The Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) at Columbia Theological Seminary offers a new initiative in pastoral excellence. The Pastoral Excellence Programs builds on the successes of the Center for Lifelong Learning (CLL) in clergy leadership formation and development. The new initiative begins in 2014 with two program facets: (1) the Leadership in Ministry Workshops, and (2) the Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy. While each program is designed to meet the needs of different audiences, each builds on the best practices of clergy professional and personal development and learning. A key pedagogy for both programs is the peer-learning model.
The Leadership in Ministry Workshops is an on-going twice-a-year peer-based clergy leadership development program meeting at the Center for Lifelong Learning in Decatur, GA, on the campus of Columbia Theological Seminary. This program’s goals are to: (1) provide a peer-learning forum for clergy to explore the issues particular to their congregational contexts; (2) help participants develop a theoretical framework for interpreting practice and context using Bowen Systems Theory; (3) help clergy accurately identify and name the particular challenges of ministry in their context; (4) provide clergy with a safe and stimulating peer group experience for renewal and challenge.
The Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy is for mid-career clergy (ten to twenty years into full time ministry) who are seeking to participate in a professional formative conversation or to reflect on their vocational experience, and assess their ability to meet the leadership demands/needs of their organization. Attention will be given to addressing common experiences and issues of mid-career clergy: facing either a normative or unanticipated career transition, standing at a vocational crossroads of some sort, engaging in reflective self-assessment and finding support among peers.
Clergy in mid-career face challenges, both personal and professional, that are unique to their stage in life and vocational trajectory. They have accumulated experience, know-how, and a certain amount of confidence. Not quite novices, many are still not “experts.” In fact, one of the paradoxes of clergy in mid-career is serving in increasingly complex contexts that continue to challenge their competencies, to the extent they are no longer able to solve certain problems for the systems they serve.
The goals of this colloquy experience include: (1) to provide a forum for mid-career clergy to explore the issues particular to congregational leaders at the mid-career point of their vocational trajectory; (2) to help clergy re-define and re-envision their calling and vocation; (3) to help clergy identify and name the challenges of ministry as a mid-career clergy; (4) to provide mid-career clergy with a safe and stimulating peer group experience for renewal and challenge.
Each year, more than 1300 people take courses or attend special events offered by Columbia’s Center for Lifelong Learning. Both pastors and lay persons are drawn to the center’s calendar of vibrant learning and cohort opportunities specifically created to build and enhance skills in church leadership, Christian education and formation, spiritual formation and spiritual direction.
For information on the Center for Lifelong Learning’s upcoming courses, including Leadership in Ministry and Colloquy for Mid-Career Clergy, visit www.ctsnet.edu/lifelong-courses-and-events.
Dr. Israel Galindo
Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning