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Master of Divinity: Youth, Children & Family Ministry

Over the past decade, children's ministry and youth ministry have experienced a revolution. Churches are recognizing the importance of a more holistic ministry approach. Rather than thinking of ministry strictly in terms of artificial age categories, more and more churches are staffing their ministries with women and men who understand the broader dynamics of youth, children, and their families.

In response, Northwest Nazarene University has created a fully online Master of Divinity degree in Youth, Children & Family Ministry. The Master of Divinity has long been considered the "gold standard" for ministerial preparation. NNU's specialization in Youth, Children & Family Ministry can prepare you for ministry in the local church or parachurch while establishing a strong and deep foundation in theological training for life-long ministry and leadership.

Many of our students are serving in full-time or part-time ministry assignments while others are serving presently in volunteer capacities. Whether you are heading into a vocational ministry role as a generational or family ministry pastor, youth or children's pastor, or you are a layperson desiring advanced training in the context of parachurch ministry, Christian schools or camping, NNU's fully online Master of Divinity: Youth, Children & Family Ministry track will equip you for the ministry to which God is calling you.

YCFM students can choose either a Master of Arts or Master of Divinity track. MDIVYCFM students complete an online orientation, 42 credits in their pastoral ministry core, and 32 hours of specialization in Youth, Children & Family Ministry. After completing an online orientation, MAYCFM students focus their studies strictly around the same eight Youth, Children & Family Ministry courses in which MDIVYCFM students take as their specialization, as shown in the comparison chart to the right.

MDIVYCFM students can complete their degree one course at a time in as little as 50 months, with most summers free. MAYCFM students are able to complete their programs in as little as 21 months, with no course work in June or July. NNU's MDIVYCFM program has also been validated as meeting the educational requirements for ordination in the Church of the Nazarene*.

As an expression of NNU's commitment to the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, our MDIVYCFM program empowers students to serve young people and their families with a knowledge of and commitment to the family system. Along with studies in Bible, theology, philosophy and church history, NNU's fully online MDIVYCFM track equips ministers with the proper tools to lead this dynamic, ever-changing group.  

Earn your degree from a leading institution in online theological education with associate membership in The Association of Theological Schools and over 80 years of continuous regional accreditation. 

Financial aid is available for those who qualify, or students may take advantage of a zero interest monthly payment.

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*While this NNU program has been validated by Nazarene Clergy Services as meeting the educational requirements for ordination, denominational polity gives final authority on such matters to the district, not to general authorities.

Course Descriptions

Specialization Courses

BIBL7330 — Youth, Children, Families & Faith Throughout Scripture (4 Credits)
This course will survey and examine selected passages from the Bible [such as The Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and Paul's treatise on the Body (I Corinthians 12)] that deal specifically with issues pertaining to young persons, families, and the formation of faith, character and community. This course will also give attention to broader issues of biblical interpretation that are concerned with reading the Bible in formative ways that gain expression in various forms of Christian practice.

PHIL7330 — Postmodern Culture & Families (4 Credits)
This course will involve readings in modern and postmodern philosophy in an effort to understand how these important philosophical shifts have affected families. Students will be expected to demonstrate how postmodernity has affected the traditional family, given rise to significant changes in the definition of family, and how to minister to families based on this understanding.

PRTH6000 — OnRamp Program Orientation (0 Credits)
This course orients students to the resources, procedures, electronic operations, and expectations of the program.

PRTH6990 — Supervised Ministry (3 Credits)
Under the direction of a ministry mentor, students will be involved in practical ministry experience in a local ministry context. Special attention will be given to preaching, counseling, teaching, education, evangelism, and administration. This experience will be under the direction of the instructor in cooperation with the supervising ministry mentor.

THEO7130 — Theological Foundations of Christian Education (4 Credits)
This course is designed to provide an underpinning for Christian education by examining John Wesley's theological sources. Particular attention will be given to how theology informs Christian educational ministry practices.

YCFM6130 — Foundations of Youth, Children & Family Ministry (4 Credits)
This course focuses on developing one's personal vision and practice of youth, children & family ministry and gives attention to the foundational and diverse elements of this ministry. It will explore the biblical and theological foundations of ministry with young people and families. Special attention will be given to those in early to late adolescence (11-29 years of age). Attention will be given to the church’s responsibility to young people in and beyond congregations. This course emphasizes incarnational and missional approaches to the gospel, as well as young people’s own agency as participants in the total mission of the church.

YCFM6230 — Family Ministry in Practice (4 Credits)
This course will explore the nuts and bolts of creating a ministry plan from nursery through senior adulthood. Issues such as scope and sequence will be addressed as well as contextualization.

YCFM6530 — Leadership in Ministry (4 Credits)
This course explores recent literature written about both secular and ecclesiastic leadership. Students will be shepherded through a process of honing their own philosophy of leadership in the Church. Attention will be given to case studies and the formation of a practical theology of leadership.

YCFM6730 — Missional Ministry (4 Credits)
This course explores the biblical mandate to follow the call to "go to all nations," especially as it relates to young people and families. Students will learn how to articulate and pass on to others the biblical and theological view of evangelism and outreach. Through readings, lecture, projects, and discussion, students will learn how to design an incarnational as well as relational ministry program which takes seriously Christian care and evangelism with unbelieving young people and families.

