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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Pasgolf on May 20, 2016, 08:48:34 AM

Title: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Pasgolf on May 20, 2016, 08:48:34 AM
http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2016/05/the-crisis-of-theological-education

The question is raised, "Are theological seminaries still necessary?"  Leithart raises an issue that is also being raised in the legal field, namely that the expense of the current process, both for church bodies and individuals receiving training, is not good stewardship.  Having attended a seminary during a time when it was possible to graduate without crushing debt, I cannot imagine attending one today.

Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 20, 2016, 10:08:43 AM
http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2016/05/the-crisis-of-theological-education

The question is raised, "Are theological seminaries still necessary?"  Leithart raises an issue that is also being raised in the legal field, namely that the expense of the current process, both for church bodies and individuals receiving training, is not good stewardship.  Having attended a seminary during a time when it was possible to graduate without crushing debt, I cannot imagine attending one today.

This is a very interesting article, Mark.  I've excerpted a few paragraphs.  I don't know about the ELCA or other Lutheran bodies, but in the Missouri Synod, there has been enormous conversation about the cost of residential (and to some extent non-residential) seminary education, at the same time as the always-amped up conversation about theological integrity and confessional subscription, so there's an impasse. 

Seminary has never made financial sense for students. Many seminarians amass tens of thousands of dollars of debt preparing for a low-income, volatile, risky, high-stress job. Now that theological education is widely available with a few key strokes, spending three or four years at seminary makes even less sense.

Today, seminary education isn’t making financial sense for seminaries either. Over the past two decades, report after report has appeared on the financial crisis faced by seminaries. The crisis is spread out across the theological spectrum, from liberal to institutions of the rock-ribbed sort. Staff and faculty have been frozen or reduced. Benefits have been cut. Endowments have shrunk. Tuitions have risen, further reducing student population.

In 2009, Robert Parham reported that dozens of seminaries were in financial crisis, leading to “loss of theological faculty, the reduction of faculty benefits, the decline of student services and the increase in tuition costs.” It has only gotten worse.

Add to that the change in the market for pastoral candidates. As Philip Clayton reported at the Huffington Post, “The traditional seminary student was a white, college-educated male. He either had sufficient personal wealth or a denominational sponsorship to pay the costs of relocating his family to a seminary for three years, where he studied Greek and Hebrew, church history and theology, biblical studies and preaching. At the end of the time he was guaranteed a white-steepled church, lifetime employment, and a good pension.”

No longer: “A larger and larger number of those who are ministering today (or wishing to minister) can’t possibly gain access to traditional seminaries—much less pay for them. These include many persons of color, Spanish-speaking ministers, second-career folks who can’t just pick up and move, people ministering to poor congregations . . . and the list is growing.” Seminaries need to adjust programs and vision in order to train these sorts of candidates for pastoral ministry.

Some seminaries – the most faithful ones – are likely to face ideological pressure as well. What happens to donations when the Federal government threatens to remove tax exempt status from institutions that fail to recognize sexual minorities or transexuals?

The news is not all bad. The pressures on seminaries have forced many institutions to re-think the method and content of theological education. Apprenticeships, hybrid training programs, and other alternatives are now in competition with accredited degree programs.

Clayton argues that we need to change the way we certify ministers: “we need a broad range of certificates for specific skills. Individual certifications will then be grouped or ‘stacked’ together. People will be credentialed when they have amassed the right combination of certified skills for a particular kind of work.” Seminaries are beginning to think about how to become more agile. (See The Convergence Initiative for an informative set of essays on innovations in theological education.)


Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: DCharlton on May 20, 2016, 10:38:19 AM
To paraphrase Mr. Skidmore from Oklahoma, "I'd like to say a word for the white college educated male."  My son is a white-college-educated-male, whose father is a pastor and a white-college-educated-male.  If he chose to attend seminary I could not afford to pay for his education.  Neither could he.  Furthermore, while my current congregation does have a white steeple, the days of guaranteed employment, enviable salaries and easy retirement (if they ever existed) are certainly gone. 

I've heard rumors about a time when a seminarian was told, "If you serve the church, your seminary education will be paid for."  I've also heard that they were told, "If you graduate we will make certain you receive a call."  Today, seminarians told in expected to finance a large portion of their education while also being told that the church doesn't owe them anything.  Those days were long gone by the time I graduated seminary in 1992. 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 20, 2016, 11:20:07 AM
To paraphrase Mr. Skidmore from Oklahoma, "I'd like to say a word for the white college educated male."  My son is a white-college-educated-male, whose father is a pastor and a white-college-educated-male.  If he chose to attend seminary I could not afford to pay for his education.  Neither could he.  Furthermore, while my current congregation does have a white steeple, the days of guaranteed employment, enviable salaries and easy retirement (if they ever existed) are certainly gone. 

I've heard rumors about a time when a seminarian was told, "If you serve the church, your seminary education will be paid for."  I've also heard that they were told, "If you graduate we will make certain you receive a call."  Today, seminarians told in expected to finance a large portion of their education while also being told that the church doesn't owe them anything.  Those days were long gone by the time I graduated seminary in 1992.


I graduated from seminary in 1976. We were never told that our seminary education will be paid for; although, I recall hearing that the ALC was paying for about half of our education. (My parents and wife and my part time job made up the rest. I graduated from college & seminary with no student debt.) We were told that graduating was no guarantee of receiving a Call.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Terry W Culler on May 20, 2016, 11:39:15 AM
I recently saw that it costs about $20,000 per year for a student to attend the Free Lutheran Theological Seminary.  Our tuition is $11,000 per year.  So the AFLC is itself paying $9000 per year per student.  So far it doesn't seem to be a problem, donations are sufficient.  On the student side, though, it is still a costly venture to become one of the best educated poorly paid men in America.

I'm the 5th Lutheran pastor from my family.  The first one (back in the 1840"s) never attended seminary but lived with and studied under the well known 19th century Lutheran pastor/educator Ezra Keller.  It might be that the day will come when such arrangements could again thrive.  Seminary training is a good thing, but it's not the only way for someone to prepare for service as a seelsorger and prediger.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 20, 2016, 11:44:12 AM
I recently saw that it costs about $20,000 per year for a student to attend the Free Lutheran Theological Seminary.  Our tuition is $11,000 per year.  So the AFLC is itself paying $9000 per year per student.  So far it doesn't seem to be a problem, donations are sufficient.  On the student side, though, it is still a costly venture to become one of the best educated poorly paid men in America.

I'm the 5th Lutheran pastor from my family.  The first one (back in the 1840"s) never attended seminary but lived with and studied under the well known 19th century Lutheran pastor/educator Ezra Keller.  It might be that the day will come when such arrangements could again thrive.  Seminary training is a good thing, but it's not the only way for someone to prepare for service as a seelsorger and prediger.

I agree with this.  Especially since we're in the "post-Christian" era, we might take a few looks at how the Church in its early years accomplished on-job-training education and spiritual formation toward ordination through various levels.  We've done some of that to good result in the Atlantic District, where many of the males trained in our diaconate went through various processes, often utilizing distance education, to reach ordination while being primarily taught and mentored locally.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 20, 2016, 12:14:02 PM
Is the (having become) traditional 3 year residential study at a seminary, 1 year internship on vicarage, route to the ministry good and beneficial?  Yes.  We have some of the best educated clergy, especially compared to some of the churches around us whose pastors receive much less education.  Not only does this prepare them to be theologically knowledgeable, but also a theological resource of some breadth for their people.  They can confidently come to their pastor and bring questions that arise out their introspection and interaction with the culture around us that is often hostile to Biblical Christianity and largely ignorant of what Biblical Christianity actual is.  Also the collegial nature of the seminary training can be a beneficial part of pastoral formation.  I value highly the seminary experience that prepared me for ministry.  It should not be lightly abandoned.

However, times change, and the reality, as a number of posters have pointed out, has changed.  Recruiting men for a personally expensive education that leaves them deeply in debt with a good chance of ending up with a job that is barely above subsistence and inadequate to service their debt and provide adequately for their family, with minimal job security makes little sense.  Practicality demands that we consider ways to make things more affordable.  The ideal situation is great, but one does not eat the ideal but the practical.   

Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: DCharlton on May 20, 2016, 12:19:41 PM
To paraphrase Mr. Skidmore from Oklahoma, "I'd like to say a word for the white college educated male."  My son is a white-college-educated-male, whose father is a pastor and a white-college-educated-male.  If he chose to attend seminary I could not afford to pay for his education.  Neither could he.  Furthermore, while my current congregation does have a white steeple, the days of guaranteed employment, enviable salaries and easy retirement (if they ever existed) are certainly gone. 

I've heard rumors about a time when a seminarian was told, "If you serve the church, your seminary education will be paid for."  I've also heard that they were told, "If you graduate we will make certain you receive a call."  Today, seminarians told in expected to finance a large portion of their education while also being told that the church doesn't owe them anything.  Those days were long gone by the time I graduated seminary in 1992.

I graduated from seminary in 1976. We were never told that our seminary education will be paid for; although, I recall hearing that the ALC was paying for about half of our education. (My parents and wife and my part time job made up the rest. I graduated from college & seminary with no student debt.) We were told that graduating was no guarantee of receiving a Call.

Apparently,  ;)then, they were long gone by 1976. 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: DCharlton on May 20, 2016, 12:25:06 PM
Also the collegial nature of the seminary training can be a beneficial part of pastoral formation.  I value highly the seminary experience that prepared me for ministry.  It should not be lightly abandoned.

