Even though 1992 is a tough year for many businesses across the nation, there’s one thing that continues to receive increased funding each year: training and continuing education programs. This year alone, corporate America will spend more than $200 million on training.
Whether it’s bringing new employees “up to speed” on company practices, or helping mid-career workers stay on top of the latest trends, American business has learned that there’s no substitute for investment in continuing education.
Corporations aren’t alone in their belief in training. Most professions — such as medicine, law, pharmacy, engineering, and the like — have strict requirements concerning regular continuing education programs. Personally, I’m glad my doctor is required to earn a certain number of credit hours for continuing medical education!
Although some denominations (such as United Methodists) have established minimal requirements for continuing education for ministers, most ministers are left on their own to determine their ongoing training needs. A large percentage of ministers don’t take advantage of any formal continuing education opportunities (beyond personal reading) after their seminary days. Unlike doctors of the body, too many “doctors of the soul” seem to think they’ve finished their education after their theological degree is hung on the wall.
It is a promising sign, however, that increasing opportunities for continuing ministry education are available through a wide variety of agencies and institutions.
Conferences & Seminars
Many excellent conferences are provided each year — some on an annual basis, others as a single event. One obvious example is the National Conference on Preaching, sponsored each spring by this publication. The fourth such event was recently held in Houston, Texas; the fifth National Conference on Preaching is scheduled for May 4-6, 1993, at the Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. The program features lectures, sermons, and workshops designed to strengthen the preaching ministry of participants.
Many colleges and seminaries — like Wheaton College (Illinois) and Fuller Seminary (California) — offer an excellent selection of conferences and seminars throughout the year. A number of institutions offer Summer School or Pastor’s School programs during the summer months; these are typically advertised in denominational publications as well as other periodicals.
The newly-created American Academy of Ministry will be sponsoring a Summer Ministry Institute at Yale University, August 3-6, 1992. This event will feature classroom instruction by program leaders like David H. C. Read, John Killinger, and Gabriel Fackre.
Such programs are vital to effectiveness in ministry, for several reasons:
– they keep you on top of current ideas and trends
– they provide a means for networking with other ministers in a setting conducive to dialogue and problem solving
– they give you time to get away from the daily burdens and time constraints of your place of service so that you can have concentrated time to study, think, meditate, and pray. Such events allow you to refresh and renew, so that you can return to your place of service with new energy and enthusiasm.
Doctor of Ministry
The development of the Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree program in American seminaries has provided a popular new outlet for many ministers to continue their theological training in a more formal setting. The typical D.Min. program requires several months of classroom instruction (usually done in increments of 2-4 weeks at a time), supplemented with outside reading and production of a field project (with a written report).
Unlike the Ph.D. or Th.D. degrees, the D.Min. is a professional (rather than research) degree; the focus is on enhancement of professional skills for ministry, rather than academic research and study in preparation for teaching. Thus, the D.Min. is ideal for in-service ministers who wish to further their training but with a focus on the practical.
Most accredited seminaries today offer the D.Min. program. Requirements and programs do vary considerably — and the easiest program is rarely the most productive — so request catalogs from theological schools in your region to learn more.
Do-it-yourself Continuing Education
While training events away from your place of service are ideal for a variety of reasons, sometimes it is impossible to take advantage of such programs. In that event, it is important to plan your own continuing education program.
One example would be a self-designed reading program. Select a group of 10-12 substantial books that will provide new insights and stimulate your thoughts; perhaps you’ll choose one or two titles in each of several categories, including: biblical studies, theology, preaching, pastoral care, church history, ethics, and so on. The annual review of books in the January-February issue of Preaching will provide an excellent starting point for such a program.
It is also possible to supplement your reading program with a variety of audio and video tape sets now available. For example, Wheaton College has an excellent audio tape series on “Evangelistic Preaching” designed for use as a continuing education program. The preaching faculty of Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, produced a fine video-tape series on biblical preaching (published by Broadman Press) that can be used either for individual study or with a group of ministers.
Whatever your plan — to attend one or two professional conferences, to do a self-study, or even to begin a new degree — it is essential that you develop some kind of plan for continuing education. You need the ideas and encouragement, and the people you serve deserve the stronger ministry you’ll provide as a result.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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