When I was looking at seminaries 11 years ago (oy!) one of them had the tagline, "We are training leaders for a church we cannot yet envision." I didn't end up going there, but I've wondered if they really did do that. I don't think the tagline would have fit the seminary I attended. It's not that I feel unprepared for ministry in the 21st century---I don't. We talked a lot about the current cultural landscape and the need to do ministry differently, and the theological and scriptural grounding I received has served me well... but in talking to friends, who attended a variety of schools, seminaries trained us well for a church that is disappearing, less so for the church as it currently is.
(Maybe this is an unsolvable problem---people always gripe about what they don't teach you in seminary, but maybe there's only so much you can do before you're on the job in a particular context. Unless you have psychic powers, you don't know exactly what you're going to need.)
The seminary I attended---which is a place I loved and continue to support---sent out a survey this morning asking a couple of questions.
- living and translating the gospel of Jesus Christ in an often hostile or indifferent culture
- congregational revitalization--how to faithfully serve and lead churches that are graying and/or dying
- small church ministry... since most churches are
- tentmaking--how to support oneself when more and more calls are part-time
- family systems work
- leadership skills
- entrepreneurial skills, that would serve both new church development and revitalization efforts
- social media and faithful use of technology
What do you think? What would you add?