One of the major complaints I hear from candidates is about the quality of their Residence in Ministry retreats. Too often, retreats are focused on touchy-feely topics like prayer, which the candidates have gotten plenty of in seminary. Candidates (and their church leaders) report that what is needed is business training (especially financial), human resource development, volunteer management, conflict management, and strategic planning.
When doctors in training are in their residency, they are not learning how to apply band-aids or wrap sprained ankles. They are receiving in-depth training in a specialty. It is challenging, pushing them intellectually and emotionally.
What might it look like if our Residence in Ministry (or ordination retreats by other names) were this intense? I’ve yet to hear a candidate (myself included) lament the intensity of an ordination retreat, celebrate the new techniques learned, or be truly challenged by the materials presented and resulting conversations. Seminary only goes so far in preparing our future leaders for ministry. Ordination retreats must do the rest.
If you are a candidate, share with your reading team or retreat leaders what you need to learn to be more effective in your transition into the pulpit and in your ministry. If they don’t know what you need, they can’t give it to you. Advocate for yourself, knowing that you will be the one held accountable if your lack of training is perceived as ineffectiveness.