Seminary was one of the most enjoyable times of my life.  The community of worship, study and conversation was a true blessing for me.  One of the places I have found a similar kind of community is in the Society of the Holy Trinity. 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 20, 2016, 12:26:01 PM
When I was at sem I was still working full time a very good job.  That allowed me to pay for it.  There were several things that the finances of seminary make problematic: a) the burden often falls on wives, b) the people making the decisions don't realize what they are doing in a meaningful way, c) the entire system seems designed to "eat its young".  But the one thing that really sticks in my mind to this day was an overheard conversation.  I was eating one of my rare lunches in those days next to the faculty table.  Their conversation turned to "purpose of the sem".  One of the deans at the time made a statement that "we are no longer just a parochial training ground for pastors for the LCMS".  He said it with a little disdain in his voice.  And the general consensus around that table was in line.  At least nobody contradicted him.  I almost left the sem that day.  It was a major irritant that what I was killing myself for was perceived as something to be disdained.  It also made each of those big money checks just a little harder to write.  And it made the constant harping of "half of your cost is being paid by someone else" also seem a fraud.

That being said:
a) A seminary education is a worthwhile endeavor.  I'd not really want to see it go.
b) But there is a question of institutional purpose.  What are seminaries good at?  What have we tasked them with that they aren't?  What have they tasked themselves with that isn't core?
c) Likewise there is a question of institutional purpose in regards to synod and district.  Having a seminarian from our church, we are tasked with an amount of funding.  So far, we have been able to meet that.  The districts are also tasked.  By and large they don't.  Seminaries used to be the purpose of Synod right there in the initial constitution.  Today, not so much.
d) and we need to look at ourselves.  Do we as congregations agree that an educated clergy is a good thing?  What would we be willing to do to ensure that?

Things like Theopolis (the article) or PLI or SMP or their likewise are work-a-rounds for formal institutions that have become unmoored from simple core purposes.  Where I am in NY the local public school now spends about $28K/student/year.  For my three kids the district spends $84,000 per year.  After saying thank-you for the enforced generosity of the taxpayer, one question I ask is what can't you get for $84K?  The other one I tend to ask is if the entire institution was abandoned and the money dispersed, with $84K I could hire a personal tutor for my three kids at a good salary with benefits.  Would that be better or worse?  I think the same things when I see the seminary tuition broken down.  If our current institutions were disbanded and we had to procure what they do from scratch, would it be cheaper?  Would it be better? 

But then I remember I'm just a very small person with a call to about 100 souls (one of them at sem) and turn back to the text for the week.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 20, 2016, 12:56:21 PM
I fully expect howls of protest and derision, but the seminary is a trade school, the primary degree, M. Div., is a professional not an academic degree.  This used to be especially evident at Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois.  The way things were at one time set up was that Springfield was the "practical" seminary primarily for second career men and those who decided late in their college education to become a pastor. 

St. Louis was the academic seminary and the culmination of "The System" that originally started with young men going away to boarding High Schools run by the Synod at Milwaukee, Concordia, MO, Fort Wayne, and probably other places that fed into a two year college program (later 4 year with the last two years at the Senior College in Fort Wayne, a school dedicated to pre-sem education) and finally St. Louis.  For a number of reason that whole system broke down.  I don't think any Synodical boarding high schools exist, both seminaries accept 2nd career men, many entering seminarians have not graduated from an LCMS college or university, at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne has become just as much of an academic seminary as St. Louis.  Already when I was in college and seminary, in the 70s the System was in disarray and on the way out.

The purpose of the seminary should be to train pastors to serve parishes.  Like a number of professions, that of pastor as an intensely academic side.  There are a whole lot of things that it is good for pastors to know.  So rather than just a certification, there is the professional degree, M. Div., like other such degrees like the Juris Doctor for lawyers or M. D. for doctors.  On the side, seminaries might train for and grant academic degrees, like S. T. M. and Th. D., but those are not so much preparation for the parish as it is for academic work.

Perhaps one path to a solution to the theological education crisis is to return seminaries to the role as trade school for pastors and consider how best to equip men to serve in that capacity.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Terry W Culler on May 20, 2016, 01:38:28 PM
Dan is right here.  I suspect that many of the problems we seen with bad theology in some Lutheran seminaries derive from hubris and a desire to be a little Harvard or Yale.  They lose sight of what their task is and why they exists.  In the AFLC our seminary program is designed to prepare men to be parish pastors.  Some do go on to other academic endeavors (after all, someone has to teach in the seminary), but most serve the people God has gathered in various congregations.  For a while I actually opposed accreditation for the seminary because I feared losing that focus.  But I've come around on that issue. 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 20, 2016, 01:42:26 PM
Let me propose a thought experiment.

Start a third seminary.  It is online only, so its campus consist of renting cloud space from Amazon.  Its curriculum is exactly the same as CSL/CTS with one modification, homiletics is moved to the exegetical department and all other "practical" classes are cut.  Total full time academic study 2 years.  The student continues in their home congregation.  The substitute for the practical curriculum is a two year deaconry at a real congregation.  It would be an ordained deacon.  Said deaconry would come with a stipend, inteded to be paid by congregation, but if the congregation is too small, the synod/district/home cong picks it up.  This could be two years at a large congregation in the suburbs, it could be two years in a small congregation in a rural area under the supervision of the next closest pastor.  Admission is based on Home Congregation putting forward the man for original study and supporting it.  Placement as deacon is based on faculty in conversation with local pastor.  Ordination as pastor and first call are based on faculty and supervising pastor.

Total price: $10,000.  (I don't think that is crazy.  Texas has colleges that will offer a full BA for $10K.  This is two years less.  Georgia Tech offers a MA in the same way for ~$7,000.  Don't like that, ok, make the total price $15,000).

If that third seminary was allowed to be started.  Let's say I'm a sacramental entrepreneur and think this is the best place to innovate to get the gospel out and by some miracle the people of the Synod let me.  What percentage of current seminary students would I capture?  Would the program expand or contract the number of people studying?  Would it serve the church?  What stands in the way of such a program?
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 20, 2016, 01:59:43 PM
Let me propose a thought experiment.

Start a third seminary.  It is online only, so its campus consist of renting cloud space from Amazon.  Its curriculum is exactly the same as CSL/CTS with one modification, homiletics is moved to the exegetical department and all other "practical" classes are cut.  Total full time academic study 2 years.  The student continues in their home congregation.  The substitute for the practical curriculum is a two year deaconry at a real congregation.  It would be an ordained deacon.  Said deaconry would come with a stipend, inteded to be paid by congregation, but if the congregation is too small, the synod/district/home cong picks it up.  This could be two years at a large congregation in the suburbs, it could be two years in a small congregation in a rural area under the supervision of the next closest pastor.  Admission is based on Home Congregation putting forward the man for original study and supporting it.  Placement as deacon is based on faculty in conversation with local pastor.  Ordination as pastor and first call are based on faculty and supervising pastor.

Total price: $10,000.  (I don't think that is crazy.  Texas has colleges that will offer a full BA for $10K.  This is two years less.  Georgia Tech offers a MA in the same way for ~$7,000.  Don't like that, ok, make the total price $15,000).

If that third seminary was allowed to be started.  Let's say I'm a sacramental entrepreneur and think this is the best place to innovate to get the gospel out and by some miracle the people of the Synod let me.  What percentage of current seminary students would I capture?  Would the program expand or contract the number of people studying?  Would it serve the church?  What stands in the way of such a program?

Not signing onto every detail you've suggested (mostly because I haven't looked into it myself), but I agree with the gist. I think the SMP program should become a true "alternate route" like Springfield was back in the day. I'm not sure you need a third seminary per se, because cohort experiences and week long intensives serve a good purpose, but we've always been purveyors of alternate routes, so why not have it online today?

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 20, 2016, 02:08:54 PM
Let me propose a thought experiment.

Start a third seminary.  It is online only, so its campus consist of renting cloud space from Amazon.  Its curriculum is exactly the same as CSL/CTS with one modification, homiletics is moved to the exegetical department and all other "practical" classes are cut.  Total full time academic study 2 years.  The student continues in their home congregation.  The substitute for the practical curriculum is a two year deaconry at a real congregation.  It would be an ordained deacon.  Said deaconry would come with a stipend, inteded to be paid by congregation, but if the congregation is too small, the synod/district/home cong picks it up.  This could be two years at a large congregation in the suburbs, it could be two years in a small congregation in a rural area under the supervision of the next closest pastor.  Admission is based on Home Congregation putting forward the man for original study and supporting it.  Placement as deacon is based on faculty in conversation with local pastor.  Ordination as pastor and first call are based on faculty and supervising pastor.

Total price: $10,000.  (I don't think that is crazy.  Texas has colleges that will offer a full BA for $10K.  This is two years less.  Georgia Tech offers a MA in the same way for ~$7,000.  Don't like that, ok, make the total price $15,000).

If that third seminary was allowed to be started.  Let's say I'm a sacramental entrepreneur and think this is the best place to innovate to get the gospel out and by some miracle the people of the Synod let me.  What percentage of current seminary students would I capture?  Would the program expand or contract the number of people studying?  Would it serve the church?  What stands in the way of such a program?

Not signing onto every detail you've suggested (mostly because I haven't looked into it myself), but I agree with the gist. I think the SMP program should become a true "alternate route" like Springfield was back in the day. I'm not sure you need a third seminary per se, because cohort experiences and week long intensives serve a good purpose, but we've always been purveyors of alternate routes, so why not have it online today?

M. Staneck

The underlying assumption in the Missouri Synod is that there is a need for two seminaries providing the on-site curriculum.  Enrollment says otherwise.  The idea of a second "practical" alternative is good. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 20, 2016, 02:09:32 PM
Let me propose a thought experiment.

Start a third seminary.  It is online only, so its campus consist of renting cloud space from Amazon.  Its curriculum is exactly the same as CSL/CTS with one modification, homiletics is moved to the exegetical department and all other "practical" classes are cut.  Total full time academic study 2 years.  The student continues in their home congregation.  The substitute for the practical curriculum is a two year deaconry at a real congregation.  It would be an ordained deacon.  Said deaconry would come with a stipend, inteded to be paid by congregation, but if the congregation is too small, the synod/district/home cong picks it up.  This could be two years at a large congregation in the suburbs, it could be two years in a small congregation in a rural area under the supervision of the next closest pastor.  Admission is based on Home Congregation putting forward the man for original study and supporting it.  Placement as deacon is based on faculty in conversation with local pastor.  Ordination as pastor and first call are based on faculty and supervising pastor.

