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The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry in Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly.

“... the Land that I Will Show You” is the blog of the Office of Preparation for Ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This blog is designed to serve as a resource for those discerning and preparing for a call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament as ordained teaching elders of the church. It will also provide a place for reflecting on and dialoging about the changing context of pastoral ministry in the early 21st century.

For quick announcements about changes or developments in the preparation process, dates related to exams or other key events, discussion boards, surveys, etc., you can follow us on Facebook at “Preparing for Presbyterian Ministry.”

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January 27, 2011

"Location, Location, Location"

  Forsale An old real estate adage has it that the three most important things in selling a property are, in order, "Location, location, location." And what is true for real estate is true for ministry as well. It is all about "location, location, location."

During a synod CPM/COM training event this week, I set in on a presentation by a couple of directors of Ministry Development Centers on the personal factors that indicate healthy and effective ministers. They stated that there are not many sociologically rigorous studies that had looked at the issues of pastoral effectiveness. There was one, however, that not only met the quality standards but also had a very interesting finding.

The study was conducted as a "peer-referral" study. The researchers asked ministers to give them the names of pastoral colleagues whom they considered effective ministers. When these referred pastors were studied and interviewed, the researchers discovered two important things. First, there were indeed indicators that these pastors were effective in their current calls. Second, these pastors themselves reported that they had not been so effective in previous calls.

In short, the study found that pastoral effectiveness is not just a matter of the minister's personal gifts and developed skills. It is also profoundly influenced by the context of ministry. Effective ministry happens when the right person is in the right place at the right time. It is just as important to realize that putting people into a new ministry context because they are effective where they are now does not guarantee success. Ministry gifts need to be meshed with ministry needs.

Effective ministry happens when a person with the right gifts and ministry skills is located in a place where those particular gifts and skills fit with the people located there either because they fulfill certain needs or because they enhance those people's own ministries in the community around them. Combine those with being in synch with the Spirit--think of it as "time-location"--all the things necessary for effective ministry are present: "location" of the gifted and called person, "location" of the ministry context in which she fits, in synch/"location" in time with God.

Categories: Ministry Context


January 21, 2011

A New Kind of Home in a New Land

Next week I will be part of the leadership for a training event for the five presbyteries in South Carolina. In reviewing some data about those presbyteries, I found the following: While 51% of our churches in South Carolina have...

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December 1, 2010

Preserving "Human Capital" for Ministry

Just before Thanksgiving, I heard some reporting about the effects of the loss of “human capital” on our economic recovery. Economists study the effects on both individuals and the broader economy when people are part of the “long-term unemployed” who...

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November 11, 2010

No Slowing the Rapid Pace of Change

I’m participating in the “Pastoral Leadership Gathering” being hosted by the Arch Street Presbyterian Church and Broad Street Ministries in center city Philadelphia. More than a hundred pastors and presbytery leaders have come together to reflect on the changing context...

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October 29, 2010

Welcome to "the land that I will show you"

One of the most familiar “call stories” in all of Holy Scripture—God’s call to Abraham to leave homeland and family and, “Go ... to the land that I will show you” (Genesis 12:1)—gives this new blog its name. It is...

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