We are currently scheduling the start of ONWARD for fall of 2019, pending a cohort of at least 15 students.  If you are interested in applying or have questions, please contact us at akok@theorchardnetwork.org.


ONWARD is a partnership between The Orchard Network and the Wheaton College Graduate School.  It allows participants to receive practical ministry training in a local church, The Orchard, while receiving an MA in Evangelism and Leadership through Wheaton.  Our goal is to bring the best of church and seminary-level training together to shape pastors, church planters and missionaries who are ready to move onward in their calling and to take the Gospel onward to the world.

Pastor Colin Smith of The Orchard Network


Pastor Colin Smith Announcing ONWARD at The Orchard 2/18/18


Dr. Ed Stetzer of the Wheaton College Graduate School and Pastor Colin Smith of The Orchard Network describe ONWARD.


A bridge to vocational ministry

The best of the classroom and the best of the local church

A focus on Spiritual LIFE, Biblical DOCTRINE and Ministry SKILLS

Reasonable Cost.  Shorter Program.  Practical Orientation.

Teaching by recognized professors and pastors

A Gospel foundation for life-long ministry

Quick Reference:

Visit the Wheaton Grad School Partnership page

Projected Schedule and Program Summary


Apply for ONWARD and Wheaton

Read a blog from Dr. Ed Stetzer about ONWARD

Why Does it Matter?

  • 35-40% of Pastors Leave Ministry within the first 5 years
  • 60-80% of Pastors Leave Ministry within the  first 10 years.
  • Many Pastors will be reaching retirement age in the next 5 to 10 years.
  • Read more about “Why does Gospel Training matter


What is the program?

  • MA in Evangelism and Leadership from Wheaton College.
  • 40 hours of course work.
  • 12 from The Orchard Network
  • 28 from Wheaton College Faculty.
  • See the Projected Two-Year Course Schedule

Wheaton Courses

    • MISS 576 – Missional Movements and Evangelism (2)
    • EVAN 526 – Gospel: Theological Perspectives on Evangelism and Renewal. Examines the gospel as good news of God’s inaugurated kingdom, with a focus on the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection as interpretive center. Investigates the dynamic of the spread of this good news throughout Scripture and history. Explores more recent movements of renewal and revival in relation to issues of evangelism and social transformation. (4 credit hours)
    • EVAN 534 – Apologetics in Modern and Emerging Culture Contexts. Examines apologetics as the study and practivce of establishing the plausibility of the Christian faith within particular cultures and contexts. Explores various philosophical and cultural frameworks for apologetics and then applies them to modernist, postmodern, multi-ethnic and global contexts and questions. (2 credit hours)
    • EVAN 542 – Church: Movements and Models. Explores different paradigms and models of church, paying special attention to the most recent emerging missional movements and their characteristics, impact and trajectory. Includes field trip visits and guest lecturers representing various existing models of churches and ministries. Assesses ministries using a number of different evaluative tools that are widely used. (4 credit hours)
    • EVAN 545 – Culture: Emerging and Global. Explores the shape of ministry and evangelism in postmodern, post-Christendom and globalizing cultures. Examines popular culture in the U.S. as a key context for ministry and a critical influence around the world. Reframes evangelism, apologetics, preaching, healing, and discipleship in relation to the significant cultural shifts that are occurring. (4 credit hours)
    • EVAN 559 – Organizational and Change Leadership. Explores models and principles of change leadership, leading organizations, building teams, handling conflict, and fostering entrepreneurial environments. Examines the leadership literature on these issues. Utilizes case studies and group experiences. (4 credit hours)
    • EVAN 690: Comprehensive Exam (0)
    • INTR 561: Intercultural Communication (4)
    • BITH 565: Christian Theology (4)
  • The Orchard Network Courses

    • Christian Ministry Part 1 (4 credits)
      • Watch Your Life
      • Watch Your Doctrine
      • Caring for the Flock
      • Overseeing the Flock
    • Christian Ministry Part 2 (4 credits)
      • Preaching
      • The Gospel-Nourished Life
    • Internship (4 credits)


    Note: ONWARD students will receive the training referred to as “MOMENTUM” in the testimonies below.

    Laura Kleinschmidt (Director of Women’s Ministries, The Orchard – Barrington)

    Every Friday morning I left encouraged and refocused on the importance of the ministry God has called me to. I felt refueled and recharged. I learned that ministry is difficult at times for everyone, not just me. I learned that this is a job I can do and a job that I must do – bring the Gospel to women.


    Adam Magnuson (2015 TEDS MDiv; Associate Pastor of Youth and Worship, Westosha Lakes Church, Wisconsin)

    The three hours I spent every week at MOMENTUM were worth every second. Because of the practical and pastoral touch of Colin Smith, the fellowship of the people involved, and its laser-like focus on the gospel, I can think of no better supplement to a TEDS education.


    Ray Chang (2016 TEDS MDiv; Ministry Associate for Discipleship, Wheaton College)

    The Orchard Network has been a tremendous blessing to my development as a pastor. MOMENTUM is a theologically rigorous, yet highly practical program that blends well with the seminary degree. During our time together, we explored helpful insights rooted in church history, faithful puritans, self sacrificing missionaries, contemporary theologians, and everyday pastors. With Pastor Colin’s 35 years of highly intentional ministry and the wealth of wisdom provided by Gospel-loving, world-class Christian leaders like Jerry Bridges, Lee Strobel, Tom Nelson, Craig Ott, and others, those who participate in MOMENTUM have gained years of counsel to advance in the understanding of doctrine, in the shaping of a godly life, and in the maturing of important skills for ministry.


