Writing Your Learning/Serving Covenant
1. Be specific - for example, "I want to learn how to lead and facilitate more effective meetings," or "I will learn how to lead a session/committee through a planning/visioning process.
2. Be stretching - add a little challenge and excitement to your learning! Your goal should be something that will stretch you, not something you already know and are comfortable with.
3. Be realistic - Your goal should be something attainable within the field studies time frame.
4. Be focused on results that are measurable - you need to be able to say whether you reached your goal. Clear goals that are measurable are so much easier to evaluate and thus are more helpful to the learner.
5. So the first step is deciding and describing your goal. You need to know where you want to end up at the end of the year. Next, you need to be clear about how you are going to get there. If your goal is to get your congregation to be an active participant in an ecumenical housing ministry (social justice focus area), then your list of strategies and action steps might include the following:
- Education - put information about the housing need in the neighborhood and information about the organization in the church newsletter.
- Direct Volunteering - get some church members to help with a rehab project on Saturday.
- Community Research - interview some participants in the housing ministry about the housing needs in the area.
- Worship - work with the worship planning team to weave a housing theme into Sunday worship: songs litanies, sermon, etc.
6. Resources - think creatively about what persons, organizations, activities, events, written materials or other kinds of resources could help you reach your goals. List them on your covenant
7. Evidence of learning - how can you demonstrate that you have reached your goal? Other than the fact that you look visibly wiser, you should have some other evidence of your learning!
*Adapted from Western Theological Seminary
The written Learning/Serving Covenant is used to help the student focus their work and, bring clarity to the nature of this relationship and to minimize misunderstandings. The following questions will assist you in your preparation.
1. What experience, knowledge, strengths, areas of growth or concern do you bring in the following areas of ministerial responsibility?
- pastoral care
- worship and preaching
- teaching and education
- public ministry
- spiritual care, growth and renewal
2. What do you need to understand about how a congregation/ agency functions?
- How do you assess your current skills for relating to other people?
- How do you assess your current skills for interpreting theologically your experiences in life and ministry?
- What is your present understanding of your vocation?
- How do you assess your present level of spiritual discernment?
- Are there specific issues you want to address during this year?
- Given your own knowledge of who you are and how you learn, what kind of supervision would you find most helpful?
More specifically, the covenant states the learning/serving goals of the student, designates strategies for achieving those goals and identifies specific ways in which the learning/serving will be evaluated. As you prepare to write, keep in mind the following;
- Goal: What do I need to learn?
- Strategies: What could I do to learn this?
- Resources: What resources do I need in order to learn this?
- Action Steps: What steps do I need to take in order to learn this?
- Evaluation: How will I, my field site supervisors, lay ministry support team, peers, and faculty know that I have accomplished my learning goal?
*The Learning/Serving Covenant Overview can be found in your Field Studies Manual pages 32 – 47.