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Guides to Practical Ministry (Academy of Parish Clergy)
Clergy, having left Seminary, quickly discover that there is much about congregational ministry that they never learned in school. They have touched upon it in a practical ministry class or a preaching class, and an internship may have allowed a person to get their feet wet, but as important as this foundational education is, there is much that must be learned on the job. It is not until one spends actual time in congregational ministry that one’s strengths and weaknesses are revealed. Continuing education is therefore a must. Having collegial relationships is also a must. Who else but other clergy truly understand the demands of this vocation? In addition to ongoing continuing education and collegial relationships, it is helpful to have access to books and articles authored by experienced clergy.
This series of books, the second to be sponsored by the Academy of Parish Clergy, is designed to provide clergy with resources written by practitioners – that is by people who have significant experience with ministry in local congregations. The authors of these books may have spent time teaching at seminaries or as denominational officials, but they also know what it means to serve congregations.
The Academy of Parish Clergy, the sponsor of this book series, was founded in the late 1960s. It emerged at a time when clergy began to see themselves as professionals – on par with physicians and attorneys. As such, they not only welcomed the status that comes with professional identity, but they also embraced the concept of professional standards and training. Not only were clergy to obtain graduate degrees, but they were engage in ongoing continuing education.
Following the lead of other professions, the founders of the Academy of Parish Clergy saw this new organization as being the equivalent to the American Medical Association or the American Bar Association. By becoming a member of this organization one would have access to a set of standards, a means of accountability outside denominational auspices, and have access to continuing education opportunities. These ideals remain in place to this day. The Academy stands as a beacon to clergy looking for support and accountability in an age when even the religious vocation is no longer held in high esteem.
In 2012, the Academy launched its first book series in partnership with Energion Publications. This series, entitled Conversations in Ministry, fits closely with an important part of the mission of the Academy – encouraging clergy to gather in groups to support one another and hold each other accountable in their local ministry settings. The books in this first series are brief (under 100 pages), making them useful for igniting conversation.
This second series, Guides to Practical Ministry, features longer books. Like the first series, these books are written by clergy for clergy. They can be used by groups, but because they are lengthier in scope, they can go into greater depth than the books found the first series. Books in this series will cover issues like writing sermons, interim ministry, self-care, clergy ethics, administrative tasks, the use of social media, worship leadership.
On behalf of the Academy of Parish Clergy, the series’ editorial team, and the publisher, I pray the books in this series will be a blessing to all who read them and to all who receive the ministry of these readers.