This course unit is an introduction to practical theology for ministry. The student will study an overview the Biblical and theological foundations of ministry with a focus on common aspects of ministry. The student will examine some of the complex and wide ranging issues that a pastor may respond to. In addition the student will be able to list some the social science support tools that aid in identifying deeper issues.
Every action a minister takes is in response to their faith in God. They work from a theological framework that tells them what they should or should not be doing. In the early church, many theological debates centered around the statements used in worship, or the actions taken during the celebration of the Lord’s supper. At the same time, while most pastors are not professional counselors, they are often called to advise in difficult circumstances. Some of the tools of psychology and social science are helpful to identify and separate the real issue that needs addressing from the symptoms that arise from that issue. Helping the student think with a Biblical world view about each of the issues facing them will enable them to sort out useful tools from those that might actually be damaging.
(From the Asia Pacific Regional Sourcebook)
CN-22 Ability to demonstrate understanding of the sources of theological reflection, its historical development, and its contemporary expressions
CN-23 Ability to integrate scripture, tradition, reason and experience for theological reflection.
CP-10 Ability to determine directions and personnel for the building up of the Church.
CP-12 Ability to be a leader and to encourage other leaders.
CX-2 Ability to identify in current events some main trends in science, politics, and civil education.
CX-4 Basic ability to analyze and describe communities and churches.
ACC-1 Explain and demonstrate how the Christian life of accountability is shown in relational integrity, leadership integrity, and financial integrity, toward God, church leaders and in other relationships
ADM-1 Explain and demonstrate how a pastor leads in love while balancing the demands of administration, leading with vision, following those in authority, and the shepherding concerns of the church.
CON-2 Demonstrate an awareness and sensitivity to the wide range of communication methods characteristic of effective Christian counseling techniques, eg reflective listening and questions, mirroring, emotional awareness, transformative grace, and appropriate confrontation. Pastors need to clearly express their own emotional struggle in the midst of difficult situations.
CON-3 Demonstrate the ability to identify then delegate to church members who are gifted in the area of Biblical counseling, and equip them in this ministry.
CON-4 Demonstrate the ability to provide pre-marital and marital counseling.
Dealing Biblically with the Spirit World
DBS-4 Explain how to distinguish between demonic or spirit activity in distinction to physical or psychological phenomena. Explain the most common ways that demonic activities are expressed in your culture / context. Prepare people to effectively train people to adequately respond to the spirit world while clearly understanding of the role of prayer and fasting.
DIS-3 To use the reading of God’s Word to foster one’s spiritual growth for personal devotions.
DIS-16 The student will start and develop a discipleship group and train them in evangelism, and discipling others and how to hold one another accountable.
Discipline Personal and Family
DPF-1 Develop an activity that prioritizes discipling the whole family. The student (if married) will have family devotions, and plan for their family to be involved in ministry activities. The student will develop and demonstrate an effective system for personal spiritual development, holistic personal care and articulate the importance of accountability for these.
EVA-4 Demonstrate intentionally building and modeling strong and honest relationships with non-believers; praying for the not yet saved and teaching others to do the same; bringing grace into others’ lives through helping to meet felt needs and being an example of righteous living. Explain how to present the claims Christ has on a person.
Personal Spiritual Development (Holiness).
HOL-5 Explain the kenosis passage (Philippians 2:5-11) as it relates to our “imitation of Christ”. List and explain top ten character traits a pastor should have as it relates to pastoral ministry.
Impact the Community
ICO-6 Give historical examples of how relationships were built with local officials and the negative or positive outcomes of these. Explain how some laws have historically impacted congregations and compare those impacts with modern examples. Demonstrate relational skills when communicating with community and government officials.
PRA-1 The student should have a strong passion for a life of prayer, and willing to devote himself/herself into prayer, and can demonstrate a life of prayer by keeping a prayer journal including a list of lost people God has made them responsible for.
PRE-30 Tell the story across history the different actors of the Reformation and the evolution of essential Protestant doctrines.
PRE-33 Demonstrate 5 different ways to properly organize / deliver a sermon for a culturally appropriate length of time.
PRE-34 Develop a one year preaching plan in line with the Christian calendar and seasons.
PRE-40 Explain how to use a culturally appropriate illustration that actually supports the point that the sermon is making.
RIT-1 Explain and Demonstrate several techniques for administration of various rituals. (Weddings, Funerals, Baptisms, and Communion must be included) including theological, cultural essence; and legal implications and demonstrate public reading or memorized scripture quotation during a ritual.
RIT-2 Analyze various historical forms of Christian worship and devotion (Protestant Reformation) and consider how to apply these forms within today’s cultural context.
Core principles of this curriculum
Prayer is an essential activity for every Christian, pastor, teacher and layperson. We must include prayer as a constant and vital part of our teaching. We must include prayer in the classroom, not just as an introduction to the session, but as an active part of the activities, teamwork, and discussions. We should study prayer historically, explore different types, encourage silence, shouting, and read prayers. Teams should pray together. They should learn how to pray short prayers, and be given assignments that included long hours spent in prayer. The student should interact with God during the class, not just examine Him at a distance.
