Experiential learning in ministry
LE3 .A278 2000
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
This thesis-project explores the experiential learning processes of a small number of seasoned pastoral ministers to assess how this learning has affected their vocational identity and their perception of ministry itself. The theoretical foundation for the study is in adult education and examines concepts of experiential and transformative learning, processes of meaning-making and the social construction of the self, as well as the centrality of narrative and autobiography in personal learning. Theological reflections focus on the social and historical conditions of learning in the Christian community, the narrative structure of faith, and the contributions of both narrative and biographical theology to an understanding of Christian identity and change. The research methodology used is qualitative case study guided by Mishler's narrative approach to research interviewing. Five participants were interviewed with an attempt at gender equity and variety in denominational attachment. Results reveal the intense relationship between personal change, vocational identity, and ministerial practice. The study demonstrates the extent to which lifelong themes were translated into ministerial practice, how trauma impacted the learning process, and the contribution of faith to learning. A depth of reflectivity is demonstrated throughout pastoral ministry producing changes in self-understanding and the understanding of ministry.
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