I was reading/glancing through the 72-page report (yes, that’s 7 and 2) entitled Review of Training and Support of Ministers – if you would like to read it in full it can be found on the ascend.churchofscotland.org.uk website. If the following link doesn’t work you may have to type it all in to access… http://ascend.churchofscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Church-of-Scotland-Review-of-Education-Training-and-Support-Report.pdf
It is part of the Rethinking Initial Training (RIT) programme of change. If you love acronyms then this is the place to go…in order to achieve the goal of RIT, and to support FTWS, OLM, MDS, and especially those in their FFY, then we need to change our IME, monitored closely by the TTG, and including MTN, CMD and MDC. Poor old Deacons, I can’t seem to find an acronym for you, sorry! If you can complete all these acronyms then give yourself a pat on the back by way of ministerial support!
This report tells us a lot about what’s presently happening but not a lot about what’s to happen…we have to wait another year for the Ministries Council to produce that delight, but of course, by then, we will be able to build on this major report which everyone will have read thoroughly! Why is there a mind of recent years to go to outside consultants? Is this money well spent when the report includes large swathes of what we already know?
One highlight is the sentence that recommends, “Simplification and improved presentation of paperwork associated with training and support.” Yahoo! But that’s where the SIMPLIFICATION ends! It seems at the moment you will still have to face somewhere between 2 (if you have a previous degree) and 4 years full-time study before being released into a probationary period of 15 months; the Ministries Council’s preferred option is for on-campus learning rather than distance or part-time, it seems, so the “giant financial burden” mentioned elsewhere doesn’t seem like it’s getting lifted anytime soon! Candidates for ministry are instructed to journal and these journals are submitted and assessed; should these not be for the writer to share if they so choose? I am looking for new radical thinking and I’m not seeing it!
What would the disciples have shown on the charts of resilience, awareness of equality and diversity, innovation, managing own well-being, and self-confidence?
There are some common challenges to ministers mentioned in this report…time pressure, unrealistic expectations, work/life balance, skills set, and rapid change in the Church. Whilst I agree with most of that list, rapid change in the Church is not one – maybe rapid change in society, but not in the Kirk…at least not yet!
Not one mention in this whole report about changing the mind-set of congregations. It’s all about training for ministries, but what use is that without preparing congregations for change? All you are doing is setting up ministers to bang their heads against brick walls! This is possibly where the Church Without Walls would prove very useful!!
And another thing…some say clergy in the Church of Scotland are very well paid, especially in comparison to other denominations. Great! First, is this not something of which we should be proud, that we give our women and men in ministry a fair wage? And secondly, if it’s so good, why are we so short of ministers?
The conclusions are woolly. The stage is now set to see if the Ministries Council can keep it simple and come up with a way forward that will serve a Church that is declining but eager, in some places, to flourish again! But the report misses big bits out… “Flying kites of change” on my website directs you to, amongst other things, DROPPING TERRITORIAL MINISTRY, STUDY LEAVE, MANSES, NEW PATHS INTO MINISTRY…all of which is provided on a consultancy fee of zero! We do not need a rehash of old ways; we need a radical new approach to training for ministry!
I am not wholly uneducated and 72 page reports may be interesting for some but for most it will go unread. We can study books about change and many of them have fascinating insights, but at the end of the day we need something SIMPLE – easy to read, easy to understand, easy to follow – not because we are daft but because we don’t all have the time to wade through volumes, nor will many members have the inclination to do so.
So Is My Pastor Lacking Education (S.I.M.P.L.E.)?
So Is Me Plot Losing Egit (S.I.M.P.L.E.)?
Show Initiative Ministers Pray Love Everyone (S.I.M.P.L.E.)?
Mon the Reformers! Keep it SIMPLE, like “follow me” or “go and make disciples”. Jesus was far too simple wasn’t he?