In a recent post in Christianity today called "Go Figure", the recent stats were displayed that 30% of United Methodist seminary grads who don't plan to enter pastoral ministry. Of course this was displayed among several other stats; like how much has been given to the Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, church attendance and the stats supporting the Iraq war. It was an ungodly amount, $160 million, given to Pat Robertson; who seems to think these days he is God, and says some of the most unbiblical, unChristian things to and about people. But the big question has to do with the number of UM seminary grad who don't plan to enter pastoral ministry. Just where do they plan to go, and do what? How many of them are men and women? (Just curious.) And why aren't they going into the Pastoral Ministry?
The other figure also said that there is a 20% growth in mainline divinity school enrollment from 1990 to 2004. Now why would you go do something as hard as Seminary if you are not going to go into Pastoral Ministry? Just what exactly is someone going to do with that degree?
I was accepted to the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1975, conditionally. Why? Because I was one of 3 women entering the MDIV program and they didn't know what to do with me, and my call was not a verbal call from God. Go figure, but then after a year, they decided I was okay.When I finished seminary in 1978, as a Southern Baptist, I didn't have a choice of where to go, I really had no where to go. I felt called to go serve in a church, but the church didn't think they had the same call. After continuing to work 3 part time jobs, only one of which was a ministry; I went did a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education. It opened doors for me to do a year's internship, and then more training in the area of Pastoral counseling and Marriage Therapy. If I had not had that open door in CPE, I would have given up on my call and on ministry. But God is good and opened the doors for Ministry, maybe not in the area or way I wanted it to be. And now I am in Pastoral Ministry, a United Methodist, (that's another story) and really enjoying it. It took a long time, and I am grateful. All my experiences ledto this, and are much needed for what I do now. I would have like to have had the choice in 1978, and churches open to women clergy, but they weren't.
The Methodist are in big trouble then if only 30% of the Seminary Grads are going into Pastoring churches, and the number of Elders under age 35 is declining. What is a church to do? What are the Methodist going to do? A lot of ideas are being bandied about by the different conferences, the Bishops and study groups. Here is what my Bishop, Will Willimon suggests. I'll try to find out what some of the others are saying, "Insights on Younger Clergy".
What do you think? What do you seminary students think? What do you the laity think? I am going to give this some thought post Easter, and then I will post what I think. In the meantime, let me know what you think.