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Online · School of Divinity · Christian Leadership & Church Ministries

Preventing Ministry Failure

  • CG
  • Section 8WK
  • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020
  • Modified 01/13/2020

Course Description

This class will help the student (and their spouse) better prepare themselves for the rigors of 21st century ministry, avoid common pitfalls, and prevent potential problems. It will deal with such significant issues as setting realistic expectations, dealing with church boards, marriage, children, finances, burnt-out, stress, time management and more.





Long-term ministry in the 21st century is becoming the exception rather than the rule. The Christian world has been rocked by the number of prominent leaders, in both church and para-church organizations, who have been compromised by moral, ethical, and theological failures. Thousands of other pastors leave the ministry each year never to return do to issues of stress, burn-out, divorce, bankruptcy, and family issues. This course is designed to prepare the Christian worker for the rigors of ministry and to prevent ministry burnout and dropout.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Assess his/her health in the area of intimacy with God, others, his/her mate, or themselves as a single adult.
  2. Establish boundaries to help them affair-proof his/her marriage and build a strong Christian family.
  3. Compose a strategy for effectively acquiring and assuming a call to a specific ministry.
  4. Establish patterns for best managing stress, time, and money.
  5. Write a plan for effectively resolving conflict.

Course Resources

Required Resources

The resources below are provided in the course at no cost to the student.

Dickson, John. Humilitas. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011.

Harley, Williard. His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2011.

Swenson, Richard A. Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2004.

Wilson, Michael T., and Brad Hoffmann. Preventing Ministry Failure: A ShepherdCare Guide for Pastors, Ministers and Other Caregivers. Carol Stream: InterVarsity Press, 2007.

Disclaimer: The above resources provide information consistent with the latest research regarding the subject area. Liberty University does not necessarily endorse specific personal, religious, philosophical, or political positions found in these resources.

Recommended Resources

Horner, David. A Practical Guide for Life and Ministry. Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2008. ISBN: 9780801091957.

Stanley, et al. 7 Practices of Effective Ministry. Colorado Springs: The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group, 2004. ISBN: 9780590523735.

Additional Materials for Learning

  1. Computer with basic audio/video output equipment
  2. Internet access (broadband recommended)
  3. Blackboard recommended browsers
  4. Microsoft Word
  5. School of Divinity Writing Guide:

Course Assignments

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

The student will post a minimum 400-word thread to the forum topic presented for the assigned module/week. In the following module/week, the student will reply to the threads of at least 2 classmates using at least 200 words for each response to complete the discussion for the topic of the previous module/week. Discussion Board Forum assignments are required in every module/week.

Book Critiques (3)

The student will read the Dickson, Harley, and Swenson texts and submit a well-written, 3–5-page critique in current Turabian format for each text.

Emotional Needs Assessment

The student will complete the Emotional Needs Questionnaire in Appendix B of the Harley text and write a 1 page paper, evaluating and summarizing his/her findings according to given parameters.

Weekly Schedule and Finances Evaluation

The Weekly Schedule and Finances Evaluation will consist of 3 parts, submitted as a whole. The student is required to create a document of his/her current schedule and summarize it. Based on his/her current schedule and a summary, the student will then create another “proposed schedule”, marking the changes that need to be made.

Final Exam

The Final Exam will cover the Reading & Study material for the entire course. The exam consists of 5 questions which the student will answer in essay form of 400–500 words each. The student will have 2 hours to complete the exam.

Course Grading

Course Requirements Checklist


Discussion Board Forums (4 at 100 pts ea)


Book Critiques (3 at 100 pts ea)


Emotional Needs Assessment


Weekly Schedule and Finances Evaluation


Final Exam

(Module 8)





Late Assignment Policy

Course Assignments, including discussion boards, exams, and other graded assignments, should be submitted on time.

If the student is unable to complete an assignment on time, then he or she must contact the instructor immediately by email.

Assignments that are submitted after the due date without prior approval from the instructor will receive the following deductions:

  1. Late assignments submitted within one week after the due date will receive up to a 10% deduction.
  2. Assignments submitted more than one week and less than 2 weeks late will receive up to a 20% deduction.
  3. Assignments submitted two weeks late or after the final date of the course will not be accepted outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.
  4. Group projects, including group discussion board threads and/or replies, and assignments will not be accepted after the due date outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.