Students will engage in some of these pastoral activities in each class.
Accountability; Administration; Continuing Education; Counsel – Listen; Dealing Biblically with the Spirit World; Discipline – Personal and Family; Disciple; Evangelize; Fasting, Impact Community; Leadership, Ministry; Personal Spiritual Development (Holiness); Preach; Prayer; Ritual; Sabbath; Small groups.
We will engage the student in these pastoral activities while in the classroom and use those activities as bridge points or opportunities to learn content. For example, the theology of preaching is discussed as the student preaches. Communication theory is taught while evaluating the student’s sermon. Sociology and learner focus pedagogy are discussed while the student is developing lesson plans. Major projects are typically outside the classroom environment and done in teams.
The role of the pastor strongly influences activities needed in the classroom. In Ephesians Paul lays out five different types of ministers; apostles, evangelists, prophets, shepherds and teachers. Each of these has a different set of activities, types of ministries and a bit different focus but the main point of each of their ministry is the SAME; equipping of the Body of Christ for the work of ministry.
We aim to equip the pastor to teach and train others for ministry! THEIR work of service. The teacher needs to see the students demonstrate that ability – often – during their classes. We need to build the expectation into the students that equipping is their role, and help them gain the confidence to equip others.
We want a student to consider the ordinary problems that believers face as they minister to their family, co-workers and community. This is why there are four engagements in every class. People in a local church should be able to apply what the student is learning.
We want our students to engage in four ways in every single class. The form this takes will vary greatly from class to class, but some form of all these four must be included in every class.
1) With themselves
2) With other students
3) With a worshipping community
4) With the larger non-Christian community.
Lets look at these more closely.
With themselves. The student needs to grow in, character, understanding, confidence, and skill. Each class should help the student see clear evidence of their own growth as they fulfill the outcomes for that class. This will show them that their understanding is growing, their skill level is growing, and give them confidence in their continued ministry.
With other students. Learning to function in teams and to lead teams is a crucial skill for pastors. Teams will normally be cohorts structured so that the leadership constantly rotates. Often a team will be a cohort but not always. In fact at times it will be helpful to put the students in new groups to help them understand the dynamics of changing personnel. Leadership skills, teamwork skills, issues of hard work, integrity, timelines, trust, roles (and others) will be dealt with over and over within each of the classes. This way, a student’s faults and shortcomings will be constantly addressed. They will have many opportunities to improve on weaknesses and to identify and build strengths. By practicing these skills in every class and having some form of feedback on their progress, students will have the opportunity to grow well in areas of teamwork and leadership. It is important that every teacher briefly remind students why they are being formed into teams and what they are expected to learn from the team process.
With a worshipping community. The student must be a part of a worshiping Christian community to properly develop as a pastor. Projects assigned in the class must be accomplished within a local church / congregation / church plant. This means that the students will need to work with their pastor to have steady opportunities to minister in their local congregation. If the student is a pastor they can work with their local church board. At times the student themselves must develop a ministry, outreach or opportunity with the encouragement and support of their local congregation. Members of the congregation should be aware of the student’s study and be willing to encourage and help the student progress and develop. The student will develop the crucial skill of engaging others in ministry and working within a congregational structure to develop ministries. This skill will be important for the long term success of their ministry. They will need to develop healthy attitudes toward criticism and input. They will need to learn to look past the emotional content of criticism and find ways to improve themselves. They will also need to learn how to deal with destructive people who may try to manipulate, embarrass, or demean them in the presence of others. It is impossible to encounter the wide possible range of attitudes in one or two times of ministry with a congregation. It is crucial that a student is engaging with the congregation in every class so that they deal with a wide range of both opportunities and obstacles.
With the larger non-Christian community. Community engagement is a crucial skill for pastors. The ability to meet people in poverty and distress, business people, community leaders, government officials, wealthy individuals and people without a title but with strong influence in the community, sick and prisoners and other ordinary individuals will enable the pastor to preach the gospel to the whole community. Each class will have some project for the student in the community. They will engage people from different social and economic backgrounds. This builds the student’s confidence as they move into new ministry settings and begin to understand how the whole community functions. They will begin to understand how influential people in a community can help make (or oppose) good changes. They will also begin to develop the skills of community assessment and development.
Cohort and Mentor
Cohort. Students will be formed into small groups of 3 or 4 to study together both in class and if possible outside of class. We call this type of group a cohort. If possible the student will stay with their cohort for the whole time they are in the Course of Study. In some cases they will be assigned a new cohort each time they attend a class.
This cohort will function in several ways.
- As a study group. Students will meet before class and make sure that each of them has been able to complete the pre-class assignments.
- As an accountability group. Students will pray for each other and function as a spiritual growth and accountability group.
