MDIV: Youth, Church & Culture

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Master of Divinity: Youth, Church & Culture

NNU's Youth, Church & Culture degrees equip students to engage culturally, theologically, and practically with youth, their families, and contemporary social systems. Utilizing material from a broad range of perspectives, students are trained to engage in a wide variety of ministry areas. Earn an M.Div. within 50 months or an M.A. in less than two years without any residential requirements.

NNU's Master of Divinity in Youth, Church & Culture is a twenty-first century model for ministering to young persons and their families. Through our robust study of developmental, cultural and spiritual formation within a practical theological framework, adult learners are prepared to engage the youth of today and tomorrow.

The Master of Divinity is the "gold standard" for ministerial preparation and NNU's specialization in Youth, Church & Culture will facilitate ministry in the local church or parachurch while establishing a strong and deep foundation in theological training for life-long ministry and leadership.

As an expression of NNU's commitment to the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, our Master of Divinity in Youth, Church & Culture develops student to serve youth and their families with a knowledge of and commitment to the family system. Along with studies in Bible, theology, and Church history, our track equips youth ministers to perform solid cultural exegesis to understand the ever-changing nature of youth culture. 

Contact us today for more information about earning your Master of Divinity online through Northwest Nazarene University while equipping you for leading edge ministry with youth and their families today!

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Course Descriptions


All Master of Divinity students enroll in our zero-credit online program orientation.  

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


BIBL7330. Youth, 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.

CHIS7130. History & Practice of Christian Formation & Education: From Early Church to Emergent (4 credits):  This course will trace the history of how the Church has attempted to shape individuals and communities from its beginning through Emergent catechesis.  Selected cultural approaches to character formation that the Church has utilized will be examined.

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.

THEO6330. God in the Everyday: Theological Interpretation of Popular Culture (4 credits): This course will critically examine recent cultural phenomena (such as social networking) from a theological perspective. Students will be expected to form their own practical theology of these phenomena and their usefulness (or lack thereof) in the context of the Christian Church and youth group.

YMIN6130. Foundations of Youth Ministry (4 credits): This course focuses on developing one's personal vision and practice of youth ministry and gives attention to the foundational and diverse elements of youth ministry.  It will additionally serve as an introduction to the YCC program and the embedded curricula of the model of practical theology used herein, the mentoring environment and the need for professional and personal accountability to last as a youth minister. It will explore the biblical and theological foundations of ministry with young people, ranging from those in early to late adolescence. Attention will be given to the role faith plays in adolescent development and identity formation, and 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. 

YMIN6530. Leadership in Youth 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.    

YMIN6730. Outreach & Evangelism (4 credits): This course explores the biblical mandate to follow the call to "go to all nations," especially as it relates to adolescents. 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.

YMIN7930. Developmental & Spiritual Formation of Youth & Families (4 credits): Because adolescence has been a relatively new identifiable sociological phenomenon, how adolescents grow into adults as a unique process has received far less attention than the more traditional models and theories of child development. In a changing cultural environment, where even the definition, length, and "life task" of the adolescent is hotly debated by researchers and scholars, this course seeks to help the student to: (a) understand the issues that govern adolescent development, (b) recognize the points of discussion and intersection with the familial literature with the adolescent literature, and, most importantly, (c) create a ministerial response to the developing adolescent and his/her family.


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.

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.

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 adolescence and family systems theory necessary for engaging in youth 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.