Ministry Reflection Seminar (MRS) is a small group based learning experience that is designed to provide a place for interactive discussion and group theological reflection on the lived experiences of ministry. MRS groups occur in connection with the student’s field placement or in the case of MTS students their place of identified engagement for professional and/or ministry experience. MRS is taken in connection with Foundations for Effective Ministry 1, 2 and 3. MDiv students are required to take all three courses and engage in three MRS experiences. MTS students are only required to do one foundations course and MRS group. MTS students can choose from any one of the three Effective Ministry courses.
The seminars are rooted in an action-reflection learning model designed to cultivate theologically reflective practitioners. The seminars provide a forum for integrating the academic, spiritual, relational and vocational dimensions of ministry through a guided process of group reflection. The seminars also are intended to provide a safe space for exploring and clarifying one’s gifts, graces, and growing edges in ministry within a corporate, caring community context.
Students enrolled in the concurrent Foundations for Effective Ministry (September to April) meet in their seminar groups once per week over the full academic year for 1.5 hours per session.
Ministry Reflection Seminars differ from many other kinds of classroom environments in that the starting point for discussion is the lived experiences of ministry. On a rotational basis, students take turns presenting to the group a written Theological Reflection Report (details will be provided) that provides the focal point for guided group reflection. Students also take turns being the group facilitator. The reflective process draws on many kinds of knowledge including scripture, theology, Christian tradition, culture, other disciplinary knowledge, as well as personal, experiential and spiritual insights. Through the collective struggle to “think theologically” about the puzzles, dilemmas and uncertainties encountered in ministry practice and lived experience, the hoped-for outcome is new insight and creative responses that can be taken directly back into the placement context.
- MRS will help students to develop their own theology and the skill to reflect on ministry theologically drawing from personal experience as a resource for theological development. Further it should offer to students the opportunity to integrate theological thought with ministry practice. This includes a focus on the following:
a. Significance of Theological Reflection on Experience
b. Integration of Theological resources with ministry practice
c. Articulation of Theological understanding
- Spiritual formation is the cornerstone of effective ministry. Formation for ministry must introduce basic spiritual practices for spiritual growth and long term inner health. These include:
a. Understanding and cultivating self care in ministry
b. Understanding and cultivating the practice of spiritual disciplines in ministry
c. Understanding and cultivating a vision for ministry as discipleship
- Ministry formation should help students get in touch with who they are as a ministering person, both strengths and growing edges. It should help them gain an honest understanding of the potential baggage that they bring to ministry. Further, it needs to provide them with the opportunity to explore and identify their sense of personal calling to ministry. Including:
a. Understanding one’s particular personality.
b. Understanding your family of origin
c. Discerning your calling to ministry
d. Identifying your gifts and leadership aptitudes
- MRS help students to focus on the development of ministry skills with a view to skill discovery and enhancement. Including:
a. Identification of key skills required for Christian ministry
b. Reflection on vital ministry skills with feedback from others
c. Development as a self-directed, collaborative learner through engagement in a learning network of peer group members and experienced practitioners.