a college ministry-related doctorate

One of the real thrills of the recent trip involved hanging out with the head of CPYU, Walt Mueller. Dr. Mueller is a longtime author and leader in the field of youth ministry. As head of the Center for Parent / Youth Understanding, he also ultimately oversees the Collegiate Transition Initiative directed by Derek Melleby.

As we chatted, it was clear that Walt is quite excited about a new project he’s working on, helping mentor a new D.Min track at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary studying “Ministry to Emerging Generations.” You can read all about the MtEG D.Min at that link, but you might want to start with Walt’s (quicker) reflection at his blog. Those sources can give you all the facts, so the rest of this post contains my thoughts on the degree.

I’m always excited about any academic program that connects to our field. I get even more excited when a seminary offers a doctorate, which is pretty rare for anything that comes close to touching on collegiate ministry. (…even though we happen to build missions within university environments. But that’s another post for another day.)

In this case, it looks like the Gordon-Conwell degree will offer a great breadth of learning about both the present, changing cultural context AND adolescent development from childhood to young adulthood.

Clearly the current culture and context are important for us to learn about, since we as college ministers serve on the cutting edge. But developmental issues are important, too. Anytime college ministers study this broad topic, we’re receiving three opportunities to learn about the audience we shepherd:

  • We learn about the development issues our students have faced (in general) through their childhood and teenage years
  • We learn about the developmental concerns and stage(s) experienced in the years immediately following high school
  • We learn where our students are headed developmentally in their young adult years following college

My one concern about the Ministry to Emerging Generations degree is that “young adults” seems to be used as a blanket idea for anyone 18+, including college students. It seems pretty clear to me (and to most, it seems, who have worked with these individuals) that the sociology of college is quite different from that of young-adult-land.

BUT, I believe this distinction matters less when discussing personal development than it does when discussing ministry approach. Further, because this is a D.Min, individual projects and assignments can be tailored to one’s individual ministry areas. And the book list included on the info page certainly includes books very pertinent to college ministry.

Finally, as Walt mentioned when we met, college ministers participating in this cohort will have the opportunity to help the other attendees – whether they serve in children’s, youth, or young adult ministry – to understand just how unique our station is.

We need advocates like that. And we need college ministers with doctorates. So if you’re at all inclined to pursue further education, I encourage you to check out this program ASAP; you might improve both your own ministry abilities and our field at large.


  1. I think it will be a great program. I had a class with Dr. Steve Kang (the co-facilitator with Dr. Mueller for this track). Kang has got a finger on the pulse of the emerging generations and he has done a lot of thinking in regards to spiritual formation and disciple-making whether that be done in formal (like Sunday School), informal (like one-on-one discipleship), or nonformal (spontaneous, unplanned) ways. I don’t know much about Mueller but Kang’s pedagogy and experience should be a great addition to this doctorate.

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