Tuesday, November 06, 2012

colour wheeling into formation for ministry

Yesterday I spent an hour sharing the big picture of formation for ministry as we currently understand it at Uniting College. The thing that generated the most energy in the candidates seemed to be a colour wheel.

I began with two quotes, taken from our Formation Panel handbook:

“Ministerial formation is first of all an aspect of Christian formation; growing as a disciple of Christ and serving God in the world. It includes transformation, taking in the likeness of Christ as we respond to God’s work of renewing creation. Ministerial formation is grounded in formation for discipleship.” (Formation Panel Handbook, 2)

“Ministerial formation is a life-long process. It involves the whole person – integrating his or her spiritual life, knowledge, skills, attitudes, personal priorities and health.” (2)

After some interaction about our individual uniqueness, I suggested that one way to clarify formation for ministry was to see it as having three parts

  • study – lectures and topics
  • ministry practice – engagement in ministry
  • formation – the processes by which we are shaped organically

I had lots of colour wheels scattered around the space. Folk were invited to choose three colours, to fit them together and to think about their formation. When they first began to sense a call to ministry, how much study had they done, how much ministry practice had they been engaged in, how much life formation had happened?

As they shared in pairs, the insights began to emerge.

But hey, the two of us – we’re different. Exactly. Formation is a unique process.

The colour wheel moves. It changes. But so do I! Exactly, the seasons of our lives might well invite different patterns of formation.

Which allowed a rich conversation. About what we provide at College, an ideal framework that might be a way to ground and make ministerial formation practical – topics to study and different ways to engage ministry practice and various intentional experiences.

But how this could never be a strait-jacket, a one-size fits all approach. Because each of us come with different range of experiences. So each of us need a different type of course experience. Which requires a lot of discerning together. Which takes time. And gets messy.

But how else can we take the unique and individual processes of formation seriously? And all around the room, people gently wheeled their colours into formation for ministry.

Posted by steve at 10:57 PM


  1. And you call me a poet…

    What a great way to express and value individuality, while also holding the “there-but-not-there-yet”ness of continual learning and formation.

    It is sometimes hard to express what theological colleges attempt to do in their formation programs for ministers, but starting from a position of appreciating what God has done in a person’s life and helping them become what God is forming them to be is so much more exciting and enervating (and messy and dangerous) than comparing someone to a tick and flick sheet of what makes the fictional and idealised “rounded minister”. Both views require new experiences and growth, but the former resists the tendencies of standardisation and homogenation that can unfortunately creep into education.

    Comment by David — November 7, 2012 @ 7:47 am

  2. nice work.

    Comment by Craig Mitchell — November 7, 2012 @ 11:29 pm

  3. very cool visual

    Comment by Jonathan Montan — November 8, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

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