Total price: $10,000.  (I don't think that is crazy.  Texas has colleges that will offer a full BA for $10K.  This is two years less.  Georgia Tech offers a MA in the same way for ~$7,000.  Don't like that, ok, make the total price $15,000).

If that third seminary was allowed to be started.  Let's say I'm a sacramental entrepreneur and think this is the best place to innovate to get the gospel out and by some miracle the people of the Synod let me.  What percentage of current seminary students would I capture?  Would the program expand or contract the number of people studying?  Would it serve the church?  What stands in the way of such a program?

Not signing onto every detail you've suggested (mostly because I haven't looked into it myself), but I agree with the gist. I think the SMP program should become a true "alternate route" like Springfield was back in the day. I'm not sure you need a third seminary per se, because cohort experiences and week long intensives serve a good purpose, but we've always been purveyors of alternate routes, so why not have it online today?

M. Staneck
I said third seminary as part of the thought experiment.  Something that does not have legacy costs.  Something dedicated to a skinny mission.  I get cohort experiences, but I also intentionally excluded those for the experiment because I want to focus on the local congregation and circuit being the place of personal connection.  Such week long intensives to me often serve as the excuse for why we couldn't do a distributed model.  The though experiment to me in part is why a central physical seminary with all the cost and potential mission creep that comes with.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: John_Hannah on May 20, 2016, 03:02:34 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Charles Austin on May 20, 2016, 03:12:44 PM
I began attending seminary in 1963. Tuition was something like $150 per quarter, with about $50 per quarter for books. (I did not live in student housing.) There may have been a couple of other costs. My synod paid the tuition.
When I graduated our indebtedness was about $4,000 in my wife's student loans for college; and that was being drawn down a thousand dollars a year for each year she was a public school teacher; although we had to pay something like $200 a year in maintenance costs.
Seminaries at the time, were supported by the church, in my case the LCA. Seminarians were often supported by their synods.
Times have changed.
But I cannot imagine one entering the full-time, professional ordained ministry without that which I learned during those three years of seminary and year of internship. How one "gets" that learning today is up for discussion.
In some parts of the church in earlier centuries, some clerics were quite uneducated, taught mostly how to read the service or enough Latin to say the mass. That created a certain "kind" of clergy.
We Lutherans have had another kind of ordained ministry. And perhaps the nature of that ordained ministry will change.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 20, 2016, 03:17:27 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN
I don't doubt that there are two donor bases that have been developed and that they are non-transferable.  What I think the thought experiment asks is: are what the donor bases supporting what the church needs?  Could a third way be deployed that would: a) serve the church better, b) cost much less (i.e. all the donors could go away and it would still cost less) and c) be attractive to a larger group of potential candidates.  Do we have fights and crying sessions like LLD, SMP, small church/large church, church planting, ethnic mission, etc, all because we are trying to extract the funding to support something that if it was disbanded something better could come in its place.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: John_Hannah on May 20, 2016, 04:29:34 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN
I don't doubt that there are two donor bases that have been developed and that they are non-transferable.  What I think the thought experiment asks is: are what the donor bases supporting what the church needs?  Could a third way be deployed that would: a) serve the church better, b) cost much less (i.e. all the donors could go away and it would still cost less) and c) be attractive to a larger group of potential candidates.  Do we have fights and crying sessions like LLD, SMP, small church/large church, church planting, ethnic mission, etc, all because we are trying to extract the funding to support something that if it was disbanded something better could come in its place.

I couldn't agree more.

Missouri has never excelled at flexibility nor honest analysis. I doubt that your suggestions would work without an exceptional leadership and a common commitment to withdraw from competition between institutions. (E.g., the two seminaries; DPs vs. SP; DP's vs. the sems.) Otherwise, excellent idea.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: James_Gale on May 20, 2016, 04:43:08 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN
I don't doubt that there are two donor bases that have been developed and that they are non-transferable.  What I think the thought experiment asks is: are what the donor bases supporting what the church needs?  Could a third way be deployed that would: a) serve the church better, b) cost much less (i.e. all the donors could go away and it would still cost less) and c) be attractive to a larger group of potential candidates.  Do we have fights and crying sessions like LLD, SMP, small church/large church, church planting, ethnic mission, etc, all because we are trying to extract the funding to support something that if it was disbanded something better could come in its place.

I couldn't agree more.

Missouri has never excelled at flexibility nor honest analysis. I doubt that your suggestions would work without an exceptional leadership and a common commitment to withdraw from competition between institutions. (E.g., the two seminaries; DPs vs. SP; DP's vs. the sems.) Otherwise, excellent idea.

Peace, JOHN


In my experience, all organizations tend to resist change, usually quite effectively.  Extraordinary leadership, extraordinary circumstances, or both generally are necessary if fundamental change is to stand a chance.





Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 20, 2016, 05:25:18 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN
I don't doubt that there are two donor bases that have been developed and that they are non-transferable.  What I think the thought experiment asks is: are what the donor bases supporting what the church needs?  Could a third way be deployed that would: a) serve the church better, b) cost much less (i.e. all the donors could go away and it would still cost less) and c) be attractive to a larger group of potential candidates.  Do we have fights and crying sessions like LLD, SMP, small church/large church, church planting, ethnic mission, etc, all because we are trying to extract the funding to support something that if it was disbanded something better could come in its place.

I couldn't agree more.

Missouri has never excelled at flexibility nor honest analysis. I doubt that your suggestions would work without an exceptional leadership and a common commitment to withdraw from competition between institutions. (E.g., the two seminaries; DPs vs. SP; DP's vs. the sems.) Otherwise, excellent idea.

Peace, JOHN


In my experience, all organizations tend to resist change, usually quite effectively.  Extraordinary leadership, extraordinary circumstances, or both generally are necessary if fundamental change is to stand a chance.


Agreed. There are congregations that are more willing to die than to change.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 20, 2016, 06:15:24 PM
The two LCMS seminaries in St. Louis and Fort Wayne are friendly rivals.
Our current Synodical President Matthew Harrison has said on various occasions
that neither seminary will be closed during his tenure. 

So when someone asked me, "What do you think are the chances that one of the
seminaries will close?"   I said, " Slim and none, and slim left town and none just
passed away.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 20, 2016, 08:03:23 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN

If we did close one seminary and kept the remaining one as the sole provider, how would this decision be made?  In other words, which seminary is closed?  Given the difference in the general character of the two seminaries, do you try to merge these personalities, or does one predominate over the other?  Also, how do we decide on which faculty stays and who goes?  I would not want to be the person or committee who ultimately makes those choices or offers the recommendations to Synod.   
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Pasgolf on May 20, 2016, 08:48:44 PM
I recently was in conversation with a friend who is a Pastor and educator, commenting that the "old" LC-MS system was a "vocational technical" process.  The Concordias, high schools and jr colleges, as well as the Senior College were all targeted to one end, namely production of vetted clergy and teachers.  That program worked for well over 100 years.  Sometimes the system even produced "theologians."  Prior to the Senior College, the Bachelors degree was awarded at Seminary.  What precludes treating seminary education as a 4 year college degree, that can be undertaken directly out of high school?

The secular order is very comfortable enabling 4 year college graduates to teach in the subject of their major.  What is it about the pastoral office that requires more than that? 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: exegete77 on May 20, 2016, 08:53:13 PM
In The AALC, we faced the huge debts of seminary education, but from the perspective of a very small church body. We still send a few to CFWTS and CSL. By 2010, we couldn’t continue the old model. I was tasked with others to develop an online seminary (live video, everyone sees and hears everyone else). We have one man who has been teaching Greek and Latin for 20+ years. We now have six professors who usually teach one class per qtr (Four of them have doctorates, one with an STM, and one who is working on doctorate.)

We have 28 courses (exegetical, systematics, historical, and practical) plus the Greek requirement. Had there been an online option at the time I would have included that as a requirement as well. The cost is $400 per course per Qtr, which is still an investment for the student, but not overwhelming. Our congregations have been committed to make up the other costs with running the seminary (mostly the video costs and annual gathering). We have students all over the country, and we connect them with a local congregation (if possible).

The biggest challenge was getting used to live video. But now those who have been in classes for 2-3 quarters find that the fellowship is real and helpful to them.

We started with one student in 2010. Now we have 20+ with more joining in the fall; anticipate 50 students by 2018-2019. We even have international interest in our seminary. Several of our graduates are serving our congregations. Without the online seminary, our church body would die in 10 years.

Do we have all the answers? Absolutely not. We are still looking at various aspects of it. We are working to provide a theologically solid seminary education. It is different than residential education, but not wrong.

Rich Shields
President, American Lutheran Theological Seminary
The American Association of Lutheran Churches
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Robert_C_Baker on May 20, 2016, 09:03:14 PM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN
I don't doubt that there are two donor bases that have been developed and that they are non-transferable.  What I think the thought experiment asks is: are what the donor bases supporting what the church needs?  Could a third way be deployed that would: a) serve the church better, b) cost much less (i.e. all the donors could go away and it would still cost less) and c) be attractive to a larger group of potential candidates.  Do we have fights and crying sessions like LLD, SMP, small church/large church, church planting, ethnic mission, etc, all because we are trying to extract the funding to support something that if it was disbanded something better could come in its place.

I couldn't agree more.

Missouri has never excelled at flexibility nor honest analysis. I doubt that your suggestions would work without an exceptional leadership and a common commitment to withdraw from competition between institutions. (E.g., the two seminaries; DPs vs. SP; DP's vs. the sems.) Otherwise, excellent idea.

Peace, JOHN

What Mark said and what John said. Missouri has a difficult time discerning between what it wants and what it needs. It often opts for the former, even though that often militates against the latter.

