Why Theological Education Matters for Church Leadership Development

Date Published

January 30, 2023

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Published by Calvin Seminary

Pastors and other church leaders, in continuous stewardship of their gifts and callings, can benefit from further foundational training in the Bible, theology, and Christian leadership.

Theology & Leadership in the Church

Our understanding of leadership in the church should be rooted in biblical truths. The following are three Bible verses about leadership in the church, which address personal formation, contextual ministry, and service.

1. Personal Formation in Leadership

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”

Theological education at its richest includes personal and spiritual formation. This kind of formation happens through meaningful involvement in the church community and a mentoring relationship with a pastor or other ministry leader.

2. Context in Leadership

Within 1 Corinthians 9:22, Paul says: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Church leaders today point out that articulating a biblical vision is usually not as challenging as finding the way to present that vision to a particular group, in a particular community, at a particular time. Leaders hold a desire for people to hear the whole truth about the gospel, yet they have to share it in a way that people can understand. In this way, context matters as we preach the unchanging truths of the gospel to different groups in our own backyard and around the world.

3. Servant Leadership

Matthew 5:16 reminds us, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 20:26–28 says: “…whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Service to others is a critical piece of spiritual formation. Leaders benefit from guided and reflective service opportunities that are not self-serving, but focused on learning from our neighbors and honoring their dignity.

Further Study On Church Leadership

Are you interested in studying leadership from a Christian perspective? Consider these readings for pastors, church staff, and lay leaders, from our current and former faculty members.

Church Leadership Training Through Theological Education

Calvin Theological Seminary is a welcoming community where Christians can deepen their understanding of God, the Bible, leadership, vocation, and calling.

Certificate in Christian Leadership

Calvin Seminary’s Certificate in Christian Leadership program introduces you to foundational theology and practical training for your ministry role. If you are interested in taking your next step as a Christian leader, through a non-degree program, apply to our certificate program today.

Master of Arts in Christian Leadership

The Master of Arts in Christian Leadership program at Calvin Seminary takes your education deeper with a full graduate-level program supporting your personal, spiritual, and vocational formation. If you are interested in earning your master’s in Christian leadership, through a robust and customizable program, apply to our MA in Christian Leadership program today.

Master of Divinity

Calvin Seminary’s Master of Divinity program prepares leaders for ordained pastoral ministry and other roles that require extensive theological preparation. If you are interested in pastoring, chaplaincy, missions, or other ministry opportunities, apply now to pursue the MDiv, our top-enrolled degree.

Doctor of Ministry

Already have a master’s degree? The Doctor of Ministry program at Calvin Seminary is designed for mid-level ministry practitioners looking to go deeper in their ministry context, researching relevant questions and seeking God’s will for their life, work, and worshiping community. Apply now to the DMin program to join a group of dedicated ministry professionals who are growing and learning together.

How to Study Theology on Your Own to Develop as a Church Leader

1. Explore Church Leadership Resources

The Calvin Seminary community is committed to equipping leaders in the church throughout their vocations. Consider the seminary’s church resources, centers and institutes, and blogs, articles, and podcasts to support you along your leadership journey.

2. Discover Our Self-Guided Classes

Dive into the seminary’s self-guided classes such as Digital Bible Tools, Bible Overview, and Foundations: Creed and Reformed Confessions—all allowing you to learn at your own pace through asynchronous coursework. These not-for-credit courses are ideal for ministry professionals seeking vocational development and training.

3. Audit a Class

If you are interested in growing as a Christian leader and would like to audit a Calvin Seminary course, you can do so at a reduced fee per credit hour. Explore courses through our academic catalog, and email continuing.education@calvinseminary.edu to receive registration information.

Further Your Church Leadership Training & Development

At Calvin Theological Seminary, formation for ministry is the center of everything we do. Our goal is to be a community of faith that nurtures, challenges, and encourages you, allowing Christ to form you into his likeness so your ministry will do the same for others. We can’t wait to get to know you and support you when you apply to seminary.


Visit Calvin Theological Seminary’s Campus

We can’t wait to host you on campus! Schedule your visit today, or, if you need more time to find a date that works for you, please request information so we can continue the conversation about supporting your calling!