I am not a pastor, (but I play one on TV). No I don’t, but I did go to seminary and in many ways I quite understand many people’s frustration with pastoral education. It is not theological enough for pastors to deal with the many theological problems they will have to deal with. It does not train them well enough in dealing with their own spiritual needs and practices. It does not prepare them for the vast majority of the practical leadership problems of leading a church and dealing with committees and budgets and volunteers and paid staff, etc. It does not prepare them adequately for the pastoral care needs of a congregation. I could keep going on. But the reality is that there is only so much that a seminary education can do. I am increasingly convinced that we need both the formal education of seminary (that focuses on theological training and spiritual development) and a mentoring program post seminary education (that focuses on training in a pastoral setting for the practical leadership tasks and pastoral care) and on-going spiritual direction and mentoring once the pastor is in their regular role as pastor.
So I found this review of a book on Pastoral Leadership Case studies interesting. I know it will not appeal to most people that read my blog, but there are probably some that are pastors or work with pastors enough that they would benefit. The review is from Robert Cornwall’s blog.
It is a regular complaint heard among clergy – “I didn’t learn how to do this (or that) in seminary.” The transition from seminary to ministry can be overwhelming for many. Internships and CPE are designed to help ease the transition, but even they don’t always prepare you for the realities of parish ministry. One wonders whether the complaints are justified. Is seminary purely vocational training, or is it designed to provide the necessary theological and biblical foundations that one needs to serve effectively? Perhaps one must make the transition into ministry before one is ready to wrestle with the big questions posed by pastoral ministry. That is, like other professions, there will remain a strong need for ongoing continuing education that can help one develop skills needed for the long term.