Ron Baard: Mentored Practice for Bivocational Ministry

Bivocational ministry often requires learning on the job. Through mentored practice, the congregation participates in the learning and growth, too.

Ronald W. Baard, an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, is Dean of the Maine School of Ministry and teaches at New York Theological Seminary.

This is one of a series of video posts from the authors of Bivocational and Beyond: Educating for Thriving Multivocational Ministry (forthcoming April 2022). This book is an edited volume for church leaders and those that teach and support them. Contributors include bivocational pastors and other reflective practitioners as well as theological educators and researchers.

In Chapter 17, “A Mentored Practice Approach to Bivocational Ministry Education,” Ron Baard discusses some of the strengths of a mentored practice approach to the formation and education of bivocational ministers. Mentored practice is a type of field education integrating classroom work with the practice of embodied ministry in a particular context. The author draws on his experience as the Dean of the Maine School of Ministry, a non-degree program of the United Church of Christ. Two extended case studies illustrate the mutual benefit to pastoral interns and congregations. For bivocational ministry students, this approach to formation provides deep personal and professional integration through service in the church as a parish pastor. For teaching congregations, mentored practice provides an opportunity to grow in faith along with the pastoral intern. The mentored practice approach to forming ministers provides an alternative to the still dominant residential seminary-based model.

For resources on bivocational and multivocational ministry, see the book’s webpage.