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Alumni Spotlight

Shannon Rains, D.Min.

Shannon graduated from the ACU Doctor of Ministry program in the Summer of 2019. She received awards for Exceptional Personal and Professional Development in the Doctor of Ministry Degree. She is currently We are proud of her work and are excited to see what the future holds for her. I hope you enjoy getting to know a little bit about her.

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I have a wonderful family who have supported my calling to ministry and my education at ACU. For fifteen years, I served as a children’s and family minister until I joined the faculty of Lubbock Christian University faculty as the Assistant Professor of Children’s Ministry.

I attended Abilene Christian University for both undergraduate and graduate school. After attending a few other universities, I made my way back to ACU to pursue the D.Min. with an emphasis in spiritual formation. I am so glad that ACU had a degree that was right for me!

Hobbies? My kids say that “studying is my Mom’s hobby.” Of course, parenting two children keeps me wonderfully busy. I also stay busy volunteering in children’s ministry and traveling.

My dream hobby is to use social media to equip and inspire children’s ministry leaders in our tradition. In addition, Ron Bruner, Jennifer Schroeder, and I are co-researching topics on children’s ministry and spiritual formation. We presented research on children and worship at the Christian Scholars Conference and recently published “A Reader’s Guide to Children’s Ministry” in ACU’s online journal, Discernment, that can be found here.

What area of ministry do you work in and what drew you there?

Children are wholly spiritual, growing in faith, and capable of kingdom service. In ministry, I worked with the church to empower the spiritual lives of children. Later, I began to study the emerging field of children’s spiritual formation in order to gain a better understanding of how children connect with God, follow Jesus, listen to the Spirit, and serve God’s kingdom.

Since moving to LCU, I’m often asked “why did you leave ministry?” I didn’t leave ministry. I changed the context in which I practice ministry. I am called to prepare a new generation of ministers, to equip churches in spiritually formative ministry practices, and to teach undergraduate students about Jesus. My experiences at ACU drive me to be the best that I can be for my students.

How has the D.Min. program effected your ministry? 

ImageIn congregational ministry, the D.Min. program pushed me to think outside of the box. I think the pace of ministry in many churches limits the leadership imagination of the minister. So, the D.Min. program provides space for ministers to embrace their ministry calling with the guidance of professors, fellow students, and outstanding academic resources. Most D.Min. courses require projects and these projects have led me to create things like: a spiritual formation group with the homeless community in Lubbock, an elementary Bible class focused on contemplative prayer practices, and to use appreciative inquiry that help church leaders embrace a vision for the future of their ministry.

How have you personally grown as a Christian leader because of the D.Min.? 

This question is so hard to answer. I’ve grown in many ways. I’ve learned to listen better, to imagine ministry in new ways, and to evaluate ministry efforts. I’ve learned to take feedback from my peers and professor, not a naturally easy thing for my personality (or Enneagram) type. Through the project/thesis process, I’ve learned to research and write, and more importantly, to realize that we are all on an academic journey, student and professor.

What was the most valuable thing you learned during your time in the program?

Every class had value and I learned so much! But, the two most valuable lessons were not in the classroom. They came through relationship with my professors and the experiences outside the classroom. First, my professors constantly reminded me to take care of my spiritual health and held me accountable to making this a priority. You can’t put a value on that kind of education. Second, I developed a love for ancient, worshipful traditions that are uncommon in the churches that I attend. Worshiping with the Benedictine community at St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota, going on a silent retreat at a monastery in Amarillo, and visiting a Greek Orthodox Church in Abilene nurtured an appreciation for the role of tradition, ritual, silence, peace, and Christian art in spiritual formation.

Any advice for current students or those considering a D.Min.? 

First, your family might be tempted to block your Amazon account, don’t let them. Also, learn to speed read. More seriously, don’t talk yourself out of pursuing the degree, if you qualify for the program you have every bit of what it takes to succeed. Within reason, the faculty accommodates students and their varied interests. The summer cohort meets in Abilene for two weeks each summer. At this cohort, you will build a community of support with your fellow students and professors in class and at community events. Oh, and if you go to Minnesota for the course “Living in the Tradition,” take snow boots!

 

If you want to learn more about our Doctor of Ministry program click here.