The Synod does not need two brick-and-mortar seminaries. Just look at the declining number of seminary graduates, the declining number of baptized members, and the average age of all members. At most, the Synod needs ONE brick-and-mortar seminary, and that for only two years. Much of the book learnin' could take place online under the supervision of a man's parish pastor.

But that isn't what the Synod wants, so it will never happen.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Daniel L. Gard on May 20, 2016, 10:16:41 PM
Sorry but I am not buying into the whole on-line training of pastors. If that happens to become the standard medium of pastoral formation then within a generation the LCMS will be a loose association tied together by Concordia Plans and LCEF but not by theological bonds.

It is a recipe for the loss of confessional Lutheranism in North America. But have no fear - the African Churches, who value theology and unity, will open their seminaries to the remnant of confessional Lutheranism in America. And probably send missionaries here.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 20, 2016, 10:28:27 PM
Sorry but I am not buying into the whole on-line training of pastors. If that happens to become the standard medium of pastoral formation then within a generation the LCMS will be a loose association tied together by Concordia Plans and LCEF but not by theological bonds.

It is a recipe for the loss of confessional Lutheranism in North America. But have no fear - the African Churches, who value theology and unity, will open their seminaries to the remnant of confessional Lutheranism in America. And probably send missionaries here.

They're already sending missionaries to the US, Dan, as are the Koreans and other more nationalities/countries/language groups, not only to preach to immigrants from their part of the world, but to preach the Gospel to all who will hear.  I don't know what the number or percentage of Roman Catholic priests is who serve here, but it's not small.  As important as the confessional identity is, there is also the desire to reach those who have not heard the Good News with the Gospel.  There are those with who opine that the second feature is what is being bred out of American training.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Pasgolf on May 20, 2016, 10:38:58 PM
There seems to be a confusion of information and formation. 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: RevG on May 20, 2016, 10:50:50 PM
Yes, I'm the only white male clergy in any of my grad classes at Fordham.  Almost all of the clergy are from either Africa or Asia.  Many are Roman Catholic priests.  Salt of the earth, too, great guys and gals.

The M. Div is a professional degree, I think it's important to make that distinction or categorization clear.  That's not to say it's not a sound education, but it has its limits.  The learning that takes place at St. Louis or Ft. Wayne is not the same as what takes place at Fordham University where I am currently enrolled.  One seeks to get you to think like a Lutheran, the other seeks to get you to think, to learn, to be changed through education (the Jesuit tradition), to find value in all viewpoints.   

Lastly, claiming that residential education is the be all end all for the formation of pastors simply goes against the witness of the church catholic.  I wonder if Paul made sure to teach Timothy according to our categories of Systematic, Historical, Exegetical, and Practical theologies. 

In Christ,
Scott+
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Richard Johnson on May 20, 2016, 10:54:03 PM
Sorry but I am not buying into the whole on-line training of pastors. If that happens to become the standard medium of pastoral formation then within a generation the LCMS will be a loose association tied together by Concordia Plans and LCEF but not by theological bonds.

It is a recipe for the loss of confessional Lutheranism in North America. But have no fear - the African Churches, who value theology and unity, will open their seminaries to the remnant of confessional Lutheranism in America. And probably send missionaries here.

As someone who teaches online seminary courses, I agree with you completely.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 20, 2016, 11:17:44 PM
In The AALC, we faced the huge debts of seminary education, but from the perspective of a very small church body. We still send a few to CFWTS and CSL. By 2010, we couldn’t continue the old model. I was tasked with others to develop an online seminary (live video, everyone sees and hears everyone else). We have one man who has been teaching Greek and Latin for 20+ years. We now have six professors who usually teach one class per qtr (Four of them have doctorates, one with an STM, and one who is working on doctorate.)

We have 28 courses (exegetical, systematics, historical, and practical) plus the Greek requirement. Had there been an online option at the time I would have included that as a requirement as well. The cost is $400 per course per Qtr, which is still an investment for the student, but not overwhelming. Our congregations have been committed to make up the other costs with running the seminary (mostly the video costs and annual gathering). We have students all over the country, and we connect them with a local congregation (if possible).

The biggest challenge was getting used to live video. But now those who have been in classes for 2-3 quarters find that the fellowship is real and helpful to them.

We started with one student in 2010. Now we have 20+ with more joining in the fall; anticipate 50 students by 2018-2019. We even have international interest in our seminary. Several of our graduates are serving our congregations. Without the online seminary, our church body would die in 10 years.

Do we have all the answers? Absolutely not. We are still looking at various aspects of it. We are working to provide a theologically solid seminary education. It is different than residential education, but not wrong.

Rich Shields
President, American Lutheran Theological Seminary
The American Association of Lutheran Churches

Now this is often how this type of change actually works in the corporate world.  Someone else smaller has started almost exactly what my thought experiment is.  And it is succeeding.  But my guess is that the AALC will run out of congregations for placement.  Like when the smaller company needs capital to expand its production.  A large firm would often come in at this point and acquire the company, replacing their internal failing model with the winning model.  Sometimes that smaller company had even been seeded at the start with talent from the larger firm because they know it would be strangled in the cradle inside the company, but it needed to be done.  If this works, watch the requests for colloquy into the LCMS from this program.  Or watch congregations move synods towards the model that can supply educated ministers for a realistic cost basis. 

Ask the next thought experiment.  Would an LCMS congregation and potential minister prefer the SMP answer, which is still awkward and costs more and doesn't give a real career path, or a roll of the dice on the AALC program and a colloquy?

You can weep and moan all you want about online ed.  And churches are not corporations.  But they are not immune from supply/demand cost/benefit.  Unless the M.Div. degree gets its cost under $20K total to the student, you can't really afford it.  I have to laugh at the idea of looking to the African seminaries to send people.  Not at their people which would be good, but that is just another way around the basic problem.  We are too busy building Rube Goldberg machines to protect legacy program revenue streams and desires to build the programs that meet the actual need.  So because we won't do that, we'll take the Africans who aren't encumbered by the legacy costs.

MBA tip.  If you find yourself building crazy programs to protect legacy methods, cannibalize yourself before someone else does it to you after much angst.  Maybe that is a dramatically simplified residential program.  But call me skeptical because I think that still puts extremely high hurdles and destroys too much value of the students embedded in home congregations and places of employment.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: exegete77 on May 20, 2016, 11:33:05 PM

Now this is often how this type of change actually works in the corporate world.  Someone else smaller has started almost exactly what my thought experiment is.  And it is succeeding.  But my guess is that the AALC will run out of congregations for placement.  Like when the smaller company needs capital to expand its production.  A large firm would often come in at this point and acquire the company, replacing their internal failing model with the winning model.  Sometimes that smaller company had even been seeded at the start with talent from the larger firm because they know it would be strangled in the cradle inside the company, but it needed to be done.  If this works, watch the requests for colloquy into the LCMS from this program.  Or watch congregations move synods towards the model that can supply educated ministers for a realistic cost basis. 

Ask the next thought experiment.  Would an LCMS congregation and potential minister prefer the SMP answer, which is still awkward and costs more and doesn't give a real career path, or a roll of the dice on the AALC program and a colloquy?

You can weep and moan all you want about online ed.  And churches are not corporations.  But they are not immune from supply/demand cost/benefit.  Unless the M.Div. degree gets its cost under $20K total to the student, you can't really afford it.  I have to laugh at the idea of looking to the African seminaries to send people.  Not at their people which would be good, but that is just another way around the basic problem.  We are too busy building Rube Goldberg machines to protect legacy program revenue streams and desires to build the programs that meet the actual need.  So because we won't do that, we'll take the Africans who aren't encumbered by the legacy costs.

MBA tip.  If you find yourself building crazy programs to protect legacy methods, cannibalize yourself before someone else does it to you after much angst.  Maybe that is a dramatically simplified residential program.  But call me skeptical because I think that still puts extremely high hurdles and destroys too much value of the students embedded in home congregations and places of employment.
Indeed, Mark, that is why we also are encouraging our pastors to think outside the box, i.e. to plant new churches. Several of our classes provide a base for such new areas, and taught by professors/pastors who have done exactly that. One of our key elements is an ongoing mentoring program once the student graduates. Regarding other countries, it is interesting that inquiries have come from Uganda, Ghana, Norway, Great Britain, and Japan. So it doesn't seem to be all one way in interest.

Again, we have much to learn, think through, and change/adapt. But we want to form pastors for current and future work, wherever God opens doors. My only regret is that I wish I were 45 teaching the young men, rather than 67. My desire is to see this expand and grow, not for its own sake but for the Kingdom of God. But my body isn't quite the same as it was two decades ago. Hence, I think like I'm 45, but work at the pace of an old codger. How wonderful to even be a part of this.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 20, 2016, 11:55:08 PM
ILT is experiencing many of the same kinds of things.


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 21, 2016, 01:03:58 AM
Why not expand the whole online experience and create an online church? (I think some have done that.) One pastor could preach online each week, a top-notch musicians could create the sound track and karaoke words and millions of people could sit in front of their screens and have their worship service - even in their pjs if they wanted. Think of the savings if congregations didn't have to support buildings. Just hire an IT person who can troubleshoot any of the members' problems with downloading their worship service.






Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: bookpastor/Erma Wolf on May 21, 2016, 01:17:54 AM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN

If we did close one seminary and kept the remaining one as the sole provider, how would this decision be made?  In other words, which seminary is closed?  Given the difference in the general character of the two seminaries, do you try to merge these personalities, or does one predominate over the other?  Also, how do we decide on which faculty stays and who goes?  I would not want to be the person or committee who ultimately makes those choices or offers the recommendations to Synod.   

No. You close both seminaries. Then you restart with a "new" seminary, picking out of the two what you want and who you want. Since it is a new seminary, all tenure has gone "bye-bye." Sell both pieces of real estate (yes, much weeping and gnashing will be spent over that), and start with something new in a new, different location. (Preferably in the midst of your new, target population for witness/evangelism/mission.) Combine the online model with what is considered truly essential from the formation-by-proximity model.

