Dissertation Daze

I am very grateful for the time the Session of Houston Lake Presbyterian Church has given me away from the pulpit to focus on the dissertation I am writing for the Doctor of Ministry degree I am pursuing through Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Orlando. Here at the midway point of my “sabbatical”, I wanted to bring folks an update.

I actually began this process in 2007. It was then that I started the first of eight classes. The standard class involved prior reading of 2,000 pages of material followed by a week-long intensive course spending Monday through Friday in a seminary classroom. Half of my classes were at the Orlando campus and I was able to take the other half at other RTS campuses. I benefited from these courses and really enjoyed the seminar atmosphere and interaction with other pastors as well as the professor. At the end of the course, I was required to write a 15-20 page paper on the course subject.

I’m now at the dissertation writing phase of the process. I’m to write a paper that should be in the 125-175 page range when finished. I submitted my proposal for this paper in early June and it was approved. The title of my paper is “Illustrating and Applying the Gospel in Sermons Using the Fiction of C.S. Lewis”. A Doctor of Ministry dissertation must be in the area of what is called “practical theology”. This includes preaching, teaching, worship leadership, counseling, leadership and other related areas. I wanted to combine my interests in preaching and C.S. Lewis and so chose this topic.

I’m certainly learning a great deal and some days of writing go better than others. Honestly, this is harder than I thought. Occasionally, I pause to see how much I’ve written and sadly think, “Is that all?” In all, the paper will comprise six chapters and I’m in the early stages of chapter 3. Lord willing, I will finish by mid-February in order to stay on pace to graduate with the degree in May 2014.

My desire is to emerge a better student of C.S. Lewis and to have more insight into illustrating and applying the gospel and thus be a more equipped preacher. I don’t mean it as a cliché to say that I would really appreciate your prayers.

On a different note, we will be taking our second son, Stephen, off to join Andrew at Covenant College on Lookout Mountain, Georgia this weekend. We’ll miss him but are happy for him.

Well, enough of this Pastor’s Pen. Back to my dissertation daze, err, days.