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Barely 4 in 10 MDivs Plan To Pastor Full-Time

Seminary grads who expect to pursue full-time ministry careers are down 10 percent over the past decade.

Today's seminary graduates still plan to go into ministry–but fewer than half of them say that means a full-time pastoral role.

According to The Washington Post, "skepticism about religious institutions (in recent years) has led to a broadened concept of what it means to minister."

As a result, seminary grads are taking their Masters of Divinity (MDiv) degrees elsewhere, outside the church context. The Post reports that only 41 percent of MDiv graduates plan to seek a career in full-time church ministry. That's "down from 52 percent in 2001 and from 90-something percent a few decades ago, according to the Association of Theological Schools, the country's largest such group."

But it's no secret that seminaries–and their graduates‐are struggling to adapt to the changing economic and religious tides. Nearly 20 years ago, experts told CT that seminaries were facing a credibility crisis, graduating students who were well versed in ancient languages but not necessarily equipped to minister in the current culture. Similarly, Inside Higher Ed reported earlier this year that the economic downtown deeply affected many seminaries, and CT's sister publication Leadership Journal discussed whether or not the church still needs seminaries.

And full-time pastoral roles may be out of reach even for MDiv graduates who do hope to pursue church ministry careers: Today's seminary graduates are leaving school with more debt than ever before.

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