Alban Weekly | Let's make the church a center of theological education again

2 months ago

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Let's make the church a center of theological education again
Before 1563, when the first "modern" seminary opened, academic institutions weren't really involved in providing theological education. Instead, that task fell primarily to local churches, especially large, urban cathedrals, which were both places of worship and sites for clerical training and lay-focused education. Though they didn't offer formal degrees, cathedral churches and a few monasteries were where theological study and scholarship happened.
Much has changed since then. Today, even the largest and wealthiest "big steeple" churches would be hard-pressed to provide the specialized ministerial training required for clergy candidates in their own denominations -- never mind students from other traditions or with vocational goals outside of ministry. Clearly, independent seminaries and university divinity schools are much needed and here to stay.
Even so, after 500 years of outsourcing theological education, could it be time for the church to also try a different approach? Could the future of theological education be found, at least in part, deep within the church's past?
 Read more from Ryan Bonfiglio »
Why would someone give up a faculty position at Princeton Theological Seminary to become the dean of a divinity school? The Rev. Dr. Yolanda Pierce offers two answers. One is that God said go. The second reason, as she explains to co-host Bill Lamar, is that she wants to be at the table as theological education is shifting. She also talks about her identity as a Pentecostal who believes that the Holy Spirit is still speaking, what it means to be a public intellectual, and the need for conversations about justice and reparations.
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In the face of challenges, there is hope for theological education
The executive director of The Association of Theological Schools talks about his vision for the organization and why he is hopeful about the future of the church and theological education.
Read more from Frank Yamada »
A mastery model for theological education
Northwest Baptist Seminary in Vancouver collaborated with its denomination and churches to create Immerse, an M.Div. program built on a set of outcomes that are learned and practiced in the church. In this Q&A, the president talks about the program and the process that produced it.
Read more from Kent Anderson »
 Preparing the Pastors We Need: Reclaiming the Congregation's Role in Training Clergy
by George Mason
Amid the widespread discussion about 'the future of the church,' an important point is sometimes overlooked: tomorrow's church will depend to a great extent on the new pastors of today who will serve and guide our churches in the years ahead. 
George Mason's Preparing the Pastors We Need: Reclaiming the Congregation's Role in Training Clergy makes a timely intervention, asking us to redefine pastoral leadership by analyzing how, in fact, pastors are made in the first place. The book highlights an exciting development in the training of pastors: pastoral residency programs and mentoring. Mason demonstrates that these programs work best when the congregations themselves, not just leadership or staff, are an active participant in the training. In this way, churches begin to reclaim their rightful role in the formation of the ministers that will serve them. And, at the same time, they become healthier and more effective churches. 
Mason gives us the analogy of physician training. Medical school produces graduates with extensive knowledge of the body, but a practicing doctor will require several more years of internship and residency. Similarly, our seminaries and divinity schools produce men and women with good biblical knowledge, but they might not prepare a graduate for the task of helping a bereaved parishioner cope with the sudden loss of a loved one. Moreover, such areas as finances, budgets, personnel management, and vocational identity are also not well suited to seminary study. Mason shows that congregation-based mentoring and residency are excellent ways to bridge this gap.
Learn more and order the book »
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