A Kingdom Project. Developing formational supervision: a critical assessment of training offered to supervisors of candidates for ministry within the Church of Scotland
Author(s)Denniston, Jane M.
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AbstractThe supervision of students for ministry is of primary importance for the Church today. In a context where religion is becoming increasingly privatised and the Church increasingly marginalised, not only are there fewer candidates presenting for ministry, and fewer ministers, the challenges facing these ministers become ever more complex. Although the study of theology is basic to the exercise of ministry, the skills for ministry are learned on placement, where a student engages in the practice of ministry supervised by an experienced and trained minister. It is from this supervisor that the trainee minister learns how to deal with the complexities of ministry today. It follows, therefore, that the training given to such supervisors must be developed to take account of the changing role of ministry. The Church of Scotland has an intensive training course for these supervisors whom I will refer to as ‘formational supervisors’. This thesis aims to evaluate this training to ascertain the extent to which it equips formational supervisors for the task. To do this, I interviewed six formational supervisors and the six probationer ministers on placement in their congregations to determine the extent to which supervisory practice was sharpened and enhanced by the Church of Scotland’s current training programme, where any weaknesses lay, and, therefore, whether the training was fit for purpose. The results of my research show that the training offered is very good but could be excellent. I outline the strengths and weaknesses of the training as it is currently configured and suggest areas for development. I make ten recommendations for improvements to the training. I also identify the characteristics of the formational supervisor which sets this type of supervision apart from pastoral or clinical supervision. This is significant in enabling appropriate training in formational supervision. The results of the research, while being of importance for the training of formational supervisors of ministry students in the Church of Scotland, have wider application. These results would also be helpful for reflecting on training in other churches and could be developed for the training of formational supervisors in any discipline.
Denniston, Jane M. (2018) A Kingdom Project. Developing formational supervision: a critical assessment of training offered to supervisors of candidates for ministry within the Church of Scotland. DPT thesis, University of Glasgow.