Thursday, February 9, 2017

MegaTrend: Continuing Education for Pastors and Church Leaders

Among the Ten Major Trends for Churches in 2017 is a "remarkable shift toward continual learning," according to Thom S. Rainer.

"Our research is showing that pastors and church staff tend to have greater success in their roles if they are intentional about continual learning," says Rainer, president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.

Some go the path of additional formal education, but others are receiving coaching and intentional programs of continual learning through seminars and online resources, he says.

"An ancillary trend to this one is the increase in number of mentors and coaches for pastors and staff,' Rainer adds.

Greenville Seminary offers pastors, church officers, and lay leaders a variety of opportunities to pursue additional theological training. Each semester and term, the seminary offers a number of "intensive classes" consisting of a handful of full, all-day courses in the span of a week or two. The entire winter term in January of each year is dedicated to these types of classes, but the spring and fall semester schedules also include some intensive courses, usually taught by adjunct faculty.

In addition, each summer, the seminary offers a week-long Summer Institute on a subject of current interest to the church.

One of the unique continuing education opportunities offered by the seminary is the Master of Ministry for Ruling Elders and Deacons. This degree program may be completed on campus for local area church officers or online through mentored distance learning in as little as two years.

The quality of the ministry of a Ruling Elder (RE) or a Deacon (D) depends on his personal devotion to the Lord, his knowledge of the Word, his understanding of biblical church government, and his specific function within that system of government. Therefore, the proper training for a RE/D or for a candidate for those positions is of great importance to the church. The M.M.R.E. and M.M.D. programs include training in personal piety, knowledge of the Bible, understanding of Presbyterian church government, and the role of the RE/D in the church. The M.M.R.E. program is designed to help the Ruling Elder function not only at the local church level, but at presbytery and General Assembly level. The M.M.D. program is designed to help the Deacon see his role in terms of the local church and the wider church.

Pastors may also enroll in regular classes offered within the seminary's divinity degree program.

Although no credit is offered, the seminary's annual Spring Theology Conference offers a great opportunity for in-depth spiritual and intellectual enrichment and encouragement. The 2017 conference on March 14-16 focuses on the great teachings and significance of the Protestant Reformation.