Strategies for the Alleviation of Stressors in Pastors’ Families

Strategies for the Alleviation of Stressors in Pastors’ Families

In 2015 the results of the qualitative and quantitative findings of a study in the North American Division on Pastoral Education and Family Stress were shared.  The research looked at seminary training, continuing education, role demands, and family stressors. 

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Lost Revival

Lost Revival

Revivals depended chiefly on evangelical sermons delivered by chaplains or local clergy. In a revival sermon preached frequently to Confederate regiments in February and March 1864, Chaplain William Baker pointed to the dreaded coming season of war: “We are now approaching a crisis in public suffering. 

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At Home Digital Magazine is Released

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In a time of unparalleled digital connection, finding time for meaningful conversations with those you care for the most becomes challenging.   

This second version of the At Home Conversation Starters issue of the CALLED magazine targets both single and married pastors, and chaplains and their spouses. It also features five timely articles and ten short video vignettes, and provides questions to dialogue about with family or colleagues. With a refreshing transparency, the authors have shared their experiences and perspectives, so, we hope that you will be challenged and your understanding and empathy for others in ministry will grow.

This resource can also be used in small or large group discussions. We recommend it for conference workers’ meetings. (One seminary teacher has used part of the July 2015 edition of At Home Conversation Starters 1 in one of his courses.) Feel free to come up with your own ideas and questions, and share them with us. We welcome your feedback!

At Home Conversation Starters is viewed best on your electronic tablet or smartphone. For instructions on how to download the NAD Ministerial Resource app Click this link to subscribe on an Apple powered device, or this link for a Google Play device. PDF Version

 

Reaching Millennial Generations

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Reaching Millennial Generations is a gathering for Spirit-filled leaders committed to the mission of the church in twenty-first century global youth culture from April 12–14, Berrien Springs, Michigan.

The spread of digital media, mobile communications and intercontinental transportation has produced a shared youth culture for millennial generations around the world. These conditions present unique opportunities for mission.

A global culture requires global thinking. At Reaching Millennial Generations you will learn from practitioners, thought leaders and denominational administrators, all of whom share a common calling to equip God’s people to be the body of Christ among new generations in a new millennium.

Our major presenter will be James Emery White, author of Meet Generation Z: Understanding and Reaching the New Post-Christian World. Other presenters include

  • Danielle Pilgrim, leader of a mentoring ministry for teens in Atlanta
  • Allan Novaes, Brazilian author of a book on Adventism and Pop Culture
  • Justin Khoe, a "digital missionary" on YouTube
  • Manuella Casti-Yeagley, a professor researching European post-institutional spirituality

In interactive sessions, this conference aims to foster a missional alignment in the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church—from best practices developed at the local level, to ideas generated at the academic level, and strategies shaped at administrative levels—to effectively reach millennial generations with the good news of Jesus and his return.

You will leave Reaching Millennial Generations inspired, challenged, and compelled by our mandate to share God’s hope for the human family with its newest members.

For a complete list of presenters, schedule, and online registration visit http://millennialglobalmission.org

 

Introducing the New MDiv

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The Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary of Andrews University has revised the Master of Divinity (MDiv) program, providing a sharper focus to the degree with fewer credit hours required. The 78-credit program starts in fall 2018 and is designed to be completed in as little as two years by students with an undergraduate degree in theology. Students with degrees in other disciplines will follow a three-year plan to complete their MDiv.

The previous 92-credit program took three years for the average student with a theology undergraduate degree to complete. The revised MDiv allows the same students to finish the program in less time, if they have fulfilled all prerequisite courses and can demonstrate intermediate-level proficiency in biblical languages.

“I’m thrilled about our newly revised MDiv,” said Dr. Jiří Moskala, Seminary dean. “It brings together the best in scholarship and praxis to provide a stellar biblical, theological, historical, and missiological framework for our students’ future ministry. Evangelism combined with a profound knowledge of the Bible and pastoral care is the first priority in our coursework.”

The revisions to the MDiv were shaped by extensive consultation with North American Division (NAD) advisory groups, faculty committees, administrators, students, and accreditation standards with the purpose of providing an enhanced degree.

“The revised MDiv is shorter, deeper, and stronger,” said Dr. Fernando Ortiz, MDiv program director. “Students can now fulfill their educational goals more quickly, without compromising the quality of the program.”

One key aspect of the credit reductions has involved working with undergraduate schools in a Curriculum Collaboration set up by the NAD. This collaboration reviewed subjects and courses to determine which should be studied at the MDiv level and which should be prerequisites or part of students’ post-seminary internship training. Students who have degrees in disciplines other than theology and sense a call from God to deepen their preparation for ministry will take prerequisite courses at the beginning of their MDiv program. These essential courses will establish a solid theological and practical foundation on which their MDiv studies can be built to prepare them for excellence in ministry.

