Specialization in Christian Spirituality
The Doctor of Ministry degree is the highest professional degree offered by a theological school. The Doctor of Ministry degree presupposes the M.Div. degree and constitutes an advanced professional degree at the doctoral level available to those seeking to enhance their ministry. Thus, it is the purpose of the D.Min. degree to provide the level of knowledge, theoretical clarity, and competence of practice commensurate with the highest earned degree for the profession and practice of ministry.
The Doctor of Ministry degree with a specialization in Christian spirituality is designed for ministers who are committed to enhancing their work with a demanding program of academic study and practices to nurture the spiritual life. The D.Min. degree with a specialization in Christian Spirituality at McAfee emphasizes collegial learning with professors and peers. It expects intense study in subjects related to spirituality designed and taught specifically for Doctor of Ministry students. The program includes participation in spiritual practices including one 5-day retreat, spirituality intensive, 24-hour individual retreats each quarter, and individual spiritual guidance at least monthly. Each student will complete a ministry project thesis with a focus on nurturing the spirituality of persons within the context of ministry. Students will receive supervision in facilitating spiritual growth in a project, chosen from one of the following areas: spiritual direction with individuals or groups, spiritual formation in a congregational or institutional setting, coaching others for spiritual growth, or spiritual care within the context of one’s ministry. Students may choose another area with permission from the Spirituality Faculty.
The McAfee Doctor of Ministry challenges a person in ministry to seek his or her best in response to God's calling in Jesus Christ. Students will be given a list of retreat experiences from which to choose for their 5-day retreat. In addition, each student will choose a Spiritual Director from a list provided by the Christian Spirituality Faculty Supervisors: Dr. Loyd Allen and Dr. Denise Massey.
The focus of this program is to prepare ministers to model the spiritual life, to nurture the spiritual growth of individuals and communities, and potentially to teach in the Ministry Studies programs of colleges and seminaries willing to employ a Doctor of Ministry graduate with a specialization in Christian Spirituality.
Eligibility, Application and Admission
To be eligible for admission to the program, the applicant should:
- Hold the Master of Divinity degree (or its academic equivalent) from a theological seminary or divinity school fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (or recognized as such, if not a North American institution).
- Be engaged in full-time active ministry, parochial or otherwise, in which the applicant can complete meaningful research integrating biblical, theological, historical, and spirituality insights into the practice of specific ministry.
- Have served in full-time ministry for at least three years following receipt of the basic M.Div. degree.
- Have official transcripts from all educational institutions previously attended sent to the Doctor of Ministry office. A grade point average of 3.25 from all Master of Divinity work or its equivalent is normally expected.
- Score competitively on the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) or Graduate Record Exam score. We regard test results as helpful indicators of academic ability and achievement when considered thoughtfully among many other factors. A score on the MAT in or above the fiftieth (50th) percentile is normally expected. If English is a second language, a score of at least 215 (new scale) on the TOEFL is required.
- Provide three reference evaluations on the forms in the Application for Admission in which assessment is made of the applicant’s ministerial practice. These forms must be sent directly to the Doctor of Ministry office.
- Write a personal essay describing your call to ministry, summarizing your interest and experience in spiritual practices, including a theological self reflection, and a tentative sketch of a final ministry project.
- Schedule a personal interview with one of the Spirituality Faculty Supervisors, Dr. Loyd Allen or Dr. Denise Massey. (Persons outside the Atlanta region may schedule a telephone interview).
No single criterion of these expectations will eliminate a person from consideration as the Doctor of Ministry Faculty Committee considers a total profile in making admission decisions.
Please note, the McAfee School of Theology Doctor of Ministry Program does not allow for transfer credit from other institutions.
A. On-Campus Seminars (12 hours of seminar credit; 4 hours of Seminar Preparation credit)
Students will attend three on-campus D.Min. Seminars of 3 weeks' duration each. The seminars will be scheduled in the January and July terms of the first three years of the degree. One seminar will be selected from the general offerings in the D.Min. program and two seminars will be intensive studies in Christian Spirituality. They may be scheduled at other times of the year depending on enrollment in the program. Each seminar will be a combination of core requirements including reading, reports on reading, written presentations integrating the seminar subject with one’s ministry, and additional readings and assignments negotiated with each student. A variety of assignments may be expected in the Spirituality Specialization including case studies of spiritual guidance, research papers on a topic related to Christian spirituality, or examples of ministry from one’s setting (retreats, verbatim accounts of spiritual care, reports on group spiritual guidance, etc.). All work for the seminar will be completed on a schedule approved by the seminar faculty leaders.
