Thursday, September 29, 2011

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About EfM …

... But Were Afraid to Ask.

What Is EfM? Education for Ministry (EfM) is a structured group learning experience in which lay people discover and/or refine their faith, learn to articulate their faith and discover new ways to live their. EfM is an extension course from the School of Theology of the University of the South at Sewanee. It is sponsored by the Diocese of Southern Ohio. Seminar groups consist of 6 to 12 adults of any faith, led by a trained mentor, meeting weekly, reflecting theologically and discussing the Bible, church history and theology. In its 30-year history, the program has graduated over 22,000 theologically-grounded lay people.

What Can EfM Do For Me? Better than any other theological education program, EfM graduates learn to integrate their faith with their life experience in ways that make sense and bring meaning to their lives. EfM graduates attest to being able to live more full and abundant lives. Many discover (or rediscover) their ministries in their daily life and work. Some find themselves called to use their talents in new ways. In all cases, EfM-ers develop new confidence to live their lives as theologically articulate Christians.

What Should I Not Expect From EfM? EfM is not a Bible study, although EfM students study the Bible. EfM will not provide a lecture on the week’s lessons, although you may address specific questions at the seminar. EfM does not tell you what to believe; rather it provides you with tools and opportunity for you to further develop your beliefs. EfM is not a support group, although you will find support from your EfM group.

What Commitment Does EfM Require? EfM is a four-year program, but students commit to only one year (9 months) at a time. EfM groups meet weekly in three-hour seminars from September through May. Preparation for the seminar consists of studying the texts and reading material for the week’s lesson. Depending on the individual, this advance study may take from two to five hours.

What Is An EfM Mentor? An EfM Mentor is trained and certified by Sewanee to facilitate the seminars and guide the EfM Group through the program. The Mentor facilitates the students' learning process; he or she does not teach the material.

What Is Theological Reflection? Theological Reflection (TR) is a mentor-led discussion process during which students discover new ways to relate their life experiences, Judeo-Christian tradition and the culture in which we live. During TR, students are often struck with potentially life-changing, insights (aha's!). This Sewanee-developed methodology has been refined through use in EfM groups over the past 30 years.

What Is Ministry? For starters, EfM is not training for "The Ministry." EfM helps seminar members discover their own ministry--one that grows out of their life situation and their God-given gifts. Some discover they were already doing their ministry but didn't know it; some find themselves called to make a major change in their life; most are somewhere in between.

What Does EfM Cost? Tuition is  about $350 per year, paid in advance. Scholarships are available, so cost is not a barrier to participation.

How Can I Find Out More About EfM?

  • Contact Hawley Todd, TSSF (513-967-6581,
  • Come to an Informational Meeting in late July or early August (call Hawley for details).
  • On the web, see Or use your favorite search engine to search for Education Ministry EFM; you'll be surprised at how much is out there.

How Can I Enroll In EfM? Call mentor Hawley Todd for an enrollment form. Classes begin in early September. Advance enrollment is required.

Ken Lyon
5/29/2007, corrected 9/29/2011

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