YCFM7930 — Developmental & Spiritual Formation of Youth, Children & Families (4 Credits)
This course will survey the key developmental periods of a young person’s life. Attention will be given to puberty (transition from childhood) and how adolescents grow into adults, stages of family life, and family.

Pastoral Ministry Core Courses

BIBL6760 — Old Testament Interpretation (3 Credits)
This course introduces key strategies and exegetical tools particular to interpreting the Old Testament. Students will develop exegetical skills and the ability to recognize Scripture's theological texture through study of selected texts from the different genres of the Old Testament.

BIBL7760 — New Testament Interpretation (3 Credits)
This course introduces key strategies and exegetical tools particular to interpreting the New Testament. Students will develop exegetical skills and the ability to recognize Scripture's theological texture through study of selected texts from the different genres of the New Testament.

BIBL8090 — Advanced Biblical Exegesis (3 Credits)
An in-depth exegetical study of an Old Testament and/or New Testament book(s). The course will emphasize the historical occasion, purpose and theological message of the selected biblical books. It will survey relevant contemporary biblical hermeneutics. It will utilize inductive, grammatical, historical-critical, literary, and reader-oriented exegetical methods. The course will self-consciously focus on interpretation within and for the believing community.

CHED6160 — Congregational Education & Formation (3 Credits)
The course provides a Wesleyan approach to Christian discipleship by integrating Wesleyan theology and current developmental theories. The course explores how pastors can develop educational ministries that foster faith formation and Christian discipleship in local congregations. Particular attention is given to the role congregations play in forming faith disciples through teaching, worship, and congregational life.

CHIS6560 — History of Christianity I (3 Credits)
A study of the historical development of Christianity from 150-1500 C.E., from the Patristic period through pre-Reformation. The course will trace theological and doctrinal development as well as offer a general survey of the history of the Church in its ecclesiastical and cultural contexts. The student will have opportunity to read primary as well as secondary sources, and do research on a specified and focused area of interest.

CHIS6960 — History of Christianity II (3 Credits)
A study of the historical development of Christianity from 1500-present, C.E., from the Reformation through the 20th century. The course will trace theological and doctrinal development as well as offer a general survey of the history of the Church in its ecclesiastical and cultural contexts. The student will have opportunity to read primary as well as secondary sources, and do research on a specified and focused area of interest.

PHIL7560 — Philosophical Foundations of Ministry (3 Credits)
This course will provide the fundamentals for logical reasoning, review the philosophical foundations of theology, explore contemporary issues in the philosophy of religion, and develop methods for making ethical decisions within the framework of Christian values.

PRTH6760 — Spiritual & Personal Formation (3 Credits)
This course examines spiritual formational practices with particular emphasis on the personal and spiritual formation of the minister. Students will gain personal spiritual formational practices for the purpose of developing them holistically.

PRTH6960 — Missiology & Contextualization (3 Credits)
This course provides a study of the challenge and complexity of mission within the cultural diversity of today's world. Students will review the historical dimensions of missiology, develop biblical and theological foundations for missional ecclesiology, and strategize for cross-cultural communication of the gospel.

PRTH7560 — Pastoral Leadership (3 Credits)
This course will help to equip ministers to lead and manage churches and mission agencies. Special attention will be given to the student's ability to conceive and articulate purpose, mission, and vision for ministry and assist the student to develop the strategic means to realize that vision.

PRTH7960 — Preaching & Worship (3 Credits)
An advanced study of the methods of homiletics as well as applying principles of biblical interpretation to worship and preaching. A major focus of the course will be on practical application to selected biblical passages through the writing and preaching of expository sermons as well as a study of the Christian practices of the Church including baptism, funerals, weddings, and the Eucharist.

THEO7560 — Christian Theology I: Wesleyan Theology (3 Credits)
Students will explore the theological issues pertaining to the classical doctrines of the Wesleyan tradition. This exploration will focus upon the main characteristics of the nature of God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the human person, sin, salvation, the Christian life, the Church and sacraments, and eschatology.

THEO7960 — Christian Theology II: Contemporary Theology (3 Credits)
Students will reflect theologically on life and ministry by exploring various sources of theological reflection. In particular, dominant themes and figures in contemporary theology will be explored. In this exploration, students will compare and contrast distinctive characteristics of Wesleyan theology, including various understandings of holiness, with issues found in contemporary theology.

Program Outcomes

  • The graduate understands and is able to explain Wesleyan-Holiness Theology as it relates to Scripture, Christian tradition, reason, and experience in the practice of ministry.
  • The graduate identifies characteristics of the cultural context of ministry and assesses them through an appropriate theological perspective, compares existing cultures with alternative cultural expressions, and develops personal and corporate practices consistent with the Kingdom of God.
  • The graduate practices the means of grace (spiritual disciplines) that lead to emotional and spiritual health, personal Christian theological virtue, and responsible social engagement.
  • The graduate integrates Christian theological themes in the understanding and practice of ministry and leadership.
  • The graduate understands both the history and contemporary characteristics of human development, adolescence, and family systems theory necessary for engaging in youth, children and family ministry.
  • The graduate values the role of Practical Theology in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition and philosophy to inform practices fostering young persons and families.
  • The graduate articulates and embodies a Biblical understanding of faith formation within the community of faith including the family.
  • The graduate demonstrates a dynamic integration of practice and philosophy of leadership suitable for ministry in the Church and in the world.