If coaching is a valuable tool for clergy growth and transition, which it is, why not utilize it for seminary students as well? This was a question we asked as part of ongoing assessment of Central’s effectiveness in accomplishing our mission. By incorporating coaching, and mentoring, into our academic programs, we hope students will experience the improved effectiveness that many clergy are discovering in good coaching relationships.
A three-year grant from American Baptist Churches USA has enabled Central to initiate two years of professional coaching for Doctor of Ministry students beginning in the second academic year of the program and seeing them through the challenges of the project/dissertation year. Central has also integrated a mentoring-coaching component into the DMin curriculum in order for the students to develop the skills to mentor and coach church members for spiritual growth and leadership.
Central is partnering with Pinnacle Leadership Associates (www.pinnaclelead.com), with over 20 years’ experience in coaching and church consulting, to provide highly trained, experienced coaches with ministry proficiency for our students.
In addition to coaching at the doctoral level, Central has introduced a mentor-coaching program for create Master of Divinity students. Mentor-coaches both help these students to discover and pursue personal vision and goals, as well as pass on practical knowledge from their own ministry experiences. They also help the students reflect on what they are learning in classes and how that applies to their vision of ministry.
A Central DMin student wrote this advice for incoming students: “Remember why you are here. You are not expected to write the next great theological treatise or publish the next Christian bestseller before completing the program. The program is preparing you to be the best you can be in your ministry context.” Central is bringing coaching to our students to achieve this goal for the church and the world.
“My mentor, Michael McEntyre, is an Associate Pastor at First Baptist Church in Columbia, MO, which happens to be the church I grew up in. He has been a huge asset and has offered me invaluable advice during a major period of transition in my life. Due to his experience in ministry, Michael is able to challenge my perspective and push me to look at difficult situations in new ways. He asks questions that I never would have thought of and provides insight that has influenced my ministry in exciting and positive ways. I am so thankful for my mentor and for the mentorship that Central Baptist Theological Seminary has fostered between us. Having another person to support me and my ministry is encouraging and will be beneficial for years to come.” —Ashton Wells, create MDiv student
“The vocation of the “pastor-theologian” is one that appeals deeply to my personal sense of calling. I have never felt particularly gifted as a “shepherd pastor,” or a “CEO pastor,” but have always had an abiding spiritual curiosity that has led me to seek God both intellectually and in community. Working on a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree at Central gave me the valuable freedom to explore theology and biblical studies more deeply than I could have imagined. I not only learned how to conduct research in my field of New Testament studies, but I learned how to better form my own questions in search of answers. Central helped me to realize my own vision of making biblical scholarship accessible to the local parish, a vision that I hope to carry well into my future.”