The Emperor's (Not So) New Clothes: A Response to Frederick Schmidt

Similarly, contemporary formation should equip those preparing for ordination to pursue collaborative relationships with those they serve. Those called to ordination can no longer function as the "professional Christians" of their communities and congregations; rather, they need to be able to enable all the members of the body to engage in mission. Christianity can no longer be a spectator sport, and those called to ordination need to be able to think of themselves as coaches and trainers rather than performers and service providers.

Likewise, we need to move beyond the unhelpful bifurcation of "theory" and "practice." Contemporary formation needs to be able to demonstrate the integral connection between learning and spirituality, between worship and outreach, between being deeply grounded in the classical tradition and being responsive to contemporary questions.

Finally, all of this further requires that those called to ministry (ordained and otherwise) need to be able to include life-long learning as an essential component of their vocation. Gone are the days when completion of a three-year course of studies can be thought of as sufficient for sustaining one through many years of ministry. Formation programs need to be the beginning of one's preparation for ministry, but cannot be thought of as the terminus.

The time for hand-wringing and finger-pointing has passed; we are now in a time in which those committed to revisioning theological education in a manner consistent with the mission and ministries of today's church should explore every available and effective means possible for helping each member of the church take up the ministries to which they are called.

Note: Read Frederick Schmidt's original article here, and his rejoinder to Andrew Grosso's response here.

10/31/2013 4:00:00 AM
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