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A Passion for Teaching and Preaching: Meet Doctor of Ministry Program Director, Paul McCuistion

by South University
February 9, 2017

“I’ve been preaching all of my life,” says Doctor of Ministry Program Director at South University, Tampa Campus and Orlando Learning Site Dr. Paul McCuistion. “When I was three or four, I’d have my stuffed animals lined up on the bed and I’d be preaching to them.”

Although he’s been a professor now for over eight years (and loving every minute of it), Dr. McCuistion has spent much of his professional life working full- or part-time in the pulpit. He actively practiced ministry for 20 years, some full time; some bi-vocational. “There aren’t many careers that you could name that I haven’t somehow come in contact with,” he says. “I did construction, insurance, title work, a little bit of everything, and enjoying life.” Some were to support ministry and others to support my family while I did graduate work.

At 52, he decided he wanted even more. “I walked into the house one day and told my lovely wife, ‘I think I'll go back to school,’” he recalls. That announcement, that decision, turned into an 11-year quest resulting in two master’s degrees and a PhD. First, he earned a Master of Arts in the New Testament from Johnson University and a Master of Arts in Theology from Saint Leo University—where he also began serving as an Adjunct Professor.

For Dr. McCuistion, teaching feels right. He loves to do it and has for a long time. In fact, he remembers attending his first Bible camp at age nine and then returning the following Sunday to share a full report of what he learned in front of the church congregation.

“I always knew that I could teach; it’s just a gift,” he says. “When God sets his sights on something, there’s no guesswork about it. You know the call and you know that you’re responsible for it.”

Soon after his master’s, Dr. McCuistion earned a Doctor of Philosophy in the New Testament from the North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. He then taught at two other institutions before joining the Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program at South University in 2016.

“Coming to South University has been the highlight of my academic career,” he says. “Not only am I getting to work with world-class scholars, but this program is the first I’ve seen that’s truly connecting the study of theology with the application of theology in church ministry.”

The practicality of South University’s DMin program aligns well with what Dr. McCuistion is doing in his own personal ministry, Teaching4Jesus Ministries. Through Teaching4Jesus, Dr. McCuistion leads a seminar that helps churches to sharpen their focus on Jesus. Working with his brother, David whose background is in organizational leadership, Dr. McCuistion also guides church leaders in developing and refining their mission, vision, goals, and strategy—ensuring that these all tie back to that underlying theological focus. Their vision for T4J is Empowering Christians for service that builds up of the body of Christ.

The DMin program at South University has been a great fit for Dr. McCuistion, who sees extreme value in the way the program teaches students not only the underlying theology of ministry, but also gives them practical tools and strategies for connecting it to their ministry practice.

“First, we lay the foundation and then we move into ministry skills—leadership and management, discipleship, communication skills, conflict mediation. Then there are practicum courses and advanced ministry skills. The program moves from theology to application of theology,” he explains. “I think it’s tremendous.”

Join Dr. McCuistion for a Workshop that can Support Your Ministry

This February, Dr. McCuistion and South University are offering a workshop for pastors in the Tampa and Orlando areas. The workshop, titled “Forging the Sword of the Spirit: Historical Survey of the Development of the New Testament Text,” will review the history of the written Bible and is designed to help ministry practitioners answer a question that many of today’s churchgoers are asking: “Can I trust the Bible to be God’s Word for today?”

All ministry professionals are invited to attend this workshop at South University, Tampa Campus on February 28th from 6 to 8pm and at our Orlando Learning Center on March 7th from 6 to 8pm. The event will include a Meet and Greet, a Presentation from Dr. McCuistion and a 30 minute Q&A session. If you can’t make it, follow South University on Facebook for news and other upcoming events. To learn more about the DMin program, request information online or at 1.888.444.3404 anytime.

by South University
February 9, 2017
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3 Key Traits of Modern Doctor of Ministry Programs

by South University
September 6, 2016

The theological landscape is undergoing rapid, even revolutionary, change. Religious communities are increasingly diverse—not just in areas like gender and race, but also in beliefs and world viewpoints.

Just as the religious community has evolved, so have the options for developing your ministry skills. If you’ve ever considered earning your DMin, it’s time to take another look at your options for a degree in ministry.

1. Fully Online Ministry Programs

Technology now enables you to pursue your degree in ministry from anywhere with reliable internet. As a student, you can connect with DMin faculty and staff through web chats, online classroom, tools and phone calls, all without leaving your practice or your family. For example, at South University, online ministry program does not include any residency or on-campus requirements.

Further helping you to learn from anywhere are systems like Logos Bible Software. Logos offers users a vast, library of eBooks, articles, and educational resources accessible via their computers and mobile devices. Plus, everything in the Logos Bible system is searchable, making research faster than ever.

2. Intentional Diversity

Intentional diversity is another signpost of modern Doctor of Ministry programs. With denominational preference at an all-time low, your education can prepare you for a pluralistic society by bringing together individuals from across traditions to discuss, debate, and share perspectives in a safe, supportive environment. Ultimately, this experience can give you access to a diverse demographic likely to mimic the ministry context in which you will serve.

3. Multiple Entry Points - No MDiv Required

Historically, people looking for an advanced degree in ministry could only enter Doctor of Ministry (DMin) programs after earning a Master of Divinity (MDiv). The problem is that an MDiv program alone can take three years, with a DMin taking an additional two years of time and expense. Earning your DMin degree on this path could require five years of your life.

