A few weeks ago I attended consultation on, among other things, the future of graduate theological education. Robert Saler, Director of the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs, presented 15 “Thesis for Discussion” on the topic. Indeed, Saler elicited some great discussion at the conference and still has me thinking. Here’s how:
1. I am increasingly convinced that the church needs innovative leaders that are fully conversant with culture. Or, as Saler put it, “Future ‘missionaries’ in the North American context will need to be skilled in the hermeneutics of culture as well as the Christian doctrinal and theological tradition…”
Corollary: I remain unconvinced that our seminary faculty should be composed of so many Ph.D.-holding, briefcase-toting, book-writing, Greek-translating, teacher-scholars (YES, I love these folks and, on my best days, seek to be one.) But we need more entrepreneurs on our faculty. We need to care about number of retweets and page views as well as academic citations.
2. Saler suggested, “It may be helpful to think of pastors with multiple sources of income, not as ‘bi-vocational,” but as having ONE vocation LIVED OUT in multiple ways.” Exactly. The point reminded me of a post I wrote back in 2009, “Why ‘Bi-Vocational’ is a Dirty Word.”
Corollary: I remain curious about to the possibilities of seminaries adding certificate programs in fields beyond the traditional M.Div. For instance, I would have loved to study graphic or web design at Columbia Seminary. If we expect future pastors to have multiple sources of income, our graduate theological education should support and model how.
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