Field Education - Princeton Theological Seminary

Field Education

The Field Education program provides experiences for the practice of ministry and theological reflection within supervised ministry settings that are consistent with the vocational needs of students. The purpose is to equip each student for leadership in a congregation, the church at large, the classroom, the academy, and/or public areas of ministry.

The Five Goals of Field Education

Effective ministers are wise risk takers who vulnerably summon the courage to admit to imperfection. Learning to know areas of strength and weakness well results in authentically exercising ministerial authority with integrity and humility. Field education supervisors and settings help students to recognize talents and gifts for leadership and service as well as to accept and address deficiencies that may impede effective ministry. Goal setting and evaluation in field education encourages students to carry out intentional programs for growth toward recognized competence, which assists in the process of vocational discernment.

Relationships are crucial sites of learning, formation, and integration. The rapidly changing global context demands that ministers take embodiment and cultural context with utmost seriousness in order to relate to others with sensitivity, integrity, and understanding, in and beyond the church. Effective ministers serve with individuals and groups to lead toward a common goal. They delegate responsibility while offering support.

They also teach and work alongside students to help them become more adept at ministry tasks. Their expression of respect leads to the creation of a mutual community of practice.

Competent ministers can teach, interpret, and communicate the Christian faith and tradition to people of all ages. They discover how to plan, use conflict, shepherd precious resources, and organize groups and communities. Christian faith leaders in a variety of public, non-profit, and otherwise noncongregational settings must also develop relationships, listen deeply, examine critically, act justly, and develop spiritually. In field education, all these skills can be practiced with the benefit of supervision and reflection.

Ministry in the 21st century is marked by increasingly diverse and changing contexts. No matter what ministry God calls students to, field education nurtures leaders who will follow the lead of the Holy Spirit in catalyzing groups of people to come to Jesus Christ and to worship the Triune God. Field education offers a broad array of placements from a variety of congregational ministry settings to work in hospitals, prisons, campus ministries, farms, assisted living communities, social justice organizations, and a myriad of other nonprofit agencies. Each aims to empower students to discern their unique vocational calling.

Every ministry blends tradition and innovation. Competent ministers combine theory and practice, concepts and skills, ideas and relationships, critical reflection and action. The nature of both church and professional Christian leadership requires the kind of critical reflection that field education’s action-reflection model helps develop. As students work with those experienced in ministry, their capacity for wisdom increases as study and reflection lead to competence and clarity of thought. Field education offers practitioners opportunities to bring to life the learnings gained from seminary coursework into the actual practice of ministry.