In his classic essay, “The D-Min-ization of the Ministry,” David Wells describes the ministerial professionalization that occurred over the last several decades. Because of the lack of respect and influence in the wider culture, ministers sought ways of regaining their former standing. This was due in part to a conceptualization of the ministry as a career and a desire for increased upward mobility. Wells writes,
Many ministers now wander from church to church, seldom finding secure or lasting lodging. As a result, they have had to define their ministry in terms of its marketability (p. 178).
One major way to make a ministry marketable, Wells contends, is through the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree.
In the seventies many seminaries were hard pressed financially but now had, in the D.Min., a lucrative product to sell. At the same time, many ministers were hard pressed psychologically as they sensed their growing marginalization in society, the decline of their status, and the corresponding loss of power and influence. The shotgun marriage was consummated (p. 180).
Wells wrote this piece 20 years ago, but his insights are still fresh and serve as a reminder for ministers and their flocks to re-examine their understanding of pastoral ministry. Even so, now that 2012 is coming to an end, I wonder if you can get a D.Min. in “vision casting.”
David Wells, “The D-Min-ization of the Ministry” in No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of Our Age, edited by Os Guinness & John Seel (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992).