I’d have dumped my biblical languages credits into an MA and made chaplaincy the focus of MDiv and then did a full year hospital residency (CPE) – why?
Because I think the training one gets for the chaplaincy is very pertinent to pastoral ministry. Now, I am not saying pastors are to be chaplains (they must not) but I think the pastoral care and skill sets one learns in chaplaincy will make one a better pastor who is able to provide good pastoral care and spiritual direction to a congregation and to various individuals as well.
For example in the chaplaincy focus at AGTS – one can take a class learning about PTSD and how to work with those dealing with it (it’s not limited to military personnel); you take a class on interpersonal techniques in helping relationships so you learn what to do and what not to do in helping others; you can get a class on addictive behaviors in family systems and gain insight on pastoring those caught up in addictions; you can get a class on counseling diverse populations so you learn to deal with all sorts of different folks and learn to get out of one’s own ethnocentric mono-culturalism, :-); you can take a class on psychopathology so you don’t get confused and think every person who comes in the door “acting weird” might have a demon, or maybe they do…. or don’t.
These are, of course in addition to the normal MDiv requirement and most of these are electives so not all would be required, but you’d be surprised at their general usefulness. In the three years we’ve been at the Canyon we’ve already encountered all of these issues and have more than once been left wondering what to do or how to handle it.
So, proably, if I could do it again, that is what I would do! 🙂