Choosing a degree program is a big challenge. When we talk with prospective students about the new Doctor of Ministry curriculum, there are a number of questions. Some deal with scheduling and others with costs, but there are a couple that surface quite often.
First, “What if I want to focus on preaching or spirituality? Can I do that?” Our answer is, “Yes, you can do that but not in this program.” There are a number of good Doctor of Ministry programs available in preaching, spirituality, and any number of other topics. The primary focus of the program at Central is on leadership. We want to help leaders develop the skills that will take them and their organizations to the next level of ministry. The next level may be developing a new ministry in the community, equipping lay leaders for missional ministry, renewing a declining congregation, or any number of other things.
Communication skills and spiritual discernment will be addressed but always in the context of the next opportunity in creative ministry. If one is interested primarily in honing their preaching skills or becoming a spiritual director, they will be best served in another context.
A second question is, “Can I take electives?” The answer is “No” for two reasons. One is that we are attempting to build a cohort of practitioners who address each seminar from their unique perspectives and share their insights with others. This cross-pollination of viewpoints and ideas is the crucible where new connections and possibilities are born.
Another reason we will not provide electives is that each instructor will design enough flexibility in assignments that students can apply seminar learning within their contexts and leverage their own interests. For example, in the course on “Leading People and Organizations,” the instructor will seek to incorporate two “threads” or values in the course: promoting inclusion and equality and facilitating connectivity for intentional outcomes. If the student has an interest in engaging his or her organization in being open to cross-cultural engagement, the assignment might involve identifying key resource people in the community who can help in this task. If the student is concerned about equality issues for female staff members, the assignment might be to apply seminar insights to address cultural change in the organization through member involvement and formation.