The State of Clergy Formation

Think of all the books, articles, and blogs written on the topic of “What Seminary Never Taught Me.” Most pastors and priests have compiled mental lists of their own after just a few years of ministering to congregations. A quick visit to online forums reveals some humorous responses such as “How to clean a clogged toilet bowl in the restroom between services, still in my clergy robes” and “How to choose tile colors for the Sunday school wing.”

Obviously, some things “not learned in seminary” or in later training will simply be learned on the job, and don’t merit being the topic of a class or conference. Yet many clergy feel deeply surprised and frustrated at all of the important skills and habits they have had to learn on the job. A seminary or divinity school education provides some essentials, but the hard, godly work of building, bridging, strengthening, and leading communities depends on many things outside the traditional curriculum.

The following posts explore the strengths and gaps in the ways that clergy are currently being educated, formed, and trained for ministry and leadership.

StoriesView All

How Mentoring Made the Difference for One Methodist Pastor

Stepping into her new role as pastor of First United Methodist Church in a small southern city, the Rev. Linda Meyers quickly identified several issues common among mainline protestant congregations.


ResearchView All

TiM Programs May Help New Clergy Stay in Ministry

Transition into Ministry programs were created, in part, to address the problem of clergy attrition. How much impact do they have on the recently ordained?


Clergy Formation—Preparing for Ministry in Today’s World, or Yesterday’s? (Overview)

Clergy Into Action Study findings suggest an overall pattern: clergy formation is still based on traditional models of ordained ministry and cultural assumptions that are increasingly irrelevant.