Research, Writing, and Ministry Preparation – RTCH 500

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the skills necessary for competent graduate work. These skills include theological and professional library competency, the use of electronic research media, the execution of research design, and graduate writing development. This course will also help prepare students for ministry by addressing contemporary issues facing the current culture.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


The student entering a graduate program in Bible, theology, or ministry is not automatically equipped to perform work at the graduate level. Preparation and skill development in theological research and writing are necessary to ensure subsequent academic success. Learning how to learn strategies enables the novice graduate student and the second-career adult to succeed academically not only in this course but across an entire degree program. The graduate theology student learning skill assessment will enable the student to not only survive but thrive to the glory of God.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (3)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be at least 400 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, you will reply to the threads of at least 2 classmates. Each reply must be at least 200 words. Threads are due one module: week with replies due the following module: week. All of the prompts for our discussions will be taken from your reading and study of the text Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age. (CLOs: A, C)

My Learning Journal Assignments (4)

You will write thoughtful reflections based upon your reading of assigned portions of “Orienting Adults to Learning in Graduate Theological Education.” Each section of the Orienting Adults resource to be read is provided in the module where it is required. Each submission will have a prompt that the student must respond to, based upon assigned reading for that module: week. The final reflective piece is an opportunity to synthesize what you have learned. (CLOs: A, C)

Exegesis Research Paper Assignment

Using Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Kaiser and Silva and Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age by Lowe & Lowe as reference guides, the student will write an Exegesis Research Paper submitted in three portions. The student will choose between three biblical passages on which to write the paper (Psalm 1:1-6; Mark 4:26-29; Eph 4:7-16). You will submit the paper for evaluation through the following stages:

Context of the Passage

The context section will run between 3-4 pages in length, double-spaced in 12 point Times New Roman font type. This portion of your exegesis paper has two sections. The first section in your Introduction that serves as an overview of what you will write concluding with a thesis/purpose statement that alerts the reader as to what you plan to achieve in the writing of the paper.

The second section is the most important and should receive the bulk of your attention. Here you will explore the historical, cultural, and literary contexts of the passage selected. The Introduction, Historical, Cultural, and Literary sections will have a separate centered heading following Turabian style. (CLO: B)

Meaning of the Passage and Bibliography

In the Meaning portion of the paper, you are analyzing the text verse-by-verse utilizing the commentaries and journal articles listed in your Bibliography. I should see a significant number of footnotes in this section as you interact with and engage with comments and observations of commentators and journal article authors. Pay attention to the text! Your interpretation of the text should be based in the text not imposed upon the text from some external source.  Students should use Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age to assist them in identifying spiritual formation insights from their selected passage. This portion of the paper should run between 4-5 pages double-spaced in 12-point font. (CLO: B, C)

Significance, Application, and Conclusion

The Significance and Application portion of the paper should run between 2-3 pages double-spaced in 12 point font type. You re-write the Context and Meaning portions as needed, taking into consideration any feedback provided by the professor. In this final portion of the paper, address the significance and application of the passage to the Christian life and church ministry. In particular, I am interested in you showing how your reading and study of the text Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age, relates to your interpretation of the meaning and application of your selected passage.  Each paper must have a coherent conclusion that summarizes the content of your paper. Carefully edit the full paper for typos, spelling, grammar, and syntax. Proficiency in the use of Turabian format is expected.  (CLO: B, C)

Please note: The sample paper provided is not a perfect paper. However, it gives you a general idea of the type of work you will need to submit in order to obtain a satisfactory grade for this assignment. The School of Divinity Writing Guide encourages students to use third person unless exempted by the professor.


Learning Skills Inventory Assignments (4)

Using the provided written resource “Assessing Adult Learning in Graduate Theological Education,” complete four (4) sets of learning skill development inventories designed to assess learning how to learn skills. All of the inventories are self-scoring and there is one inventory for each of the designated modules: weeks.   (CLOs: A, C)

Spiritual Formation Blog Post Assignment

Based upon your reading and study of Ecologies of Faith in a Digital Age. and your own personal experience, write a 4 page (double-spaced 12 point font) post (approximately 1000 words) as if you were writing it for an online blog. In your blog you will (1) identify two spiritual formation concepts addressed in the book that you need to incorporate into your own walk of faith and/or ministry; (2) outline a plan of action to implement those areas into your life and/or ministry; and (3) using the text Surviving and Thriving in Seminary, write a final page to a real or imagined new seminary student and offer one piece of advice from the text that you think will help him/her continue to grow in the faith while enrolled in seminary. (CLO: C)

Memo to Myself Assignment

After you have completed all of the assignments for the course, find a time when you can review and rehearse what you have learned conceptually about the subjects studied and what you have learned personally about yourself as a person, student, and Christian. You do not need a cover sheet for this assignment. Just simply use the heading “Memo to Myself” and begin writing. (CLOs: A, C)