A decades-long hallmark of the HST experience is the concern of the spiritual growth of our students. While our D.Min. certainly reflects HST’s reputation for placing the bar high academically, it has never been our ultimate mission to train armchair scholars. Apostolic ministry was performed by people like Paul, who could have enjoyed the academic life of his day, but chose instead to answer Christ’s call to channel his vast theological education toward the spread of the gospel and the maturing of congregations. At heart, he was a missionary who devoted himself to the concerns of the churches. Likewise, the HST mission highlights “higher standards of ministry and scholarship.” Note the important combination. The emphasis is on ministry, and we train scholars who do that ministry well. We blend the rigor of classical theological education with the skills and insights for effective practical ministry in context.
We realize, however, that ministry is not simply a matter of theological acumen or the capacity to facilitate complex changes. As important as these are, the core of a minister’s effectiveness lies in the genuineness of one’s walk with God and depth of character. Spiritual maturity like this is not grown in short bursts, but over a lifetime of spiritual practices in the quest of following Christ. This is the heart of spiritual formation.
Our D.Min. emphasizes spiritual formation, not through a specialized track of study, but through embedding spiritual growth into every part of the curriculum. Three of the six core courses cover the development of character and wisdom, the spiritual formation of congregations, and the mentoring of others in spiritual leadership. Most of the classes provide broad exposure to instrumented learning to reveal strengths and growth areas. Another important aspect of spiritual formation is the capacity to share openly in a non-threatening and confidential setting with those who listen to God for another’s sake and to listen to another for God’s sake. It also helps when this sharing is with like-minded, experienced ministry practitioners. That is why each of our courses incorporates structured exercises for peer spiritual mentoring and faculty interaction, both in and out of the class sessions. Through all of these experiences, our goal is to help each D.Min. student grow in their walk with God as they serve others.