What is Pastoral Supervision? Why is it needed?

“Supervision interrupts practice. It wakes us up to what we are doing. When we are alive to what we are doing, we wake up to what is, instead of falling asleep in the comfort stories of our routines and daily practice.”[1]

What is pastoral supervision in a Ministry Context?         
                                                         
Supervision is a broad space to talk about whatever is happening in ministry that is;

  • responsive to God’s Word and Spirit via theological reflection,
  • causes transition and transformation,
  • and/or results in the minister enhancing self-awareness, ministerial competence, theological understanding and Christian commitment.[2]  

A typical supervision session may involve checking in on the wellbeing of the supervisee, any staff and volunteer conflict, organisational renewal, and developing the skills and wisdom in holding complexity.

So, why is supervision needed?

Here are a few key reasons;

  • Ministering persons who regularly invite and submit their soul and practice to a supervisor who cares and has permission to hold a mirror up has a greater capacity to build a safe and healthy environment that leads to sustainable personal and community transformation.
  • Good supervision will pick up when a supervisee begins to lose touch with their soul and begins to disappear into their role. This assists in identifying ways in which personal and spiritual issues interfere with their ministry before it reaches burnout or other crippling behaviours.
  • One of the Royal commission recommendations is; “religious institutions should ensure that all people in religious or pastoral ministry, including religious leaders, have professional supervision with a trained professional or pastoral supervisor who has a degree of independence from the institution within which the person is in ministry.”[3]

As a movement we are committed to creating safe ministering persons and environments; formation groups, spiritual mentoring training, transformational church cohorts are just a few of the spaces that have become a regular part of our culture.

Supervision needs be championed as essential in the life of Fresh Hope churches. It will be part of the OPD process, particularly for those entering paid ministry over the next decade. The supervision process is concerned both for the ministering person and the people they serve and lead. Supervisors have a covenanted responsibility to intervene if either begins to become unsafe or unsustainable. Theologically and pastorally we need to continue to be salt and light in the communities we serve. The Mission and Ministry team are actively processing ways ministering persons can access supervision in 2020 and beyond.

John Crowther
Director | Fresh Hope Mission & Ministry

[1] Ryan, S. Vital Practice. (Portland, UK: Sea Change Publications, 2004)

[2] Pohly, K. Transforming the Rough Places: the Ministry of Supervision. (Franklin: Providence House Publishers, 2001)

[3] Commonwealth of Australia. Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: Final Report Recommendations. Page 58.