The future of seminary education ("Does the M.Div. have a future?") was much discussed last week here on Ur. Here are some relevant selections from the comments for your viewing pleasure ... or displeasure, depending on your educational views.
K.W. Leslie—No offense to those who have one, but I know more than a few people who consider an M.Div or a D.Div to be an empty degree … It has a future, but only if schools crack down on what it takes to earn one, and stop handing out honorary degrees to the sort of people who will abuse them.
Adam Shields—Pastoral ministry needs to be more focused on apprentice training. Not that real education is not important, I think that it is. But that similar to a law degree, the reality of the practice is quite different from the academic study of scripture, theology and pastoral care … The other reality is the large number of people that are moving into pastoral ministry jobs but are not teaching pastors. Large churches, multi-site churches need more specialized training. We need people that are more focused on pastoral care, discipleship, etc. And the reality is that much of the work of the mega-church or multi-site church is organizational and the most qualified people are from business fields, not M.Div. programs.
Robert—Many church leaders, like myself, are challenged to hire M.Div. grads right out of seminary because we know there's at least a six to twelve month ‘deprogramming' ahead and another six months beyond that, before most are ready and capable of building a ministry. The M.Div. isn't equipping pastors to be pastors at a successful rate.
National Jester—I suspect that there will be fewer full-time pastoral positions in the future. Part-time specialized positions are likely to become more common. So ministry will mean having to secure secular employment for some or most of a pastor's support.
Mark—I do believe in the importance of theological education for those in theological leadership roles. But the astronomical costs to fund a degree for tomorrow's leaders in non-profit vocations is a glaring problem. Especially in today's job market, where candidates with higher degrees are plentiful, but career opportunities are few.
Jeff—Providers of the M.Div. degree have made a number of assumptions about the best way to train future ministers. It would be healthy to examine those assumptions and go back to the drawing board. We might even end up with a name for a degree that I could actually use in conversation with people that are not evangelical Christians!
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