Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Barry Tryon

Second Advisor

David Hartman

Third Advisor

Richard Sylvester



During the first decade of the twenty-first century, Pennsylvania Conference leaders nurtured a desire for lay pastoral development. However, a cohesive training program did not emerge. Although lay training programs with other foci and the efforts of some local salaried pastors had produced a few lay pastors, a streamlined, accessible, principle-driven, and competency-based program was needed. With an increase in pastor to member responsibility of 64% from 1970 to 2005 and no growth in the number of churches in the same period, the creation of a training program was deemed to have missional import.


An eleven-month curriculum was formed and delivered during 2008. Its purpose was missional. It included the learning components of linking theory to practice, fostering spiritual formation, and utilizing mentoring relationships. It taught the competencies of people skills, biblical preaching, spiritual vitality, spiritual leadership, and team building. Curriculum success was measured by ministry longevity and surveys of graduates, congregations, and mentors.


Twenty-seven students enrolled in the course, eighteen of whom graduated. Graduates reported that their ministry activities increased an average of 60% and their overall ministry ability an average of 66%. In the competency areas, they estimated increases of 27% in people skills, 58% in biblical preaching, 39% in spiritual vitality, 49% in spiritual leadership, and 43% in team building. Lay pastoral mentors and congregations also positively assessed their abilities. The main curriculum weakness was an underdeveloped mentoring program. Five graduates were placed in pastoral positions and all graduates increased ministry involvement.


This study demonstrates that a streamlined, accessible, competency-based, and principle-driven curriculum for lay pastor development significantly increases lay involvement in ministry. This finding suggests that broad implementation of the proposed curriculum would have positive missional impact. It may also have implications for other forms of ministerial education.

Subject Area

Church work--Seventh-day Adventists; Church work--Pennsylvania; Lay ministry--Seventh-day Adventists; Laity--Seventh-day Adventists; Lay ministry--Pennsylvania; Mentoring in church work--Pennsylvania

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.