Drs. Joye Baker, Sue Edwards and recent D.Min. graduate, Dr. Jeanne Ballard share a common vision to see women engaged in ministry leadership training beyond the masters level.
This vision was uniquely realized in the summer of 2008 when fourteen women began their D.Min. Women in Ministry degree. These women came from various parts of the US and overseas and intended to use their doctoral training for enhancing their current ministries and to open new avenues for service within a variety of ministry settings.
This recent interview transcript captures some of their keen insight for women in ministry today:
Scott: What are the most pressing challenges and opportunities for women in ministry in today’s global, postmodern, and technologically driven world?
Joye: Our technological world allows us the advantage of connecting with many people. Because it is impossible to have significant relationships with hundreds of people, this presents a challenge for many women who highly value connecting deeply with others. Yet, at the same time, technology opens up multiple ways for women to influence a wider audience around the world.
Jeanne: Today’s technologies enable women to make connections and communicate with women across the globe. The opportunities for ministry can be overwhelming which challenges a woman in ministry to find and maintain her God-given ministry focus. Networking with other women in ministry can assist her to know how to make her unique contribution.
Sue: The world is awakening to the reality that women’s voices and contributions are important and even necessary for nations, communities, and families to thrive. But many are confused about the best ways for women to serve God and others in the world today. Strategic thinking and in-depth conversations about women, by women are needed more than ever before in our rapid-changing, postmodern, and technological world.
Scott: Where are the greatest needs for godly women servant leaders to build up local church and parachurch ministries?
Joye: Women are needed throughout all types of ministry settings. Ministry leadership teams are benefitted by the presence of women because women bring unique and needed perspectives that complement men. A ministry is healthier when the gifts and voices of both men and women join together in leadership to best serve the needs of their followers.
Sue: Godly female servant leaders are needed more than ever to partner with our brothers and to minister to others in a variety of responsibilities and places. To name a few: Women are needed in ministries to women, families, children, and youth, in the local church, parachurch, locally, and overseas, to teach, write, lead, nurture, organize, train, and serve. Except for the role of senior pastor and elder, the door is wide open, and Jesus is calling.
Jeanne: Godly women servant leaders make the greatest impact in any place of ministry when they purpose to be and make disciples according to the model and commission given to them by the Lord Jesus. Women who faithfully follow the Lord to invest in the spiritual care of others will strengthen any ministry.
Scott: How can a women balance her family and vocational ministry commitments?
Joye: In my opinion, a women first needs to assess the needs of her family and then determine where she can serve. Women experience different seasons in their lives. They may need to consider volunteer or part time ministry involvement when their children are young. As the children grow up, women can begin to reassess their situation and possibly move into full-time ministry positions. It is not so much balance as prioritizing the use of their time at different periods in their lives.
Sue: It’s not easy but it can be done. It requires being ruthless with your time and cutting out time-wasters that hinder you from investing in what really matters: God, people, ministry and His Word. When our children were small, I had very little discretionary time, but I used what I had to develop my gifts and prepare for future ministry, including seminary. When they went off to college I was ready to invest full-time in vocational ministry. Every woman must determine her own path on her knees and in collaboration with others in her life. If she keeps her priorities straight, she can balance family and ministry commitments.
Jeanne: The Scripture commends maintaining a God honoring home and family life as an indicator of servant leadership qualifications for anyone in ministry. Balance comes as a ministry leader purposes to care for the household of God in the same manner she cares for her own household. A leader must learn to evaluate the demands placed on her by home and work to determine where her responsibility lies at any given time. If balance is lacking, adjustments in either realm need to be prayerfully considered and made as the Lord directs.
Scott: What are the strengths of a cohort approach to doctoral level learning?
Jeanne: The cohort approach ensures that students in a doctoral program share learning experiences together over three years. These students bring perspectives from their own ministry experiences to enrich each as they engage with classroom instruction and assignments. These women spend extended time in deeper discussion with academic peers as a benefit provided by participating in a cohort at the doctoral level.
Joye: One of the big advantages to a cohort approach is the relational piece. Studies have shown that learning is enhanced when students are well acquainted with those in their class. The conversations are more open and honest, and people are more willing to work together and learn from one another when they have a vested interest in one another. They also have the benefit of staying connected and supporting one another during the months when they are not in class together.
Sue: Learning with a group of like-minded, enriches the experience a hundred-fold. And the relationships don’t end when that title of “doctor” is conferred. I am still friends with the women in my cohort and I learned as much from them as I did from my professors or the books and assignments. They were great, but the proverb that “iron sharpens iron” was never more true than in my cohorts, both as a student and now as a professor.
Scott: Why get a D.Min./D.Ed.Min. Degree from DTS?
Joye: DTS greatly values a strong biblical and theological foundation for personal life and ministry. So, everything that we study in the D.Min./.D.Ed.Min. program comes from this perspective. Classes provide rich and stimulating discussions among students from around the world who seek to discover together ways to be better equipped to address the pressing ministry needs of the 21st century. In addition, DTS is highly respected around the world, so a doctoral degree from DTS often opens many ministry opportunities.
Jeanne: An ongoing history of quality and integrity accompanies a doctoral degree from DTS. The D.Min/D.Ed.Min programs’ commitment to excellence set them apart. To promote successful completion, each student is given personal attention to meet their academic goals and practice of ministry objectives. The unique residency design of the program allows students to remain in their place of ministry while earning a doctoral degree.
Sue: When I considered earning my doctorate, a woman who had just finished hers told me, “You have to do this. It will take you to another level as a spiritual leader that’s hard to describe, but you will understand when you get there.” She was right. And the DTS D.Min. or D.Ed.Min. offer insightful, practical courses that will equip you to shine in the complicated ministry world today. You’ll take courses from professors with decades of experience in ministry trenches to get you ready for fulfilling work that will glorify God in a world that desperately needs your voice and expertise.