The Master of Arts in Christian Practice (M.A.C.P.) is a degree for those seeking theological education while remaining in their various ministry roles. Its hybrid residency format requires that students be on campus five times over the course of two years for week-long class sessions, which are then followed by ten weeks of distance learning that includes scheduled online classes and self-paced learning. In this way, students are able to remain in ministry while also engaging in disciplined theological reflection.

The current cohort, “Serving Congregations,” has proven to be a good fit for people serving congregations in various forms of ministry—for example youth and children’s ministers, pastoral caregivers, mission and outreach directors, and church business administrators. The curriculum is also structured to fulfill the basic graduate educational requirements for UMC students seeking ordination as a deacon.

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What We Teach

Dr. Warren SmithM.A.C.P. students can expect to be formed in the skills and practices of faithful and effective ministry in the congregational setting.  This formation is expressed in the core congregational practices of sacred teaching, spiritual leadership, and pastoral presence.

Sacred Teaching

  • How to create, support, and sustain congregational systems that form disciples
  • How to facilitate groups of all ages and sizes
  • How to articulate the Biblical and Christian theological tradition for the sake of forming disciples

Spiritual Leadership

  • How to create, coordinate, resource, and support programs
  • How to be a self-starter and a team player
  • How to recruit, train, resource, and support ministry volunteers

Pastoral Presence

  • How to offer pastoral care in the congregation, home, and workplace
  • How to handle conflict
  • How to draw from Scripture and the practices of prayer in the ministry of care

The current focus for the M.A.C.P. degree is on those engaged in the ministry of “Serving Congregations,” in traditional and non-traditional roles. 

Program Format

Duke campusThe current focus for the M.A.C.P. degree is on those engaged in the ministry of “Serving Congregations,” in traditional and non-traditional roles.

  • The M.A.C.P. operates on an alternative pedagogical model that blends short, residential seminars with web-based distance learning comprising scheduled online classes and self-paced learning.
  • Course requirements integrate studies in Bible and the Christian theological tradition with practices of ministry that serve the needs of both the Church and world. Students are grouped into ministry-specific cohorts that travel the path of the degree program together and share in an ongoing seminar in Christian formation that seeks to integrate learning with spiritual practice. 
  • The degree is comprised of six terms scheduled over two years. 
  • Each intensive will take place on the campus of Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C.
Serving Congregations Cohort

ChurchThe current cohort is designed for people serving congregations in various forms of ministry—for example, youth and children’s ministers, pastoral caregivers, mission and outreach directors, and church business administrators.  The M.A.C.P. “Serving Congregations” cohort is for all those engaged in lay professional ministries in the local church, part-time or full-time.

Learn more about this cohort »

For Senior Pastors

StudentAre you seeking resources for training and supporting your church staff? 

  • The M.A.C.P. is a degree program that develops effective, theologically articulate colleagues to extend the mission and ministry of your congregation.
  • With the development of this degree program, Duke Divinity School seeks to partner with you and your congregation in the development of a skilled, faithful staff and for the sake of nurturing vital congregations.

The M.A.C.P. offers formation that can be perfect for lay ministers new to your staff, or to equip those who have professional expertise in other fields with the sacred teaching, spiritual leadership, and pastoral presence necessary to navigate the complex culture of the local church.

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New Approaches to Youth Ministry

Read a Faith & Leadership article about how Jad Taylor's experience in the M.A.C.P. program is changing his approach to youth ministry at Clemson UMC.