At South University, we have another way. Even if you start with a bachelor’s degree, you can earn your DMin at South University within three years, while building practical skills essential for effective ministry leadership. On the other hand, if you’re already working in the ministry and have a significant amount of coursework or related graduate degree, you may qualify for the Advanced Track in South University’s DMin program. Qualifying students can earn 56 credits worth of Advanced Standard Credit, leaving only 40 credits of ministry study to complete. This track cuts the time needed to earn a DMin by more than half.

Benefits of Earning Your Doctor of Ministry

Ready for the next step in your ministry career? Earning your DMin can equip you to serve and lead more effectively as:

  • Pastor, ministry staff member, and lay minister in local churches/parishes
  • Program staff leader in parachurch organizations
  • Chaplain and spiritual care coordinator in a variety of institutional settings
  • Program staff leader in nonprofit service agencies, community development, advocacy and justice ministries
  • Social entrepreneur pursuing business as mission, and commercial and industrial chaplaincy

Learn More About Pursing A Doctorate Degree in Ministry

At South University, Online Programs, you’ll find both the flexibility of fully online ministry program and educational pathways designed for those with and without a graduate degree. We welcome people of all affiliations, including those working internationally as missionaries or otherwise. Our DMin program is non-denominational and rooted in the Christian tradition. Learn more and request information today!

by South University
September 6, 2016
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Scott McClelland Brings Experience and Expertise to the College of Theology

by South University
June 5, 2015
Faculty member Scott McClelland

Scott McClelland started out in college with plans to become a medical doctor, but along the way found himself drawn to another area of study—biblical studies, and the ways in which this field encompasses and addresses issues applicable to the daily lives of all people.

After earning his BA and MA in Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, he continued on to Westminster Theological Seminary to earn his Th.M. and then The University of Edinburgh for a Doctor of Philosophy. During his years at graduate school, Dr. McClelland developed a passion for education and the practical application of theological scholarship.

He explains, “I began to understand how scholarship can inform churches and church life, the applicability of biblical studies to the pulpit, and that the work we were doing as scholars should never be far from the life of the average churchgoer practicing their faith.”

Connecting Two Worlds

When friends or colleagues asked Dr. McClelland, Do you want to be a professor or do you want to be a pastor?, his answer was always yes. Thus, he found a way to become both. He says “I went back and forth between the two worlds,” adding, “I have done so ever since.” Today, he is a Program Director for the fully online Doctor of Ministry program at South University, Online Programs.

South University’s Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program is intended to give students of all faith traditions an opportunity to

  • study the nature and purpose of ministry
  • enhance skills in leadership and ministry
  • promote personal and professional growth and spiritual maturity.

Dr. McClelland explains “Because we are boldly multi-denominational, we can bring together people from a number of different traditions to discuss, debate, and share perspectives.”

The program is also uniquely designed with two distinct tracks—a Standard Track for students with a bachelor’s degree in which students can earn DMin in as few as three years and an Advanced Track for those who already hold related graduate degrees.

“No other DMin program I know allows a person to begin a DMin track without a Master of Divinity degree” says Dr McClelland. “There are thousands of people ministering who didn’t qualify for a DMin program until now. Now, we can take that experience they have from all those years, along with their educational background, and we can formalize that experience with access to education they would have otherwise never had.”

In addition to his role as Program Director, Dr. McClelland is also an instructor in the DMin program. As part of his teaching strategy, he follows the methods of the Apostle Paul, who, instead of answering questions, taught individuals to think through the problem. In this way, students are prepared to find solutions to future questions that come up outside the classroom setting.

He explains, “Many students are still trying to search for right and wrong answers instead of exploring ideas. So I try to expose students to a process of self discovery. I help them to consider ideas and concepts they haven’t understood before while guiding them in interpreting scriptures of the past and then applying that same meaning to today’s contemporary issues. Just as importantly, I show them how to teach congregations to use this same strategy themselves.”

Spirituality at Wild Goose Festival

This July, Dr. McClelland is attending the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, NC, an outdoor festival taking place from July 9-12, 2015 that explores the intersection of spirituality, justice, music and the arts. At this festival, he is excited to talk with those who share his interests, to hear from renowned speakers and musicians, and to introduce others to the opportunities available at South University.

“The church has been impacted not just by globalism and related social change, but also the disruption and distrust of authority that has been going on since the 1960s. All of these things have converged and a number of people are now questioning the fortressing around who is in and who is out that can take place in a religion,” says Dr. McClelland. “People are searching for the next expression of the church that will take into consideration these broader perspectives and that will advocate for the dignity of humans across the globe. So that’s what Wild Goose is all about—searching for the next iteration of the church that will be faithful to a message that promotes peace, acceptance of people, and justice for all.”

If you’re attending Wild Goose Festival, stop by the Spirituality Tent to meet Dr. McClelland (or email to arrange a time to chat) and discuss our Doctor of Ministry program. 

Or, learn more online about this program and South University today!

See for program duration, tuition, fees, and other costs, median debt, alumni success, and other important info.

The Information and opinions expressed herein represent the independent opinions and ideas of the faculty and/or staff and do not represent the opinions or ideas of South University.

by South University
June 5, 2015
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