Continuing Education for Pastors: General Educational Approaches

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Introduction: 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 formation for ministry resources are designed to assist pastors, ministry leaders and councils to make plans for ongoing learning.

The Continuing Education pages are organized by the Five Callings the CRC has adopted. While these callings are obviously not the total sum of ministry, they nonetheless provide a helpful framework for the breadth and balance of our own ministry experience.

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 patients in the hospital. 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.” It is designed to be a framework for having a healthy conversation together.

Lastly, 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.

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