Pastoral care must be learned
Expert skills are not imparted by ordination or appointment—these are things that must first be learned. Nevertheless, the Church strives to support and guide its ministers and teachers in their endeavours. In some ways, the various District Churches pursue this task in similar ways, but sometimes they take quite a different approach
A target-group oriented approach
The New Apostolic Church Western Germany offers a broad assortment of training events geared toward specific target groups. Ministers can deepen their knowledge of subjects such as communication and conflict resolution, as well as subjects related to the Catechism and theology. There are special training courses for ministers with leadership responsibilities, as well as for teachers and youth leaders. In addition, the District Church of Western Germany is committed to promoting the congregation: depending on the local needs, members of all congregations can meet several times a year to discuss and work on subjects related to everyday congregational life.
Theory and practice
The New Apostolic Church Switzerland offers training and ongoing education for both ministers and other functionaries. The Training Work Group (WGT) develops the concepts and conducts the seminars. They are supported in this task by the Church office, and financed by the Church’s own aid and support foundation, known as NAK-Diakonia. For ministers there are seminars dealing with subjects such as planning a sermon, dispensing the sacraments, and providing individual pastoral care. These seminars are usually two-day events that take place in suitable church buildings or in the conference centre of the NAC Switzerland’s head office.
Newly ordained ministers (and other interested ministers) receive a two-day introductory seminar on the topic of pastoral care and divine services. In addition, the WGT gives ministers the option of pursuing a self-study Bible course, as well as a reference work known as Procedural guidelines, which contains a number of practice-oriented documents. Another thing that is particularly popular in Switzerland and Austria is the practical mentoring programme, in which newly ordained Priests receive guidance from experienced ministers primarily in preparing for, and conducting, divine services.
Regional training courses
The New Apostolic Church South East Asia likewise offers training courses for ministers and teachers. Topics of training for the ministers include the Catechism, the new concept of ministry, acts of blessing, and pastoral care.
For teachers, there are training courses on children’s teaching materials and how to conduct lessons. The training events take place regionally three times each year, or are conducted by the Apostles as they travel through their working areas.
The knowledge platform
The New Apostolic Church USA covers such a large geographic region that local training programmes are not always possible. With the help of the online platform New Apostolic Church USA Development Institute, every minister has constant access to all courses and training modules, as well as the possibility of studying at his own pace. The courses and other materials for ministers include content such as delivering sermons, involving the Holy Spirit, praying, and palliative pastoral care.
Youth leaders and teachers can study topics related to the subject of youth care, the curriculum, and the gospel. Independent of ministry and mandate, Church members can likewise make use of a wide array of online courses. These focus on the Articles of Faith, the Catechism, the gospel, the Vision and Mission of the Church, and on providing support in grieving. By way of online conference platforms, participants can also interact with a moderator and with one another. The District Church’s training offer is rounded off by regional workshops on subjects such as committing to the congregation, leadership, divine service, and moderating small groups.
The New Apostolic Church Southern Africa offers various training courses. For one, there is a course on the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church, but there are also courses on public speaking and presentation skills. In order to support the self-study of the ministers, there will soon also be a website with videos and text files on dogmatics, the New Testament, and other topics. The end of August will also see the publication of a new book designed to help ministers in their mission. There are also training courses for teachers, and just so that everyone can be kept up to date, they and the parents are addressed directly by NACTV.
Learning and sharing thoughts
The New Apostolic Church Southern Germany established the Academy of Southern Germany to train and further educate its ministers and other functionaries. The academy, which is financed by the District Church, is a hub for collective learning and exchanging ideas. The District Church’s administration and service centre is responsible for the organisation, with the help of some dedicated volunteers. Members can also register by way of an internal online portal as needed: for ministers there are seminars on practical pastoral care, which incorporate subjects such as preparing for sermons, conflict resolution, and understanding pastoral care. Teachers of various instructional levels can exchange thoughts in seminars on religious education. Minister in particular, but all other interested parties as well, can acquire background information on religious studies in the area of theology.
The field of musical studies is intended for choir leaders, orchestra leaders, and organists. Seminar leaders are equipped with the corresponding expert training, or have had many years of experience as leading ministers. The seminars take place in conference centres or in suitable New Apostolic churches throughout Southern Germany. From the archives, ministers can obtain various documents, official statements of the New Apostolic Church, elaborations on the Catechism, or guidance for special pastoral care situations.
A wide variety of opportunities
The Coordination Group of the New Apostolic Church South America offers a wide variety of training courses, which include instruction on teaching materials, Church doctrine, health, and organising activities. The courses are each developed and conducted by experts in their respective areas. As such, the trainers are either teachers, educational psychologists, doctors, or communications specialists. Depending on the need, the courses take place centrally, locally, or virtually. For independent learning, there is also a website that contains all the necessary training materials for ministers and teachers.