So why are you in Boston? Good question. Thanks for asking.
About a year and a half ago, I was (still) taking classes at Cincinnati Bible Seminary. I was thinking of getting another Masters degree (three's a charm?) and then decided to explore my options. In the theological realm, the Master of Divinity is THE professional degree. At the time, it was a 90-hour degree and, even though I had over 60 grad hours, it would've taken me even longer than 30 hours to complete the degree. So that wasn't a realistic option in my book.
The highest professional degree in the ministry field is the Doctor of Ministry (it's like the J.D. for lawyers). In order to get into these programs, the MDiv is the prerequisite. But many of the doctoral programs I examined had MDiv equivalencies—shortcuts if you will. I just had to prove that I had enough ministry experience to warrant the shortcut, listing all of the conferences and learning experiences I've accumulated in the past 15 years. It worked. I was accepted into the DMin program at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, located just northeast of Boston.
I flew out here Sunday afternoon and I'll be here through next Friday. It's a twelve days of residency, which I'll repeat in 2012 and 2013. If I make it through, including my massive thesis project, I'll earn my DMin in 2014.
So for me, I return to, "why?" I'm quite the homebody. I love being around Kelly and Kaelyn; saying goodbye to them at the airport on Sunday broke my heart. So why in the world would I leave them unless I had to? Why am I embarking on this journey? Here are my reasons (and I promise it's not just so that people will call me "doctor").
1. To continue to strengthen our church. The rest of my life will be intertwined with Echo Church. I know that there are things that I need to know that I don't know that will help our congregation. This course of study will be foundational to the work I'll do with Echo in my forties, fifties, and sixties. To better minister to our community and our city, I need to be here now.
2. To assist me in the classroom. I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity I've had to teach at Cincinnati Christian University. Through teaching, however, you begin to realize how much you really don't know about a subject. I know that I'll be involved in some aspect of ministry preparation throughout the rest of my career. If I'm serious about teaching, I need to do what's best for my students and know more than I already do.
3. To keep sharpening my skills. I like to read. I like to learn. I believe I'm a master of self-education. But when left to independent study, we tend to neglect our weaknesses. Academics provides a means of testing myself—against systems, against students, against my shortcomings—that I would not experience on my own. It's obviously more work, but it forces me to be disciplined.
So I'm here, away from my girls, away from my church, away from my friends, but it's important that I do this. Tonight I spend three hours in one of America's coolest cities typing a paper on my laptop. Sexy, eh?
But it'll be worth it.