Yesterday evening I participated in a Focus Group for the Austin Presbyterian Seminary. The seminary is having a number of these meetings as part of a current review of curriculum. The group I attended was composed of lay people and we were asked to respond to questions about how the seminary could better educate pastors.
After going through exercises designed to get us to think about the criteria we would want to see in someone called to our church as senior pastor, we were prompted to give specific suggestions for improving seminary training.
I suggested that since most graduates who go into parish ministry find their first call as the solo pastor of a small church, seminaries should offer a course in the basics of small business managment. Our newly-ordained ministers find themselves trying to run a small business AND serve as the pastor of the church.
Everyone else in the group agreed and expanded on the idea. We suggested that personnel management, how to read and understand financial statements, basic accounting and an overview of the federal, state and local laws and regulations that churches need to be aware of would be very beneficial to new pastors. I think the two professors who ran the focus group were surprised by this suggestion.
RevGals and RevGuys, what do you think? Would a class like that have helped you prepare for Real Life Ministry 101?