Field service or, as some would rather call it, “field education” is rapidly coming to be a vital, relevant, and necessary part of theological education. The importance attached to this discipline has increased greatly since a recent survey, headed by Dr. Richard Niebuhr of Yale, which showed that the most rapid advances in theological education in the past two decades have been in this area.
To state it simply, field service is the process of learning the vocation of Christian ministry through experience under guidance. It is education by actual contact with people in situations of Christian service. The student through such training learns the arts of communication and interpretation, and acquires the skills necessary for competence in his vocation.
Such education is prevalent enough today that churches need not think of a graduate from theological seminary as a novice in the ministry but rather as a young minister who comes with experience and skills to carry out the service for which he has been trained.
Uniting Theory And Skill
Field education is now a regular part of the seminary course. The work of the student in churches, on campus, in institutions, and in clinical experience is as much a part of seminary education as regular academic curriculum. In fact, more time is spent in this training than in any other course. Field service is looked upon as an instructional course which seeks for training, experience, adjustment, and the acquisition of skills which the minister must have for professional competence.
Those who are directing field education maintain that the division between learning and doing was a false dichotomy. The educational theory which held that the so-called “content” courses were of more value than the ...1
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