Key Opportunities in Preparing Church Leaders

June 13, 2022

by Gary G. Hoag, PhD, Generosity Monk; member of the Kairos Project teaching team


As part of a recent project, Kairos was asked to consider what key opportunities it and collaborating organizations were facing related to preparing and supporting pastors and congregational lay ministers for Christian churches. 

Six key opportunities emerged as part of our work:

The first key opportunity is collaboration. We refer to it as large-scale, non-geographically-bound collaboration. This aims to leverage good work already being done by connecting creators and developers with those who are called to lead in church settings. It results in better stewardship of resources because it refrains from duplicating costs.

The second key opportunity is innovation. As long-standing financial and educational models are unsustainable, we exchanged these prior patterns for fresh expressions of theological education. In fusing competency-based theological education with the formational aspects of theological education, it gave birth to a new kind of ministry training that is widely affordable and accessible.

The third key opportunity is customization. Denominations, networks, and ministries are eager to create customized discipleship journeys for students. This allows education to happen in the crucible of daily living rather than being something that is added on to one’s task list. The end goal is discipleship and the degree is a by-product of a student’s vibrant formation.

The fourth key opportunity is bringing hope. This has two aspects, one for the student and one for his or her situation. A low-cost monthly subscription approach gives all students access to training for service in congregational settings without taking on debt. Whether the student comes from the suburbs or the urban core, they bring hope to their context through the duration of their educational experience and beyond.

The fifth key opportunity is hospitality. Collaboration across a broad spectrum of theological traditions helps students, faculty, and partner organizations learn how to extend welcome to each other rather than to compete or fight. This is vital for ministry to flourish in the North American context. Graduates learn to speak with conviction while maintaining a posture of humility.

The sixth key opportunity is locality. Context-based theological education takes the best of global awareness and mixes it with the best of hyper-localized education. This gives students exposure to the diverse nature of the Body of Christ while also having localized practices rooted in particular communities of faith. In this sense, it provides the benefits of other training models, while preserving what is needed for long-term sustainability in a local setting, a network of support.

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