DMin Program Overview

Program Structure

Overview of the DMin Program

Dr. Marshall Shelley, Director of the DMin Program 

The DMin program is based on a collaborative learning model that places great emphasis on building relationships with and among students and faculty, and creating effective learning communities. The program is built on the conviction that deep, transformative learning happens best when it is practical in focus, rooted in community, and connected to real needs in a specific ministry context. The goal of the program is to create reflective practioners who can more effectively “engage the needs of the world with the redemptive power of the gospel and the life-changing truth of Scripture.”

Students begin the program with three foundational courses the first year and then six required and elective courses the following two years. The capstone of the program is the doctoral-level project which focuses on the student’s own ministry context. The program is 34 semester credit hours and is designed as a five-year program; three years for the courses and one to two years for the doctoral project.

The Three Foundational Courses

The three foundational courses serve as an introduction to the D.Min. program. These courses begin the process of building relationships among faculty and students, guide students in reflecting biblically and theologically on the nature of ministry and their own personal and professional lives, and assist students in formulating the thesis topic.

Biblical and Theological Reflection on the Practice of Ministry

Provides a nuanced biblical/theological framework for ministry, giving students an opportunity to reflect on their own practice of ministry from a solid biblical/theological perspective.

Relational and Vocational Foundations

Helps students reflect on their own personal and vocational strengths and weaknesses, exploring areas in which they need to grow and mature in relationship with family, faith, calling and self. 

Obstacles and Opportunities in Ministry and Mission

Addresses a number of current obstacles and opportunities facing ministry practitioners in a variety of contexts and helps students begin to identify/define specific issues within their own ministry settings they may want to develop into the doctoral-level project.

Choose from One of Four Specialized Tracks

1. Leadership

Christian leaders struggle with what it means to be a leader in our rapidly changing world and yet healthy leadership is vital to healthy, growing churches and organizations. In the Leadership track, students learn to be healthy leaders so they can lead healthy organizations. Students learn the leadership skills and organizational tools necessary to lead more effectively in the places God calls them to lead. Required courses in the Leadership track include:

  • Leading Well: Becoming a Leader Who Leads Effectively
  • Leading Systems/Leading Change
  • Leading and Managing the Church and Parachurch
  • Developing Leaders: A Philosophy and Strategy for Leadership Training

2. Marriage & Family Ministry

Marriages and families are in crisis. In the Marriage and Family Ministry track, pastors and ministry practitioners learn to understand the complexity of family systems and acquire the practical tools necessary to respond positively to the marriages and families under their care. Students are provided a unique combination of resources, training, and skills designed to maximize their effectiveness as leaders in marriage and family ministry. Required courses in the Marriage and Family Ministry track include:

  • Marriage Counseling
  • Family Systems in Ministry
  • Marriage and Family Enrichment
  • Issues in Marriage and Family Ministry

3. Pastoral Skills

Effective ministry in the church requires skilled pastors who are able to provide meaningful ministry. In the Pastoral Skills track, the student learns to navigate the challenges of pastoral ministry and sharpen and enhance their preaching, organizational ability, ministerial competence, and practice of ministry. Required courses in the Pastoral Skills track include:

  • Preaching with Purpose and Power
  • Ministry Effectiveness through Personal Growth in Christian Spirituality
  • Developing Lay Leaders: A Philosophy and Strategy for Leadership Training
  • Leading and Managing Congregations

4. Spiritual Formation

Spiritual growth and formation is critical, yet often lacking in churches and organizations. In the Spiritual Formation track, students learn to more effectively guide their congregation or organization into deeper and more meaningful encounters with God. They also learn to guide those in their communities on the spiritual journey to become what God has designed them to be. Required courses in the Spiritual Formation track include:

  • Biblical and Historical Foundations of Spiritual Formation
  • Theology of Transformation and the Spiritual Journey
  • Ministry Effectiveness through Personal Growth in Christian Spirituality
  • Spiritual Mentoring: The Ministry of Evangelical Soul Care

The Doctoral Project

The doctoral program concludes with the completion of a professional doctoral-level project. All previously completed courses in the program are a part of the preparation for the project. Early in the doctoral program, students will identify a problem, challenge, opportunity, or topic that needs to be addressed in their ministry setting, determine what specifically needs to be changed or achieved, and then design and conduct a project to address that need.

The project demonstrates the student’s ability to design and conduct a project that is biblically and theologically grounded, supported by the literature, and relevant to the practice of ministry. Students write a five chapter scholarly paper that introduces, develops, and assesses the effectiveness of the project. The various chapters focus on:

  • the need and rationale for the project,
  • the biblical and theological texts/ theories that undergird the project, the issue the project addresses, and
  • the results of what they learned following completion of the project.

The doctoral project phase of the DMin program takes one to two years to complete.

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