Would this be a very bumpy ride? Absolutely. Is it likely to happen? Of course not. Would it be a good thing, or would it be the final nail in the coffin? Impossible for me to say; however, I think it really would depend on timing (a little), and what the real motivation for this drastic change truly is. Is it to serve the mission of God in a new and more volitile environment, or is it to prop up the corporate structure of the institutional denomination? If the former, it might survive; if the latter, it deserves to die.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Charles Austin on May 21, 2016, 03:40:46 AM
I repeat what I said upstream. I cannot imagine being a pastor without knowing what I was taught in seminary, that is, the "traditional" disciplines of scripture, systematics, history, languages, and pastoral care. I have witnessed the disasters that can happen when pastors are deficient in these disciplines.
How one obtains that knowledge, processes it, channels it into pastoral ministry is up for discussion.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 21, 2016, 07:08:32 AM
Why not expand the whole online experience and create an online church? (I think some have done that.) One pastor could preach online each week, a top-notch musicians could create the sound track and karaoke words and millions of people could sit in front of their screens and have their worship service - even in their pjs if they wanted. Think of the savings if congregations didn't have to support buildings. Just hire an IT person who can troubleshoot any of the members' problems with downloading their worship service.


Always a hyperbolic extremist, you are....


Yoda
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: John_Hannah on May 21, 2016, 07:43:05 AM
What's up with the two LCMS seminaries where only one is needed? When I have posed that question to responsible and knowledgeable officials the answer usually comes down to the two different constituencies that provide benevolent (non-tuition) financial support. Therefore, so the story goes, the synod would gain no financial advantage in closing either one. Actually, it would be a loss.

I guess that it makes sense if, in fact, that is the case. Still, one of these years....

Peace, JOHN

If we did close one seminary and kept the remaining one as the sole provider, how would this decision be made?  In other words, which seminary is closed?  Given the difference in the general character of the two seminaries, do you try to merge these personalities, or does one predominate over the other?  Also, how do we decide on which faculty stays and who goes?  I would not want to be the person or committee who ultimately makes those choices or offers the recommendations to Synod.   

Evidence of the competitive relationship between the two sems. That goes back at least 60 years and doesn't seem ever to go away. That is why voluntary change is likely never to happen.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 21, 2016, 08:25:51 AM
Sorry but I am not buying into the whole on-line training of pastors. If that happens to become the standard medium of pastoral formation then within a generation the LCMS will be a loose association tied together by Concordia Plans and LCEF but not by theological bonds.

It is a recipe for the loss of confessional Lutheranism in North America. But have no fear - the African Churches, who value theology and unity, will open their seminaries to the remnant of confessional Lutheranism in America. And probably send missionaries here.

President Gard, that's why at least me and Mark are talking about an "alt route" (alternate, not standard), which is online. Have no fear!

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 21, 2016, 09:22:50 AM
Sorry but I am not buying into the whole on-line training of pastors. If that happens to become the standard medium of pastoral formation then within a generation the LCMS will be a loose association tied together by Concordia Plans and LCEF but not by theological bonds.

It is a recipe for the loss of confessional Lutheranism in North America. But have no fear - the African Churches, who value theology and unity, will open their seminaries to the remnant of confessional Lutheranism in America. And probably send missionaries here.

They're already sending missionaries to the US, Dan, as are the Koreans and other more nationalities/countries/language groups, not only to preach to immigrants from their part of the world, but to preach the Gospel to all who will hear.  I don't know what the number or percentage of Roman Catholic priests is who serve here, but it's not small.  As important as the confessional identity is, there is also the desire to reach those who have not heard the Good News with the Gospel.  There are those with who opine that the second feature is what is being bred out of American training.

Dave Benke


And the Africans and Indians are the ones knocking down our doors to have more connection with and teaching from us at ILT. The Holy Spirit is up to something.


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: FrPeters on May 21, 2016, 09:31:13 AM
The LCMS has something like a dozen routes to ordination already.  Residential seminary is the primary route by choice both because of its benefit to the church and to the clergy produced by residential seminary training.

Many of us oldtimers who went through the junior/senior college and seminary route have enjoyed a collegiality formed by this common experience.  One of the first casualties of alternate routes without a residential seminary component is to dilute the already weakened common identity and collegial shape of the clergy in the LCMS.  We are already much in danger of devolving from a synod into an amalgamum of semi-independent districts made up of completely independent congregations.  This will effectively finish the confessional identity of our Synod, as Pres. Gard has said.  The problem is that some in the LCMS want exactly this to happen.  So the issue of seminary education and the formation of our pastors IS connected to those who want the local congregation to do nearly everything we currently do together as a Synod.  If the local congregation raises up its own leaders and they are trained online, there is, in effect, no roster of clergy except a list of those who have met minimal requirements.  DPs are already reticent to supervise and discipline congregations except for the most egregious errors and, dependent upon the parish for revenue streams, they can hardly be expected to effectively maintain unity of doctrine and practice given such congregationalist processes toward ordination.  In addition, the last remaining justification for Synod's university system is training of church workers and this would hasten the releasing of these schools to be independent institutions to live or die on their own merits.

There are other solutions.  Do we need to structure our degree to meet AATS degree requirements and recognition?  If seminary training is essential to the mission here in the US and missionary work at large, why do we not fund the majority of this from the national church budget?  BTW, the reality is that only a small portion of sem grads leave the sem with huge debt caused by the Sems (Ft Wayne promises about half in aid) and most of them entered the sem with a huge debt for undergrad education.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Matt Staneck on May 21, 2016, 09:45:50 AM
Fr. Peters,

I know you aren't putting forward a tribal synod, but when I read your words here I wonder again if our goal is to be a global church or a tribal synod. I think we all honestly want to be a global church (look at all the effort going into missions right now), but the way we sometimes speak and act gives off the vibe that we are happy with a global church, as long as it meets the requirements of a tribal synod.

If a true alternate route (online) is all that stands between us and the collapse of our confessional integrity, then I'm afraid we have already lost our confessional integrity. I like to think the appeal is the actual Augsburg Confession itself, not our long gone tightly knit educational system.

M. Staneck

P.S. As a reminder, I am in favor of residential seminary as a primary option. I am not in favor of apocalyptic predictions of our need to protect an apparently weak confession of faith from the dangers of online education.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Weedon on May 21, 2016, 09:51:36 AM
Random thoughts:

* The goal should of course be to be the church catholic (which invariably brings the global to the tribal and the tribal to the global) forming men to serve in the office of the holy ministry (which necessitates an understanding of that office and why the Lord gave it and what it is to do - the giving out of His gifts to the beloved Bride).

* The value of getting out of your own ghetto or echo chamber or whatever you want to call it; but the easiest and best way of doing so is not attending to all the other voices of now, but giving a careful and critical ear to the voices who speak the mind of the church across the centuries and across numerous cultural divides (which also necessitates being critical enough to actual hear what they are saying in their context, and thus not mishearing the words with which they are saying it).

* The above doesn't necessarily entail moving from place to place, but it does entail being part of a living community that also listens to the Word and ponders together the reflections of those who have gone before us in the faith.

* Academic rigor is a good thing and the Church has over all been blessed by it; it's just that it doesn't always go hand in glove with academic institutions, particularly when those institutions are under pressure to produce a certain kind of product (graduate) that fits a pragmatic and predetermined end (plant and grow a church, understood primarily as consumers of the religious products we are into producing). Pragmatic is not the way our God seems to delight in working; in fact, you might describe Him as the ultimate mocker of pragmatism. Let academic rigor serve the purpose of pondering His delight in doing things His own way, with an absolute reliance on His promises not failing no matter how hopeless they seem, and the academic rigor would toss out the entire pragmatic schemas and the fear that runs right under their surface. It would instead delight with a child's joy in the way He undermines utility to deliver life!

* Living community is the most important part of formation for pastoral service, for we are formed not by disembodied info, but by persons whom we are called to love, listen to, serve, and bless. This holds, of course, most of all for the Three Divine Persons (Blessed be the holy Trinity and the undivided Unity! Let us give glory to Him for He has shown His mercy to us!), but also our sisters and brothers in Christ. Pastoral education isn't a data dump; to put it in classical ed terms, it lives not at the grammar, or even the logic stage, but at the stage of rhetoric.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Keith Falk on May 21, 2016, 11:22:22 AM
If The Church (whatever particular denominational expression) cares about educating her pastors, then the funds need to be there. Unless, of course, the goal is to put pastors under such crippling debt that they have to suck it up and take whatever abuse a congregation may throw their way because they need the money to support their family.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 21, 2016, 11:36:52 AM
Pastor Falk is correct.   The LCMS or ELCA budget will tell us the priority it places
on recruiting and training future pastors.  In the LCMS we have two seminaries
which do not receive any substantial financial assistance from the denominational
budget.   As a result the Presidents of our St. Louis and Fort Wayne Seminaries must
spend time and energy in fund raising and creating endowment funds.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: exegete77 on May 21, 2016, 11:57:31 AM
ILT is experiencing many of the same kinds of things.


Lou
Lou, not sure if you remember me. We met about six years ago at a Retreat near Alexandria, MN. We talked already at that time about the issues, ILT faced, and we were beginning to face. Much has changed in the last few years.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 21, 2016, 12:01:07 PM
We in the LCMS have a convention this summer.  What would you suggest the convention cut from the budget to free up funds to support the seminaries?  It is always easy to say that something should be funded.  Much harder to come up with the money.  Every church budget and every church program gets voted on twice.  Once at the meeting when the money is allocated.  The second vote happens in every group that contributes as they decide how much money to give.  So if the Synod decides to give more money to the seminaries, that allocation then is voted on in each District as they vote how much money to give to Synod (and then in each congregation as they vote how much money to give to the Districts, and in each home as they decide how much to give to church).  If more money is not forthcoming, then money must be cut from something else to give to the new allocation.  What should Synod stop doing to provide more money for seminaries?

