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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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Posts with category: Ministry Context

December 19, 2011

Changing Face(s) of Teaching Elders

JanusAs a new year approaches, it is customary to look back as we also look toward the future. It is in that spirit that I share in this post some statistics I compiled recently looking at trends among current teaching elders and those in the process of preparation for ministry.

First, a brief description of the overall context. There are currently just over 21,000 teaching elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and about 2,300 inquirers and candidates, for a ratio of roughly 1 person in preparation for every 9 current teaching elders. However, 37% of current teaching elders ...

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December 13, 2011

Expectations of Reality

Trying to fit circle within a squareRecently I heard a professor discussing the “pre-commencement address” he gives to seniors in the last class with them in the fall semester before they will graduate in the spring. He contends they are in a much better position then to hear “practical advice about the ways of getting hired and … some hard truths about life.” Here is a bit of what he says:

“First, I tell them to imagine a ladder whose bottom rung is about 6 feet off the ground. That’s the reality in most fields, where the perks — be they prestige, excitement, money, or best of ...

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July 22, 2011

More Flexible, Less Regulatory

three multi-color SlinkiesOne of my major projects for the remainder of the summer is to work on a new edition of the “Advisory Handbook on Preparation for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).” Now that we as a church are working under a revised Form of Government, there is a need to update this standard resource for those under care in the process of preparation for ordination as teaching elders in the church and those who work with them at both the congregational and presbytery level.

The last update of the “Advisory Handbook” was completed in 2007 when extensive revisions ...

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June 24, 2011

"Withdrawal" and "Removal" Aren't "Failure"

Exit signI have recently encountered discussions in a variety of settings about candidates who have been “certified ready” but still have not received a call after a period of years. Especially among presbyteries, there have been questions surrounding working with candidates who might be described as more “waiting for a call to find them” rather than actively “seeking a call” wherever there is a need and the Spirit might lead. Should candidates remain under care indefinitely?

It may be helpful to remember our Reformed theology teaches us that “call” always involves God, the individual, and the community. And within our preparation ...

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June 6, 2011

… and Neither are Larger Ones

Crystal CathedralIn my blog post last week I explored some facts about smaller congregations and ministry that are often overlooked. In this post, I want to draw attention to one of those facts that is shared in common with larger—and indeed, “mega” —churches, and to reflect on its implications for those entering ministry in the 21st century.

One of the demographic forces that researchers have identified as reducing the size of many congregations has been an inability to bridge the increasingly wider generational span in American communities. As congregations get older, and as the differences between “older” and “younger ...

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