Pastoral Training Approaches in the Local Church: A Multi-Case Study
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If churches are to thrive and grow, they need skilled, experienced, and spiritually mature pastors. It is also essential that churches develop strategies to equip more of these competent pastors. Many church leaders may not be aware of existing pastoral training options, may need ideas on how to get started, or may desire help with strengthening their existing approach. The literature review reveals that although many authors demonstrate the need for pastoral training in the local church, a research void exists in categorizing and describing current pastoral training approaches so that churches have tangible examples to follow. This qualitative, multi-case study categorizes the pastoral training approaches used by evangelical churches today and investigates an exemplary church from each category. A panel of experts assisted in determining four pastoral training approach categories: apprenticeship model, cohort program, institute approach, and finishing residency. Case studies were conducted of five churches employing exemplary pastoral training programs. Each case study included site observations, interviews with program directors and participants, informal discussions, and content analysis. This thesis describes how each church program implements strategies to train pastors in the fundamental convictions, character qualities, and essential competencies necessary for effective pastoral ministry. Cross-case analysis revealed common traits among the case study church programs, which are organized into a list of shared practices. To assist churches that desire to start a pastoral training program or strengthen an existing approach, this study includes a list of recommendations for practice based on the research data.