Negotiating Boundaries

Student Course Prerequisite

A prerequisite for the Part-time Ministry Internship and the Summer Ministry Intensive is REL 3990 Negotiating Boundaries in Ministerial Relationships, a one-day seminar generally offered three times each year. It is also a degree requirement for the Master of Divinity. REL 3990 is a basic course in professional ethics and augments the training that clergy and service providers typically receive as part of the credentialing process. Students must complete REL 3990 before they can begin a YDS Supervised Ministry, no exceptions. Hence students are encouraged to take REL 3990 during their first year. Note: REL 3990 is not a prerequisite for CPE, but it is required for the MDiv degree.

Students register for one of the three sections of REL 3990 along with their other courses for the semester. The seminar is usually scheduled for the Saturday before classes start in August, the first Saturday in February, and the first Saturday in April. Please check to confirm dates. 

The primary goal of the course is to help each student develop critically reflective understandings of “professional ethics” as it applies to maintaining boundaries in practice of Christian ministry. This subject will be explored through the analysis of aspects of spiritual care and ministerial behavior, including sexuality, power, boundaries, and the personhood or character of the minister. 

Course Objectives:

  • To be able to recognize and maintain personal and professional boundaries, and to be conscious of the consequences of not doing so;
  • To become familiar with current policies and resources of my tradition as they relate to professional ethics and human sexuality;
  • To gain an appreciation of the need to personally grow so that I am a healthy leader in the holistic sense, and to be able to help others do the same;
  • To develop a beginning understanding of pastoral care strategies for those I serve.

Required text: Professional Sexual Ethics: A Holistic Ministry Approach, eds. Jung and Stephens (2013).

Class Topics:

  • Personal/Professional Needs and Boundaries
  • Defining Sexuality and Sexual Health
  • Sexuality and Attraction
  • Sexual Misconduct
  • Sexual Ethics
  • Ethics in Writing Policies
  • What’s the role of education?

Course Instructor:  Kate M. Ott, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Christian Social Ethics, Drew Theological Seminary