I graduated from seminary 12 years ago. At the time it seemed like seminary, or some kind of post-graduate theological education, was expected for those pursuing pastoral ministry. But after graduating and entering the "real (church) world," I discovered how few of my peers suffered through courses on Greek, Hebrew, systematic theology, hermeneutics, or ethics. This was especially true of pastors under 40. What I found instead were quite a few with undergraduate degrees in Bible or ministry, and a number with no formal training at all. Their informal theological reading or mentoring was their only preparation for leading a church apart from their success in the marketplace.
We all know how difficult it can be to carve out the time/funding for education once you are working and supporting a family. But what surprised me about many of these younger pastors was their complete lack of interest in seminary. "Why would I want to go to a cemetery?" one said to me. He was getting all of the ministry training he needed on the job, he argued. and the deep theological stuff he could pick up from books and blogs. Why incur the debt and bother learning languages he'd never use?
Apparently this pastor is not alone in his thinking. An article by Libby Nelson for Inside Higher Ed indicates seminaries are facing tough times. Enrollment is down, financial support from denominations is eroding, and the demand for seminary trained pastors is weakening.
Many colleges have been hit hard by the recession, but the article indicates seminaries are facing a perfect storm. As denominations see loyalty and support decline, they are offering fewer financial subsidies to seminaries. Therefore the costs are passed along to students. That means the cost ...