Be part of a new generation of ministry leaders. Get the best in academic and theological training, combined with practical ministry experience and one-on-one mentoring from ministry leaders. Milligan’s Ministry Leadership Program offers a comprehensive ministerial formation unlike any other.


Each major provides ministry preparation built on a foundation of knowledge of the Scriptures — knowing the Bible, understanding its theological and cultural background, and how to apply it to modern life and culture.

Biblical & Theological Studies »

Children’s MinistrY »

Church Leadership »

Intercultural Studies »

Student Ministry »

Worship Leadership »


Spend an entire semester in an immersive full-time mentored ministry field experience. This is more than a regular internship. You’ll gain hands-on experience in supervised ministry and spiritual formation. Every internship is individually tailored to provide opportunities to observe, assist, and lead in ways that are related to your unique interests. Leaders learn by doing. It’s important that church leaders not only have an understanding of, but a passion for, the nature and purpose of the church and its primary functions of worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, and fellowship.


Get on-going personal mentoring from an innovative ministry practitioner from one of our cohort of nationally-recognized ministry leaders who offer invaluable mentoring and ministerial formation. They offer our students hard-won insight into current challenges facing the church as well as much-needed practical wisdom about how churches are meeting those challenges with passion and integrity.


Delve into deeper topics, experience innovative ministries, interact and be mentored by church leaders, and have your passions for ministry further ignited through the Ministry Leadership Retreats held every semester.

Be immersed in a community of friends, classmates, and mentors who care passionately about serving and about each other. You’ll build camaraderie and grow together through your studies, retreats, internship experience, and many co-curricular opportunities. Students often meet on their own for weekly studies, prayer, and discipleship groups. This forms a close-knit group of trusted friends and colleagues for a lifetime of ministerial support.


Your entire Milligan experience is grounded in a unique liberal arts approach, where you learn to better understand the world and the people to whom you will lead and serve. We believe a liberal arts education provides the best ministerial preparation. Ministers must know the scriptures and how to interpret them, but they also must understand the world in which they are called to minister.


Dr. Ron Kastens

ron_kastens-768x960With nearly 30 years of ministry experience serving in various leadership roles, Dr. Ron Kastens oversees Milligan’s Ministry Leadership Program.

“Not only does Ron have a deep knowledge of the Bible, a heart for service and a passion for working with students, he also brings a wealth of real-world experience working in all facets of ministry,” said Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer.

After graduating from Milligan in 1989 with a degree in Bible, Kastens went on to earn a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry in pastoral theology from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.

Following 12 years as associate pastor at Northeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, Kastens became lead pastor of Crossway Christian Church in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 2001. There he oversaw the congregation’s growth from 300 to 850, as well as the physical expansion of the church and addition of two campus locations.

Kastens also led the church’s global outreach program, launching three ongoing partnerships. He currently serves on the board of Christian Missionary Fellowship, a global mission organization.

“I have a passion for mentoring young men and women for leadership in the church,” said Kastens. “Within the context of a nationally-recognized Christian liberal arts education, the Ministry Leadership Program will be a powerful way to develop the next generations of leaders. Education plus experience equals immediate and long-lasting impact for men and women in church leadership.”


WHO you learn from is pretty important. At Milligan, our faculty are not only excellent teachers and caring mentors but are recognized and published scholars, with Ph.D.’s from Boston University, Duke, Harvard, Indiana University, Notre Dame, and the Universities of Denver and Toronto. They have practical experience and great wisdom.
MEET the rest of OUR FACULTY »


New students enrolling for the first time may be eligible for a $5,000 Ministry Leadership Scholarship.

MINISTRY LEADERSHIP Scholarship Requirements

  • Apply and be admitted to Milligan University as a degree-seeking traditional undergraduate student (Fall 2020)
  • Minimum 21 ACT/980 SAT OR 3.0 final weighted GPA for entering first-year students
  • Minimum 2.5 GPA for entering transfer students
  • Enroll full-time (12 or more credit hours per semester)
  • Maintain a major in Biblical & Theological Studies, Children’s Ministry, Church Leadership, Intercultural Studies, Student Ministry, or Worship Leadership
  • Agree to enthusiastically participate in required co-curricular activities of the program
  • Maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.0 by the end of the second semester of enrollment, 2.5 by the end of the fourth semester and each semester thereafter
  • This scholarship may NOT be combined with Tuition Exchange, Personnel Grant, Jeanes Honors, Goah, Performing Arts, Athletic scholarships

LOAN Repayment Assistance program

We don’t want concerns about student loans to stop you from attending Milligan or prevent you from choosing a career in ministry.

The Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) is a special opportunity offered through Milligan to incoming Ministry Leadership Program students in the Fall of 2020.  LRAP helps students repay student loans if they graduate and earn less than $43,000.  Details regarding this special program will be sent to eligible students and questions can be directed to your admissions recruiter or the admissions office at


When you apply to Milligan University, indicate your interest in one of the following majors:
  • Biblical & Theological Studies
  • Children’s Ministry
  • Church Leadership
  • Intercultural Studies
  • Student Ministry
  • Worship Leadership


Ministry Coaches

Five dynamic ministry practitioners from across the United States serve as ministry coaches in the Ministry Leadership Program. Ministry coaches alternate each year between teaching a course at Milligan and hosting students within their ministry contexts. Both components are designed to equip the next generation of ministry leaders with early exposure to hands-on experiences, a broader community, and different contexts for ministry.

rick Rusaw

Rick led LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado, as the lead pastor for 28 years. He recently transitioned from his role at LifeBridge to serving as the CEO of Spire, a ministry platform designed for leaders who inspire a movement of healthy, growing churches. He is the author of numerous books including The Externally Focused Church, Living a Life on Loan, and The Neighboring Church.


