Help wanted: committed, capable people to staff evangelical churches, mission boards, and other church agencies. They are not always available. Persons with the needed combination of professional training and evangelical conviction are sometimes in short supply.
The evangelical church ought to be doing everything in its power to fill this leadership gap. Men and women are urged to enter church-related vocations, and they are applauded when they announce their decisions to do so. Too often, however, the encouragement ends there. It is just at this point that the support should be intensified.
The cost of the average evangelical seminary education, like the cost of living in general, has skyrocketed in the past five years. According to figures published by the Association of Theological Schools, as recently as 1970–71 the average cost of a year’s tuition in seminaries across the nation was about $600. Today, at eight leading evangelical seminaries tuition costs average over $1,400. The typical seminary student used to be able to pay tuition and fees, as well as bare-bones living expenses, from a part-time job. Now he or she must work nearly full time, have a spouse working, or both, simply to make ends meet; and if the student has children, the financial plight is likely to be serious. The prospects for the future look even darker. According to the best estimates, the cost of a seminary education will continue its rise in the next decade, squeezing many students out. They will simply be unable to afford it.
The average seminarian has few places to turn for financial help. The beleaguered seminaries themselves cannot offer much aid; many of them are struggling to remain solvent. Generally, the older and more liberal seminaries ...1
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