9 Reasons You May Need to Consider a Doctor of Ministry Degree

This post may surprise you, but I want to defend a degree that’s received a bad rap, in my opinion. I’m a professor who has been doing this work long enough to know that some people view the D.Min. degree as a watered-down doctoral degree. I’m sure it can be (as all degrees can be), but I know institutions that have really strong degrees – including where I serve now at Southeastern Seminary. Here’s why you might want to consider this option:

  1. It challenges you to keep learning. Pastors who stop growing in knowledge stunt their growth as leaders. A practical doctoral degree like the D.Min. can push you to grow in ways that might surprise you.
  2. It provides you a cohort and network with other leaders. Most D.Min. programs I know are in a modular, cohort model. Some students develop friendships with D.Min. classmates that last the rest of their lives. 
  3. It’s doable. You may not think it is, but it is. D.Min. work is so connected to daily ministry that it’s accomplishable. I tell my D.Min. students, “We want to help you earn a degree for doing what you should be doing in your ministry role anyway.” 
  4. It’s accessible. Many, if not most, programs allow you to complete the degree while remaining in your current ministry context. Some programs, in fact, can be completed fully online. 
  5. It will help your church. That’s because this degree will help you to be a better leader. It might even make you a better follower of God.
  6. It’s applicable. If you worry that more education will simply be facts and ideas that seem irrelevant to your day-to-day work, let go of that concern. A D.Min. is particularly designed to apply in your ministry setting. 
  7. It’s specialized. Unlike other ministry degrees, the D.Min. is often specialized in particular areas. You can spend your time digging deeply into areas like preaching, biblical counseling, leadership, church planting, and church revitalization.
  8. It’s a God-given opportunity. Many believers around the world would long for such an opportunity to study at this level. When God gives us opportunity and ability, we must at least consider the possibility. 
  9. It might even get you a job. I’ve seen it happen – a student enters the program praying about where God wants him, and he meets a classmate who links him to his next job. You never know . . . . 

Feel free to contact me if you have questions. I’d love to help you get more training. 

16 Comments

  • Chuck, I’m a D.Min. graduate from Southeastern and I had a great experience! It helped our church as well – good post!

  • Brian Taule says:

    Hello Dr. Lawless,
    Thanks for the encouraging words. My goal is May 2017 for completion and I will be 70.5 years of age. Yes it is do-able.

  • John Roland says:

    You make some great points about the DMin program. I have a MDiv from SWBTS. Curious what you think of my article. “5 reasons why ministers should pursue an MBA instead of a DMin.” https://jaroland74.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/so-you-just-want-to-be-called-doctor-5-reasons-why-ministersclergy-should-pursue-an-mba-instead-of-dmin/ via @jaroland74

  • I am glad more schools are offering graduate and post-graduate degrees in organizational leadership!

  • Eddie S says:

    Thank you for writing this post. I am current enrolled in a DMin program. What you stated is all relevant to me. My overall reason behind this endeavor is be a better servant leader for my congregation, community and country. Shalom.

  • Steve Wingate says:

    Dr. Lawless, I am looking at three very credible institutions for a DMin. How would you suggest I frame my questions to see if their program will help me focus on my concern. I don’t want to get into a situation where “it’ll work” or “we’ll make it fit.” But, an institution that understands my concern and can definitively help me find a way to answer it.

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Steve, I would call the institutions directly and talk with the person in charge of the program. Clarify and express your interest, and let the director tell you what the institution offers. Most institutions have programs that are intended to be a bit adaptable so the degree is most relevant to the student, particularly at the writing stage — so don’t be too concerned if you hear “We’ll make it fit.” The flexibility is actually one of the benefits of doing doctoral work. If I can help connect you with the right persons, let me know.  

  • I’m considering a DMIN – my passions are preaching/leadership. Do you have any advice for me?

  • Chad Roche says:

    I’m on the fence between PhD in Bible Exposition and a DMin in Theology and Apologetics…I have an MA in Theological Studies and an MBA. I have a passion for preaching and teaching and would love to be a professor BUT my resume in this area is light and I’m over 40. I currently serve as an Associate Pastor at a medium sized church. I’m afraid of spending the extra time on the PhD if my chances of being a professor are slim. I’m also ok with being an adjunct at a University/Seminary and wondering if the DMin will work for that. Thanks!

    • Chuck Lawless says:

      Chad, here are my thoughts. First, it will be unusual for a university/seminary to hire you with the DMin. Accreditors generally look for a terminal degree–the PhD–in the discipline in which you teach. Second, frankly, full-time teaching positions aren’t easy to find. I usually tell PhD students they’ll likely start teaching part-time, online, and adjunctively if any positions are available.

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