Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

11/13 2020

Inside the PTS Curriculum: The Practice of Ordained Ministry

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is: “The Practice of Ordained Ministry.”

Roger Owens teaching

About The Practice of Ordained Ministry

During this term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about ordained ministry with the Rev. Dr. L. Roger Owens in the class “The Practice of Ordained Ministry.” This course is open for students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theology (MTS) degree program.

This course will explore key topics related to ordained ministry, including the theology of ordination, the vocation of the ordained, the pastor as spiritual guide, visionary/strategic leadership, adaptive leadership, and sustaining a life of pastoral ministry. Students will also be introduced to skills and practices necessary for effective ordained leadership, including leading weddings and funerals, administering sacraments, leading staff, equipping laity, and overseeing financial and facility matters.

By the end of the course, students will be able to articulate a biblical/theological understanding of ordained ministry and express their own personal sense of vocation as it relates to that understanding. This will include being able to both imagine themselves as a spiritual guide (soul friend) and understand how the image of pastor as soul friend weaves through various aspects of the practice of ministry. They will be able to identify adaptive challenges facing many congregations and understand specific leadership strategies necessary to guide a congregation in addressing those challenges.

Students who take this course will understand the challenges to sustaining a life of pastoral ministry and will articulate how pastors can develop the character, discipline, and life of prayer that will help them face those challenges. Finally, they will have growing familiarity and confidence with many of the practical tasks of pastoral ministry related to worship, administration, leadership, and planning.

Assignments for the course will cover a broad range of pastoral tasks and practices. In addition to reading and participating in class, students will articulate their call stories, write a sermon and prayers, and conduct an interview with a church committee chairperson. Required reading includes Constance Cherry’s The Special Service Worship Architect; Eugene Peterson’s The Contemplative Pastor; Heidi Neumark’s Breathing Space; Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky’s Leadership on the Line; African American Church Leadership by Paul Cannings, et al.; and A New Day in the City by Donna Claycomb Sokol and L. Roger Owens.


About the Instructor

The Rev. Dr. L. Roger Owens received his Ph.D. in theology from Duke University where he was awarded a Lilly Fellowship for the Formation of a Learned Clergy. Before that, he had earned a bachelor’s degree at Anderson University in Indiana and completed his M.Div. at Duke Divinity School. Dr. Owens is an ordained elder in the North Carolina Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. In North Carolina he served both urban and rural churches for eight years as co-pastor with his wife before coming to PTS. His newest book is Threshold of Discovery: A Field Guide to Spirituality in Midlife. Dr. Owens serves on the faculty for the Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation, where he lectures on postmodern spirituality and traditions of Christian spirituality.

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