- As a classroom team. When teams are formed in the classroom, the cohort will be the primary team structure. At times, the teachers will want to mix members of teams so that other perspectives and personal interactions can be experienced.
- As a discussion group. One of the keys to a quality education is the ability to ask questions and discuss issues and ideas with other people. This cohort will give a natural group where these discussions can take place.
- As a coaching / mentoring group for active ministry. Each of the students will be engaged in active ministry as they take classes. Getting feedback, coaching and mentoring is a key to growing in leadership, grace, and personal confidence. Some mentoring or coaching needs to come from long-term pastors who can give guidance, but some needs to come from peers who are walking a similar journey and can often more easily identify with the problems and needs.
Coach / Mentor. Each student should have an assigned mentor / coach who will meet with them as they journey through the Course of Study. This person will help them connect to ministry in their local area. If the student is a member of the Church of the Nazarene, the mentor will guide them through the Nazarene steps toward ordination and provide feedback, coaching and guidance as they progress in ministry. This person should be an Ordained elder in the Church of the Nazarene. For a non-Nazarene who might be taking our Course of Study, this should be an Ordained elder from their own group.
It will be part of the enrollment process to make sure the cohorts and coach / mentors are identified. There should be a mechanism at each educational provider to make sure that these structures stay in place and continue to function. A person from the school should be checking on the mentor / coaches and making sure that meetings with the students are happening at least once every three months. Cohorts that have a change in members should be reformed with new members at the next class session.
Extensive use was made of the following sources:
RIIE Module, Shepherding God’s People
RIIE Module, Christian Ministry
TP 302 Pastoral Care Teacher Handbook, Nazarene Theological Institute, Church of the Nazarene, Africa Region
Also, materials taken from the following books:
Clinebell, Howard. Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counseling: Resources for the ministry of Healing & Growth. (1984) Abingdon Press: Nashville, TN.
Hulme, William E. The Pastoral Care of Families: Its Tehology and Practice. (1962) Abingdon Press: Nashville, TN.
Oden, Thomas C. Pastoral Theology: Essentials of Ministry. (1983) HarperCollins Publishers: New York.
Petersen, Bruce L. Foundations of Pastoral Care. (2007) Beacon Hill Press: Kansas City.
The Students will be formed into discussion groups / teams of 3 or two if necessary. If Cohorts already exist they will form the basis for the discussion groups.
If possible, the teacher will arrange for a visit to a hospital in the area.
- 5% Journal Bible Reading the following. 1 Corinthians; 2 Corinthians; Philippians; 1 Peter
- 25% Write a 750 word paper or a 15 minute talk that identifies the elements of a worship service that you have attended actively involved in and analyze the reason that things are done…what theology is being taught by each of the items you identify? Identify three elements or aspects for which you can recognize a sound biblical and theological basis. Recommend three changes to the worship service with theological rationales for the change.
- 20% Discuss the following in groups and report to the class:
- What is the role of the pastor from a Biblical and theological perspective?
- Explain how the Christian life of accountability is shown in relational integrity, leadership integrity, and financial integrity, toward God, church leaders and in other relationships
- List and explain top ten character traits a pastor should have as it relates to pastoral ministry.
- Explain how to distinguish between demonic or spirit activity in distinction to physical or psychological phenomena. Explain the most common ways that demonic activities are expressed in your culture / context.
- Explain how some laws have historically impacted congregations and compare those impacts with modern examples.
- 30% Long term Project – Identify one individual within a congregation that you are involved in and create a discipleship program that will develop their understanding of body ministry leading to equipping them for and encouraging them to participate in an active ministry role. (The focus here is the process of helping the person to actually take part in ministry regardless of the type of ministry. Eg a hospital visit may be the context but the project would be identifying the person, designing a discipleship program that identifies and develops gifts, activating the ministry, and reporting on its effectiveness. ) Final grade will be given based on the written report of not less than 1,200 words or a oral report of 25 minutes. Also the lecturer or an assistant will interview the individual mentored. The majority of the credit will be on the success of moving a person who was not yet engaged in ministry into a working ministry inside or outside the congregation.
- 20% Care Plan – Create a 10 week development plan that first identifies spiritual or emotional weaknesses that you and your family need grace to grow or heal. The plan will then address ways to strengthen self-care, family care and spiritual development using faith to access grace, knowledge to grow and spiritual disciplines to heal.
(Topics and content may need some reorganization for cultural and contextual application):
Introduction: A Wesleyan way to pastor
- The History of Pastoral Theology
- The Role of Theological Reflection in Ministry – Ephesians 4:11.
- The Application of Theological Reflection in Ministry and the Sacraments
- Preaching in the Wesleyan Spirit
- Pastoral Care
- Soul Care
- Pastoral Counseling
- Care for Self and Others
- Communicating care through the spiritual disciplines.
- Care through Presence
- Care for families
- Servant Leadership and Administration in Wesleyan Framework
- Discipleship and Hospitality
- Evangelism and Inclusion
- Wesleyan Contextualization