People have often asked me, “What is a DMin and why should I pursue one?” The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is an advanced, professional degree designed for those already in ministry.
The primary difference between a DMin and a Ph.D. is its focus. A Ph.D. is focused on research, while a DMin is focused on practice. One is not a path to the other. They are different degrees.
The Doctor of Ministry (DMin) is an advanced, professional degree designed for those already in ministry.
I have had the privilege of directing the DMin program at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary since 2012, and have been teaching in it since 2007. There has never been a better time to pursue a DMin than today.
As you consider whether God might be leading you (or someone you know) to pursue a DMin, I’d like to share with you ten reasons why Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin:
1. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it will challenge you to keep learning
Every believer should be a life-long learner. For those of us called to vocational ministry service, this is especially true. Those who stop learning, stop growing.
A DMin will familiarize you with the broader field of ministry; it will connect you with faculty and students in your field; it will expose you to books, authors, and ministries with which you may not already be familiar; and it will challenge you to stay fresh in your field.
2. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it is an opportunity to specialize or improve in a field of study
Today’s culture values specialization. In a field as general as
The goal of the [DMin] program is to equip you in your calling.
Do you have a field of interest that you would like to pursue or a ministry area in which you would like to specialize or improve? A DMin gives you that opportunity.
3. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it is Theology that meets Practice
The goal of a DMin is to train and equip
You’ll work with a faculty supervisor whose theological training and practical ministry experience will model what we are trying to produce and encourage in all of our students. The goal of the program is to equip you in your calling. The focus is practical ministry informed by the Biblical text.
4. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because its structure is conducive to Ministry
Ministry schedules are busy. A DMin is designed with that in mind. As a non-resident program, the DMin does not require students to relocate your family or move away from your ministry to continue your education. Typically, a cohort will convene on location 2 to 3 times per year for about a week. The rest of the work of the program is completed online.
Students will interact throughout their program with their cohort and their faculty to complete assignments, make presentations, discuss ministry, and for mutual accountability and encouragement.
5. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it connects you with a cohort and a network of other leaders
Ministry is complicated. Part of the value of a DMin cohort is the relationships that are formed within each cohort.
- You will study with others in similar ministry situations who have had similar ministry experiences
- You will likely learn as much from each other as you will learn from the faculty
Often students form life-long friendships that will encourage them long beyond their DMin studies.
Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it will help your church
It will help your church because it’s designed to help you become the leader God has called you to be.
We’re not trying to make it easy to complete. That would be a degree you would not respect. But, we have made it doable and are constantly working to find new ways to work with and for Pastors.
Everything we do in the DMin program is with the church in mind. As you learn and grow in your calling it will help you be more effective where the Lord has called you to serve. When you preach better, the church matures. As you improve in your pastoral care, the church is strengthened. As you network with others, the church is blessed by the insights you have gleaned and then apply where you serve.
7. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it is affordable
A DMin may be one of the best bargains on the Educational market. We work very hard to keep the costs low. Plus, for those who are members of Southern Baptist churches, there is an extra benefit to you in attending a Southern Baptist Seminary due to the faithful giving of Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program.
Financial aid is available. But, when compared to the benefits associated with pursuing and receiving a DMin, it is an excellent stewardship of your resources.
8. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it is doable
Because the focus of the program is on practical ministry, the program is compatible with what you are already doing. The books, assignments, projects, conversations, and yes, even dissertations all relate to your ministry context.
Our programs allow you to complete the degree while remaining in your current ministry context. It is a doctoral program but designed with you in mind. We’re not trying to make it easy to complete. That would be a degree you would not respect. But, we have made it doable and are constantly working to find new ways to work with and for Pastors.
9. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it is customizable
The DMin is flexible. You will have the opportunity to dig deeply into multiple areas of ministry. You will have options of which majors to pursue, which seminars to take, and also options within the seminars themselves to focus on specific areas of interest to you.
Additionally, many DMin programs, including our own here at Southwestern Seminary, offer elective seminars, to make your program even more unique to you.
10. Pastors should consider pursuing a DMin because it could help your career
A DMin will equip you for service and further acquaint you with a field of ministry. It will also demonstrate your intrinsic desire for learning and communicate your commitment to ministry excellence. These are traits that prospective churches and ministries look for.
But the value of a DMin is not just about looking better on a resume.
The interaction with peers and the challenge of mutual accountability will make you a better minister, servant, shepherd, and preacher. It’s also true that ministry transitions are as much about networking as they are about the degrees you have achieved. So, the engagement with others in a DMin could potentially help you in a career move, but they will also help you where you serve right now.
A DMin is not for everyone. But, if you have the interest, the commitment, and the opportunity, it might be right for you. I would love the chance to talk to you about our DMin program at Southwestern Seminary and why I am so excited about it.
Ultimately, if God has given you the desire and afforded you the opportunity to pursue a DMin, then consider this my personal challenge and invitation to you to consider a DMin at Southwestern Seminary.