Disability Assistance

Students with a disability and those with medical conditions associated with pregnancy may contact Liberty University’s Online Office of Disability Accommodation Support (ODAS) at [email protected] for accommodations.  Such accommodations require appropriate documentation of your condition.   For more information about ODAS and the accommodations process, including how to request an accommodation, please visit Requests for accommodations not related to disabilities or pregnancy must be directed to the Registrar’s Office, which generally handles medical needs support.

If you have a complaint related to disability discrimination or an accommodation that was not provided, you may contact ODAS or the Office of Equity and Compliance by phone at (434) 592-4999 or by email at [email protected].  Click to see a full copy of Liberty’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedures.

Course Attendance

In an effort to comply with U.S. Department of Education policies, attendance is measured by physical class attendance or any submission of a required assignment within the enrollment dates of the course (such as examinations, written papers or projects, any discussion board posts, etc.) or initiating any communication with one’s professor regarding an academic subject. More information regarding the attendance policy can be found in the Academic Course Catalogs. Regular attendance in online courses is expected throughout the length of the term. Students who do not attend within the first week of a sub-term by submitting a required academic assignment (such as the Course Requirements Checklist, an examination, written paper or project, discussion board post, or other academic activity) will be dropped from the course. Students who wish to re-engage in the course are encouraged to contact Academic Advising to discuss their enrollment options. Students who begin an online course, but at some point in the semester cease attending, and do not provide official notification to withdraw, will be assigned a grade of “FN” (Failure for Non-Attendance). Students wishing to withdraw from courses after the official start date should familiarize themselves with the withdrawal policy.

Grading Scale

A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- F
940-1010 920-939 900-919 860-899 840-859 820-839 780-819 760-779 740-759 700-739 680-699 679 and below

For courses with a Pass/NP final grade, please refer to the Course Grading section of this syllabus for the assignment requirements and/or point value required to earn a Passing final grade.

Add/Drop Policy

The full policy statement and procedures are published in the Policy Directory.

Honor Code

Liberty University comprises a network of students, Alumni, faculty, staff and supporters that together form a Christian community based upon the truth of the Bible. This truth defines our foundational principles, from our Doctrinal Statement to the Code of Honor. These principles irrevocably align Liberty University’s operational procedures with the long tradition of university culture, which remains distinctively Christian, designed to preserve and advance truth. Our desire is to create a safe, comfortable environment within our community of learning, and we extend our academic and spiritual resources to all of our students with the goal of fostering academic maturity, spiritual growth and character development.

Communities are predicated on shared values and goals. The Code of Honor, an expression of the values from which our Doctrinal Statement was born, defines the fundamental principles by which our community exists. At the core of this code lie two essential concepts: a belief in the significance of all individuals, and a reliance on the existence of objective truth.

While we acknowledge that some may disagree with various elements of the Code of Honor, we maintain the expectation that our students will commit to respect and uphold the Code while enrolled at Liberty University.

Adherence to the principles and concepts established within facilitates the success of our students and strengthens the Liberty community.

The Code of Honor can be viewed in its entirety at


LEAD 625

Textbooks: Dickson, Humilitas (2011).

Harley, His Needs, Her Needs: Building and Affair Proof Marriage (2011).

Swenson, Margin (2004).

Wilson & Hoffman, Preventing Ministry Failure (2007).


Reading & Study




Harley: chs. 1–5

Wilson & Hoffman: Introduction and Foundation Stone I

1 presentation

Course Requirements Checklist

Class Introduction

DB Forum 1 Thread





Harley: chs. 6–10

Wilson & Hoffman: Foundation Stone 3

1 presentation

DB Forum 1 Reply



Harley: chs. 11–14

Wilson & Hoffman: Foundation Stone 4

1 presentation

DB Forum 2 Thread

Book Critique: Harley




Swenson: chs. 1–5

Wilson & Hoffman: Foundation Stone 5

1 presentation

DB Forum 2 Reply

Emotional Needs Assessment




Swenson: chs. 6–10

1 presentation

DB Forum 3 Thread

Book Critique: Swenson




Dickson: entire text

1 presentation

DB Forum 3 Reply

Book Critique: Dickson




Wilson & Hoffman: Foundation Stone 6

1 presentation

DB Forum 4 Thread

Weekly Schedule and Finances Evaluation




Wilson & Hoffman: Foundation Stone 7

2 presentations

DB Forum 4 Reply

Final Exam





DB = Discussion Board

*Grades will not be entered until the completion of each Discussion Board Forum.

NOTE: Each course week begins on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. (ET) and ends on Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The final week ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday.