Theological Education vs. Ministry Preparation?

Minister PreparingShould seminaries engage in theological education or ministry preparation? Of course the initial answer should be "both."

But, Let's go deeper.
 
Should seminaries primarily focus on theological education with minimal practical, real-time ministry preparation? Or, should seminaries primarily focus on ministry preparation with just enough theological reflection to be sure they are not producing heretics?
 
On a scale of one to ten, with one representing the position that seminaries should engage only in theological education and let students get ministry preparation on their own, and ten representing the position that seminaries should engage only in ministry preparation and let students be theologically grounded elsewhere, where along this scale should seminaries focus?
 
Why? Explain your answer.
 
Beyond this straightforward dichotomy are additional questions. Should seminaries provide theological indoctrination that fits the generally focused perspective of the seminary faculty? Should seminaries teach a style of ministry their perspective says is the generally accepted—perhaps even the only accepted—pathway to a successful ministry career? In other words, should seminaries seek to produce graduates in their image, or graduates in the image of God for engaging in with the unique set of spiritual gifts, life skills, and personality preferences each person possesses?
 
Perhaps the reality of these last three questions is to watch the graduates of seminaries that faculty and administration point to as examples of their best graduates, or those who they invite back to speak or teach, or alumni who they honor with some recognition, or those who they continually recommend for ministry placement throughout the ministry career of the graduate. This may say more than anything else where the seminary is along this continuum of theological education vs. ministry preparation.
 
What is your story about seminary? To what extent did you receive a theological education? To what extent did you receive ministry preparation?

Common Sense Security for Houses of Worship

Church Security

This is a repost from the summer of 2015 that is still relevant today and points to a resource that is still active!

In light of the mass murders this week at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC many congregations will think about, perhaps rush to deal with, security issues for their congregation. In the midst of their response congregations need to seek some common sense about security.

I recommend congregation download the Download Guide to Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship  published by FEMA. It is a helpful comprehensive, common sense piece.

Here is the FEMA site: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/33007

I also recommend congregations contact their insurance provider. Many have developed or have recommended material and guidebooks for houses of worship. 

Be wise. Be loving. Be inviting. Be careful. Be safe. Be Christian.


What About Location Partners? More Than Multisite--Learning One on Barna Report

Multisite ChurchesI am just having an opportunity to read the 2016 Barna Report produced in partnership with Cornerstone Knowledge Network entitled More Than Multisite: Inside Today's Methods and Models for Launching New Congregations. I will likely post several times about it.

One term I have already learned that I like very much is "Location Partners". I am going to use it here forward as a replacement for "Nesting Congregations". Location Partners are defined in the report as "a separate congregation meeting at, and sharing resources with, another church (for example, a ministry reaching a specific demographic groups, such as a young adult congregation or an international group with services in a different language)." [p. 10] 

The only thing I would change is to indicate that Location Partners can be several congregations sharing facilities and other resources. I have visited church sites where up to six congregations meet for worship, discipleship, fellowship, and other activities.

I also like Location Partners as a title as Nesting Congregations as a term has implied in many cases a parent/child relationship. Location Partners should express more of an adult/adult relationship. For some churches who own their facilities, however, this is a stretch when a group of a different ethnicity or socio-economics is their Location Partner. Perhaps some growth in relationships can happen in this case.


Jesus and Our Brain Compete for Racial Reconciliation

Multi Cultural Bible StudySunday, October 15, 2017

Today I attended a presentation and dialogue on changing the way the Church views racism. With me were six people representing various member congregations of the Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

It was sponsored by the Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops. Guest speaker was Drew Hart of Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and author of Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church View Racism.

In the dialogue around our table, one team member suggested there is competition between Jesus and our brain. Here is my spin on what she meant.

Our relationship with Jesus is one of unconditional love. Through such a relationship external racial reconciliation is possible. It involves our awareness of racism in our words and actions, repentance of racism in our lives and the systems of society we enable, and forgiveness for our sin of racism. This awareness may ultimately lead to actions to rid society of unjust laws and systems, racist cultural practices, and racial privilege.

The challenge is our brain. Among things that may be missing in the Jesus-focused actions of racial reconciliation is forgetting. Reconciliation is about repentance, forgiveness, and forgetting. Forgetting is the harder of the three to achieve.

Continue reading "Jesus and Our Brain Compete for Racial Reconciliation" »


Intentional Interim Pastoral Ministry is an Art More than a Science, Post One

Tom HarrrisSaturday, October 14, 2017

This week I had the opportunity to speak to the leadership, and some invited guests, of one of my favorite organizations that seeks to recruit, train, place, resource, and coach interim pastors for congregations.

It is Interim Pastor Ministries.

My relationship with the people of Interim Pastor Ministries goes back almost nine years when its current executive director—Tom Harris—was serving as interim pastor for a church in Atlanta, GA, and saw an invitation where I was leading a church consultation weekend where others were invited to observe a Friday night session. He signed up, attended, and we talked briefly.

I few years later Tom become the executive director for Interim Pastor Ministries. Three years ago, he saw another invitation where I invited people to shadow me through a four-day weekend experience with a church. He signed up, we had extensive conversations during that weekend, and since then we have been together a dozen times.

The most recent was this week in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Continue reading "Intentional Interim Pastoral Ministry is an Art More than a Science, Post One" »