Equipping men and women for effective ministry and mission in a constantly changing world
The College provides a package of activities designed to promote and encourage ministerial formation.
But what is ministerial formation?
Ministerial formation is not about learning techniques for success. It has to do with encouraging the personal and spiritual formation of those called to be ambassadors for the Gospel. It is an integrated process which encourages development and growth in the areas of Knowledge, Skills and Christian Character. While some might imagine that studying at theological college is an abstract academic exercise, the overall package of formation and training on offer deliberately includes a broader range of elements. The reality is that the college encourages and expects to see growth and development in all of the elements listed in the diagram below.
In a world that is quick to criticise the failings of the church, effective ministry requires people of faith and integrity, whose lives reflect the message they preach. That is why anyone hoping to move on into accredited ministry needs to demonstrate progress in all of these areas before they can be commended by the college.
More detailed information about the principles behind the process of ministerial formation and training at the college can be found in the document ‘2013 Training @ SWBC’ which can be downloaded from the Downloads page.
Testing a call to ordained ministry
In terms of ministerial formation, Baptists often talk about ‘testing’ a person’s call to ministry. One element of that process of testing takes place within the college community, where we can hopefully see clear signs of a person’s development in terms of Christian character and spiritual maturity.
In walking together and watching over each other, we recognize that ministerial formation is a shared process, carried out in the context of Christian community which seeks to encourage personal formation as practitioners of the gospel.
Steps towards accredited Baptist ministry
The process of testing a person’s call to Baptist ministry involves a number of stages.
- the ‘call’ needs to be recognised by the church where you are in membership;
- the ‘call’ needs to be confirmed by the wider Baptist family. In the Baptist Union of Wales this is normally via the Association’s Ministerial Committee; whilst in the Baptist Union of Great Britain it happens through interviews with the Association’s Ministerial Recognition Committee;
- candidates commended by their Association can apply to a Baptist College for training;
- the final stage in testing that call to ministry comes when a local Baptist church invites the leaving student to become its minister.
This means that ordination can only take place after a church has invited the leaving student to become its minister. For a period following ordination, Newly Accredited Baptist ministers are expected to continue with an appropriate course of study, agreed with one of the Baptist colleges.
Modes of training
Placement-based training – Sometimes described as church-based, or mixed-mode training; this approach often involves the minister-in-training working in a local church setting for half of the week, and working on their theological studies for the other half of the week during term-time. A similar package of training and formation is available for students whose supervised placement is in a mission or pioneering context.
College-based training – For people embarking on a course of theological study for the first time, the college normally recommends the BTh course, which has been designed specifically for people preparing for various forms of ministry. Students follow a full-time course of theological studies and also will have a supervised placement in a local church context. Full-time college-based students would normally be able to complete the BTh degree in three years.
Flexible part-time patterns of training – The college is also able to admit students to part-time courses of theological study. This means that it is often possible to design more flexible patterns of training and formation.
An invitation – If you are exploring a possible call to ordained ministry, you are invited to come into college to discuss possible ways forward over with the Principal, Dr Peter Stevenson. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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