Each student in the Spirituality Specialization will choose one of the three following seminars in the program. The semester preceding the seminar will be a semester of intensive reading for seminar preparation.
Biblical/Theological Foundations for Ministry
Seminar Preparation DMIN 720 (2 hours of credit)
Seminar DMIN 732 (4 hours of credit)
Course Description: This seminar pursues biblical and theological promptings toward the mission of the church and the role of the minister. It will include a brief overview of recent methodologies in biblical exegesis and ministry-oriented themes in contemporary theology. It will involve the participants in the habit of theological thinking about pastoral issues and hermeneutical moves from biblical texts. The seminar will also focus on the selection and integration of texts and theological themes for specific ministries to which the student is involved as related particularly to project theses.
Contextual Ministry and Culture Today
Seminar Preparation DMIN 733 (2 hours of credit)
Seminar DMIN 734 (4 hours of credit)
Course Description: This course will study the dynamics between congregations/organizations as systems within which ministry occurs and the cultural, community, and local environments which impact strategies for mission, evangelism, and service. Students will complete analyses of their community context, interpretations of the impact of cultural change on ministry, and explore the role of organizational identity in adapting to changing environments. Emphasis on the importance of ethics as a constructive response to culture will be given.
Seminar Preparation DMIN 730 (2 hours of credit)
Seminar DMIN 731 (4 hours of credit)
Course Description: This course will deepen the student’s understanding and practice of a variety of core skills and meta-skills that are essential for all types of ministry. Students will make changes to improve their ministry and assess their strengths and weaknesses in each area. These skills may be applied in whatever tasks of ministry are appropriate for the student’s context including preaching, teaching, pastoral care, administration, evangelism, Christian education, spiritual guidance, and leadership. Competence will be enhanced in the following areas: 1) self-awareness; 2) other awareness; 3) self-management; 4) social skills; and 5) spiritual awareness and leadership.
Each of the following seminars will be completed by students in the Spirituality Specialization.
Coaching Individuals, Groups, and Congregations Toward Spiritual Growth
Seminar Preparation DMIN ___ (1 hour of credit)
Seminar DMIN ___ (4 hours of credit)
This seminar focuses on teaching ministers to model and coach the informed and intentional practice of listening to God and growing spiritually. The human sciences and theological disciplines will be explored for models of the spiritual life and of the spiritual world that can enhance the understanding of one’s own spiritual life and the practice of spiritual guidance through coaching. Seminar participants will be introduced to a process of coaching individuals for spiritual growth in a short-term and/or informal context. Participants will also explore the theory and practice of leading retreats and spiritual growth groups. Finally, the seminar will also explore how pastors and other leaders can facilitate the provision of spiritual care within the organization.
Spiritual Practices in the Life of the Church
Seminar Preparation DMIN ___ (1 hour of credit)
Seminar DMIN ___ (4 hours of credit)
This seminar focuses on classic spiritual practices of the Christian tradition, with particular attention to spiritual direction, a form of spiritual guidance in which one person serves as a companion and experienced guide to another person or group that is seeking to discern where God is actively present in their lives and how to respond faithfully to that Presence. The seminar participants will study and practice these disciplines with a view toward integrating them fully into their inner and outer lives and into their ministries of spiritual guidance. The goal of this seminar is to provide the participants helpful resources in their pursuit of delight in the Presence of God, obedience to Christ, and discernment of the Holy Spirit as they seek to lead Christ-like communities speaking and doing the truth in love.
B. Spiritual Practice (8 hours of credit).
Students are required to register for one hour of Spiritual Practice each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer of the first two years; Fall and Spring of the final year.) The spiritual practice for the semester prior to the first seminar will be attending a 5-day major retreat. The costs of this retreat shall be the responsibility of the student in addition to the tuition for the program. Thereafter, spiritual practice will include receiving spiritual direction once a month, taking a 24-hour individual retreat once a quarter, and readings assigned by the Christian spirituality faculty. In the third year of the program students will also receive at least monthly supervision of their ministries of spiritual guidance for their project thesis. Non-faculty spiritual guidance mentors from a list provided by the Spirituality Faculty will provide this supervision. The school will compensate each Spiritual Director for the monthly supervision in the amount of $200 for each unit of spiritual guidance. Any costs in excess of this amount will be the responsibility of the student.
DMIN 721 (1 hour of credit). Unit 1: Students will engage in a unit of Spiritual Practice as the first requirement of the program. This unit of guided spiritual practice will consist of participating in a 5-day retreat from a list supplied by the Spirituality Faculty. This retreat will provide the student with an experiential basis for the initial seminar in Christian Spirituality.
