Research shows that seminarians need a bridge between their course work and actual ministry in a congregation. Field education placements can help prepare students for the practice on ministry; however, more resources are available. The School of Christian Vocation and Mission (SCVM) has designed programs to help current students and recent graduates start their first call well. Transition into Ministry, which met in May with 10 seniors participating, is one example. “We think of it as survival skills for ministry,” says the Rev. Dr. Mary Dennis, director of programs at SCVM.
In addition to acquiring practical skills, participants in Transition into Ministry focus on thinking theologically about the practice of ministry. New pastors’ experiences shape the key topics covered: starting strong, leading change, managing people and conflict, establishing boundaries, practicing self-care and spiritual disciplines, developing effective communication skills, and leading stewardship efforts. Plus, preparing for a job search, media for ministry, and developing a learning plan.
Past participants couldn’t be more positive about the course. In an evaluation, one called the experience, both “very important and very informative. This course offered ‘straight talk’– this is how it is.” Others said, “I feel more confident going out to my first call” and “This has been a real gift and will be an invaluable resource.” Of particular interest was the section on media training, where the students actually role-played interviews with the media. “It was outstanding,” said one participant. “Every seminary student should have this.”
If you or someone you know is preparing for a first call, then this is the course for you! Save the dates for 2014. Transition into Ministry is offered for credit during the January term, from January 6-17, and again, but without credit, from May 13–16, between final exams and graduation.
Take advantage of this opportunity to learn survival skills and gain practical advice on how to begin your ministry successfully!
For more information about this and other upcoming programs, and to listen to testimonials from participants, click here.
Participants pictured in banner at top of article (left to right): Emily Morgan, William Stoklosa, Michael Gewecke, Emily Mitchell, and Dawan Buie.
We would like to hear from you about suggested topics and ideas you have for a class like Transition into Ministry. What do you wish you knew before entering pastoral ministry? To provide your input, submit comment below.