Invitation To Educational Ministry

Reflections from Dr. George Hillman, Jr.

In This Edition:

  • Invitation to Educational Ministry: A Conversation with Dr. George Hillman, Jr.

  • Top Picks: This Week’s Recommended Resources


Invitation to Educational Ministry: A Conversation with Dr. George Hillman, Jr.

For 19 years, Dr. George Hillman has served at Dallas Theological Seminary—first as the internship director, then as department chair for Educational Ministries and Leadership, and then as Dean of Students. He now serves as the Vice President for Education. He is co-editor of the textbook Invitation to Educational Ministry: Foundations of Transformative Christian Education (Kregel, 2018). I sat down with Dr. Hillman for episode 12 of the Avenue for Faith podcast.

Q: Andragogy refers to the method and practice of teaching adult learners. What can you tell us about teaching adults in church?

Adults come with life experience; they come with a felt need. It’s different than being a youth minister. If you are a college student at the University of Georgia, and you are showing up to church on Sunday, Jesus is doing something in your life. Because you have a lot of other things you could be doing on a Sunday morning than showing up at church. And mom and Dad aren’t dragging you there. So there’s a felt need that’s there. Same thing with adults. They come very highly motivated. With an adult educator, you want to find out where are your students at, and how to draw those experiences, draw those life stories, draw those life situations, and then turn right around with immediate application.

Q: What are some thoughts on organizational culture?

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. That is so true. Culture has different levels. Some of it is what we say (values statements, fancy brochures, nice websites). Then you have a structure underneath it (policies, procedures, budgets). Show me your budget and I’ll show you what you prioritize. Then there is a level underneath: what are the leaders actually doing? If none of the pastors are sharing their faith—not just on Sunday, but with their neighbors and friends—then it’s not part of the culture. You can say this is part of the culture, you can budget for it, you can make policies and procedures for it, but if it’s not happening at that level organically, then there really isn’t a culture.

Q: How important is delegation?

That is the number 1 thing. My students when they graduate and they take their first church, hands down that is the number one thing they struggle with is delegation. Because they want to come in and do it all themselves. But Ephesians 4 says it is your job to equip the saints for the work. It is not your job to do the work. It is to help people discover their spiritual gifts, create an environment where they can use their spiritual gifts to serve, and then to unleash the church. You as a pastor as an education help set vision and create mechanisms in place for the ministry to take place; its not my job to run the ministry.

Q: What does leadership development look like in a typical congregation?

There is a difference between leadership development and leadership selection. Most churches do leadership selection. In leadership selection, I assume that you learned leadership someplace (business, military, etc). I just pick the best leader to come in and run my program. I’m not developing you, I just select you. Leadership development is I see you and I see potential in you—you don’t have it yet—and I’m willing to take a chance on you, give you the resources, authority, and trust that you need. You might mess up and fail; that’s ok. This is a development program.

Q: What can you tell us about mentoring?

The reason I have the job I have today is because someone saw me and opened the door for me. That is what mentoring is. It can be life skills; mentoring sometimes is coming alongside and saying “I just want to bounce this idea off of you.” It can mean bringing an idea to someone a little bit further down the road than you and saying, “what are the holes that you see?” You do not learn leadership in a book; you don’t learn leadership in a classroom. You learn leadership in life, having a mentor coming alongside you.

Excerpts from Episode 12 of the Avenue for Faith podcast, titled “Invitation to Educational Ministry.” Available on all podcast platforms.

Listen to the Podcast


Top Picks: This Week’s Recommended Resources

Christian Web Journals & Magazines

Church Leaders. A web magazine for church leaders.

Gospel Coalition. website ministry for a Reformed network of churches.

Personal Blogs & Websites

Carey Nieuwhof. Resources from a Canadian minister and leadership expert.

Dei-Liberations. A leadership blog by Mark Love.

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Avenue For Faith is a publication of the Adult Education Ministry of Sherrod Avenue Church of Christ in Florence, Alabama. My name is Nathan Guy, and I am the Minister of Adult Education. I am happily married to Katie and also serve as President of Mars Hill Bible School. You can find more resources on our website over at avenueforfaith.org. Follow us @avenueforfaith (fb/tw/ig).