The support of lay leaders is a critical element of encouraging spiritual and professional growth among pastors and other called workers in all their God-given callings (spouse, parent, friend, neighbor, etc.). Providing such encouragement is an important investment in gospel ministry. Grow in Grace is looking to partner with lay leaders to be an essential piece in supporting their pastors when it comes to continuing education (CE). Visit Grow in Grace online to learn more about what we do.
What is Continuing Education?
If you were to say the words “continuing education for my pastor” you may think of only formal learning that is offered by Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, but continuing education is much broader than that.
Yes, there can be tremendous benefit and encouragement gained by following a more formal course of study, including pursuing a degree. What is more, when called workers gather in the same place for study something special happens- learning and encouragement occur outside the classroom as well as within it. Iron sharpening iron.
As vital as these formal educational resources are, continuing education is more than credits and classrooms, diplomas and degrees. It means making the most of conferences and circuit meetings or forming small study groups to work together on preaching or other ministry challenges.
Most important, for called workers, continuing education includes spiritual growth through regular study of the Word. That is the keystone. That same Word they preach and teach to others provides the Water of Life to them too. It is a dangerous activity to offer that Water of Life to others if one is not drinking the Water deeply and personally.
Why is Continuing Education Important to Me?
Imagine needing emergency surgery and learning that the surgeon on call graduated from medical school over 25 years ago and has never opened a book since graduation; never discussed challenges with other surgeons; never attended any class seminar or conference for further training. He is unfamiliar with many of the latest surgical procedures that could hasten your recovery. How much better you would feel if that surgeon not only had the benefit of years of experience but also had stayed current with advances in surgery and follow-up care.
So it is with those we call to care for our souls. Continuing education sharpens faith, deepens their understanding of God’s powerful Word, and encourages pastors to meet the needs of eternal souls in congregations and schools. It provides pastors with the spiritual power of the gospel and broadens them through the experiences, reading, and insight of others.
How Can I Help?
These three gifts are special ways that lay leadership is able to assist when it comes to continuing education for their pastor:
Give the gift of encouragement:
Partnering with pastors in helping them to consider where growth would bring the greatest blessing for their gospel ministry is one role to play when it comes to encouragement. In order to meet new ministry challenges, it is critical for a pastor to grow in their ministry. Grow in Grace provides a specific tool, Fan God’s Gifts into Flame, for pastors to use to plan for growth in partnership with encouragers such as lay leaders. Praying for spiritual and professional growth for your pastor is another beneficial way to give the gift of encouragement.
Give the gift of time:
Continuing education is not vacation time, but rather time for a pastor to focus his time into the reading, writing, and other course work. Congregations who understand this and allow for both rest and growth will reap the benefits when their pastor returns refreshed and strengthened by the Word.
Give the gift of financial support:
By contributing to a congregational budget designated for continuing education, your pastor will be more likely to participate in some type of CE. In fact, congregations are urged to specifically budget to support their pastor’s continuing education. An additional way to financial support pastors is to consider making a donation to the Seminary.
Retreat Resources for Lay Leaders
Each year, Grow in Grace invites Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary graduates to celebrate key ministry milestones with the Celebration of Ministry Retreat. Pastors and wives are invited based on the year they graduated as follows:
Pastors & spouses marking the 35th anniversary from graduation (Remaining in Grace);
Pastors & spouses marking the 25th anniversary from graduation (Excelling in Grace);
Pastors & spouses marking the 10th anniversary from graduation (Renewed in Grace); and
Pastors & spouses marking the 3rd anniversary from graduation (Begun in Grace).
Lay leader participation is especially important when it comes to making attendance at this retreat possible. Read more about the Celebration of Ministry Retreat and your participation.