What Clergy Don’t Talk About

What Clergy Don’t Talk About

By Israel Galindo, Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning and Director of Online Education

Most pastors are good preachers, and some fine pulpiteers and wordsmiths. In their preaching and teaching ministry they need to cover a wide range of topics, issues, and subjects, from the Bible to contemporary complex social issues; from marriage to parenting to leadership. The image of addressing issues from cradle to grave, birth to death (or “womb to tomb”) is apt. There are, however, things clergy are not prone to talking about easily. Money issues, for example tend to be difficult for clergy, whether personal or church finances. Sexuality, race, politics can be difficult for some (though interestingly, not sports!). Personal struggles with depression, loneliness, feelings of incompetence, and crises of faith may be near the top of things clergy do not talk about—all to their detriment, and, to risk of spiritual and mental health.

The Center for Lifelong Learning will offer two opportunities for clergy and others to talk about two important things clergy don’t often talk about. The first is an opportunity to talk about money and ministry. The online course, “Money and Your Ministry” will provide an opportunity to read and talk about our relationships between money and ministry. The impetus for the dialog is my observation that churches that tend to have the greatest difficulties with budgets, money, and stewardship tend to be congregations whose pastoral leaders have not resolved their personal issues with money.

Rev. Margaret Marcuson will facilitate the course. She is a recognized expert on the issues of money and ministry and is the author of Money and Your Ministry. I’ve known Margaret for several years (she serves on the faculty of the Leadership in Ministry workshops) and have heard her speak and have read her works on this issue. In this course Margaret addresses the foundational causes of why it is so difficulty for us to talk about money–and how we fail our congregations when we do not talk about money. Join us for this important learning experience! The course runs August 8 to 31, 2016. Registration is now open.

A second issue clergy do not talk about is about how to lead in a dying congregation. This is no surprise in a culture that is both obsessed with “winning” and the denial of death, as author Ernest Becker aptly described. The online course “The Role of the Minister in a Dying Congregation” will help pastoral and lay leaders deal honestly, ethically, and courageously with the challenges of leading and envisioning the final stage of life for a congregation. Dr. Woody Jenkins, author of the book by the same name, will lead our online course on this subject.

I met Woody when he was working on his DMin at seminary. I was impressed at his courage in taking on as his project a frank and honest study of dying congregations, motivated by his own challenges in leading the congregation he served at the time—a declining and dying church. I’m grateful that Woody will share his wisdom and personal experiences, as well as his research in this relevant course. The course will run October 3 to 28, 2016. Registration is now open. 

Israel Galindo is Associate Dean for Lifelong Learning at the Columbia Theological Seminary. Formerly, he was Dean at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond. He is the author of the bestseller, The Hidden Lives of Congregations (Alban), Perspectives on Congregational Leadership (Educational Consultants), and A Family Genogram Workbook (Educational Consultants), with Elaine Boomer and Don Reagan.

His books on Christian education include Mastering the Art of Instruction,The Craft of Christian Teaching (Judson), How to be the Best Christian Study Group Leader (Judson), Planning for Christian Education Formation (Chalice), and A Christian Educator’s Book of Lists (S&H), and Theories of Learning for Christian Educators and Theological Faculty.

Galindo contributes to the Wabash Center’s blog for theological school deans 

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