To lead with courage and pastoral wisdom in the twenty-first century requires ministers to make a transition from simply imagining ministry to embodying pastoral imagination. The relational and embodied capacity for ministry, what Craig Dykstra first called pastoral imagination, emerges over time and remains indispensable for effective pastoral leadership in congregations and community ministries.
We find through listening to ministry leaders across the country that ministry today is less about exercising the authority of an office or role and more about embodying an authentic contextual wisdom only gained by daily practice of leadership on the long arc of learning ministry.
Yet few studies of learning over time have been conducted, leading to this unique, broadly ecumenical, and national study of learning ministry in practice.
In this five-year report, we describe the experiences of a cohort of 50 diverse ministers from across the United States, recruited from 10 theological schools ranging from Pentecostal to Eastern Orthodox and coming from many different denominational traditions.
This study deepens engagement of Auburn research on patterns of teaching and learning in theological education, offering a dynamic view into the formation of faith leaders for the twenty-first century.
Christian A.B. Scharen is Vice President of Applied Research and leads the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary. He is a Co-Director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project.
Eileen R. Campbell-Reed is Coordinator for Coaching,Mentoring & Internship and Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Nashville, Tennessee. She is Co-Director of the Learning Pastoral Imagination Project