Guidelines for choosing topics
The main considerations arise on the field. Consider these questions:
- What is the your current ministry context? Aim to do your project in contexts with which you are familiar. We are assuming that you already have a suitable ministry context, which is difficult if you are on a closed campus or spend all your time in routine ministry.
- What kind of ministry is really needed? If the ministry is not very helpful, why do it?
- What expertize does your supervisor have? If you have only one person to be your supervisor, he/she can't allow a topic if he/she doesn't have the particular skills in that ministry area.
- Is the proposed project feasible? Some factors:
- Can you complete the project in the time available (one year full-time or equivalent part-time)?
- Will it need injections of extra funds (unless getting funding is part of the project)?
- Will it bring up complex issues that cannot be solved within the scope of the project? (Some proposed projects bring up issues that would be good Ph.D. topics.)
- Does the proposed project have a specific goal? Project proposals that are routine ministry are not acceptable because they have no specific goal. You need to have a specific goal for advancement.
- Is the proposed project ambitious enough? Simple projects that can be finished in a few weeks are unsuitable.
- Will the proposed project stretch you? Will you learn something new?
- Is the proposed project failable? Why bother if you will obviously achieve the goal? If there's no risk of failure, there is no value in success.
Things that are not barriers
Choosing suitable topics is probably the first hurdle.
VCI makes no specific restriction on ministry contexts and kinds of project. For example, students may minister in denominational bodies, local congregations, interdenominational organizations, or mission agencies. Your gifting may be in teaching, developing training programs, leading worship, children’s ministry, youth ministry, counselling, church planting, or pastoral ministry.
Some organizations view some kinds of ministry as superior to others, for example:
- Denominational ministry and theological education are considered superior to pastoral care.
- Pastoral care of adults is considered superior to youth and children's ministry.
- Urban ministry is considered superior to rural ministry.
- Pastoral care of large churches is considered superior to pastoral care of small churches.
- Pastoring established churches is considered superior to evangelism and church planting.
In contrast, VCI sees all these ministries as equally suitable for the same level qualification.
Major projects comprise a series of written reports for each unit. Students hand reports in to assessors one unit at a time according to the guidelines above.
When the assessor has approved them all, collate and present them exactly the same as a thesis. The standard of writing, layout, and typing is very high.
The steps are described in the materials "From project to portfolio" and "From project to thesis"
Oral questioning: what is it?
Oral questioning is simply an oral exam. It's most useful as an assessment method when questions are open-ended, the assessment needs to address your unique ministry situation, and there is no value in getting you to write it all down.
How to prepare
- Gather up the documents relevant to what you will be assessed on.
- Work with your assessor to set up a time and place.
- If you can, show your assessor around your place of ministry and explain how it works.
- Try not to be nervous. Get a good night's sleep the night before.
- Nobody really likes being assessed.
At the interview
The interview will probably take the following form:
- Describe what you have been doing. You might find a story easier to tell.
- Your assessor will most likely ask the following kinds of questions:
- why you did it the way you did.
- what major decisions you needed to make.
- what kinds of things could have gone wrong.
- the main principles that guided you.
- how you evaluate what you have done.
- in what situations you would do it differently and why.
Note: the interviewer will probably use follow-up questions to get you to explain anything so far unclear.
If you know what to do but have never actually done something that is required, you might have knowledge but are not yet competent at the ministry skill.