Revisions to the MDiv program included dividing selected classes such as Issues in Daniel and Revelation into two courses in order to provide students with greater depth of study and strengthen their Adventist identity. Other courses that shared similar subject matter were combined. Theological and preaching courses were also diversified to equip students to meet the needs of an increasingly complex world. 

“Congregational pastors, chaplains, and youth pastors will be equipped to closely collaborate with our church schools, making the schools a center for their evangelistic and community activities,” said Moskala.

Attention to the Adventist health message was also a significant factor that shaped the MDiv revisions.

“We are particularly excited about our new health and wellness course that will be taken by all MDiv students,” said Associate Dean Teresa Reeve. “Students will be coached in personal fitness and trained to bring the health message to their churches and communities.”

To allow time for exercise, spiritual life and work, along with the demands of classwork and ministry practice, the maximum number of credits allowed per semester for MDiv students has been reduced from 16 to 14 credits. This adjustment will not only prevent academic burnout, but also sets a pattern for healthy, balanced living to maximize students’ effectiveness in their future ministry.

Concentrations in Chaplaincy and in Youth and Young Adult Ministry are offered in the revised MDiv program. A new dual degree, the MDiv/Master of Science in Community and International Development, has been added to the already-established MDiv dual degrees (MDiv/Public Health, MDiv/Communication, and MDiv/Social Work). These concentrations and dual-degree programs allow students to gain advanced understanding and competency in areas of interest in order to more skillfully address the needs of today’s world.

To learn more about the MDiv or to enroll in the program, email mdiv@andrews.edu or visit www.andrews.edu/mdiv.

 

Bigger Dreams for 2018

Bigger Dreams for 2018

What if the real reason we don’t follow through on our goals each year isn’t what we often assume? What if it’s not that our objectives are too unrealistic (they probably are)? What if it’s not that we’re imperfect and undisciplined (we definitely are)? What if, instead, it’s because we keep fixing our eyes on aspirations that are, quite frankly, not truly aspirational, aims unworthy of our best efforts and ability to truly hope and dream, goals that are unworthy of us? What if even our worthiest pursuits are simply not grand enough? 

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The Crooked Christmas Tree Review

The Crooked Christmas Tree Review

Have you seen a Charlie Brown Christmas? If you haven’t it is one of the most epic Christmas movies ever!  Well Damian Chandler in his new book The Crooked Christmas Tree pours that epic experience onto the page. Pastor Damien delivers a powerful testimony that pits his will vs. his family’s, and ultimately God’s will. 

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#MeToo; Busting Seven Myths about Clergy Sexual Misconduct

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I watch in horror and amazement as high-profile celebrities and politicians fall like the leaves of autumn; horror at the tsunami of sexual misconduct, and amazed at the Silence Breakers who no longer allow perverts to do harm with impunity.

Pastors are not immune from sexual misconduct and the clergy/member relationship presents unique opportunities for abuse. One case of sexual misconduct can erode the sacred trust that congregants have in all pastors, to say nothing of the irreparable harm to the victim. I served in a congregation where more than one of my predecessors had engaged in sexual misconduct and it took me years to regain the trust of the congregation, and some, never would trust a pastor again. Because of the far-reaching consequences of clergy sexual misconduct, I thought I would take this moment to share seven myths about clergy sexual misconduct that need busting as well as seven tips to avoid clergy sexual misconduct.  

Myth #1:  Clergy sexual misconduct is only when a pastor has sex with a minor.

Clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) is not limited to pedophilia.  CSM also includes adult sexual abuse and sexual harassment. It is CSM when any person in a ministerial role of leadership or pastoral counseling engages in sexual contact or sexualized behavior with a congregant, client, employee, student, staff, member (etc.) in a professional relationship. CSM can include rape or sexual assault, sexualized verbal comments or visuals, unwelcome touching and advances, use of sexualized materials including pornography, and stalking. 

Myth #2: Adventist clergy do not engage in CSM.

CSM is a widespread problem in congregations of all sizes and occurs across all denominations including Adventists. A Baylor University study found that 3.1 percent of adult women who attend religious services at least once a month have been victims of clergy sexual misconduct since turning 18. Between 1994 and 2013 Adventist Risk Management processed 75 claims of CSM  including child abuse, clergy malpractice and sexual harassment.

Myth #3: Pastors sometimes have ‘affairs’ with church members.

The word ‘affair’ implies ‘mutual consent’ between two adults. Because of the asymmetrical role of pastor and congregant, any sexualized relationship between a pastor and a congregant (except for the pastor's spouse) is clergy sexual misconduct and cannot be considered ‘mutual consent.’ Even if it is not physical coercion, the clergy is the one in a position of spiritual and emotional power and must be held responsible for the abuse of power.

