What are the Benefits to a DMin Program?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Siberian, May 11, 2011.

  1. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do those of you who have earned a DMin see tangible benefits from your program? In other words, was it worth it and in what ways?

    Note: I am not looking to teach, and I know that it is not usually a teaching credential (just to get that out of the way).
     
    #1 Siberian, May 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011
  2. Greektim

    Greektim
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 2010
    Messages:
    3,143
    Likes Received:
    118
    To gain a pastoral position in a large church.

    To get your resume read by larger churches... some won't even consider you unless you have a doctorate.
     
  3. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    Actually, I was wondering about the non-credential type benefits of a D.Min. Was your program helpful for your ministry?
     
  4. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    The pros:
    -Practical ministry focus. Some research doctoral programs don't really help much. 200 pages on the use of kai in the Apocrypha of the LXX is fine, but what is the real benefit for Kingdom service?
    - Cost
    - Lack of need for relocation

    CONS:
    - Lack of applicability. The ones where your project is "Teaching youth through small cell groups off campus of XYZ Baptist Church" is nice and all, but how is it reproducible? Some of the D.Min projects I've seen are almost laughable.
    - Lack of theological focus. You can get so practical that the theology behind the practice of ministry is lost.

    Get a substantive D.Min program. Gordon Conwell, Reformed, etc. have some good ones. Southern is getting better. Midwestern has one or two worth looking at. However, I went for a UA research doctorate as opposed to a D.Min that wouldn't benefit me one whit. That was my choice and I'm happy with it.

    As for D.Mins being resume boosters, I know D.Mins who are bivocational. Don't assume you're moving to another tax bracket the moment you graduate.
     
    #4 TomVols, May 11, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011
  5. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    I received a PhD (so I don't know how good my perspective will be) but I do have plenty of friends with DMins.

    The benefits of the DMin is it allows the truly interested to research and read into an area they will find of benefit to their current, and future, ministry. Also it gives you some terrific interaction with individuals who are like minded in ministry and hoping to do good work. The coursework, if its a good DMin will stretch you and expose you to authors and conversations that will benefit your ministry.

    Most of my peers with DMins have felt they benefited from their studies. It has helped their ministry.

    Of course there is an economic benefit to some DMins in the right context.

    Some good DMin programs include: Gordon Conwell, Beeson, TEDs, maybe SBTS.

    Of course to add the benefits one needs to include two warnings: 1. Lots of DMin programs are almost mail order degrees, 2. make sure you're reasons (which I can't think they would be) are about growing in ministry, not getting Dr. attached to your name.
     
  6. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    189
    This is spot on!

    Years ago I was at Southwestern Seminary and decided to look up the doctoral dissertations of people who had been influential in my life.

    One of those persons was a former pastor who is now a mega-church pastor and a very well-known figure in the SBC. When I was employed at my home church on the building maintenance staff, he instructed us to call him “Dr. XXXXX” because he had worked very hard for his degree and it was appropriate that as my employer, I address him formally in church settings instead of casually.

    I accepted that without any issues because I thought it was impressive that he had earned his Ph.D before he had turned 30.

    When I went looking for his dissertation about five years later, I discovered he didn’t actually have a Ph.D, it was a D.Min. To be fair, I don’t think he every represented it as a Ph.D, but people around the church seemed to have that impression. I’m not diminishing D.Min degrees at all, but it is a different kind of degree.

    Anyway, I found his doctoral project and spent about an hour reading it. His project was on motivating a church to increase their giving to various church ministries through a coordinated series of sermons and commitments. The project consisted of outlines for eight to ten sermons (don’t recall exactly how many 20 years later) as well as the psychological rationale for the various commitments he would ask the congregation to make through the course of the sermon series… a steady and incremental increase in commitment each time. (The pastor has a B.A. in Psychology.) The success of the effort was measured by the size of the offerings each week.

    The places where actual theology was integrated into the project/sermons was potentially troubling. Quite a bit of sermon time was given to the idea that God blesses those who are faithful in giving to their local church (the local “storehouse”). While I certainly affirm that biblical truth, I believe he gave far too much emphasis to God providing material wealth in return for faithful giving. I do believe that God does bless many people who are faithful givers with material wealth, I do not believe it always happens or that material wealth is the primary blessing of being a faithful giver. So as a result, his sermons read more like some of the health and wealth stuff you hear from television evangelists than balanced biblical exposition. The most troubling theological assertion he made though was toward the end of the sermon series where he was “drawing the net” for the maximum commitment. He stated that just as parents tend to love their obedient children more than their disobedient children, God loves His faithful and obedient children (apparently in terms of giving) more than those who are disobedient.

    So essentially, if you want to really be loved of God, you better crack open your wallet and give to your local church.

    While I think we please God with our obedience, I would hesitate to say that God loves His obedient children more than the disobedient ones. The Bible is full of the life stories of often disobedient people whom God loved (and blessed) passionately. Certainly our life goal should be to please God, but we shouldn’t ever need to doubt His level of love and commitment to us. I think that sets a very unhealthy standard.