    Brandon Myers (2016 TEDS MDiv; Pastor of Congregational Life, The Orchard – Arlington Heights)

    MOMENTUM helped equip us for front line ministry in the body of Christ.  Through MOMENTUM my appreciation for God’s people/local churches and the high calling of ministry has profoundly deepened.  Additionally, my need to depend on the word of God and prayer through all areas of ministry has been greatly strengthened.  Through MOMENTUM I have been greatly equipped with practical and pastoral wisdom to minister to people in counseling sessions, in preaching and teaching opportunities, in home visits and in a variety of other ways with a greater confidence in the power of the Gospel and the word of God.  I praise God for his grace in allowing me to participate in this rare and excellent program.



    Tom Yoon (2010 TEDS MDiv; Pastor of Worship and Students, The Orchard – Northfield)

    MOMENTUM has been invaluable for my development as a pastor. Not only has MOMENTUM given me a solid biblical foundation for pastoral ministry, the application of the pastorate in terms of preaching, shepherding, and leading has been enriching and enlightening. In many ways, I feel that I’ve personally gained more insight into the pastorate this past year then my previous 14 years in ministry. I am confident that this will be a crucial learning experience for others and I cannot help but wonder how God will use MOMENTUM for the years to come.”


    Brad Wetherell (2015 TEDS MDiv; Campus Pastor, The Orchard – Itasca)

    I am so grateful that I was able to combine MOMENTUM with my TEDS experience. Alongside the broad scope of the MDiv’s curriculum (which I really appreciate), MOMENTUM provides an opportunity to hone in on the life, doctrine, and skills of pastoral ministry. As a result of MOMENTUM I feel more equipped and encouraged to press on in my own personal godliness, my confidence in Biblical authority, my desire to preach faithfully, and my ability to provide strong leadership and pastoral care to those I serve.


    Josh Parsons (2015 TEDS MDiv; Campus Pastor, The Orchard – Northfield)

    For me, there has been no tool so expertly wielded by the Lord for my pastoral development than MOMENTUM. It has been such a helpful bridge from academia to practical church ministry, and has on its own pumped into me a greater passion for Jesus, the Gospel and the Church.

  • ONWARD is a new bridge into vocational ministry.  It is primarily suited for the person called to be a pastor, church planter or missionary, and who desires to move onward in that direction.  At the end of the program, our goal is that vocational, paid ministry is a part of your working life, either part-time or full-time.


    What is the profile?


    If you are planning to graduate from college and plan to pursue a ministry future, we recommend a traditional MDiv program.  It’s worth it!

    However, if you are not able to participate in a traditional MDiv program, ONWARD is a compelling option.  Consider:

    • Time – Many MDiv programs last 3-4 years.  ONWARD can be completed in just over 2 years.
    • Money – MDiv programs cost up to $40,000 – $60,000 dollars.  ONWARD will cost less than $25,000.
    • Personality – MDiv programs require intense academic study and emphasize learning over doing.  ONWARD immerses you in the life of a local church and emphasizes practical skills and personal spiritual life.

    To do ONWARD, your mindset should be similar to someone who moves to a graduate school to live on campus and study full-time.

    • You should live near The Orchard.
    • You should look for a part-time job or full-time job to provide financially.  However, you need to have freedom to take 4 weeks a year for “intensive modular classes” and have Friday mornings free for church training.


    You may be employed in a professional setting, but you are called to shift to full-time, vocational ministry in your future.

    If this is you, ONWARD will give you the qualifications and experience to shift your career to full-time vocational ministry.  At the end of the degree, you could apply for a job as a full-time pastor, church planter or missionary.

    To do ONWARD, your mindset should be that when you start this program, you are permanently shifting your working life.  Aim to keep your job in a way that provides for you and your family over the next two years, but creates space for 4 weeks of “intensive modular classes” each year and gives you Friday mornings for church training.  Then plan to find a full-time job in vocational ministry after the program ends.

    Note for those currently working:  Perhaps through the Lord’s provision you are in a position to rearrange your work schedule within the week or evenings to allow you to attend the various teaching sessions and church immersion opportunities.   If you have a fair amount of seniority or if your company offers vacation time in addition to personal days, you may also find that the ONWARD schedule is workable.


    You may be employed in a professional setting, but you are called to incorporate paid, bi-vocational ministry into your future.

    Perhaps you are working in a professional setting and are called to continue to use your skills, training and experience in that setting.  Yet you also feel that you could give yourself 15-20 hours a week to a paid, part-time ministry setting.  ONWARD will give you the skills and qualifications for such a position.

    To do ONWARD, your mindset should be that when you start this program, you are permanently shifting your working life to be 75% in your current professional field, 25% in ministry.  Aim to shift your job into something that will allow you to complete ONWARD and then get a part-time ministry job when the program ends.


    You are called to full-time or part-time vocational ministry and currently have space in your life to complete the requirements of ONWARD.  For example:

    • Your spouse may work full-time and you can do ONWARD
    • You have returned from the mission field for more training and can complete ONWARD.


    You can take early retirement and are called to make vocational ministry a part of your future.


    You are currently employed in vocational ministry and want to go back to school for a graduate degree.

    If this is you, ONWARD is open to you.  However, we expect ONWARD participants to be immersed in the life of The Orchard.  Please contact us to see if we can work this out for you in your current ministry setting.

    I’m Interested.


      1. Complete the application below and submit to akok@theorchardnetwork.org.
      2. Go the Wheaton College Grad School website and submit an application for the MA in Evangelism and Leadership.  Note: Be sure and select “Orchard Network” as your partnership option when prompted.  (This ensures you will receive the available scholarships.)

    ONWARD — Application

    Projected Schedule and Program Summary

    For more information about ONWARD, contact Arthur Kok, Director of Training, The Orchard Network