Thursday, October 30, 2014

Preparing for Church Leadership: An Example of Theological Reflection in Practice

Still in my first month as Tutor in Theology at Trinity College, Bristol, I'm already enjoying my first Reading Week. It is affording me the opportunity to familiarize myself with our college handbooks, and to prepare for my first teaching and preaching assignments.

In the process I have become very impressed with this college's intentionality of integration between practical and theological learning. It is that dual focus on ministry and academy which so attracted me to this school, and I am happy to report it in fact exceeds my expectations. I am excited to contribute to what this theological college is about.

As a case in point--and as a blog post in its own right--just let me show you one page of our Practical Training Handbook, put together by our Tutor in Practical Theology, Rev'd Sue Gent. It is one of six reports that come in 'Appendix 3: Forms for us in Contextual Training and Church Placements'--and the simple but poignant line of questioning goes like this:

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Meeting Report
(complete this form if you were an observer only)

Name/Date/Occasion:

Was the meeting well arranged?

What were its aims?

Were they achieved?

Who was in control, formally?

Who held the real power?

What interesting dynamics did you observe?

How would you describe the spiritual atmosphere of the meeting?

Your conclusion of the proceedings:

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This could of course simply be written off as just one more of the many forms that a student has to fill out in the course of his or her training. However, if you look at it closely (especially at the questions in the middle) I think it proves a helpful, perceptive piece of preparatory pastoral reflection.

The questions themselves are not heavily inflected with theology, but embedded as they are within a considerable amount of theological learning and reflection they provide an opportunity to think about the power-dynamics of leadership in a culturally sensitive and contextually specific way.


Incidentally, if you're interested in checking out Trinity College, we have an Open Day coming up that is precisely designed for that purpose.

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