The modern world presents unique challenges to Christians and the practice of their faith. However, for ACU Online Bachelor of Science in Christian Service and Formation program director, Tiffany Dahlman, that just means more room for opportunity and outreach. From preaching to her stuffed animals as a kid to pastoral ministry for a congregation, Dahlman has always felt called to break through religious norms and serve others through what she calls “out-of-the-box ministry.” As an adjunct professor and program director, Tiffany is equipping her online community to embody a message of “good news” within today’s changing landscape and make a difference regardless of which industry they serve.
A Call To Ministry
Ministry always came naturally to Dahlman. From an early age, Tiffany was embedded in a religious environment that allowed her to delve into her faith. While the spiritual heritage of her formative years adapted as she grew, Tiffany felt an ever-present call to seek the Lord, leading her to consider it educationally. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and Religious Studies from York College and a Master of Divinity with concentrations in Spiritual Formation and the Old Testament from Asbury Theological Seminary. After earning her master’s degree, Tiffany taught school and served as a missionary in Southeast Asia for many years. In 2015, she became a minister at Courtyard Church of Christ (Courtyard) in North Carolina where she serves her congregation and partners with other local churches and community organizations for Kingdom good.
For Dahlman, the body of Christ defies the four walls of a church building. From casual meetings in a remodeled two-story house to joining in community around her church’s fire pit, Tiffany believes it’s important to listen and learn from others to find humanity within God’s Word. Courtyard is composed of a diverse group of individuals with rich and varied heritages and nationalities, which Tiffany believes contributes to how they grow together uniquely as a family of believers. “There’s a lot more dialogue, humility, art, creativity, struggling and commitment than most people think of when they imagine ‘church’,” Dahlman said. Much of her experience within this out-of-the-box church experience is reflected within the ways she has structured her program with ACU Online.
Preaching To a Postmodern World
After teaching as an adjunct professor for a few years, Tiffany was asked to join ACU’s faculty as the program director for the Bachelor of Science in Christian Service and Formation program in October 2020. While this new program is still evolving, Dahlman has already seen its impact in our postmodern world and enjoys the ways in which the curriculum continues to adapt as our society changes.
After the daily adjustments that came with COVID-19, both the American and global church saw a massive decrease in physical church attendance, negatively altering many Americans’ perspectives of church community. This new reality, along with other events, is continually influencing how Christians, ministers, and those training ministers should approach ministry.
ACU’s Bachelor of Science in Christian Service and Formation program actively equips students to combat those negative and skeptical views of the church today by teaching them to receive, experience, and communicate the gospel however the Spirit may lead them in their specific contexts. Tiffany firmly believes that the Holy Spirit gifts and empowers unexpected people for ministry and provides them with a faith community in order to do fresh things in and for the Kingdom of God, both here in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Mind, Body and Heart
ACU’s degree program differs from other private or public universities’ theological courses. Rather than teaching solely through academic exercises, the Bachelor of Science in Christian Service and Formation program takes a holistic approach for this modern age of ministry. It equips students to love God and others in equal parts with their mind, body and heart.
The program’s curriculum was created to meet these three goals: to guide students to interpret Scripture, embody the Spirit in our modern world, and fortify spiritual disciplines to impact others. These core values don’t just apply to those preaching from a pulpit, but build a strong foundation for individuals pursuing careers as Christian social workers, police officers, accountants, non-profit starters, and beyond.
In addition to the adaptive approach this program embodies, Tiffany has created a roster of scholar practitioners who are associate ministers, formation and outreach ministers, elders, and lay leaders. These individuals are currently working in the field of ministry and act, not only as instructors, but also mentors to students learning to navigate their calling as followers of Jesus.
Future Dreams and Family Life
In the next five years, Dahlman hopes to see the bachelor’s in Christian Service and Formation program grow as a “top standard degree plan” for ministers. Not only does she want to see the program grow in numbers, but believes there are opportunities to create concentrations for more specialized teaching and certification programs for future leaders.
Outside of her career, Tiffany enjoys spending time with her husband and four children. Together, they love exploring their home of North Carolina by visiting the beach to the east and hiking the mountains to the west. Dahlman defended her thesis in the Doctor of Ministry program through ACU with a concentration in Preaching for Community Transformation in January 2022 and looks forward to expanding on her work about Wisdom Christology and Congregational Life in book form in the coming years.
At ACU, our mission is to educate students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. To learn more about how ACU’s Bachelor of Science in Christian Service and Formation program is meeting that goal, visit acu.edu/online or contact us at 855-219-7300.