Since before I even graduated from seminary, I have been pondering the possibility of getting a DMin. What is a DMin you say? Excellent question! A DMin is guitar chord. Also, a DMin is a Doctor of Ministry. I’m actually talking about the later. A DMin is a terminal degree (not that you are terminated after you acquire it…. but that it is the final degree in this discipline) much like a PhD. Although entirely not like a PhD. Actually, I think a DMin is designed so people with PhDs and ThDs can point and laugh at you. As though you were driving a Prius.
Seriously, though, a DMin is a doctorate specifically designed to have significant practical components in its format and its purpose is for continued parish/ church/ non-academic setting ministry as opposed to a doctorate designed for those who will continue in academia. A person seeking a DMin is not a person who seeks to serve as a professor of systematic theology at a seminary. Believe me when I say that I really believe persons who serve in academia are called to be there every bit as much as persons in a parish, etc etc. I am rather certain I’m not called to be in academia. However, I also think that it may be quite valuable to have additional studies beyond the MDiv while serving in a parish setting.
In January, I will have served in a parish for three years. Wow, let me take that in. That’s pretty amazing. Anyhow, after serving for three years, a pastor may (in the Lutheran church) opt to do several different things, one of which is consider pursuing a DMin. Fortunately, due to the nature of a DMin, you are expected to serve in a congregational setting while working on it, so if I decide to pursue this, I would not have to leave the parish!
Lately, I have been pondering this idea and, to that end, what topics I might be interested in pursuing. I have an interest in the ways in which theology and pastoral care intersect; the ways in which how we think about God affects how we live as the church and how the church can best care for people in our broken world not just as compassionate people or in place of therapists but as members of the Body of Christ. What we are taught about God has a significant impact on how we perceive God’s mercy, justice and love for us and the world. One of the most interesting areas that I think would fall in that category is how we view sin. Not what “is” or “is not” a sin per se, but what sin IS. There have been several incidents in my life where I’ve worked with people whose understanding of sin greatly affected their ability to see God as merciful or to see themselves as a recipient of God’s forgiveness. Or, conversely, to see themselves as in need of God’s grace at all.
In order to explore this a bit more, I ordered an entirely too expensive book from the bookstore:
By Matt Jensen