The common answer often suggested is that money should be cut from administration, the office in St. Louis (well Kirkwood but you know what we mean).  Administration can become top heavy and needs to be lean and efficient, but unless we are going to follow the practices of many businesses (and many churches) and expect one person to do the work of 1 1/2 to 2 people for 2/3 the salary suggested for 1, there are limits to how much can be cut from administration before services and programs that the Synod has come to expect be cut.

So much would be good to have done, and so much should be done, but people are only willing to contribute so much to accomplish it.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 21, 2016, 12:20:47 PM
ILT is experiencing many of the same kinds of things.


Lou
Lou, not sure if you remember me. We met about six years ago at a Retreat near Alexandria, MN. We talked already at that time about the issues, ILT faced, and we were beginning to face. Much has changed in the last few years.


I do indeed remember, Rich. Have not forgotten and have been interested in your progress. I am 5 credits from having my MDiv through ILT. If Jesus doesn't return first and barring unforeseen circumstances I should finish before Christmas.


It wouldn't hurt to reconnect again about our mutual programs....and challenges.


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: exegete77 on May 21, 2016, 12:33:15 PM

I do indeed remember, Rich. Have not forgotten and have been interested in your progress. I am 5 credits from having my MDiv through ILT. If Jesus doesn't return first and barring unforeseen circumstances I should finish before Christmas.

It wouldn't hurt to reconnect again about our mutual programs....and challenges.

Lou
I would like to do that. Right now I am tied up with our convention and major rescheduling for the next year’s courses. So maybe we can at least chat online sometime after mid July.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on May 21, 2016, 12:42:23 PM

No. You close both seminaries. Then you restart with a "new" seminary, picking out of the two what you want and who you want. Since it is a new seminary, all tenure has gone "bye-bye." Sell both pieces of real estate (yes, much weeping and gnashing will be spent over that), and start with something new in a new, different location.

The ELCA's seminaries at Mt. Airy and Gettysburg announced (http://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=6225.msg390512#msg390512) they were setting off on that road (though the real estate issues were being put on a back burner) earlier this year, but quickly switched to a merger because of accreditation matters.

Pax, Steven+
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 21, 2016, 01:39:38 PM

I do indeed remember, Rich. Have not forgotten and have been interested in your progress. I am 5 credits from having my MDiv through ILT. If Jesus doesn't return first and barring unforeseen circumstances I should finish before Christmas.

It wouldn't hurt to reconnect again about our mutual programs....and challenges.

Lou
I would like to do that. Right now I am tied up with our convention and major rescheduling for the next year’s courses. So maybe we can at least chat online sometime after mid July.


Let me know....


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 21, 2016, 02:11:32 PM
There are three priors that I want to continue part of the conversation with: Weedon, Stanek and Peters.

Peters says "residential seminary is the primary means by choice".  I'd say that is a tautology, because we work overtime to shut down any other method and re-channel anything that might break through back into the residential mold.  Just usually crippled in some way so as to make it not interesting and people stop asking.  I think the truth is that residential seminary is the only method available, and people jump at alternate routes because this might be the one that breaks through and actually offers what is being requested.  Look at enrollment in the Ethnic Institutes and SMP and any program in the past that offered significant don't-rip-me-out-of-where-I-am component versus residential.  (There is a reason the sems don't easily publish those types of breakdowns.)  The people making the choice are the faculty and staff of the legacy seminaries.  Not the students who are paying the bill.  Not the potential students worldwide who could be served by such a program. 

Confessional identity is not created by time at a sem.  If that is it, then we have none.  (100% agree with Stanek.)  Confessional identity is formed in the congregations.  The seminaries work with what they are sent.  Their biggest lever is in saying no to some students.  Which is of course saying no to the congregation that formed the student.  It can be built upon, but the foundation is in the congregations.  It might do more to strengthen confessional identity if those congregations were expected to be an active part in fostering it during advanced study instead of outsourcing it.

I agree with Weedon's rough thoughts completely.  But, I don't think that means you end up at our current residential tautology.  I hate to say it but many people experience more living community on Twitter or Facebook than residential.  The most pragmatic thing is always attempting to keep the status quo.  Likewise "get the degree" is always the pragmatic answer.  But being tied to such pragmatism is what takes the people who have said "here am I send me" out of their living communities for preparation.  It would be a very un-pragmatic step to say the health of the living communities and of confessional identity lives or dies there. If the goal of an education, training, formation is to be a service to the church catholic, is that better served by a centralized residential place, or a distributed model that un-pragmatically expects local congregations to be the place. 

Attempt to combine the thoughts, if the church were listening to its congregations and its potential seminarians, instead of saying with disdain "you are too small for a pastor" or "if you had enough faith you'd come to St. Louis", it might see the Spirit working.  The anglo-rural student studying in the same program as the ethnic city-dweller and in the same program as a European/African/Asian student, and each studying with rigor the wells while reflecting with each other on different locations.  Something like Crete receiving a copy of Ephesians from Titus and the newly appointed elders having to discern what it means for them, but with the ability to call the Corinthians.  But to get there you'd need to do the un-pragmatic thing and potentially sacrifice 12 yoke of oxen and intentionally say we need to stop attempting to get $60k from rural-anglos, $10K from ethnics and nice glossy pictures from Africa.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: DCharlton on May 21, 2016, 02:20:05 PM
No. You close both seminaries. Then you restart with a "new" seminary, picking out of the two what you want and who you want. Since it is a new seminary, all tenure has gone "bye-bye." Sell both pieces of real estate (yes, much weeping and gnashing will be spent over that), and start with something new in a new, different location. (Preferably in the midst of your new, target population for witness/evangelism/mission.) Combine the online model with what is considered truly essential from the formation-by-proximity model.

Would this be a very bumpy ride? Absolutely. Is it likely to happen? Of course not. Would it be a good thing, or would it be the final nail in the coffin? Impossible for me to say; however, I think it really would depend on timing (a little), and what the real motivation for this drastic change truly is. Is it to serve the mission of God in a new and more volitile environment, or is it to prop up the corporate structure of the institutional denomination? If the former, it might survive; if the latter, it deserves to die.

I'm not certain what you mean in the sentence in bold, so this may be a tangent.  If so, I apologize.

When I was at TLS from 1998 to 1992, there was some conversation among the students along these lines.  Some thought it would be great if LTSS and TLS were sold and a new seminary started in Atlanta, GA.  (There was already a house of studies there.)  After all, Atlanta was a center of our desired demographic.  It was urban, mutli-cultural, and a center of African-American culture, with Interdenominational Theological Seminary located there. 

The problem I see in hindsight is that wishing that we were urban, multi-cultural, and non-German/Scandinavian doesn't make it so.  If the majority of people who will actually be interested in attending your seminary live in the Mid-west or the Carolina Piedmont, locating your seminary several hundred miles away may not make sense.   
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Daniel L. Gard on May 21, 2016, 03:00:50 PM
I addressed many of these questions nine years ago (before the 2007 convention). Nothing that has transpired since has altered my position.

Here is that paper. The BJS link is the only one I can find that has the paper on-line.

http://steadfastlutherans.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Gard-SMP.pdf
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 21, 2016, 04:08:52 PM
Why not expand the whole online experience and create an online church? (I think some have done that.) One pastor could preach online each week, a top-notch musicians could create the sound track and karaoke words and millions of people could sit in front of their screens and have their worship service - even in their pjs if they wanted. Think of the savings if congregations didn't have to support buildings. Just hire an IT person who can troubleshoot any of the members' problems with downloading their worship service.


Always a hyperbolic extremist, you are....


Yoda


Yes, I are. At the same time, this is happening as people get their "religion" from watching the TV or going online. Some preachers steal sermons from online resources. I believe one TV preacher offered a home communion kit that would be sent so that they individuals at their TV's could open up the sealed wafer and juice and commune with all the other TV watchers.


I think that a major part of our seminary education is being together with other people in a community. People who share the same faith but who also may have differing convictions about many issues. Part of seminary was being church with fellow students and professors. Part of the reason I chose to spend my last year at the Denver House of Studies - living together in one house with ten other students and spouses; eating evening meals together, cleaning the house together; studying and worshiping together. This human interaction is missing in online education. It is human interaction (all the good and messy stuff) is what makes church the church. People can learn the Bible and hear sermons and sing along with hymns on TV or at their computers, but I wouldn't say that it is church.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 21, 2016, 05:28:26 PM
I think when the pastors have a common experience of formation is keeps the synod more unified. Granted, pastors go off in all kinds of directions after graduation, sometimes to absurd degrees, but at least they know what they are deviating from and have that in common.

Recently a new fasmily transferred in with an 8th grade son who was a few months away from being confirmed at his old LCMS church, which was Crosspointe in Katy, TX. When we sat down to figure out how best to incorporate him into our class, I discovered that he'd gone almost all the way through confirmation class there and the phrases "We should fear and love God..." and "This is most certainly true," were entirely new to him; they didn't even ring a bell or stir vague recollection. His mother explained that confirmation for him had been all about practical, you group style discussions of issues teenagers face.

Now, on one hand, is it necessary for salvation to be familiar with the specific phrasing "We should fear and love God," or "This is most certainly true?" Not really. But it is something Lutherans have in common. So right away I can see that I look at things very differently from the way the pastor in Katy looks at things even though we probably had very similar seminary experiences.

