The bottom line: An easy-to-follow guide for those without any direction and who seek exact prescriptions and clear structure in organizing their theological field experiences.
Seminary usually involves time spent in the classroom in addition to “clinical” time spent in the field, or serving in ministry in some capacity. This book is a blueprint on how to navigate the transition from the classroom to practical ministry and highlights all the idiosyncrasies that require understanding to make this transition successful.
Such instruction is fundamentally necessary because seminary does not prepare one for ministry adequately, and many in full-time ministry feel as if a majority of what they learned in school is not used in their vocation. Resultantly, Preparing for Ministry serves to harmonize these discrepancies.
The book places a strong emphasis on the scriptures and the importance of prayer in the relationships one develops throughout their field education. Of note, Hillman does not write the entire book, and the fact that different authors write each chapter adds a sense of fresh air throughout the text.
Preparing for Ministry is divided into five sections each with a different concentration in field education: (1) Purposes of (2) Players in (3) Tools for (4) Special Populations and Situations in (5) For Field Education Professionals. The end of each chapter gives reading recommendations for further study.
Negatively, the book provides exact recommendations and methods that won’t necessarily apply to every person in their unique situation. Also, many of the suggestions, while valid, are readily obvious. For example, in chapter 11, “Assessment and Education in Field Education,” the author defines adequate leadership through organizational skills, planning, goal setting, and communication. And, chapter 14, “The Impact of Field Education on Marriage and Family,” basically says if you are married and busy with field education, this may strain your relationships.
The audience that will benefit the most from this text is quite clear: seminary students, those who teach and lead seminary students, teachers, professors, assorted church leaders, and those who seek structure in order to organize ministerial field education. The book’s clarity will work best for those with no clear vision or an undefined goal.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal