Without some accountability, learning goals can certainly fall flat. Learning practices as complex and subtle as ministry, does not work well in isolation or without good partners, mentors and friends. Being accountable to them requires trust and openness.
Today’s 3MMM Episode is Part 3 of 3 in our series on Learning Goals for ministry. In Episode 30: Learning Goals Part 1 we focused on setting “big squishy learning goals” and then harnessing our anger to give them urgency, value, and meaning.
In Episode 31: Learning Goals Part 2 we focused on bringing our fears into the light of day and seeing how learning a new practice can tap into or even confront our deep feelings.
Now, in Episode 32, we explore how to bring ministry goals to life. If you have a big squishing goal in mind, then it is time to set some objectives, determine your specific tasks, and identify the resources that will support your learning. Finally, you can set your learning up for accountability with people who support you in your practice of ministry.
This summer, I have the joy and responsibility of teaching four classes with 22 seminary students in two schools and four locations: Havana, Cuba; Nashville, Tennessee; Collegeville, Minnesota; and the Alex Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee. Learning goals are important for each class and syllabus. Those learning goals are also richer when students make their goals personal. All the learning is more effective from my point of view when there is a clear layer of accountability.
Seminary courses by design build in accountability. And field education in particular is focused on helping students integrate learning from aspects of their seminary curriculum. It does this through goal-setting and creating accountability to peers, professors, and ministry partners.
The following story comes from some powerful learning that happened for one seminary student. Margo* set goals and then part of the way through, she had to pivot. It was accountability to her class, her peers and professor, and to the congregation she served, which helped her make the most of a situation that did not go just as she was expecting.
When Margo stepped onto the path of congregational ministry, she was a new mother, new to seminary, and recently relocated to her home state of Alabama. These and other life challenges made the internship both the “most difficult… and the most rewarding” term of seminary thus far for her.
She approached the experience with two ministry learning goals: 1) to practice effective preparation and presentation of sermons and 2) to provide intentional pastoral care.
Margo found the preaching exhilarating. However, when things did not go as expected with learning pastoral care? Margo needed to take time to revisit her learning goals.
“I often feel like a fish out of water when it comes to pastoral care. I am an introvert who can be socially awkward from time to time, which can prove to hinder moments of pastoral care,” says Margo.
Early in the experience, Margo made a few home and hospital visits. The learning was slower than she wanted it to be, and she found herself discouraged and ready to throw in the towel. This became a turning point in her internship.
You can read the rest of Margo’s story in Pastoral Imagination: Bringing the Practice of Ministry to Life. And you can see how she became accountable led her deeper into her learning.
We are grateful for Central Seminary’s ongoing partnership with Three Minute Ministry Mentor!
This week’s featured resource, Welcome to Theological Field Education, includes a chapter by Dr. Sarah Drummond, which describes a wonderful process of setting goals for ministry. You could be the winner of that book! See details below.
We are extending the time for the “Summer Conference Celebration Giveaway”! There are more conferences and we want you to have a chance to tell us what you are reading! Watch for 3MMM book marks at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and seminary course happening in Clinton, Tennessee, and Wild Goose Festival.
To enter: Sign up for the weekly 3MMM email or post on your favorite social media platform and tell us what you are reading! You’ll be entered a second time.
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*Margo is a pseudonym and this story is shared with permission.