But let's take it a step further. Suppose rostered LCMS pastors are "raised up" by Crosspointe without ever attending seminary? The differences down the road increase exponentially. There is no "home base" or reset button. Whatever direction a congregation goes, it is almost guaranteed to keep going that direction until LCMS congregations have nothing in common. Because if they don't even have Luther's catechism in common right now, I doubt, given a generation or so, they'll have the rest of the BoC in common.   
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 21, 2016, 08:28:37 PM
Collegiality happens not only during seminary, but throughout one's ministry.  Pastors are supposed to meet monthly with their circuit colleagues and once or twice annually (depending on the  District Convention schedule) with all the other pastors in his district or district region.  These would be opportunities for more experienced pastors to mentor younger pastors, a time to share insights and brainstorm problems with other pastors, to foster unity.  Perhaps if seminary education moves to be less centralized, more on line, we will need to strengthen the continuing contacts that we have with each other.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 21, 2016, 08:28:54 PM
Why not expand the whole online experience and create an online church? (I think some have done that.) One pastor could preach online each week, a top-notch musicians could create the sound track and karaoke words and millions of people could sit in front of their screens and have their worship service - even in their pjs if they wanted. Think of the savings if congregations didn't have to support buildings. Just hire an IT person who can troubleshoot any of the members' problems with downloading their worship service.


Always a hyperbolic extremist, you are....


Yoda


Yes, I are. At the same time, this is happening as people get their "religion" from watching the TV or going online. Some preachers steal sermons from online resources. I believe one TV preacher offered a home communion kit that would be sent so that they individuals at their TV's could open up the sealed wafer and juice and commune with all the other TV watchers.


I think that a major part of our seminary education is being together with other people in a community. People who share the same faith but who also may have differing convictions about many issues. Part of seminary was being church with fellow students and professors. Part of the reason I chose to spend my last year at the Denver House of Studies - living together in one house with ten other students and spouses; eating evening meals together, cleaning the house together; studying and worshiping together. This human interaction is missing in online education. It is human interaction (all the good and messy stuff) is what makes church the church. People can learn the Bible and hear sermons and sing along with hymns on TV or at their computers, but I wouldn't say that it is church.


I would not say that is church either...which is why I called your example hyperbolic. For all of your posturing and posing, at the end of the day my classmates and I are closer together and closer to what I would call "the orthodox consensus" than you ever have been by the content of your postings in this modest forum. So how much "help" did all of your residential experience really provide for you and the ecumenical church when you are clearly obsessed with every novel idea and teaching that comes down the pike? If your are the poster child for the orthodoxy of resident seminary graduates, I am more than comfortable with the online alternative.


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 21, 2016, 11:27:04 PM
Why not expand the whole online experience and create an online church? (I think some have done that.) One pastor could preach online each week, a top-notch musicians could create the sound track and karaoke words and millions of people could sit in front of their screens and have their worship service - even in their pjs if they wanted. Think of the savings if congregations didn't have to support buildings. Just hire an IT person who can troubleshoot any of the members' problems with downloading their worship service.


Always a hyperbolic extremist, you are....


Yoda


Yes, I are. At the same time, this is happening as people get their "religion" from watching the TV or going online. Some preachers steal sermons from online resources. I believe one TV preacher offered a home communion kit that would be sent so that they individuals at their TV's could open up the sealed wafer and juice and commune with all the other TV watchers.


I think that a major part of our seminary education is being together with other people in a community. People who share the same faith but who also may have differing convictions about many issues. Part of seminary was being church with fellow students and professors. Part of the reason I chose to spend my last year at the Denver House of Studies - living together in one house with ten other students and spouses; eating evening meals together, cleaning the house together; studying and worshiping together. This human interaction is missing in online education. It is human interaction (all the good and messy stuff) is what makes church the church. People can learn the Bible and hear sermons and sing along with hymns on TV or at their computers, but I wouldn't say that it is church.


I would not say that is church either...which is why I called your example hyperbolic. For all of your posturing and posing, at the end of the day my classmates and I are closer together and closer to what I would call "the orthodox consensus" than you ever have been by the content of your postings in this modest forum. So how much "help" did all of your residential experience really provide for you and the ecumenical church when you are clearly obsessed with every novel idea and teaching that comes down the pike? If your are the poster child for the orthodoxy of resident seminary graduates, I am more than comfortable with the online alternative.


I'm not denying that online stuff can teach the "orthodox stuff". I'm stating that much of ministry is dealing with people. Where does the online training help the pastors deal with other people? Just having the ability to pass all the academic classes at seminary was not enough for one to be certified for ordination back in the ALC that I went through. We had three students, who had passed all their classwork who were not certified (which was done by the seminary faculty in the ALC). Part of it was their lack of people skills. (I can hear some wondering how I got through that.) How will that be judged through online stuff? It's been pointed out numerous times here that the impression people have of Charles Austin from his online persona is quite different than the impression people have of him who have actually met him face-to-face.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 21, 2016, 11:33:02 PM
Collegiality happens not only during seminary, but throughout one's ministry.  Pastors are supposed to meet monthly with their circuit colleagues and once or twice annually (depending on the  District Convention schedule) with all the other pastors in his district or district region.  These would be opportunities for more experienced pastors to mentor younger pastors, a time to share insights and brainstorm problems with other pastors, to foster unity.  Perhaps if seminary education moves to be less centralized, more on line, we will need to strengthen the continuing contacts that we have with each other.


Some situations do not lend themselves to weekly or even monthly gatherings of colleagues. In my present call, I've not been to a conference meeting - and they have a weekly pericope study, but it's nearly 200 miles away. Spending 6 hours driving for a 2 hour study and lunch is not good stewardship of time. It was even a longer distance when I served in Wyoming. I will be spending about 11 hours of driving time for about 12.5 hours of meeting time at our Synod Assembly in Las Vegas. Actually, my wife and I are going up early to visit and stay with a seminary friend we've known for over 40 years. Our first calls were in the same conference (which was small and we met every month).


In these remote places I've usually had a weekly ecumenical clergy group who would meet for study and/or fellowship/food. I'm part of one here (that I helped start).
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 21, 2016, 11:58:51 PM
Why not expand the whole online experience and create an online church? (I think some have done that.) One pastor could preach online each week, a top-notch musicians could create the sound track and karaoke words and millions of people could sit in front of their screens and have their worship service - even in their pjs if they wanted. Think of the savings if congregations didn't have to support buildings. Just hire an IT person who can troubleshoot any of the members' problems with downloading their worship service.


Always a hyperbolic extremist, you are....


Yoda


Yes, I are. At the same time, this is happening as people get their "religion" from watching the TV or going online. Some preachers steal sermons from online resources. I believe one TV preacher offered a home communion kit that would be sent so that they individuals at their TV's could open up the sealed wafer and juice and commune with all the other TV watchers.


I think that a major part of our seminary education is being together with other people in a community. People who share the same faith but who also may have differing convictions about many issues. Part of seminary was being church with fellow students and professors. Part of the reason I chose to spend my last year at the Denver House of Studies - living together in one house with ten other students and spouses; eating evening meals together, cleaning the house together; studying and worshiping together. This human interaction is missing in online education. It is human interaction (all the good and messy stuff) is what makes church the church. People can learn the Bible and hear sermons and sing along with hymns on TV or at their computers, but I wouldn't say that it is church.


I would not say that is church either...which is why I called your example hyperbolic. For all of your posturing and posing, at the end of the day my classmates and I are closer together and closer to what I would call "the orthodox consensus" than you ever have been by the content of your postings in this modest forum. So how much "help" did all of your residential experience really provide for you and the ecumenical church when you are clearly obsessed with every novel idea and teaching that comes down the pike? If your are the poster child for the orthodoxy of resident seminary graduates, I am more than comfortable with the online alternative.


I'm not denying that online stuff can teach the "orthodox stuff". I'm stating that much of ministry is dealing with people. Where does the online training help the pastors deal with other people? Just having the ability to pass all the academic classes at seminary was not enough for one to be certified for ordination back in the ALC that I went through. We had three students, who had passed all their classwork who were not certified (which was done by the seminary faculty in the ALC). Part of it was their lack of people skills. (I can hear some wondering how I got through that.) How will that be judged through online stuff? It's been pointed out numerous times here that the impression people have of Charles Austin from his online persona is quite different than the impression people have of him who have actually met him face-to-face.


Ok, now you are telling me that even a resident seminary training program does not guarantee people skills....in our online system we have other means of assessing those things. You are also telling me that it is difficult for you to pursue collegiality in the situation you are in now. How is that different than my situation? I travel hundreds of miles per year, several times a year to meet with other pastors. There are an awful lot of resident trained pastors who do not do that. My commitment to continuing ed has been lauded by many who find out about it. Many of my colleagues at ILT have exhibited the same commitment. We recognize that the solo pastor is a dangerous individual. Can resident seminary grads make the same statements?


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: bookpastor/Erma Wolf on May 22, 2016, 12:10:19 AM

No. You close both seminaries. Then you restart with a "new" seminary, picking out of the two what you want and who you want. Since it is a new seminary, all tenure has gone "bye-bye." Sell both pieces of real estate (yes, much weeping and gnashing will be spent over that), and start with something new in a new, different location.

The ELCA's seminaries at Mt. Airy and Gettysburg announced (http://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=6225.msg390512#msg390512) they were setting off on that road (though the real estate issues were being put on a back burner) earlier this year, but quickly switched to a merger because of accreditation matters.

Pax, Steven+

Interesting to hear that. Of course, accreditation is very important. (And something that ILT still lacks.) And some of what I wrote is modeled on what is happening between Mt. Airy (LTSP) and Gettysburg. But it also comes from my own experience in trying to get two congregations to work together. As long as one of the congregations/seminaries gets to keep its property, then it will always feel like that is the group that "won." If forced to divest of all property and start new in a location that has no ties to either of the older institutions, then the merged or joint or new organism has a better chance of succeeding.

(I am former LCMS. I have been to both campuses. I have family that graduated from one of the two seminaries. I remember giving money, through my home congregation, for the chapel at one of the seminaries. The pastor who confirmed me took me and our youth group on a trip and tour through one of the seminaries. I can understand the ties and the heritage. But we do not worship buildings, or property. As hard as it would be, perhaps God is calling Lutherans away from St. Louis and Fort Wayne -- not to mention St. Paul, Philadelphia, Chicago, Gettysburg, Columbus, Berkeley, and Columbia. Yes, I am crazy to think either of our denominations would dare to try this.)

