Story Magazine

Second Quarter, 2006

High Tech and High Numbers for D.Min. Programs

by Andy Behrendt, Master of Divinity Student

Biblical Preaching D.Min. students Gene Zeller and Mary Gustafson go over the operation of the Creative ZEN MP3 player they will use in their studies.

As the D.Min. program in Biblical Preaching enters its third year, its 26 students are now each equipped with a Creative ZEN MP3 player. Whereas hip digital audio devices like the ZEN and iPod have become a standard for on-the-go music, they're being used here as a way for students to record and share their sermons.

"There has been a general interest in the seminary about remaining on the cutting edge technologically in teaching and learning, and this is a part of that effort," said Paul Lokken, associate dean of graduate theological education.

Students in Biblical Preaching, one of two concentrations in the largely offsite and Internet-intensive doctoral program, are required to preach sermons in their home congregations and submit them for evaluation, Lokken explained.

"The idea of podcasting those sermons became attractive to us because we saw it as an effective way to allow students to record their sermons and also to transmit them electronically for evaluation by professors--and then as a convenient and useful way for professors to respond back promptly to their work," he said.

Luther's D.Min. program rolled out the sleek ZEN player/recorders, provided under a grant from seminary funding, to students and their instructors this summer. The pastors  will share the recorded sermons with their response group of parishioners and post the recordings on the Web for review by both their fellow students and their instructors, who may then respond with their own recorded evaluations.

Lokken said if the experiment goes well, Luther might also use digitil audio devices for other programs--for teaching and communication between students, instructors and the seminary at large.

The newest D.Min. students in both Biblical Preaching and Congregational Mission and Leadership (CML) concentrations come from several denominations and from across the country. But there's a particularly high concentration of CML students from the Southwest this year.

Seven of the 23 new CML students come from the ELCA Grand Canyon Synod as a result of workshops in Phoenix and preaching by D.Min. students in Phoenix-area churches in January of 2005 and 2006.