Archive for November, 2013

Who are the 81%

by   |  11.15.13  |  Uncategorized

Recently, the blogosphere has pursued the topic, “the value of a seminary education.” One of the statistics that has grabbed the headlines is “81% of all incoming students do not expect to have a full-time position in parish ministry according to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).” The headline begs the question, “Who are the 81%?” The short answer is, “godly men and women who desire to serve God for the sake of the world.”

What the headline fails to report is that ATS indicates that the Entering Student Questionnaire (ESQ) also has findings for a total of 23 items including chaplaincy, missions, youth ministry, and campus ministry, which are not included in the sound byte. When all of these wonderful forms of ministry that make up the 81% are included, the alarm is but a clanging cymbal. For example, one year the ESQ for the GST indicated that 50% of our incoming class planned to enter foreign missions, church planting, and youth ministry. We were proud of that entering class even though it had fewer students indicating pulpit ministry. As described below, 66% of the GST’s graduates do plan to work in church ministry in one form or another.

I entered seminary indicating I wanted to do a church planting in Utah. I graduated taking a position to plant a church in New Jersey. I spent 17 years in full-time domestic missions and pulpit ministry. My story is part of the 81%. I do not believe my story should raise any red flags for the demise of a seminary education.

More telling is the story told by the Graduating Student Questionnaire (GSQ). Our sixteen-year story is summarized in the chart below highlighting last year’s graduating class.

GST Graduate Student Questionnaire  (MDiv, MACM, MAMI, MA)

 

2013

       16 Year Average

Parish Ministry

30%

31%

Campus Ministry

4%

3%

Inner City Ministry

9%

3%

Pastoral Counseling

0%

1%

Hospital or Other Chaplaincy

4%

3%

Secondary School Teaching

9%

2%

College Teaching

0%

4%

Church Administration

0%

0%

Seminary Teaching

0%

1%

Social Work

13%

1%

Foreign Missions

0%

10%

Home Missions

4%

1%

Church Planting/Evangelism

0%

3%

Youth Ministry

0%

8%

Church Musician

0%

0%

Christian Education

0%

2%

Spiritual Direction

0%

0%

Social Justice Ministry

4%

1%

Further Graduate Study

9%

9%

Professional Lay Ministry

0%

1%

Other

0%

5%

Undecided

13%

7%

None

0%

3%

 

 

 

 Totals

99%

99%

The GST identifies its mission to equip men and women for effective missional leadership for ministry in all its forms and to provide strong academic foundations for theological inquiry. According to the 16 year averages, 66% of our graduates pursue a career in ministry. 16% of our graduates pursue an academic career in the academy. Added together, 82% of our graduates intend to serve in vocations that fit with our large alumni hall of fame. And while 15% indicate “other”, “undecided”, or “none”, many of these students indicate that they will enter ministry, more school, or academic teaching when they answer the question about where they see themselves in five years.

In my mentoring group of five GST students, two are planning a career in youth ministry, one in chaplaincy, one in pulpit ministry, and one in academics. All five have bright futures. All five are representatives of what is good about a seminary education. All five will serve the kingdom of God in wonderful ways.

The GST appreciates all of its graduates in the many and varied ways they serve the kingdom throughout the world. It is an honor that they chose to come to Abilene Christian University for their ministerial formation and academic training. Additionally, the GST is thankful to all the congregations that graciously receive our graduates as they partner together in the gospel.

If you are looking for a place to continue your preparation for serving in God’s kingdom for the sake of the world, give us a look. Our faculty are delighted to journey with you in your vocational pursuits.

eConnections

by   |  11.14.13  |  Announcements

eConnections is launched!

Classes for our inaugural session of this new online continuing education project are:

  1. Must-Read Books for Ministers – Randy Harris
  2. Do No Harm: Short-Term Missions for Long-Term Impact – Chris Flanders
  3. Technology in Ministry – John Weaver
Registration is open for these three classes.  Here is the link:
eConnections information page – http://www.cvent.com/d/l4qklg