    After reading his D.Min project, I saw his ministry in a completely different light. In my opinion, he’s a theological lightweight who knows how to motivate and influence people. Unfortunately, his lack of theological depth and perspective makes him less likely to be able to lead his congregation into effective and transformative discipleship with Christ. In my opinion, he is very gifted in many ways, but he has theological feet of clay and his D.Min degree allowed him to get a certain level of prestige without forcing him to deepen his theological roots.

    And I think that’s a tragedy for him and for all of the people he is influencing each day.
     
  7. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,430
    Likes Received:
    72
    I have encountered this mentality in several churches. The "God-as-mafia-boss" theology is morally and theologically bankrupt. We don't give to pay God off or to curry favor. We don't pay "protection" to keep God from cursing us. God will not be "bought."
     
  8. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    189
    Absolutely! Well said! :thumbsup:
     
  9. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting. I've read a few D.Min. projects of similar caliber. Yet no doubt, there are also PhD dissertations that are loaded with rubbish (though I know that they are different beasts, and usually of more substance).

    The structure of the DMin model fits me best, since I have no desire to leave my ministry. Surely there are some good D.Min. programs out there that push one to go deep?
     
  10. glfredrick

    glfredrick
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2010
    Messages:
    4,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've edited and formatted close to 100 D.Min. dissertations. The majority of those degrees are projects of some sort, based on some form of rudimentary research, and qualified via some form of survey to discover effectiveness.

    Of all I've read, about 10% are worth the paper they are written on. The rest are re-hashing two or three popular thoughts on any given subject such as how to grow Sunday school, how to preach better, how to cause a church to become missional, etc.

    A Ph.D. on the other hand is a pure research dissertation, where the writer is expected to master the literature pertinent to his or her chosen subject, and in so doing be able to write at a high scholarly level on that subject, incorporating languages, resources, etc.

    A PH.D. is a terminal degree and generally credentials the holder to teach on the Master's level and above. A D.Min. is not a terminal degree and though one may teach, it would be at the undergrad level, and likely not at an accredited institution.

    What is a D.Min. worth? Whatever the student puts into it... It will be a life-changing event, but for various reasons. Some end up on the edge of a nervous breakdown as they discover that they are not up to par scholastically, while others blossom and realize that they are just getting warmed up, and they go on to do bigger and better things! Profs see D.Min. projects as entry-level work, a teaching trial to demonstrate to the student what they ought to be doing for their life work -- not the culmination of their life work as most students see the effort.
     
  11. Baptist Believer

    Baptist Believer
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2002
    Messages:
    6,659
    Likes Received:
    189
    I’m shocked and disturbed to read this.

    Seriously, I thought my former pastor’s situation was more of the exception than the rule. But unfortunately, what you say rings true to me.

    Frankly, I wrote more deeply researched and theologically-insightful papers as an undergraduate at a Texas Baptist university than my former pastor's D.Min project. My professors would not have considered that level of work as demonstrating excellence. As a graduate student at Southwestern Seminary, I worked very hard to maintain that level of excellence and, as a result, did very well on all of my papers. The stuff that hurt my GPA was the day-in-and-out busy work that was apparently supposed to boost our GPAs. I had a hard time keeping up with all of the fluff when I was working full-time (and overtime) in order to put myself throughout school while carrying a full load.

    I was shocked by the level of intellectual laziness that many of my peers at Southwestern had, especially many of those who did not hold down a job and lived off of scholarships or let their wife support the family. (In case anyone wants to make political hay out of my comment, it didn’t matter much whether those folks were “conservative”, “fundamental”, “moderate”, or “liberal”, the attitude was the same.) Too many knew everything already and they were just there to get the diploma so they could go out and afflict the churches with their laziness and dogmatism. The reason I know that is that many put it in nearly those terms, “I’m here for the diploma and to make connections. I already know how to be a pastor. No one in the churches will care about our GPA.”

    From what you say, it sounds like a lot of D.Min folks fall into that category.

    When I was at Southwestern, they trustees approved the hiring of a professor who had a D.Min, but he ended up turning them down because of other actions the trustees took that day. However, according to everyone who knew him, they said he had completed the D.Min “the right way” and did high-quality work.

    Absolutely. Just like every other degree.

    I wouldn’t trade my B.A. in Theology for a D.Min from anywhere. My undergraduate program was more involved and rigorous than my M.Div program. Apparently, it is likely to be more valuable than a D.Min, although I don’t get any prestige points from it.

    Yes. I wish more people called to a pulpit/pastoral ministry would pursue Ph.Ds.

    While a calling from God and faithfulness to that calling is the most important thing, our churches desperately need some rigorously-trained minds to meet the challenges of ministry today. I have an enormous amount of respect for a minister who has taken the time and effort to complete a Ph.D who does not hold it over their people’s heads, but instead uses that rich experience to enrich the church and invest in the lives and future of his congregation.
     
