I'm being heavily recruited for a new DMin program that is starting in my area. I've always sort of figured I'd do this one day, but I'm not sure now is the right time. Part of me says wait till the kids are older and more self-sufficient. Another part says both the knowledge and the credential will do me more good if I have it now, rather than ten or fifteen years from now. (I'm in my early 40s) I'd be interested in hearing insights and advice from those who have done the DMin thing. Is it worth it? Does timing matter?
Two of our matriarchs with D.Min.s responded with their own experiences, cautioning that without knowing the ages of your children or other factors in your life they can only share what they know. Jacque started her D.Min at age 36, and completed it four years later. She notes that no matter what time you choose to pursue the degree, there will always be things that come up that make you question your timing:
As it turned out I was writing my thesis when my father was dying with hospice care in our living room. There was a time I thought I could not continue, yet with my advisor's encouragement and support I made it.
Jan worked on her D.Min. in a program that ran over six years--and required two weeks a year "on campus" -- the program was three states away, but the structure of the program allowed her to complete it while raising three children under 10.
Actually, it worked well in that I got a little time each year when I wasn't cutting someone's meat/doing laundry/wiping noses, and I was able to focus 100% on the coursework and get it done before returning home.
One thing that Jan noted and Ann echoed is that the D.Min program provides a structure and an attainable goal for coursework that is, basically, continuing education. They also noted that while it's not necessary for most folks to progress vocationally (and often yields few, if any, financial benefits), some "big churches" seem to really look for "The Rev. Dr." title for their pastors. But pursuing the degree for personal fulfillment is a worthy goal. As Jan notes:
It was a good experience with practical benefits for me personally because I chose a program that addressed my personal interests/passions. Also, it gave me a new community of friends with whom I could share adult conversation at least once a year--and many of us also had kids so we shared some parenting talk too.
Jacque notes that you should be prepared for a very different experience with your D.Min. than you had with your M.Div.
We are almost always serving full-time in our ministries and in full-swing life with our families. As we began, our program, the Dean told us that if we had been accustomed to straight "A's" and very grade conscious in our previous degrees -- we needed to let go of that now. This was about something different. That was extremely freeing for me. My "grades" were excellent, but it wasn't because I was grade-conscious in the D.Min. program; it was because I was fully engaged in life and ministry, and the D.Min. program helped me to integrate all of it.
But not everyone can cut that careful balance you have to have, she notes, describing how several of her colleagues fell hopelessly behind. Some were dismissed altogether; others had to choose to drop out. Staying organized is one of the biggest challenges you'll face.
Good luck with your decision and God bless! Anyone else have feedback they'd like to share? Please do so in comments!