Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Continuing Education For Church Leaders, Part 2

I was writing in my last blog post about the importance of continuing education for church leaders in today’s ministry climate. You can read my comments here. In this post I want to add a couple of important points to my earlier comments.

First, I must say I can not count the number of conferences, workshops, seminars, institutes, etc. that I have attended through the years as a form of continuing education beyond my formal ministry training. To say the least, it’s a bunch! And after you attend lots and lots of conferences they begin to look and sound pretty similar and your sense of anticipation of the “wow” factor begins to disappear. However, I have come to appreciate that when I spend large amounts of time, energy, and money traveling and participating in a conference and only learn or have reaffirmed one or two good ideas or skills, or perhaps make a new friend or two, I still consider it a great investment. After all, if I could just put into practice all that I already know??? And I commend the same for you. Stay active in continuing education, look for one or two new ideas to explore, make a new friend or two, and work hard at putting into practice what you already know to be important and helpful.

Secondly, I want to say that it’s important to involve ourselves in a variety of learning experiences related to different topics, sources, and perspectives. I have attended conferences led by different denominations, convention groups, universities, mega church conferences, business conventions, computer courses, community workshops, marriage and family events, etc. and I have taken something away from each of these experiences that has helped me be a better person and minister. All this to say…we need exposure to a variety of topics, sources, and perspectives to stretch and challenge us as a growing and balanced life-long learner.

Here is a quick story to drive home this point. While I was in Phoenix I taught as an Adjunct Professor in Christian Education and Leadership at two different Christian Universities for a few years. One semester I had a student in my Christian Leadership class that had a personal problem reading two books on the class reading list written by Stephen Covey. He felt that because he disagreed with the author’s religious perspective that there was nothing to learn from reading the books. His attitude was that everything he needed to know about leadership in ministry should be found in the Bible and he appealed to me for a different assignment. I commended the student’s high view of scripture, but refused to change his assignment explaining its broader purpose as part of the class learning experience. After an unsuccessful trip to the Dean’s Office to complain, the student finally completed the assignment but flunked his learning opportunity because of his closed mindedness to discovering truth from a variety of sources, even those with which he might disagree.

Again, here are some excellent training opportunities coming up from LifeWay. I hope you will take advantage of some of them as well as look for others to deepen and broaden yourself as a person and ministry leader. Today there is an unlimited source of helpful books, newsletters, blogs, conventions, conferences, workshops, web conferences, etc. available now more easily and inexpensively than ever.

Until next time…share the journey and enjoy the ride!