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Pastoral Ministry

About the Pastoral Ministry Program

The pastoral ministry program within the Department of Theology is designed to: (1) cultivate a broad perspective on Christian life as ministry; (2) introduce the student to an expanding variety of pastoral ministries, particularly in the church; (3) provide significant preparation for pastoral service in one of several vocational areas; and (4) help the student assess what further education might be needed for effective service in the chosen area of ministry. For students from the Free Methodist Church, the program also fulfills the educational requirements for ministry ordination. Students in the major and minor are expected to model a lifestyle becoming of a minister of Jesus Christ in covenant with the SAU program. Admission to the major/minor commits the student to a yearly renewal of this covenant through recommendations and review of the student’s campus life, academic performance and ministry activity.

Why should you choose SAU’s pastoral ministry program?

A primary objective of the pastoral ministry program is the meaningful integration of academic and experiential learning with the theoretical bases of ministry as well as practical skills in ministry. The student is required to do vocational exploration in ministry (through class and service experience) as well as ongoing involvement in the field during their time as a student. Adjunct faculty serve also to bring into the classroom current practices in ministry for additional perspectives.

All ministry programs in the Department of Theology offer a creative blend of solid academics, practical ministry training and application, and spiritual formation. Included in all department programs is a central theological curriculum, which provides an essential foundation for all forms of Christian ministry. This curriculum includes courses in the four areas that make up what is commonly known as the Wesleyan Quadrilateral: Scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

Courses, Course Descriptions and Four-Year Plan

The courses for the 59-hour pastoral ministry major include such subject areas as biblical interpretation, philosophy of ministry, doctrines of the Christian faith, exploring ministry, church leadership, Christian ethics, principles of preaching and spiritual formation. The department also offers a 20-hour pastoral ministry minor.

View the course requirements, layout, course descriptions and a sample four-year plan, and learn more about the pastoral ministry program at Spring Arbor University, all in the undergraduate catalog.

Career Opportunities

The pastoral ministry major is a “career entry” program for students who anticipate beginning a career in pastoral ministry or other forms of church ministry immediately after college graduation or after further education. In specialized ministries, such as counseling, additional education may still be required, yet generally this program should fulfill the minimal entry requirement for certain agencies. In these and other cases, the church or agency through which an individual will minister will determine the level of education required—some churches and agencies require seminary preparation.

To learn more about how Spring Arbor helps its graduates prepare for a career, visit our career development section.

On-Campus Opportunities

Spring Arbor University offers a wide range of activities and opportunities for students to get involved and apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world contexts. Here are some opportunities that may interest theology students:

  • Interfaith Shelter Ministries – Interfaith Shelter is a homeless shelter located in downtown Jackson. Spring Arbor students spend one day a week serving food and visiting with the people of the shelter. They also lead small group fellowships and organize an annual food and clothing drive. For information about volunteering at Interfaith Shelter, please call 517.789.8735.
  • Small Groups – Students have many opportunities to join a small group, whether it’s the Student Development and Learning small group program, a residence hall Bible study group, a prayer group, or accountability partners. Whatever your need, Spring Arbor will be able to fill it.
  • Spiritual Life Retreat – Although students always look forward to activities like the traditional four-square tournament and the Frisbee golf competition, the real reason for the Spiritual Life Retreat is spiritual development and genuine life change. More than 150 students steal away for a weekend of games, good food and a gratifying, spiritual jumpstart to the school year. Students literally sleep outside the student development office to reserve a space for this wildly popular event.
  • Spring Break Mission trips –During Spring Break, a handful of mission teams gear up and hit the road to minister to and serve people around the country and abroad. For information, contact Cecilia Said at

See a full list of the various activities and organizations available to students at Spring Arbor University.