creative. Dr. Read grew up in Cincinnati and has lived here most of his life, with the exception of ministries in Illinois and Kentucky. He and Ellen are parents to eight children and grandparents to about twenty (the number changes). Professionally, he has been a worshiper and a worship leader, a church planter, and a teacher. Ken is a published songwriter, and a member of ASCAP. His books include **Created to Worship** (College Press), and books on Christian living. Dr. Read teaches courses that are near the intersection of the subjects of music, worship, culture and creativity.


University of Kentucky School of Fine Arts D.M.A. (Composition) project: “The King’s New Clothes” (opera and defense) Cincinnati Christian University M.Min. (Church Music Emphasis) Miami University (Oxford OH) M.M. (theory/composition) thesis: “The Harmonies of Michael W. Smith: Changes in Gospel Music in the 1980s” Cincinnati Christian University M.A. (practical theology) thesis: “An Analysis of Person and Number in Selected Hymnals in Light of the Psalms” University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music B.M. (music theory major; secondary piano/ voice/ composition); summa cum laude; member, Pi Kappa Lambda

Bobby Jackson

Russell School of Ministry / Music & Worship

Bobby Jackson

Russell School of Ministry / Music & Worship [email protected]

Bobby Jackson graduated from CCU and entered full-time ministry, experiencing a variety of settings in churches from small to mega, from established to new multi-site plants. In them, he has served as worship leader, disciple-maker, preacher and teacher. Here at CCU, his focus is on coordinating the spiritual life on campus through chapel and other gatherings, and overseeing the Teaching Church program. Mr. Jackson teaches Calling and Spiritual Formation, Music Team Leadership, Worship Leadership, and directs Fusion Worship Ensemble.


Assistant Professor of Music & Worship (2016). BM, MAR, Cincinnati Christian University.