Guest post by The Rev. Dr. David Couturier, OFM.Cap.,
Visiting Professor of Pastoral Planning and Church Management
Churches today will continue to face unprecedented changes in demographics, culture, economics, social views and religious attitudes. Pastoral leadership will be characterized by a mix of the urgent and the uncertain.
That’s one of the reasons why training in pastoral planning and church management is so critical. Pastoral leaders need reliable tools to diagnose not only their present congregational situation but also its likely trajectory, given the fast currents of change. Ministers also need the tools of strategic planning to help them engage the whole congregation in the task of congregational discernment. To address these concerns, the GTF is introducing the Pastoral Planning and Church Management specialization for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
Theological education today must provide a flexible delivery system for these new opportunities. One of the most effective of these is the GTF’s E-Tutorials which provide one-on-one interaction between student and faculty member. (Credits toward the specialization in Pastoral Planning and Church Management will be fulfilled through these E-Tutorials.) Carried out entirely by email, the student completes assigned readings and weekly papers over the course of several weeks. Faculty provide feedback for each weekly paper, and at the end of the E-Tutorial, the student incorporates this feedback into a final paper. This process allows texts and tutors in pastoral planning to guide ministerial leaders in real time.
The GTF’s new specialization provides this kind of creative learning opportunity. Foundational courses in pastoral planning are matched with others that allow students to analyze a multiplicity of pastoral trends. The program offers students time to reflect on what works with an experienced tutor in pastoral planning who can guide a student’s understanding and use of some of today’s most engaging insights on pastoral planning and church management.