I recently saw a magician posing as a waiter at a fancy restaurant. His co-worker was unaware of his ability to perform magic tricks. At one point, as they were cleaning up the tables, the magician took a conch shell and began to pour out an impossible amount of sand, water, and small shells from the larger conch shell. The container he was pouring into began heaping up those contents to the very brim. The young woman was utterly astonished at the seamlessly endless stuff flowing from the shell. How could such a small shell hold so much?
Sometimes I think we imagine that pastoral ministry for us looks like a conch shell that endlessly pours out “stuff” into empty containers waiting to be filled. And, for a time, we may be able to give off the perception that we are capable of this very thing. We teach, we preach, we visit, we counsel, we console… until we can’t possibly give anything more. We find ourselves exhausted and worn out, needing to be filled again.
The need for community and continued learning is vitally important for ministers. We can’t do this work alone and we can’t minister assuming we have it all figured out. God’s call pulls us into this refining work of discovering and re-discovering again and again. Nobody wants to draw water from a stagnant pool.
I have found intentional learning communities to be incredibly life-giving. Nazarene Theological Seminary is such a place, whether you live in Kansas City or reside around the globe. We live to serve you and want to be a connection for your ministry. Whether that is through auditing courses, taking advantage of the great material from the Center for Pastoral Leadership, or attending a conference, we want to walk alongside you in the journey.
A significant way that we are developing learning communities is through the launch of the newly revised Doctor of Ministry program. We have two cohorts (Innovative Leadership in Changing Cultures and Spiritual Formation and Discipleship) which begin each Fall. The students journey together through an intentional, formational educational experience. One of the greatest gifts of the program is the bonds created with fellow students, who are wrestling with many of the same issues and questions.
We’re really excited about the initial success of this program and anticipate how these intentional learning communities will impact the life of the Church. If you are sensing a need to connect with an intentional learning community, we would love to journey with you!