At the end of my defense on Friday, when the lights had gone out due to a power failure, Haddon Robinson asked me what I enjoyed and what I would improve about the D.Min. program. Here’s what I liked:
- You don’t get to study under someone like Haddon Robinson every day. He wrote the book in preaching, and he’s quite an incredible man – and the real deal as well.
- I’ve made some really good friends in my cohort. Some of these will likely be very long and significant ones.
- I really did learn a lot, not only about preaching but ministry in general. It has changed me and what I do.
- Writing the thesis was a lot of fun and a really good experience, and I think I learned a few things there too.
Not surprisingly, in recent years seminaries have found it important to think of themselves as comparable to other professional schools, such as those for law and medicine, and many now offer the Doctor of Ministry degree as a further means of establishing this parity. Unfortunately, the typical seminary does not offer training that can compare with the rigor of these professional schools. The Doctor of Ministry degree is in fact not much of a doctorate; the standards one must meet to receive this degree are frequently below those required of candidates for the Master of Divinity (a degree that not too long ago was called the Bachelor of Divinity). It is a case of professional elevation not by accomplishment but by linguistic inflation. What used to be the minimum level of knowledge for entry into Christian ministry, gauged by a bachelor’s degree, has out of professional necessity and a wave of the magician’s wand now become a doctorate by the addition of what may amount to little more than refresher courses.
It’s a good experience, in other words – but don’t take the whole doctor thing too seriously.