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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

GOEs Part Tres: Back to School!

As I've been thinking about my "GOEs: Reality Bites" post, I realized that my note could be construed as either a whine or a fishing expedition for compliments. I meant it, of course, as neither. I apologize to any who understood it that way.

Just a tough day in the fast lane of parochial life and ministry, is all.

I also realized that those questions would be absolutely inappropriate for GOEs because most seminarians haven't been "prepared" for them. Most end up in an 8-10 hours a week placement of "field education", which is not enough time to wind your watch much less know what day it is in the parish. Neither do most seminaries provide a course in the "public practice of ministry."

With dwindling curacies and even fewer associate / assistant positions available, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for the newly ordained to learn the basics with / from a seasoned mentor.

The problem, I think, is not with the GOEs but with seminary education which, for the most part, does a wonderful job of preparing seminarians for priesthood, but in most cases I am aware of (and I speak from my own experience), doesn't even begin touch the realities of parish leadership.

If it did, then we'd see courses or mini courses like:

Small Business Finance 101

Basic Principles of Accounting

Buildings and Grounds 101
Part I: The Care and Feeding of Furnaces
Part II: Roof is Leaking!: How to tell if you need to patch or replace the Church roof
Part III: The Bathroom is Flooded!: How to unstop a clogged toilet without calling a plumber (or ruining your shoes or your manicure - or losing your lunch!).
Part IV: The REALLY Inclusive Church: Handicap Access 101
Part V: How to Negotiate with a Contractor, Plumber and/or Electrician
Part VI: How to develop a good building maintenance and repair program
Part VII: How to coordinate the use of your building and negotiate a reasonable and fair "fee for use" (long and short term) vs. "rent"

Capitol Fund Drive 101

Greek 501:
Part I: Understanding the language of the CDO Profile
Part II: Understanding the language and arithmetic of the Parochial Reports
Part III: Understanding the sacred mysteries of the Parish Register
Part IV: Understanding the Canons of the Church - especially Title IV

The Search Process
Part I: How to interview a parish calling committee
Part II: Beyond the Parish Profile: Interpreting the past five years of Parochial Reports.
Part III: Managing rejection

Xerox and Risograph Machines 101

Desktop Publishing 101

Surfing the Web without Drowning
: Dreamweaver and other Web Page Designs

Meet The Press:
Part I: Soundbite Theology for Idiots (Not YOU. Them.)
Part II: Answering your own question while making them think you've answered theirs.

Parish Growth: Putting down spiritual roots before expanding branches

Hospitality 101:
Part I: You can't put it on at 7 AM and expect it to taste good at 11 AM: How to serve a decent cup of coffee at 'coffee hour'
Part II: The Attack of the Parish Greeting Team: How to say 'welcome' without seeming pathetic and desperate.

Creating Leaders without Burning Them Out

It Takes (LOTS of) Planning: Running an Effective Vestry or Committee Meeting

Hysteria and Chaos Management 101: The Bishop's Visitation, Christmas, Easter, Wedding, Baptism, and Funeral liturgical / music planning.

Forever Young
Part I: Children's Sermons: How to Survive Being Thrown into a Bucket of Live Bait
Part II: Acolyte Training: It's all fun until something goes wrong, and then it's hysterical
Part III: Youth Groups: Sunday Night Pizza Piety

Hurricanes, Fires, and Floods (Oh, my!): Natural disasters and the role of the church

Time Management in Chronos and Kyros 101

The Parent Trap:
Part I: Just because you call me 'Father' or 'Mother' doesn't make me one - or, yours.
Part II: How to cultivate a healthy relationship with your bishop.

Churches don't need a savior, they need a priest:
Part I: Family Systems Theory 101
Part II: Basic principles of Transference and Counter-transference

Hope for the Future:
Part I: Planning your sabbatical
Part II: Your pension and you
Part III: Retirement: It's never too early to plan (and it may keep you sane)

And, of course, my all time favorite:

On Being a Prophet in a Not-for-prophet Church
Part I: If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there.
Part II: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
Part III: The difference between Outreach/Inreach, Congregational Development and Mission: You don't have to be crazy to work here, but it helps
Part IV: "Birds of the air have nests . . .": How to negotiate a severance package

You know, the more I think about it, I'd LOVE to see the GOE questions on THESE courses!

Oh, the things we do for Jesus!


Kirkepiscatoid said...

You left off one on the hysteria management--the annual congregational meeting. I have to tell our vicar, "Stop with the annual meeting PTSD already! This is not your "parish from hell" many years ago!

I think I am going to have to take this one and think about it tonight and "personalize" it....

Jane R said...

Y'know, they really should teach these. Seminaries could have seasoned clergy come in and teach little modules. I know, that's what field education is allegedly for, but it's not really, not in a systematic way.

Of course the seminary should make allowances for those called to ordained ministry whose calling may not be to parish ministry but to chaplaincies et al. I can think of a whole bunch of examples from campus ministry, for instance. (Also military chaplaincy and hospital chaplaincy. The latter does get covered in CPE, if you're lucky.) And all of these, by the way, have ecumenical and interreligious dimensions and seminaries don't do have the work they should to prepare folks for the real work out there in the interfaith world in which we all live.

Oops. I almost ranted. Thanks again for a very serious and very funny post.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Kirke, these just flew off the top of my head. I have no doubt they can be adapted for particular parochial settings - clergy and laity alike. In fact, I'd love to see a seminary curriculum that laity might write for clergy. Give that one a try, somebody!

Jane R - You are absolutely right in terms of dealing with interfaith issues. I certainly could have used a course or two when we had the Jewish congregation renting our space a few years ago.

And Jane R, you can rant here any time you want. You are one of the most articulate ranters EVER.

Jeffri Harre said...

Hmmm...maybe we need to start an alternative seminary...hmmm....

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

With apologies to Muthah. I hit the wrong key and banished her note into the outer darkness. Here it is:

Not only do our seminaries not know much about interfaith/interdenominational stuff--I question if ANYONE knows anything about our interdenominational realities. And our Pension Fund hasn't the foggiest about how to dealwith those of us who work in another denomination.

Jim said...

In with the angst about the torture tests, is another subject. What we now have is a system designed to clone clerics in the model of existing clerics. In the case of some clergy, present company included, this may be a good thing, but consider some of the schools in places like Pennsylvania.

I wonder if we require / teach the right stuff at all. We can produce new priests who know a great deal of theology and such. No one much cares. It is my hunch that any first year seminarian has enough theology to do the job they will actually find out there. Bringing the competing interests in a parish together, care and feeding of vestries, there might be some issues there.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

After much deliberation, I came up with a few more topics:

Bat Dispatching 101:
Part I: If your church is old enough, you will have them. One hour of laboratory credit is also included in this course.
Part II: How to identify a member of your parish who enjoys chasing and dispatching the bats; learn to use this to your advantage.

Weird Vestry Member 101:
Every vestry will have at least one member who is difficult, not just for the rector, but for everyone else on the vestry. This course teaches strategies for minimalizing the collateral inertia that can crop up in the meeting b/c the diffcult member is tying up the meeting.

"But that's not how we've always done it" 101: This course teaches skills for maneuvering the hidden land mines that will emerge as a result of changing the most insignificant things during worship and other church activites.