Edmund Chan is the leadership mentor of Covenant Evangelical Free Church in Singapore and a founder of the Global Alliance of Intentional Disciple Making Churches. The following interview was conducted at Alliance Theological Seminary in Rockland County while student cohorts were gathered to take classes for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
What do you specialize in teaching here at Alliance Theological Seminary?
I teach leadership development here.
How long have you been part of the Doctor of Ministry program here?
About six years I’ve been here—yes.
What would you say makes Alliance Theological Seminary a unique or special place?
Oh, for me the program has been very inspiring. I enjoy the interaction with the students. I see a wonderful diversity, and I love the maturity of the students in my classes. They come with ministry experience. They come thinking and hungry, and so a lot of times we are able to connect because they have the experiences to do so.
What do you most want to see the students that come to you through the Doctor of Ministry program walk away with? What are you hoping they leave their time with you equipped with or having learned?
Each time I come, I desire to see transformed lives. Because the measure is not how much knowledge we get, how much interaction, no matter how wonderful the interactions are, the discussions and so on. But it’s not just the deliberations; it’s the doing. And so I desire to see students apply some of these truths and see the transformation of lives. I teach that truth doesn’t change lives. It is truth applied that changes lives. So my desire is to see the application of truth. When I visited Oxford University, I came across a quote from Henry Ward Beecher. He says, “The good teacher tells. The competent teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” So I pray that there will be inspirational moments moving the teaching and the interaction and in the application of truth that bring about a deep transformation.
Can you talk a bit about the Doctor of Ministry program itself and what you think, in addition to the diversity, makes it special? Why should students choose this program?
The Doctor of Ministry program at Alliance Theological Seminary is our leadership development. And I’m very, very thankful to partner with Dr. Walden. There is a joy in this partnership. He teaches the academic side—the research side of leadership development. He teaches what he’s found in his research aboard. I teach the experience and the principles. I’m a reflective practitioner. So to combine these two together, the students are getting (as it were) the best of both worlds. They have cutting-edge research and they have the experience of life and ministry shared with them in a form of principles and paradigms. And so that’s what excites me about the program.
Being a part of the Doctor of Ministry program as a teacher, have you gained anything from it yourself?
First of all, one of the joys I have is every year I come with some guest. Most of them have a mentoring relationship with me or we are in a mentoring relationship together. And for them to be exposed to the class and also to the students and the students to them is a very enriching thing. And to be able to share this experience together, not just with the students, but with the leaders I’ve been mentoring, it’s a wonderful time. So we have leaders of denominations, bishops, senior pastors, business leaders, and business owners coming together. It is great. Yeah, I enjoy that immensely.
Can you speak a bit more about the diversity at Alliance Theological Seminary and how that impacts the students’ experience here and your experience teaching here?
I think one of the distinctiveness of this school is that you find diversity in the classes—different cultural backgrounds, different ministries, and even different sizes of churches. It gives a fuller platform and matrix. Hearing from different people—from different backgrounds and ministry experiences, helps us to be able to appreciate the grand work that God is doing in His kingdom through that diversity.
How would you say Alliance Theological Seminary is set apart or unique?
I think every school has its distinctiveness. And for Alliance Theological Seminary, I look at it as a school that stands in its own joyous distinctiveness and heritage. And I am very impressed with the interaction I have with the lecturers who come. There is a wonderful pulling together of expertise from different sources and different schools, and I think that helps. I have the privilege of teaching in four bible colleges in three countries, and I enjoy each one of them. But every year I look forward to coming back here to Alliance Theological Seminary, because I feel this community, this friendship, this family, is something I’m thankful for.
You say that each school has a unique quality. Is there a unique quality that sets apart the Alliance Theological Seminary students in your mind?
I must say, probably because each time I come with a different program, I find that the participants are very mature and have deep ministry experiences. I’ve been teaching as a guest lecturer in different programs in Telbut, in Singapore Bible College, in an evangelical seminary in Hong Kong, and I find that here at Alliance Theological Seminary the students are somehow older and more mature. I find them to be senior pastors and denominational leaders. There’s a president of a denomination right here in this present class. And the kind of experience they bring to the class, and the humility by which they share the journey together, is very rich. Perhaps in Asia I find the students are a bit younger and therefore, because of their age more than anything else, the experience they have is not as deep—not as rich as what I encounter here. So I enjoy my time here at Alliance Theological Seminary.