Shaped for Service: Ministerial Formation and Virtue Ethics

By Paul W. Goodliff

An examination of how virtue ethics can provide a framework for understanding and enhancing the practice of pastoral ministry.

ISBN: 9780718895211


In the English-speaking Western world alone, thousands of men and women begin formal training for Christian ministry each year or informally seek to equip themselves for pastoral ministry. Over the past fifty years, the ancient world of virtue ethics has been re-imagined as a means of forming people of character and morality today. In Shaped for Service, this experience is used as the framework to understand what we are doing as we form Christian ministers now, and how we might strengthen that development by more consciously linking the practices of ministry with the person, spirituality, and wisdom of the practitioner.

Writing from the context of a lifetime of pastoral ministry and the oversight of ministers in the Baptist Union of Great Britain, Goodliff explores what pastors do and who they are called to be using a mixture of theological and pastoral enquiry, reflections upon art and personal story. This book will be of interest to those who are charged with forming the next generation of ministers, but anyone beginning that journey of formation for ministry themselves will also find this vision of ministry challenging and inspiring.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 330

Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Paul W. Goodliff is Minister of Abingdon Baptist Church, Oxfordshire, and Associate Research Fellow at Spurgeon’s College, London. He has been a pastor at a number of churches in London and Stevenage; been General Superintendent of the Baptist Union’s Central Area and its Head of Ministry. He is a visiting lecturer in various colleges, teaching ecclesiology, pastoral and sacramental theology, and the author of books on pastoral care, shame, and ministry.


Introduction: Ministerial Formation and Virtue Ethics

Part One: Formation and Virtue Ethics
1. Formation for Ministry
2. History and Landscape
3. Virtue Ethics and Practitioners
4. Creation, Eschaton, and the Formation and the Practice of Ministry

Part Two: Models of Ministerial Formation
5. Formation and Wisdom
6. Focused Discipleship
7. Ministerial Formation as Apprenticeship

Part Three: Forming the Person
8. Intellectual Formation
9. Spiritual Formation
10. Character Formation

Part Four: Forming the Practices of Ministry
11. Formation of the Practitioner
12. Forming the Liturgist
13. The Formation of Pastoral Integrity
14. Ministry as Guidance
15. Ministry as Mission
16. Forming the Preacher
17. Forming the Administrator
18. Forming the Leader

General Index
Ancient Document Index


Endorsements and Reviews

Paul W. Goodliff writes with the authority and wisdom of one who has served as a pastor, as a pastor of pastors, and as a denominational leader with responsibility for succeeding generations of ministers, their selection, training, deployment, and support. Add to this the aptitude for constant theological reflection on practice and you end up with someone worth listening to.
Nigel G. Wright, Spurgeon’s College, London

Marrying huge experience in managing ministers with a deeply incisive and well-informed mind, Goodliff offers us an essential reader for ministerial formation and continuing development. This is treasured reading for those who care for the instruction, supervision, and practice of Christian ministry.
Jim Purves, The Baptist Union of Scotland

Goodliff offers an outstanding analysis.
Stephen Platten, in Theology, Vol 121, No 5