Do Clergy Learn After Seminary?

Consider all the steps people go through in order to enter ordained ministry: get approval from your church and denomination, study at seminary or divinity school, graduate, answer a call, get ordained … not necessarily in that order. After all that, wouldn’t you think that clergy would be complete, finished, ready for anything?

Our research reveals that clergy learn many of their most crucial lessons and skills after seminary is over. Part of this learning occurs in the “school of hard knocks,” on the job in the churches and organizations they serve and lead. But clergy do not need to blunder into sporadic “learning moments.” Many clergy have found powerful resources for continued learning and development in their involvement with post-seminary training programs, experienced mentors, committed peer groups, and continuing education classes and projects they are required to take or seek out themselves.

This section looks at types of clergy training that build upon and expand beyond seminary education, especially the Transition into Ministry (TiM) programs funded by the Lilly Endowment. These opportunities and programs are often great resources for clergy to continue developing as ministers and leaders—and they can be improved to have even greater impact.

StoriesView All

“Priceless”: One Priest’s Account of How TiM Training Equipped Her for Her First Parish

The Rev. Monica Pereira received little support from her diocese when starting her first assignment, but lessons she learned from her Transition into Ministry program helped her find her way.


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 Say Post-Seminary Training Impacts Their Formation and Development the Most

A majority of pastors and priests report that post-seminary experiences like working with a mentor or learning from lay leaders influenced their ministerial development more than seminary.