Issuu on Google+

FALL 2012 The Commons How Well are We Doing? by Dr. Kyle Small For the past few years, Megan Mullins (from the Frost Center for Social Research) and I have been studying the leadership competencies of recent WTS graduates in their first five years of pastoral ministry. The seminary invited this research as it sought to understand how well it was preparing its graduates for pastoral roles. Also, the seminary wanted to understand what leadership muscles newly-minted pastors were using immediately following their graduation. We discovered seven core leadership competencies (see chart on next page) as well as an “ecosystem” for leadership development that reaches across the seminary. During our research, which focused on understanding the relationships between theological education, local congregations and the vocation of pastor, we continually heard from faculty, administration and graduates that Dr. Kyle Small WTS is committed to “preparing Christians Associate Professor of called by God to lead the church in mission.” Christian Leadership This is a good sign—there is a strong and Interim Formation for Ministry Director alignment between what the seminary says it does and what it actually does. We also discovered that faculty, administrators and graduates share similar perspectives of the strengths and weaknesses of the WTS experience, which shows a healthy awareness of where to focus forward and where to engage in change. Drilling a little deeper, we discovered three primary aspects of theological education that inform, assist and challenge WTS graduates in their first years of ministry. First, leadership formation takes place across what we’ve labeled the WTS ecosystem (see illustration above) and is not learned in one specific course, one experience or through one person. For example, students don’t just take a course in worship leadership; they also participate in chapel daily and communion weekly. Worship leadership is modeled, practiced and reflected on. We found that learning to lead happens in a variety of settings and places, in and out of the classroom, as well as in and out of teaching churches. One important discovery we made in this area is that there is a strong correlation between how well graduates felt prepared for each competency and how well they perceived WTS faculty and administrators modeled those same competencies. Secondly, we recognized some ambiguity in terms of “readiness to learn” and “responsibility for learning.” It’s not unusual for new pastors to encounter situations and think, “They never taught me this in seminary.” Upon further reflection they realize, “They tried to teach me this in seminary, but I wasn’t ready to learn it yet.” “Responsibility for (cont.) A PUBLICATION OF WESTERN THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

WTS Fall 2012 Commons

Related publications