Ministry Leadership Development (MLD) is that part of the M.Div. curriculum wherein students receive training for leadership in vocational ministry capacities through courses in ministry practice and educational experiences within supervised ministry settings. MLD seeks to advance the growth of students toward: spiritual maturity, vocational clarification and ministry competence.
Program Overview and Requirements
Ministry Leadership Development (MLD) is a requisite component of the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program. While all courses in the M.Div. curriculum are designed to prepare God-called persons to serve as ministers in the Church of Jesus Christ, MLD courses give focused attention to:
- The nature and shape of spiritual leadership;
- The development of skills and capacities for faithful service;
- The integration of ministry theory and practice; and
- The supervised practice of ministry.
Students who successfully complete the MLD sequence of courses will:
- Understand the foundational principles and practices of ministry leadership;
- Apply responsibly the teachings of Scripture to the practice of ministry;
- Demonstrate the competencies and capacities to serve well as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ;
- Discern more clearly how God has gifted and called him/her to serve the Church.
To that end, all M.Div. students are required to complete six (6) hours in MLD coursework. The MLD requirements include two courses: Pastoral Formation (DVML 625) and The Ministry of Administration (DVML 725). These courses must be taken in sequence, beginning in a fall semester and concluding in a spring semester. Students may enroll in the first MLD course upon completing the core courses (21 credits) required of all M.Div. students in their first two semesters (three semesters for students beginning in a spring semester) of study. Each MLD course carries three credits.
During the academic year in which a student is enrolled in the MLD courses, he or she must complete a Supervised Ministry Practicum (SMP). The SMP requires that a student engage in ministry, under supervision, for no less than 12 hours per week for 35 weeks, beginning in early September and concluding in early May. The SMP may be carried out in a variety of ministry settings, subject to the approval of the MLD director. Most SMPs take place in a parish setting, but may take place in other settings such as Christian ministry organizations, chaplaincy positions, or campus ministry sites. Supervision must be provided by a ministry mentor (normally on-site), subject to the approval of the MLD director. All mentors must meet the Divinity School's qualifications and receive training for their role. Students submit proposals for SMP sites and mentors to the MLD office for review and approval by July 1 of the year in which they intend to begin the MLD sequence of courses.
The Supervised Ministry Practicum (SMP) must be completed in conjunction with the MLD courses (DVML 625 & 725). While a student may register for a MLD course, he/she can begin the course only when their proposal of the SMP site and mentor has gained approval. MLD class meetings will occasionally be devoted to group reflection on SMP experiences. Students completing the SMP may also be required to submit reports on their ministry experiences and learning during periods when they are not enrolled in divinity courses (late December and the month of January).
Students preparing for certain ministry roles, such as chaplaincy and pastoral counseling, may be granted approval to satisfy the SMP requirement by completing a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in a program duly accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE). Doing so will not exempt students from taking DVML 625 & 725. In such a case, the following terms will apply:
- The unit of CPE may be completed up to one year prior to or concurrently with DVML 625 & 725.
- DVML 625 & 725 will carry two hours of credit each. CPE will carry three hours of credit.
- Students in DVML 625 & 725 will be excused from the meetings and assignments relating specifically to SMP components of the courses.
Students are encouraged to consult with the MLD director or program assistant with questions regarding the MLD requirements. In particular, students should make advance preparations in regard to the SMP, i.e. where they will serve, what they will do in that ministry placement, by whom they will be mentored, etc.
Supervised Ministry Practicum (SMP)
The Supervised Ministry Practicum (SMP) affords students opportunities to learn and grow as ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ by observing others in the practice of ministry and receiving instruction from them, by engaging in the practice of ministry themselves, and by reflecting theologically on their ministry experiences. Students grow in spiritual maturity, in vocational discernment, and in ministry competence.
Supervised Ministry Practicum 1 & 2 (DVML 701 & 702) are required courses in the Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree program. These courses must be taken in sequence, beginning in a fall semester and concluding in a spring semester. A student may begin the SMP sequence upon completion of DVHD 605 – Pastoral Theology.
The SMP requires that a student engage in ministry, under supervision, for no less than 12 hours per week for 35 weeks, beginning in early September and concluding in early May. The SMP is carried out in a ministry setting approved by Beeson’s Director of Ministry Leadership Development (MLD). While most students will complete the SMP in a local church setting, approval is sometimes given to other ministry sites (e.g. Christian ministry organizations, chaplaincy positions, campus ministries). The ministry site must provide a student with ample opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the performance of ministry duties for which he or she is receiving training in other courses in the Beeson M.Div. curriculum. These include but are not limited to preaching and teaching the Scriptures, providing pastoral care and counsel, planning and leading ministries of worship, discipleship, evangelism, and missions, and various facets of ministry administration. Students are encouraged to consult with the MLD director concerning the ministry site(s) they are considering.
Supervision must be provided by a ministry mentor (normally on-site), subject to the approval of the MLD director. The ministry mentor plays a key role in the SMP experience. He/She should be qualified to provide helpful pastoral wisdom and ministry guidance, able to give the necessary time and attention to the student, and willing to engage the student personally on essential issues of a minister’s life and work. The SMP mentor functions as model, teacher, facilitator, coach, and friend.
Over the course of the 35-week practicum, students are expected to meet with their mentors no less than every other week. In these meetings, students report on their ministry experiences and reflect on the ways that God is teaching and forming them for ministry. Mentors will use this time to instruct students on ministry-related topics and to assist them in pursuing appropriate goals for learning and growth. All mentors must meet the Divinity School's qualifications and receive training for their role.
While engaged in ministry under supervision at the practicum site, SMP students also meet weekly for classroom instruction (during the fall and spring semesters). Students receive instruction on different areas of ministry practice, on topics related to pastoral life and work, and on theological reflection. SMP class meetings are occasionally devoted to small group meetings (Ministry Reflection Groups), for the purpose of group reflection on ministry development.
Students may register for Supervised Ministry Practicum 1 (DVML 701) in the same manner as for all other BDS courses, via the Banner system. However, by July 1 of the year in which they intend to begin the course sequence, students must also submit the following materials to the MLD Office for review and approval: SMP Proposal Form, Assumption of Risk, Release and Indemnity Agreement (signed, dated, and notarized), and a current resume of the prospective mentor (if not already on file in the MLD Office). Students who do not gain approval for the SMP site and mentor will be withdrawn from DVML 701.
Students are encouraged to consult with the MLD director or program assistant with questions regarding these requirements.
- SMP Proposal Form
- Assumption of Risk, Release and Indemnity Agreement (signed, dated and notarized)