Center for Teaching Churches

The James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology is a resource for ministers and churches. As a vital expression of its mission to educate ministers and to ensure that they are successful in the early years of their ministry, McAfee School of Theology has launched the Center for Teaching Churches.

Just as medical doctors and lawyers receive assistance in transitioning into their professions with residencies and junior partnerships, ministers of the gospel moving into their first places of service as pastors, youth and family ministers, or ministers of education need structures in place to make this move successfully. The Center for Teaching Churches at McAfee is a pioneer effort to fill this transitional and educational need for McAfee’s newly graduated ministers.It is also an opportunity for churches to extend their ministries by partnering with McAfee in the training of ministers.

What is a Teaching Church?

(standing l to r) Dean Alan Culpepper, Dr. Dock Hollingsworth, Dr. Ron Grizzle; (seated) Dr. Fred Craddock, our guest speaker for recent Inaugural Convocation

Churches play an essential role in the preparation of new ministers. No school can do the job by itself. To be successful, ministers need the knowledge, experience, skills, and encouragement that they can only acquire in a local church. A teaching church, as the Center uses the term, is one that affirms that teaching new ministers is part of its mission and joins with McAfee in developing the institutional structure to support new McAfee graduates as they make the transition into ministry.

This structure includes a Minister Support Committee within the church, a peer support group of fellow ministers, a mentor/coach to counsel monthly with the new minister, and an established curriculum to guide the new minister and congregation as the transition process takes place.

In 2004, McAfee School of Theology was given a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. to fund and study twenty-seven, two-year pastoral residencies over a five-year period.  This program concluded in 2009. In 2010, the Lilly Endowment  awarded McAfee a new grant to open the Center for Teaching Churches. Through this process we have learned the value of the partnership between local churches and the School of Theology in the formation of congregational ministers. The Center builds on this foundation to strengthen and enrich McAfee’s partner churches. We offer to any McAfee graduate who is called to his, or her, first church the opportunity to be invested in our work, as the church is one of ouf Founding Churches or becomes a Founding Church.