The following post is from Josh Hunt, associate pastor of First Baptist Church, Anderson, South Carolina. For more information on 2013 ChurchWorks! (Feb. 25-27) in Fort Worth, Texas and how to attend, please click here.
Continuing education and professional development is required for licensed physicians, lawyers, teachers, pilots, engineers and accountants. The public good dictates that the people in those professions have some contact with the latest techniques, technologies and experts in their respective fields. It’s in the best interest of all of us if they know how to do their jobs well.
There’s no such “public good” mandate for the licensure of ministers. Our professional development must very often happen at our own initiative. Perhaps it’s appropriate for the sake of the God and Church we serve, that we should always want to be growing, learning and developing more than anyone else who would force education upon us.
While advanced ministerial degree programs do meet this need for enrolled students, proper education creates a lifelong unquenchable thirst for learning – and the humility required to admit one doesn’t know everything. Those of us in CBF life are fortunate to have access to an annual gathering like ChurchWorks as a unique resource for professional development.
Even with limited financial and time resources, I’ve made attending ChurchWorks a priority for the past several years. The value of this gathering to me as a minister is well worth the time and money I spend to be a part of it. Here’s why:
It’s good for me to learn.
It’s a rare treat for this teacher to be a student. ChurchWorks participants learn with each other and from each other in conversations facilitated by creative individuals who care deeply about the Church.
It’s good for me to be with other ministers.
ChurchWorks provides a wonderful opportunity to network with colleagues and plenty of reminders for the minister to know that he or she isn’t alone with struggles, questions, doubt and success. I’ve learned of my colleagues’ “best practices” in plenary sessions, break-out groups and even over dinner. Without fail, I’ve left ChurchWorks feeling recharged and invigorated for my ministry.
It’s good for me to take a break.
Don’t underestimate the gift of rest. ChurchWorks is worship you participate in without having to plan, sermons you hear instead of write, classes in which you learn instead of teach. ChurchWorks provides space with experts, time with colleagues, communion with God and an opportunity to start afresh.
Professional development like that available through ChurchWorks may not be required for ministerial licensing, but it’s crucial to a successful and healthy minister and ministry.