Maybe its the stage in my life, but it seems that there are a lot of pastoral colleagues going for a Doctorate of Ministry or another advanced professional degree. Without arguing over the value of a D.Min or about which program is best, let's just assume that our M.Div did not necessarily prepare us for certain parts of ministry. It could be a lack in the program we attended, new questions that just weren't on our radar until we began working in our context, or merely the fact that the entire world has changed over the last decade (Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management calls it, THE WORMHOLE DECADE).
The D.Min, or any other degree, is a serious decision which requires financial and time commitments. So, whether you are in the midst of discerning a D.Min or whether you are looking for something to stretch you, here are five things you could do over this upcoming year that would be great for your ministry.
1. Lewis Fellows
Participants will travel three times to visit congregations of various sizes to see different models and learn directly from other church leaders. One of the benefits of attending was that it created cross-denominational connections. Past fellows, like Riverside's pastor Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, said that her relationships turned into lifelong relationships.
PROS: Not only does this program give access to a variety of different congregations, but also to leadership resources at Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Seminary.
LIMITS: This is limited to clergy in a congregational setting under the age of 35, who have served at least two years but no more than ten years beyond seminary.
CONTINUING EDUCATION: Each of the three gatherings is worth 2.0 CEU's. You can list it as a fellowship in your resume.
COST: $1,000 that can be paid in two installments of $500. All other expenses for travel, lodging, food is covered thanks to generous funding from The Lilly Endowment, Inc.
2. Engel Institute
The Engle Institute is a weeklong event at Princeton Seminary for those who have an M.Div., preach regularly, and have been out of seminary between two and ten years. Once accepted into the program, you will have a chance to choose between several preaching workshops and lectures from a variety of professors and practitioners.
PROS: Great workshops and opportunity to hone in on preaching skills.
LIMITS: It is limited to experience, but not to age.
CONTINUING EDUCATION: Yes, you can receive CEU's through Princeton Seminary.
COST: $175, plus travel. The fee covers workshops, food, and lodging.
The fee is low thanks to the generosity of Joe R. Engle, a member of the First Presbyterian Church in New York City who gave a sizable donation to Princeton Seminary and asked them to do something about the poor preachers that he had to listen to.
3. Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising
The ECRF course and certification is through the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Lake Institute on Faith and Giving. However, they partner with other seminaries and are held across the country over the year.
PROS: Communicating with donors includes basics on how to talk about the mission, vision, and accomplishments of your ministry. Even if you don't see your ministry as fundraising, knowing how to communicate your ministry is still essential.
LIMITS: You need to commit to not just the coursework and reading, but also a practical stewardship project and reflection that needs to be completed within eight months of the course.
CONTINUING EDUCATION: Once the project is completed, you receive 22 CRFE units and a certificate in Religious Fundraising.
COST: $1250.00 for the course. Meals, lodging, and travel are extra. There are twelve scholarships available for $625.00.
4. Kellogg Business School's Faith & Leadership Week
A crash course and overview of leadership from some of the best leadership minds through Kellogg Business School and other practitioners. Geared towards religious and nonprofit leaders.
PROS: This is an excellent course for those who are looking for some MBA experience without the cost of an MBA. You also stay and eat at on campus at the Allen Center, which is designed to house business leaders from around the world for continuing education events. So, the food and the lodging is designed to attract the CEO from Fortune 500 companies. Better digs than that monastery where you had the silent retreat.
LIMIT: Does not offer official CEU's if you need that for your denomination. If you are ABC-USA, like me, then the denomination still counts it as continuing education.
CONTINUING EDUCATION: None, but the course counts as two workshops towards a Nonprofit Executive Leadership Certificate.
COST: $2,000, plus travel. A 50% discount for the course is offered to anyone currently working in a nonprofit business, which includes your church or judicatory.
5. Silent Retreat
Sometimes it is not about the continuing education credits, but the need to get away and refocus. Be kind to yourself and rediscover your rhythm. I live and have found workshops and overnights essential to my spirituality.
What about you? What has shaped you? What has influenced you? Tell us below what continuing education experiences have been invaluable and life-giving to you and your ministry.