Page 40

WHAT IS IT ABOUT A MOORE GRADUATE THAT WILL SHOW THEY HAVE GAINED THE FOUNDATIONS TO CARE FOR THOSE GOD PLACES AROUND THEM AFTER COLLEGE?

Keith and Sarah Condie have three wonderful children, Michael, Susannah and Jonathan. Keith lectures in Ministry and Church History and his particular research interests are Richard Baxter, a 17th century English Puritan who wrote a lot, and understanding marriage from theological and psychological perspectives. The whole family are greatly encouraged by attending St Barnabas Broadway. Keith enjoys good books, music, going to the gym, family holidays, and telling typical dad jokes.

Story {David McIntyre} How will people know these ministers of God’s word have been well prepared to care for them, whatever the context? For Keith Condie - who lectures in the practical ministry subjects - character is what shows how prepared a graduate is for caring in pastoral ministry. “We’re trying to deepen students’ knowledge of God. That will shape what they do and shape their character,” says Condie who, as the Dean of Students, oversees pastoral care of Moore students. Condie believes character is the thing others will notice most, even if a minister or Christian worker is not naturally gifted in pastoral care. A vital part of the Moore curriculum, according to Condie, is teaching students the basic skills to be able to care for people, such as listening and conflict resolution. Awareness of difficult issues, including sexuality, grief, depression and substance abuse, also is crucial to any student’s ministry development. One of the great things about Moore is the opportunity to think deeply about such issues, including research into a specific area of pastoral interest. Invaluable is access to Condie and other members of the Ministry and Mission department, who are eager to provide wise counsel on important personal matters.

38 building foundations

However, there are people in churches who have had a bad experience with uncaring graduates of Moore. “It needs to be acknowledged that there are graduates who haven’t done a good job,” Condie says. He says some students do go through Moore with preconceived ideas that they already know how to do pastoral care - or it’s not that important. Conversely, many students recognise their need to be as best prepared as possible. As such, some take up the Advanced Pastoral Care elective in fourth year. Ultimately, the onus is on students to be trained and equipped to pastorally care for people. Moore runs the subjects, provides experienced teachers, and allows students to explore and learn about issues which affect all congregations. Not that the Ministry and Mission strands are perfect, Condie admits. He would love more time to go through the material more slowly with students, so they could practice basic skills and do case studies in small groups. Discussing what isn’t on offer leads to reflections about what is. Notably, what Moore is seeking to teach - and not teach. The aim of Moore College is to train people in a ‘shepherding’, or pastoral ministry, as opposed to training people to be counsellors, Condie says.

Professional counselling is an important role which, by listening and providing advice, helps many people work through personal or relational issues. While there is overlap, that role is different to what a person in pastoral ministry does. “Pastors should be involved in doing one-to-one work but we’re not aiming to produce those who provide professional counselling,” Condie says. The core responsibility of someone in pastoral ministry is feeding people with God’s word, so that they grow to know God better and their lives are changed to reflect his love. Condie says that to do that effectively, ministers need to teach the Bible faithfully, pray for the people they minister to and set them an example in godly living. Part of being an example is to show genuine love and care for those around them, by listening, helping resolve conflicts and rebuking if necessary. Referring someone on to a professional counsellor may in fact be the best thing a minister can do in some situations. Through its Biblical studies, theology, philosophy and ethics subjects, Moore emphasises a deep understanding of the Bible. Not only will graduates be teaching Holy Scripture, it is what will change their own character to be more like Christ. Condie says Moore also aims

to show students how they should be applying God’s word in ministry. Students are encouraged to observe faculty members, who are seeking to be examples of what it is to be a minister of the word. Students also can be examples to others, or observe their peers living out what they’re learning. This is easily witnessed, as so much of Moore life is lived together in community; literally, as fellow students and their families live next to, above, or below each other. “These are real people with real issues and concerns,” Condie says about Moore’s student community. Personally, I have had the honour of experiencing love and care shown to my family, especially at the difficult time just after we moved into college accommodation, then had our third child. A potentially gruelling period was made easier, and more fun, because of practical care we experienced. Meals, baby sitting and encouragement in conversations were all provided, as was care from faculty and other staff, who will bend over backwards to make life easier for students facing difficult circumstances. The challenge for me - and every student from Moore - is to take what we learn, what we see modelled and what we experience in pastoral care, and put it into practice. Wherever God places us.

Societas 2013  

The annual magazine published by the students at Moore Theological College. You can download a PDF copy at moore.edu.au/moore-college-public...