How ministers learn in practice of ministry

December 2, 2016 by Lee Hinson-Hasty

For the past five years, two esteemed colleagues in theological education have worked together to exhaustively study how seminary graduates learn to practice their ministry. The scholars areĀ Christian A.B. Scharen of Auburn Theological Seminary, New York City, and Eileen R. Campbell-Reed of Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Nashville, Tennessee.

They explain their work best in a brief summary that introduces the report, which was released earlier this year.

“We find through listening to ministry leaders across the country that ministry today is less about exercising the authority of an office or role and more about embodying an authentic contextual wisdom only gained by daily practice of leadership on the long arc of learning ministry. Yet few studies of learning over time have been conducted, leading to this unique, broadly ecumenical, and national study of learning ministry in practice. In this five-year report, we describe the experiences of a cohort of 50 diverse ministers from across the United States, recruited from 10 theological schools ranging from Pentecostal to Eastern Orthodox and coming from many different denominational traditions.”

The report asks a central question that we think about here daily: What stories of pastoral leadership could be told to help make the nuance and significance of pastoral work visible to a wider audience?

We appreciate many things about this report, but particularly the broadly ecumenical nature of it and emphasis on the relational nature of ministry. It is, in the end, about relationships – and theological education givesĀ our future pastors a way and means of shaping those relationships and conversations.

We invite you to read this excellent report at the link below. It’s important, and a job well-done by faithful servants.