Myth #4: Clergy sexual misconduct usually happens unintentionally.

In a landmark study, 46 victims of CSM from a wide range of religions, including Adventists, were asked to tell their stories of abuse. In most of the cases the clergy offenders, in a series of small acts, broke down the natural defenses of the offended, and took advantage of a position of spiritual power to eventually sexualize the relationship. Victims, families, and the congregation, did not seem to notice, or if so, refused to confront the clergy with inappropriate attention given to the victim. Other contributing factors of CSM included a lack of accountability for the clergy, intimate knowledge of the victim’s personal challenges and secrets, and almost all the stories included multiple counseling or spiritual direction sessions.

Myth #5: Spiritual pastors are above temptation.

Pastors have unique temptations. The role of pastor may attract a congregant to perceived power, fame, spirituality, caring and implied holiness any of which may fill a void in the congregant.  As the pastor ministers to the attracted congregant, the pastor’s need for validation in ministry is increasingly fulfilled. The mutual satisfaction of needs may be conflated with a personal attraction in both the minds of the pastor and the congregant. The mutual attraction can easily become sexualized.

Myth #6: Adventists have largely been silent about abuse.

Since 2008, Adventists have championed ending abuse with the End it Now campaign in which over 600,000 signatures were placed on a petition of solidarity with the United Nations campaign against violence toward women and girls. The campaign continues in the North American Division with a Summit on Abuse in 2011, 2014, and a streamed summit in 2017 where thousands of pastors attended virtually.

Myth #7: There is equal gender representation in decision making groups that oversee CSM policy and CSM allegations against pastors.

Most of the decision-making positions within the Seventh-day Adventist church are restricted to those with ordination credentials, which at this time, according to General Conference policy, can only be men.  It is possible to empower women now to address CSM whether they are in positions of leadership or not. This though, relies on responsible men to  intentionally include women's voices. 

Seven Tips to avoid CSM

Tip #1: Don’t engage in therapeutic counseling.

The formal training of pastors in the NAD does not equip them to engage in therapeutic counseling. Counseling should be limited to assessment and referral to professionals. Core Qualities suggest that pastors “build a network of mental health care providers and make appropriate referrals.”  Only those who have received specialized degrees in therapeutic counseling, and are licensed should engage in long term counseling.

Tip #2: Discuss relationship questions with mentors or colleagues outside of the congregation.

If you have any question about ambiguity in relationships or boundaries with individuals in your congregation, discuss the nature of the relationship with a trusted experienced colleague outside of your congregation.  Be honest about sharing your personal feelings with your support group/mentors about a relationship.  Naming temptation to others takes away its power over you and enables you to construct effective boundaries.

Tip #3: Avoid meeting alone with anyone.

Find places to meet people where you can be observed by others. Meet people in your office only if you leave your door open and someone is within eyesight. Meet at a public place. Make sure you choose the setting. Don’t go on frequent drives alone with someone else. Don’t go by yourself to a home visitation.

Tip #4: Keep messaging professional.

Email, text messaging, phone calls and other forms of personal communication can be channels of CSM. Avoid conversations of a personal nature by having more than one person in on the communication. 

Tip #5: Keep physical contact professional.

Avoid physical contact with individuals unless it is in a public setting. And even in a public setting keep physical contact short and appropriate.

Tip #6: Beware of giving and receiving personal gifts.

In some cultures, gifts can be misperceived. They may take on more meaning than you intended.

Tip #7: Keep current on the best practices to prevent abuse

Attend sexual harassment/abuse classes. Take the Sexual Abuse – Reclaiming Hope course from Adventist Learning Community. Become familiar with the resources available from  www.enditnownorthamerica.org.

 

No one is above temptation. If you say, ‘it is different for me’ or ‘the rules don’t apply to me’ then you are exposing yourself to false accusations, or even worse, engaging in CSM yourself. As pastors, let’s take the momentum of the #MeToo campaign to heart, and let this be a reminder that our role as pastors also makes us vulnerable to the temptation to hurt others. Let us take the steps necessary to guard our reputation and our congregants, and use our roles as pastors to end sexual abuse in our communities. 

[1] Special thanks to Carla Baker, David Fournier, Ernie Furness, Erica Jones, Esther Knott and Willie Oliver for their research for this essay.

The opinions in the essay are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the North American Division Ministerial Association. Here are some resources for further study: 

http://www.ourstoriesuntold.com/sex-pastor-affair-abuse/ 

http://www.ashleyeaster.com/blog/pastors-dont-have-affairs

http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org/resources/learn-the-basics/ce-faqs#What%20is%20it? 

http://thehopeofsurvivors.com