Melissa Sandel

Melissa has served as director of ministries and a senior leader at West Side Christian Church in Springfield, Illinois, since 2004. In her role, Melissa supervises a staff of fifty and provides leadership development, strategic planning, oversight of campaigns and construction projects, and church-wide communications. She holds a Master of Divinity from Lincoln Christian University.


Mike and jodi hickerson

Together, Mike and Jodi lead ministry at Mission Church in Ventura, California, a church they planted in 2011. Mike currently serves as the lead pastor, and Jodi is a teaching pastor and the programming director.


Early in their careers, Mike and Jodi had the privilege of serving at Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky; Willow Creek Community Church in Crystal Lake, Illinois; and Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Illinois.



austin gohn

Austin serves as the lead pastor at Bellevue Christian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has written for several blogs and publications and most recently published the book, A Restless Age: How Saint Augustine Helps You Make Sense of Your Twenties. Austin received his Master of Divinity from Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania.

Advisory Council

Magness, Ethan


Ethan is the senior minister at First Christian Church in Johnson City, Tennessee. He previously served as the Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland, and before that was Minister to Youth and Young Adults at Grandview Christian Church in Johnson City. He holds an MDiv from Emmanuel Christian Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Religion from Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA.  He has extensive experience in ministerial training as the founder and director of the Semester in Ministry program in partnership with Milligan University, where he also served as an adjunct professor for 6 years.  “Both as a teacher and practitioner, I am committed to the preaching and teaching of God’s words as a foundational tool to reach the lost, transform lives and shape community,” says Ethan.



Ben is Senior Pastor at Mountain Christian Church, a multi-site church near the Baltimore, Maryland area. He began his ministry career at Valley Christian Church in Minnesota and then Grandview Christian Church in Tennessee. Ben has a passion for preaching, leadership, and his family. He and his wife, Karla, have three children.




Rick Rusaw served as the Lead Pastor at LifeBridge Church in Longmont, Colorado, for 28 years. During his leadership, LifeBridge became a strong community partner both locally and globally to provide mentoring for at-risk kids, foster care, and serving opportunities. These partnerships have increased community engagement and grown the church to more than 3,500 in attendance.

Through his experiences, Rick has been led to assist churches and denominations worldwide develop an external focus for their church. These opportunities have allowed him to author several books along that theme, including Externally Focused Church, Life on Loan, Externally Focused Quest, and The Neighboring Church.

In addition to his work in church communities, Rick has consulted with businesses and nonprofits worldwide to provide management training and leadership development. He has also assisted in capital development and merger and acquisition work, while owning several companies. He has been honored to serve on several boards both in the public and private sector.

Prior to joining LifeBridge, Rick was the executive vice president of Cincinnati Christian University.

Jobe, Brian


Brian Jobe has served as the Senior Pastor at Compass Christian Church in Chandler, Arizona, for two years.  He served as the Senior Pastor at Harvester Christian Church in Saint Charles, Missourri, for six years. Before that, he served at Compassion Christian Church in Savannah, Georgia, for 11 years as a regional campus pastor and member of the teaching team.

Brian is a 1995 graduate of Milligan University. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master of Divinity degree from Emmanuel Christian Seminary in 1998. Brian was awarded the Excellence in Christian Ministries award from Milligan in 2009. He currently serves on the board of directors for Provision Ministry Group. In 2015, he served as an officer and executive team member for the North American Christian Convention. Brian has preached at numerous conferences and Christian churches around the country and on mission fields around the world.

Brian and his wife Marie (1996 Milligan grad) have been married for 20 years. They have two amazing daughters: Sydney (14) and Sophie (12). Brian loves to preach God’s word and gets fired up seeing people come to know Jesus in a life-changing way! He enjoys time with his family, sports (especially golf), and music.

Jones, Tom


Driven by his passion for the local church and people to know Christ, and decades of experience in the world of church planting, Tom has been a part of the Stadia team since 2003. Having planted churches with his wife Debbie Jones in Centerville, OH and Princeton, NJ, Tom is a visionary leader who understands the mission of Stadia in a unique way. His role as Executive Director involves direct oversight of the implementation of Stadia’s vision, strategic plan, and operations. Outside of his Stadia role, Tom also served as a tenured professor at Emmanuel School of Religion for 11 years and was the editor and primary author of Church Planting from the Ground Up.


Milligan University seeks the partnership of congregations and individuals who share our vision for excellence in ministerial preparation and are willing to invest in this program.

We would like to acknowledge the following congregations for being the first to come alongside us and for their generous support in launching and sustaining the Ministry Leadership Program:

First Christian Church – Johnson City, TN

Ten Mile Christian Church  – Meridian, ID

Mountain Christian – Joppa, MD

Compass Christian – Chandler, AZ

Academy Christian Church – Colorado Springs, CO

Lifebridge Christian Church – Longmont, CO

Fairmount Christian Church – Mechanicsville, VA

Generations Christian Church – Trinity, FL