The Institute for Pastoral Studies provides a forum for cooperation and dialogue within existing church and denominational movements, and continuing theological and practical ministry education in support of practicing pastors and church leaders in post-communist Europe. The Institute functions in affiliation with and under the auspices of the board of directors and academic officers of the Evangelical Theological Seminary, Osijek, Croatia. The Institute works in cooperation with and in service to national evangelical church movements and the local churches and ministries they represent.
One of the greatest needs of pastors and churches today is for continuing leadership training that can be applied in a practical way to the ministry context. It must be training that addresses the specific practical needs of pastoral leaders in the local church setting. Ongoing training should feature three components: 1) developing practical skills for solving ministry problems, 2) team building, and 3) mentoring. The training should allow pastoral leaders to remain in their local settings and not require them to leave their geographical settings for extended periods of time.
With that in mind, we are committed to the goal of strengthening local churches, and establishing a tradition of seminary/church cooperation. We are here to serve the needs and facilitate the success of pastors and churches. If pastors and churches grow and succeed, the Institute succeeds.
The institute emphasizes continuing education for pastors and other servants of the church. Presentations are offered in seminars composed of smaller groups (24 has been the maximum size until now). This facilitates a format which emphasizes dialogue and a case study format.
Practical Skills to resolve practical problems
Each seminar focuses on specific issues of concern for pastors and churches, especially in the local church format. When forming the topic and presentations for each seminar, pastoral leaders are polled to discern current issues in local church ministry. Experienced pastors are solicited as presenters. Each participant is invited to provide case studies from their own context as a format for discussion.
The institute submits to and partners with the leadership of evangelical church movements in the region where the seminar is offered.
The use of the seminar format creates a culture of camaraderie and consultation. An ethos of trust is built which helps establish understanding and ongoing cooperation beyond the context of the seminar. The method creates an opportunity to vet and share best practices with other churches.
One outcome of this dynamic is the informal establishment of mentoring relationships within and across evangelical church movements. Over time we want to see a host of equipping leaders established who will help mentor a new generation of pastoral leaders and servants of the church.