Many times, in the busyness of life we move forward a little bit like the Energizer Bunny. We keep going and going and seldom stop to rest. We just don’t have enough time, it seems, and we find comfort in this reality so we never stop. I confess that I have worked myself sick before. Although in the West, we highly value productivity, overworking can become detrimental, as it could lead to exhaustion and burnout. The church is not excluded from this pressure.
Pastors work extremely hard and are expected to pour out so much. But what is pouring back into them? We wonder. These are serious questions and experts, not only in theological education, but also in the Christian world, are really wrestling with this issue. Although there are hundreds of conferences for professional development, after attending these events, pastors often feel another break is needed before going back to the office. In the end, we are all overloaded with information. So at Ashland Theological Seminary (ATS), we want to provide a place for pastors and Christian leaders to retreat. Thus, Ashland Theological Seminary, in collaboration with the ATS Foundation and Ashland University is introducing the Summer Institute for the Integration of Faith, Ministry and Vocational Life. The Institute will take place from June 6-June 17, 2017 and it will be delivered in two blocks as Week One and Week Two. There will be half-day, full-day and three-day workshops. Ashland Theological Seminary is providing a way for pastors and church workers alike to expand their networks and be refreshed. Spiritual walks and sustainable prayer is also planned around this event.
The purpose of the summer institute is to facilitate further integration of faith, ministry, and vocational life at the core of the Christian call to serve; self-understanding, and well-being for a lifetime of spiritual growth; fellowship; and service in Jesus Christ among ministry practitioners.
Theological education experts all agree that pastors and other workers employed in full-time ministry need to find ways for self-sustaining.
According to Pastoral Care Inc., 90% of pastors report feeling inadequately prepared to cope with “the demands of ministry.” The same source reveals that over 1700 pastors left the church every month last year. At ATS, we see ourselves as full participants in Missio-Dei. This means that we also care about what happens to our students and supporters when they leave our classrooms. We want them to be impactful for the Kingdom. We desire to continue providing opportunities for students, friends, supporters and alumni so they can truly lead fulfilled lives and lifelong ministries. So if pastors feel that they need continued theological and ministry training to bring up competencies, we want to provide opportunities to equip beyond traditional format theological training. If ministers feel that they are tired, then we must provide a place to rest. All of us are in life together. No one said that ministry would be easy, but no one said that we shouldn’t do anything about it either. After all, even the Energizer Bunny’s batteries run out. There should always be a time to stop and recharge.
Roberto Ponce, serves as VP of Marketing, Enrollment and Admissions at Ashland Seminary.