Preparation for Ministry
The Master of Divinity is the most comprehensive formational degree for ministry that the GST offers. It intends to prepare ministers spiritually and educationally to be able to handle the demands of full-time ministry. Ministers, as the spiritual leaders of their churches, are faced with a wide-range of tasks and responsibilities. For this reason, the Master of Divinity prepares ministers for their role as teachers, spiritual exemplars, administrators, and counselors. Whether a congregational minister in the states or a Christian on the global mission field, ministers face a broad range of challenges. In preparation for challenges that may be faced, the Master of Divinity is designed to offer a firm grounding in knowledge about scripture, history, and theology as well as training in practical ministry skills like the art of preaching and reading cultures and contexts.
The Master of Divinity is designed to prepare students for a variety of ministerial vocations:
- Traditional congregational ministries (for example: senior minister or associate minister, college minister, youth or children's minister
- Emerging ministries in their various forms (church planting).
- International missions.
- Social justice and non-profit ministries.
- Doctoral study in a Ph.D. or Doctor of Ministry program.
With an M.Div., a minister is skilled and trained in particular ways. The theological foundation allows the minister to lead the congregation in communal transformation into the image of God. Depending on the church or setting, congregational ministry ranges from highly specialized ministry roles (middle school minister, children's minister) to a role that covers a host of responsibilities (senior minister or associate minister). The Master of Divinity prepares ministers for either specialized or broad roles by giving the student a strong foundation of understanding in the Christian faith and training in skills such as homiletics, counseling, and missions. The basic goal is to give a student as many "tools" as possible for ministry. Ministry electives allow M.Div. students to have specialized training in youth ministry, children and family ministry, hospital ministry, pastoral care, curriculum and adult education, and missions.
There is an increasing interest in and need for the creating of new church forms and ministries to reimagine the church and the sharing of the gospel in light of 21st century realities and concerns.The M.Div. prepares students for the challenging-yet-rewarding task of church planting. Students from the GST have a history of planting churches with the goal of reaching new believers and people disillusioned by institutional religion by creating new, imaginative and diverse faith communities. Students interested in further training and mentorship in church planting can participate in the Missionary Residency for North America (MRNA) program directed by one of ACU's mission faculty.
Of all vocations in ministry, missions perhaps requires the most preparation. Because of the nature of intercultural dialogue and the unpredictable situations that regularly arise in mission work, the M.Div. provides an important base of theological methodology and ministry tools for diverse situations. There is also a specific M.Div. missions track [link to this page] that allocates electives and ministry courses specifically towards the missions course offerings. While many students who desire to enter foreign missions pursue the missions track, others choose to pursue the standard M.Div. in order to have greater freedom in pursuing a variety of academic or ministerial interests.
Social Justice Ministries
The M.Div. is also a fantastic preparation for people who want to do work with non-profit organizations or other kinds of social justice ministries. Social justice is a profoundly theological idea–justice is at the heart of the Old Testament Prophets, the Gospels, and Paul's epistles. The M.Div. provides a theological method and rationale for work and equips students with a sensitivity to God's action in the world. M.Div. students have gone on to work in community organizing, non-profit community development ministries, or lead and create social justice ministries within their congregation.
Preparation for Doctoral Study
The M.Div. is recognized as a degree that prepares students for further doctoral study. Particularly for students who desire to one day train future ministers in a seminary or undergraduate institution, the M.Div. is a desired prerequisite for doctoral study, no matter the field of study, because of its broad focus and exposure to ministerial formation.