A Day in the Life of a Christian Ministry Student

Herminia's Portrait at PLNU

Embarking on a journey of education and spiritual growth as a second career is a unique and challenging experience, especially for adults pursuing a master’s degree in Christian ministry. 

Herminia Esqueda, an equity administrator and associate pastor at Wapato Church of the Nazarene, knows this reality full well. Esqueda, who is in her final semester as a graduate Christian ministry student at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU), graciously shared her insights into her daily life as a student, her motivations and the distinctive aspects of her academic and ministerial path. 

What is Christian Ministry?

Christian ministry is service carried out by individuals or groups in the Christian community to promote spiritual growth, facilitate worship and address the needs of believers and the communities they reside in. 

There are a myriad of roles within Christian ministry including pastor, youth pastor, worship leader, counselor (pastoral care), missions coordinator, Sunday school teacher, and more. 

PLNU’s Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) program combines a strong ministry component with rigorous academics and is ideal for both practicing and aspiring pastors and other ministry leaders. The program is designed to accommodate students who live at a distance, often in ministry assignments, and is designed around four central emphases, including:

  • Christian formation
  • Christian scripture
  • Church in mission
  • Christian tradition 


Herminia Esqueda’s Journey to Christian Ministry

Despite working in finance for the past 34 years of her life, Hermenia has been drawn to ministry ever since she accepted Christ at 10 years old. Since then she’s been involved leading Christian discipleship  for young women and teaching in Sunday school and children’s church. 

 “It’s always been a part of what I do,” she said. “That was always just part of what I did as a Christ follower and disciple maker.” 

Herminia's Portrait at PLNU

Herminia's life and ministry are deeply rooted in her Mexican-American heritage, adding a unique and valuable perspective to her work. Beyond her pastoral role, she has actively engaged in justice work, particularly focusing on racial reconciliation. It was this work that helped her see herself as a potential full-time minister. 

“I saw my passion for that and wanted to get more involved,” she said. “I told myself, ‘I’m going to enter this process and ask for a local license.’”

Alongside her husband, who was also seeking ordination, Herminia continued doing much of the work that a pastor would do in her local district, all she needed was to obtain the right credentials for the role. She then decided to begin the ordination process in the Church of the Nazarene. 

The ordination process in the Church of the Nazarene has an education requirement — one that Herminia is fulfilling through the master’s degree at PLNU. The hybrid nature of the program is one of the main aspects that attracted her to it, giving her the flexibility to maintain her ministry work but also get important facetime with professors and other students during the week intensives on-campus. 

A Typical Day for a Christian Ministry Student

A typical day for Herminia involves a delicate balance between her roles as an equity administrator, pastor and student. Like many of the graduate students in her cohort, Herminia maintains a full-time job in addition to her studies. 

As an equity administrator, she applies an equity lens to legislation during the ongoing legislative session. After each work day she dedicates her evening to studies and ministry work. 

Herminia plans to continue her ministry as a pastor in the Nazarene church, leading ministries such as workshops on racial reconciliation for fellow local pastors in the Nazarene community. 

“I see myself equipping pastors and coming alongside them,” she said. “Especially pastors of color that face many challenges.”

When it comes to her studies, Herminia is currently taking pastoral care and counseling with Rebecca Laird, D.Min., professor of theology her last official course before graduating. Most of the coursework is done remotely, with a week-long intensive portion done on campus. 

Generally the week-long intensives are sandwiched between the two courses most students have to take each semester. Students take classes in person and participate in events happening on campus. 

Herminia says that in earlier years they were scheduled at the same time as the Seminar by the Sea, a week-long event hosted by the PLNU School of Theology and Christian Ministry where lecturers teach on what it means to lead in ministry. On a typical day during this week, she’d not only go to her regularly scheduled classes but she’d also attend the lectures and have the opportunity to meet with the speakers. 

“It all adds to the engagement,” she said. “It adds to the practical aspect of learning, so it doesn’t feel like you’re sitting in on a lecture.” 

Despite her full schedule, Herminia has found great enjoyment in her journey as a master’s student in the Christian ministry program at PLNU. 

“I have completely enjoyed all of my professors and just how much they have to offer and how intentional they are about making the experience meaningful,” she said. 

She particularly enjoys how professors find ways to apply what is learned in the classroom to real-life situations. 

“Ministry is changing,” she said. “I love the way that all of our professors have challenged us into looking at ministry in context in different ways.”

Who are you called to be?
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Is Christian Ministry right for me?

Addressing the common misconception that pursuing a master's degree is reserved for the younger generation, Herminia emphasizes that it's never too late. Starting her Christian ministry degree at the age of 52, she challenges the notion that age should be a barrier to education. As she approaches the completion of her master’s program, Herminia is already thinking about a doctorate.

“People that are my age need to know that it's never too late,” she said.

She also emphasizes that pastoral work will look different depending on what one’s specific calling is. Herminia’s passion for social justice work coupled with her status as a woman in ministry have led her down a unique path that she embraces with pride. 

“We have this picture of what pastoring should be,” she said. “But yet, being fully a pastor in my own right, looks different.”

Herminia’s story stands as a testament to the fact that one can pursue higher education and make a significant impact regardless of when they decide to take that step. Her story serves as an inspiration for all who wish to pursue ministry, particularly people of color. 

For those that may be in doubt about pursuing ministry either because of their age or social status, Herminia has some advice to share. 

“Just do it, because we need your voice and we need your perspective,” she said. “The church needs you, and you will grow in the process as God and the Holy Spirit show and reveal and teach and educate, that your own perspective will just grow even bigger and deeper and wider by learning and going into the program.”

If you’d like to pursue Christian Ministry as a vocation and calling, consider applying to PLNU’s Christian Ministry master’s degree program. There you will be equipped and empowered to be a strong leader whose preaching and teaching impact the lives around you.

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