THE MAKING CONNECTIONS INITIATIVE
Calvin Theological Seminary seeks to “prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:12-13).
We are committed to formation for ministry - the development of one’s character, knowledge, and skills, all in the context of Christian community. However, we believe that it takes more than the seminary community to prepare a minister – it also takes the church. The seminary is only truly effective in training people for ministry when it is closely linked with the church.
The church is where people first hear God’s call to ministry and it is the duty of her members to help people identify and nurture their gifts, and discern God’s call on their life. Yet – fewer and fewer people feel called to vocational ministry.
The Making Connections Initiative allows us to effectively address this issue.
The Making Connections Initiative (MCI) helps us to work towards our desire and purpose at CTS: to increase the quantity and quality of pastoral leadership in the Christian Reformed Church in North America and beyond. This includes working with students and graduates who serve in parish ministry, missions, educational settings, and many other ministry roles in various North American denominations and locations around the world.
We aim to do this by strengthening collaborative relationships and processes within the seminary, between the seminary and the denomination, and with other organizations and institutions beyond our denomination. In other words, we will be making connections.
There are three areas which the programming of the initiative focuses on:
Pre-seminary Calling Initiatives
Goal: to increase the number of promising individuals who enter seminary with a vocational commitment to congregational ministry.
Strategy: to create relational networks which encourage promising individuals to discern their call to ministry by:
- Linking prospective seminary students with current seminary students through our Student Ambassador program.
- Linking prospective seminary students with pastors.
- Building stronger bridges to college preparing pre-seminary students.
- Sponsoring ‘Discerning your Calling’ events at CTS.
- Sponsoring continuing education events throughout the denomination whose goal is to foster a culture of calling and leadership development in local congregations.
In-seminary Training Initiatives
Goal: to reorient the seminary curriculum around the concept of ‘Theological Education as Formation for Ministry’ in which formation focuses upon the whole person, including knowledge, character, and skills and spiritual formation.
Strategy: to provide students in multiple and overlapping communities of learning, care, mentoring, and training. These communities include:
Post-seminary Sustaining Initiatives
Goal: to sustain and enrich both ministry practitioners and seminary faculty.
Strategy: to provide learning opportunities that maximize contact and interaction between faculty and ministry practitioners, including:
- Continuing Education events on campus and across the country.
- Reading groups comprised of seminary faculty, pastors, and other ministry leaders who read and learn together.
- The Online Education Center, a web-based center for continuing education for pastors and lay persons.
- Consultations between faculty, ministry practitioners and seminary alumni/ae which give opportunity for cross fertilization and mutual enrichment.
Calvin Theological Seminary is grateful to Lilly Endowment Inc. for supporting the Making Connections Initiative.