DMIN 722 to 726 (1 hour of credit each unit). Units 2-6 will occur between the next three seminars and will build upon the materials taught in the seminars. In each of these units, students will take one 24-hour individual retreat quarterly and will receive spiritual direction at least monthly. Students will also be assigned readings each unit, and will prepare written reports on these readings.
DMIN 727 to 728 (1 hour of credit each unit). Units 7-8 will occur in the final year of the program while the student is writing the project thesis. In these units, students will take one 24-hour individual retreat quarterly and will receive spiritual direction at least monthly. The student’s ministry of nurturing spirituality as part of the thesis project will be supervised at least monthly by a professional in spiritual guidance approved by the Spirituality Faculty during these two units.
C. Project Thesis Workshops (2 hours credit, 1 hour per workshop)
The culmination of the D.Min. program is the completion of a Project Thesis. The Project Thesis should reflect the research skills learned in the program and demonstrate the student’s capacity to integrate biblical, theological, historical, and contextual research with a specific ministry project that is practical and reflective of the student’s abilities as a spiritual guide.
Project Thesis Workshop I. DMIN 750
Project Thesis Workshop II. DMIN 751
It is recommended the Project Thesis Workshops be taken relatively early in the program. At least one seminar and Spiritual Practices I are prerequisites to enrollment in the project thesis workshops. Each workshop will be scheduled for one week, M-F sequentially. Students may enroll for either or both, as long as Workshop I is completed before Workshop II. The workshops will guide the student in the processes of conceptualizing a ministry project including the specific ministry to be performed; foundational academic research related to it, and social research methods for analysis and evaluation. Attention will be given to the development of a Project Thesis Proposal, Mercer University expectations for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, necessary writing skills, and form and style expectations of the school. Completion of the IRB approval or IRB Exemption approval is required for the completion of Project Thesis Workshop I. Completion of a Project Thesis Proposal worthy of submission to the D.Min. Committee is required for the completion of Project Thesis Workshop II. If both workshops are completed together, both expectations must be met within the time frame of the course.
D. The D.Min. Project Thesis (6 hours of credit, 2 hours per unit)
If the Project Thesis Proposal is approved by the D.Min. committee, the student may begin work on the Project Thesis, under faculty leadership. If the proposal is not approved, it will be returned to the student’s Faculty Supervisor who will ask the student to correct any problems and to re-submit the proposal to the committee for review. Failure to receive approval of the proposal the second time will result in the student being required to re-take the final project thesis workshop. If, for any reason, the student fails to achieve approval after re-taking the final project thesis workshop and resubmitting the proposal, the student will be asked to withdraw from the program.
Project Thesis Writing I. DMIN 755
Once the Project Thesis Proposal is approved, the student will begin writing with supervision from the Faculty Supervisor who approved the proposal. Submission of all materials requesting IRB approval from the university should be sought before actual writing begins. One may enroll for Project Thesis Writing and a Spiritual Practices unit at the same time.
Project Thesis Writing II. DMIN 756
Enrollment in Project Thesis Writing II requires a written schedule for completion of at least one third of the anticipated final draft approved by the Faculty Supervisor. All written work should be submitted to both the Faculty Supervisor and Spiritual Guidance Supervisor for review.
Project Thesis Writing III. DMIN 757
The student should enroll for this course of supervision during a time frame in which the final draft of the Project Thesis will be completed. The final copy shall be submitted to the D.Min. office no later than January 15 of the year in which the student plans to graduate in May.
E. Oral Examination (1 hour of credit). DMIN 758
An Oral Examination is given to the candidate upon completion of the Final Project Thesis by the Faculty Supervisor, Spiritual Guidance Supervisor, and a second faculty member. Upon passing the oral examination the candidate is eligible for graduation from the program.
F. Changes in Doctor of Ministry Requirements
Requirements of the program are effective for each student at the point of first admission. The faculty reserves the right to change any requirements, but will work with students individually to accommodate any hardships created by program changes.
G. Costs of the Program for Students Entering 2011-2012
Tuition costs per credit hour may change from year to year for the D. Min. Program. The per-credit-hour tuition fee is $335 per credit hour for the 2011-2012 academic year.
Based on the current level of tuition of $335 per credit hour or $11,055 for the program, the following summary of course requirements and costs for the program should be anticipated. A typical expectation for fees for tuition would be:
- Year One-$3,350
- Year Two-$3,350
- Year Three-$4,355
- TOTAL- $11,055
Costs of books, travel, living on campus, some costs for Spiritual Practice, fees for Project Thesis binding, and commencement regalia will be in addition to these fees.