Ron Benefiel, Ph.D.

Professor of Sociology and Christian Ministry

Dr. Ron Benefiel is lead consultant for mission resources and pastoral relations in the PLNU Center for Pastoral Leadership. Prior to his current assignment, Benefiel served as dean of the PLNU School of Theology and Christian Ministry, president of Nazarene Theological Seminary and pastor of the First Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles, the founding church for the Church of the Nazarene. He is trained as a sociologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and is a specialist in urban ministry, having served in pastoral assignments in urban contexts for 25 years.


  • B.A., Sociology, Pasadena College/Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Graduate studies, Nazarene Theological Seminary
  • M.A., Religion, Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Ph.D., Sociology, University of Southern California
  • Post-grad studies in Wesleyan Theology and Mission, Nazarene Theological College

Courses Taught

  • Life of Holiness – THE 306
  • Evangelism and Cross-Cultural Ministry – CMI 350
  • The Church in Mission – 
  • Christian Mission in Local Contexts – CMI 676
  • Biblical Perspectives of Mercy and Justice – 

Experience in Field

  • As pastor of the Los Angeles First Church of the Nazarene, Benefiel led in the development of a multi-congregational model of ministry.
  • Founded and directed the P.F. Bresee Foundation, a nonprofit in the heart of Los Angeles that provides services to urban youth, homeless, and immigrant populations
  • Co-founded the Mid-City Church of the Nazarene City Heights, San Diego

Professional and Community Involvement

  • Member of the Board of Directors for rescue missions in Los Angeles, Kansas City and San Diego
  • Program Chair and Steering Committee member for the Association of Nazarene Social Researchers
  • Co-Chair of the Global Theology Conferences for the Church of the Nazarene in Guatemala City and Amsterdam
  • Served on the Articles of Faith Committee for the Church of the Nazarene

Awards and Honors

  • Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from PLNU
  • Distinguished Service Alumni Award from PLNU
  • Alumnus of Point Loma Award (PLNU)

Dissertations, Presentations, and Publications

  • PhD Dissertation -- The Church of the Nazarene:  A Religious Organization in Change and Conflict
  • Frequent speaker/preacher at Christian colleges, denominational gatherings, pastors leadership training events and local churches.  
  • Numerous articles and book chapters on subjects ranging from Sociology of Religious Identity to Missional Theology