Continuing Education for a 21st Century Church

It used to be true that we pastors used our Continuing Education time (2 weeks required in my denomination) to chart out a year’s worth of sermons or bone up on preaching in general, and that’s still happening for some of us.  But considering the breadth of knowledge needed for 21st Century Ministry beyond Biblical exegesis and theology and practical resource-mining, it feels rejuvenating for us to broaden our skills for a changing church.

The pastor who baptized me many decades ago shared that the entirety of his ministry involved “only” preaching, moderating the boards, marrying, baptizing, and burying, emergency pastoral care, general visitation, and leading Bible studies.

Today – in addition to all the above – pastors regularly deal with people struggling with mental illness, addiction, PTSD, and homelessness.

Required “Good Boundary Training” sprang up in the past twenty years but in order to keep up as well-trained parish pastors, I appreciate seminaries and Mid-Councils who require  – or encourage –  training in the following:

  • Anti-Racism Training – Our overwhelmingly White denominations need to talk about race in new ways, especially in terms of understanding systemic racism and white supremacy.
  • Basic Mental Health First Aid Training – We who serve congregations could use help identifying, understanding, and responding to signs of mental illness and addiction as rates are up in a variety of mental health challenges.
  • Cultural Humility Training – We know that all Spanish-speaking people are not the same, right? That Immigrants from Nigeria and immigrants from Ghana are very different? Basic knowledge about cultural differences is good but cultural humility is better – digging deeper than cultural competence in order to better partner with our neighbors respectfully.
  • Community Organizing Training – As we consider my favorite question:  What breaks God’s heart in your neighborhood? we increasingly need skills for speaking truth to power, including how to build group-centered leadership and how to bolster one-on-one relationships for the sake of shifting power structures for the sake of justice.

What training – beyond the usual seminary Continuing Education courses – have you found to be especially enriching for 21st Century Ministry?   And maybe it’s a seminary that’s introduced a new skill you didn’t know you could use for professional ministry?

I’d love to hear what kinds of classes your Presbytery, Association, Conference, Diocese, or Congregation are offering these days for equipping leaders.  Improv?  Trauma Informed Care? Entrepreneurship?  Non-Profit Management? Juggling?  Please share.


Image of my friend Jeff Kreibiel who passed away last April and the book he wrote that we used in Chicago a few years ago.  I am taking Community Organizating Training this week because it would have made Jeff so happy.  His book can be purchased here.

One response to “Continuing Education for a 21st Century Church

  1. Leslianne Braunstein

    Mediation Training has been helpful.


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