  12. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the comments. Of course, I understand the difference between a PhD and a DMin (the biggest difference you failed to mention - a PhD is supposed to be awarded upon an original contribution to knowledge, whereas the DMin is more concerned with applied research) . I am looking for a good DMin program because of the structure (in-service), although I know there are a few in-service PhD's out there. I like the idea behind DMin also: it is for pastors who want to continue growing in their ministry skills.

    Not that I doubt that you've edited close to 100 DMin projects, but I do find it surprising that you have done that and still are unaware that a DMin is, in fact, a terminal degree. It is the terminal degree in ministry. And it is demonstrably false that DMin's can only teach at the undergrad level (though, as I mentioned, I'm not looking to teach - I am greatly enjoying the assembly). This is demonstrated by faculty members at seminaries - however rare they are - that teach pastoral ministry, et. al, with only a D.Min.

    Also, a good DMin program should not be entry level - it is a doctorate-level study that requires for admittance 3-years of relevant ministry experience and a 90-hour graduate degree.

    Any DMin-ers on this board care to comment on their experience?
     
    #12 Siberian, May 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2011
  13. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    That is a great sentiment. However, the church will need to be prepared to pay for that. :) Ph.D. programs are expensive - usually the most expensive seminary degree. An inexpensive program is in the $30k tuition range... Not that I doubt it would be worth it; but we need to be realistic.
     
    #13 Siberian, May 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: May 12, 2011
  14. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    Most churches I've encountered don't assist their ministers in paying for degrees. Just sayin'
     
  15. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,430
    Likes Received:
    72
    With good reasons. Why keep paying for ministerial credentials that the pastors use to get a bigger church?
     
  16. StefanM

    StefanM
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2004
    Messages:
    6,430
    Likes Received:
    72
    IMO, the D.Min. should be a fourth-year option of the MDiv, similar in format to the ThM. I know this was part of the vision when the degree was created, but it never quite worked out. This way you could structure the curriculum to have a more theologically robust curriculum that has greater continuity with the MDiv curriculum. I understand the idea of three years of post-MDiv experience, but I'm not sure this benefits that much, given the quality of DMin projects.

    Another thought: how significant is the difference between a ThM in pastoral theology and a DMin? They require the same number of hours, generally. A thesis is involved in both cases, and the ThM thesis is arguably more substantial. Both are post-masters credentials. ThM students often use PhD seminars to complete their programs.
     
  17. TomVols

    TomVols
    Expand Collapse
    Administrator
    Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2000
    Messages:
    11,170
    Likes Received:
    0
    Siberian, you're right. A D.Min is nothing to sneeze at prima facie. It is designed to be a terminal degree in ministry. At one time, if you wanted to do doctoral work in preaching you did a D.Min, but if you wanted to study historical theology, a PhD was your only option. Now, you can get a PhD in pastoral ministry, and I've seen DMin programs in theological disciplines (rare though they may be). I've seen seminary profs who hold D.Mins. Don't let anyone tell you a D.Min is something inferior.

    However, I have the same experience glfredrick mentioned. A lot of DMin projects are just awful. If you're the right person, 3 yrs of ministry is waived, as are language and GRE requirements. Then again, I've seen PhD people waived on through, too, to write something that is as helpful as a screen-door on a submarine unless your favorite hobby is checking ETS journals for typos.

    I'll repeat my advice: a substantive D.Min is a good thing. A substantive PhD is too. And I'm the oddball here: I believe you can get both at an accredited seminary and a good unaccredited one too

    I do think D.Mins should be beefed up, requiring more substance and gravitas, if you will. And, I think PhDs should be less about creating academicians and more about creating scholars for the church. The ThM used to be a bridge degree for the M.Div person wanting to prepare for the PhD, or the person wanting to settle on more of a theological degree before plunging into ministry. Now, I fear it's more of a money-maker for the seminaries.

    And that can be said for....well, many degrees.
     
  18. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2004
    Messages:
    7,406
    Likes Received:
    99
    You know, everybody I talk to about DMin programs says the exact same thing...including the academic administrators over them.

    The hard part about this, and I say this as a minister with a PhD, most PhDs couldn't minister their way out of a bucket if push came to shove. I remember meeting a, rather well known, guy with a DPhil from Oxford who was working in an academic department who had a whole lot of opinions about church methods and polity. He would, every now and then, remind everyone around him that he had pastored several churches. Yet when I encountered some people who were members of those churches he pastored they had less than glowing things to say about him. There is, usually, a huge disconnect between academics and practioners.

    When was the last time a guy with a PhD in Business went out and started a Fortune 500 company?

    I think the DMin is roughly equivalent to an MBA in business at this point. Some are good, some benefit those taking the program, all of them fill the coffers of their institutions. :)
     
  19. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0

    Great thoughts - thanks for posting them. Need to keep my eyes peeled for a good program that won't be a waste of time and money.
     
  20. Siberian

    Siberian
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    Messages:
    288
    Likes Received:
    0
    One way or another the church pays for the training; either directly (through a continuing education budget item) or through the pastor's salary. My point is that if the church wants a rigorously-trained clergy it needs to consider that that comes with a cost. A pastor buried in loans will need to pay those loans back.
     

Share This Page

Loading...