Preparing for ministry is never a one-time event. Instead, we as pastors are constantly being formed for the ministry that God has called us into. Some of our learning comes simply through lived experience, but we also honor our calling to discern intentionally how we might grow as unique people serving in unique ministry contexts. These pages of continuing education and ongoing formation for ministry resources are designed to assist pastors, ministry leaders and councils to make plans for ongoing learning.
Two thoughts to guide support of a pastor’s continuing education:
First, some churches think that once someone is trained in a seminary their training ought to be considered done. However, this doesn’t pan out when we look at any other position in society. For example, physicians are trained in new treatments that are developed. A well functioning medical system, and patients, would never complain that an oncologist is staying current! We should expect the same with pastors.
Second, any organization has a right to expect that the training they support is actually useful to that organization. An oncologist would not dabble in general ongoing education for the sake of personal growth without some accountability for how it will impact their ability to treat cancer patients. So too, pastors are encouraged to pay attention to the ongoing training they receive to be clear on how it will benefit the congregation they are serving.
To recognize these two challenges, we have included the “Learning Covenant” in Fruitful Practices, below. It is designed to be a framework for having a healthy conversation together.
Not every educational opportunity needs to be part of an academic program. Recognizing this, we have organized the opportunities around the level of commitment involved. We hope that this helps you access helpful opportunities.
Without an intentional plan, we can easily jump at whatever learning opportunity seems most interesting at the time (whether or not it’s what we really need to be growing in). Here are some resources for healthy practices and planning for ongoing learning in ministry.
One of the primary ongoing ways to learn is by engaging in ideas and stories found in books, movies, documentaries, music, podcasts, etc. Click below for resources organized by the areas of Our Calling.
Conferences, gatherings, and the like are great opportunities to go deep in a certain area of ministry. The opportunities listed below via the links are organized learning events that are generally one week or less in length.
These are more involved programs that a pastor and/or the church may commit to for a longer period. Formal programs allow a more intensive and directed learning environment, and, the in the case of programs offered by an academic institution, the accreditation process can contribute a high standard in the educational opportunities.
Perhaps you don’t know exactly what type of conference, book, or program to engage in, but you’re curious to know what some places of learning offer on an ongoing basis. Below you’ll find lists of places with short descriptions that can allow you to go deeper.