Kingswood Expedition Offers Flexible Pathways into Ministry
Michael Prutsman–executive director of a large mental health services organization in New York–has been in ministry for the better part of three decades, but has spent none of those years within professional ministry at a local church.
The first inklings of a ministry calling emerged earlier in Prutsman’s career, leading him to explore theology classes. And while the courses were helpful, they often covered subjects in which Prutsman was already proficient. Classes in organizational leadership, communication, and church finance, for example, were mostly unnecessary for a student already managing large budgets and communicating regularly with a substantial organization.
“Michael ministers in his workplace every day,” reflected Dr. Erik Ireland, Director of Kingswood Extended at Kingswood University (KU). “His staff are people he ministers to and among. The work done by that organization to find people and offer services that help them become whole–that’s Kingdom work.” But as he worked in the community, Prutsman struggled to discern how to gain education as a minister while still being embedded in his workplace.
“I was struggling over the long term to figure out how I would take these courses,” Prutman recalled. “Doing marketplace ministry, serving at my church, being the executive director of this organization, all led me to wonder how I could move forward with classes, too.”
That redundancy–in combination with a demanding schedule of work and family life–led Prustman to question how he might find a pathway for credentialing that did not lead to retracing his steps.
The Expedition program worked well for Prutsman because his capability for ministry–determined by skills, knowledge, and character–is fostered and demonstrated to a team of trained mentors rather than in a classroom.
Knowledge is evaluated by a Kingswood-selected academic mentor, working through a defined list of theological content outcomes
Skills are evaluated by a local-church representative–a pastoral mentor within the local church context in which a student serves.
Character is evaluated by a personal mentor selected by the student and trained by Kingwood.
By combining these three elements with intensive personalized feedback and a tailor-made plan for growth, Kingswood Extended students bring their life experience to bear on the knowledge, skills, and character needed for ministry.
Prutsman, for example, exhibited strengths in theological study, character formation, and skilled organizational leadership. Because guides accompanied Prutsman in demonstrating competency in these areas (both in his everyday work, and his local church), he was able to gain credit for ministry capabilities he already possessed. But in areas he needed growth–most notably his theology of worship–Prutsman benefitted from accompanied study with his academic mentor from KU. After reading, studying, and developing a practical theology of worship, Prutsman was able to gain certification that would allow him to move forward toward licensure in The Wesleyan Church.
“The program itself feels like a much more realistic evaluation of somebody’s ability to be a pastor or a leader in ministry,” Prutsman offered. “Before, I would have been waiting to take coursework; but because of the Expedition program, I received training and mentorship, and I’m now a ministerial candidate and may be licensed this year.”
This model–a hybrid of academic learning and practical training–offers fresh pathways for those whose life might not allow a traditional undergraduate degree in ministry or a non-credit program, whether because of their life stage, or because their professional experience has offered competency outside the classroom.
For those considering Kingswood Extended, Prutsman offers this encouragement: “God created us for a purpose; and that’s to glorify him in the place we’re planted. This [Kingswood Expedition] seems like a vehicle to help get the church there.. reach out to the staff and professors; begin to have a conversation about the possibility of this.”
To reach out and explore options through Kingswood Extended, visit https://www.kingswood.edu/academic-excellence/personal-enrichment-courses