The LCMS might have the legal authority to do this. The ELCA does not. While I deeply value (and actually do think it is essential) the experience of living, studying, and worshipping together while preparing for the ministry, I'm not sure it can be preserved without a drastic willingness to sacrifice and reorder our priorities as church bodies in order to make it happen. And I just don't think the will is there to do this. Lip service is there in abundance; but the funds are scarce and others are interested in preserving their own piece of the financial pie. Seminaries just look like expensive antiques.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: FrPeters on May 22, 2016, 07:47:47 AM
Quote
Peters says "residential seminary is the primary means by choice".  I'd say that is a tautology, because we work overtime to shut down any other method and re-channel anything that might break through back into the residential mold.

That is simply not true.  We do not work to shut down the other (perhaps a dozen) routes to ordination.  Each is designed for a context.  At one point StL had 200 of its 450 students in SMP non-residential.  This was overwhelming and we discovered that many were choosing SMP for contexts for which the program was not designed.  Synod looked at this both to preserve SMP as well as to preserve the residential seminary route.  Remember that SMP route does not allow the pastor the same freedom for calls nor does it allow him to go as pastoral delegate to Synod convention and it does expect supervision.  For those reasons alone we cannot let the size of the program to go unnoticed or fail to deal with the circumstances.

Quote
Confessional identity is not created by time at a sem

No, it is not begun there but who among the commenters on this forum would suggest that their confessional identity was not formed, shaped, and deepened at the Sem -- to the point where it could be said that the person had but a basic familiarity with the basic confession (Augustana) and the Small Catechism at best?  I do not know of many congregations in which confessions are taught (apart from the Catechisms and perhaps the Augustana) regularly and deeply to our people (headed to sem or not).  I would venture to say that many, could it be a majority, of new member instructional classes do not even mention the confessions.  Few of the folks who became Lutheran as an adult before they came to my parish had such introduction to the confessions.

Quote
if the church were listening to its congregations and its potential seminarians, instead of saying with disdain "you are too small for a pastor" or "if you had enough faith you'd come to St. Louis", it might see the Spirit working.
 

Who says that?  Not the sems!  Maybe the DPs but not the church as a whole.  This is a straw man.

Quote
the anglo-rural student studying in the same program as the ethnic city-dweller and in the same program as a European/African/Asian student, and each studying with rigor the wells while reflecting with each other on different locations.

This already happens at both sems with great regularity (including the Bishop of the SELVD in Tanzania and a pastor/school headmaster at FtW supported by my parish and my district).  Funny, while people here are seeking to reduce the time/program of the sem, the sems in Africa and Asia and elsewhere are looking to LCMS to beef up their programs and to increase both the Lutheran formation of their grads and the academic nature of the course work.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 22, 2016, 07:51:41 AM

Interesting to hear that. Of course, accreditation is very important. (And something that ILT still lacks.)


ILT has made achieving accreditation a high priority and is getting very close to that goal. The process is complex and time and resource consuming but we are on a time-line to make it. For those who desire the residential experience of seminary, that is also possible now.


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Charles Austin on May 22, 2016, 08:39:32 AM
I'm glad that we care about how academia accredits our seminaries. But we might have to re-think that if the format of seminary education changes.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 22, 2016, 08:47:57 AM
We might also have to rethink accreditation if the discriminatory anti discrimination bias against traditional Christian belief and practice rife within academia infects the requirements for accreditation.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 22, 2016, 05:40:46 PM
if the church were listening to its congregations and its potential seminarians, instead of saying with disdain "you are too small for a pastor" or "if you had enough faith you'd come to St. Louis", it might see the Spirit working.
 


Who says that?  Not the sems!  Maybe the DPs but not the church as a whole.  This is a straw man.


This is an interesting bias to me, Larry.  You call Mark's opinion a straw man, but not entirely - you opine that "maybe the DPs" are pushing potential seminarians away.  I'm no longer in the DP union, but why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard? 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 22, 2016, 08:25:14 PM
if the church were listening to its congregations and its potential seminarians, instead of saying with disdain "you are too small for a pastor" or "if you had enough faith you'd come to St. Louis", it might see the Spirit working.
 


Who says that?  Not the sems!  Maybe the DPs but not the church as a whole.  This is a straw man.


This is an interesting bias to me, Larry.  You call Mark's opinion a straw man, but not entirely - you opine that "maybe the DPs" are pushing potential seminarians away.  I'm no longer in the DP union, but why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard? 


If all congregational members gave 10% of their incomes to their congregations, most of our congregations would have incomes 4 to 5 times higher than they have now, e.g., $400,000-$500,000 rather than $100,000. Many of those smaller congregations could afford a full-time pastor with such an increase in income. Then, if all congregations gave 10% of their incomes to their national bodies, they would have the funds to support the seminaries and seminarians.


The financial issues in our church bodies begins with the individual members and their generosity (or lack of it).


(On a more practical level, some members can't give away 10% without harming their own financial and physical health; but there are others who could give more than 10% without it affecting their lifestyles.)
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Terry W Culler on May 22, 2016, 08:26:28 PM
For the most part I don't care how academia credits our seminaries.  There are a few folks who find they are more cut out for an academic life than life in the parish, but they are a small percentage.  Essentially, a seminary is, as someone noted up stream, a trade school.  You don't need accreditation for that.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 22, 2016, 10:20:32 PM
What you do need, accreditation or no some way to assure the ultimate consumers, those who will call and be served by the graduates, some expectation of the quality and suitability of the product.  Accreditation was one way to do that.  There are no guarantees of course,  but does the course of study equip the students to perform adequately in roles the school is supposed to be equipping them for?  A medical school that becomes notorious for turning out doctors who cannot make routine diagnosis or prescribe appropriate medications and treatments would soon go out of business no matter what its accreditation, if for no other reasons that its graduates would run out of patients who live long enough to pay their bills.  A seminary that graduates pastors who regularly drive the churches who call them into closing would soon find it difficult to place its graduates.   
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Voelker on May 22, 2016, 10:56:35 PM
Does student eligibility for financial aid (loans, etc.) depend on their attending an accredited institution?
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Pasgolf on May 22, 2016, 11:28:18 PM
I see a lot of concern expressed regarding "accreditation."  Why?  if the purpose of the seminary is to provide persons deemed competent by the denomination that certifies them, what added value is accreditation?  If the degree is a "professional: degree, for whom is the profession?  Why would a church body kowtow to an "outside" entity to tell it if it was doing it "right."  The clergy so educated will not be able to cross denominational lines.

Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: bookpastor/Erma Wolf on May 23, 2016, 12:18:46 AM
  Among other things, one of the concerns for the students regarding accreditation is if their courses and degrees are worth anything outside of the institution that granted them. If one is in the ELCA, and goes through the Master of Divinity program and gains a degree, but then cannot get a call and so cannot get ordained, is that degree worth anything if then one tries to do something else and use that degree as a basis for that "something else"? (And for those not in the ELCA, it is possible to be approved for ordination but still not be able to obtain a call, for reasons that are not the fault of the prospective pastor.) Or, given the cost of a seminary education, if one goes through the whole process of being approved for call, and obtains the M.Div. degree but the final approval for ordination does not come, or one decides in the final year that serving as an ordained pastor is not what God is calling one to, but perhaps teaching is, then the question is whether any other institution will accept (or accredit) the degree earned as a basis for entry into a Ph.D. program?

  When one is $50,000+ in the hole in student loan debt for an M.Div., it helps to know that the degree will be accepted at another institution.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Team Hesse on May 23, 2016, 12:19:46 AM
I see a lot of concern expressed regarding "accreditation."  Why?  if the purpose of the seminary is to provide persons deemed competent by the denomination that certifies them, what added value is accreditation?  If the degree is a "professional: degree, for whom is the profession?  Why would a church body kowtow to an "outside" entity to tell it if it was doing it "right."  The clergy so educated will not be able to cross denominational lines.


For one, veterans benefits can only be used with an accredited institution. Some second-career people have had to walk away from seminary ed because of this problem. There are other financial aid issues. The donor base will probably be easier to convince to come aboard. The academic side of the equation is actually not as complex. There is a perception among many clergy that an accredited institution guarantees a more complete academic experience. I am not so sure about that.


ILT has received complaints that our program is too rigorous. So go figure.....


Lou
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Pasgolf on May 23, 2016, 09:06:31 AM
Let me come at this from a different angle.  As Prs. Wolf and Hesse have indicated, seminaries, as currently structured, need an academic transferability that necessitates accreditation for the benefit of the student. Are any of the subject matters, beyond denominational specific dogma, or cultic practice, unavailable at an undergraduate or graduate level in the various communities in which the church resides outside of seminary specific curricula? If transferability and value received by the student is the point, then there are multiple educational institutions from which those academic credentials might be more reasonably gained.  That begs a question. What does the church body expect from its clergy? Does the seminary exist for the students or for the church body? Much of what comes across in many of the discussions regarding educational institutions in general strikes me as a replay of C. S. Lewis' essay on the need to be in the inner circle. That begs a more basic question yet. 
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 23, 2016, 09:36:36 AM
Let me come at this from a different angle.  As Prs. Wolf and Hesse have indicated, seminaries, as currently structured, need an academic transferability that necessitates accreditation for the benefit of the student. Are any of the subject matters, beyond denominational specific dogma, or cultic practice, unavailable at an undergraduate or graduate level in the various communities in which the church resides outside of seminary specific curricula? If transferability and value received by the student is the point, then there are multiple educational institutions from which those academic credentials might be more reasonably gained.  That begs a question. What does the church body expect from its clergy? Does the seminary exist for the students or for the church body? Much of what comes across in many of the discussions regarding educational institutions in general strikes me as a replay of C. S. Lewis' essay on the need to be in the inner circle. That begs a more basic question yet.

My undergraduate degree (Philosophy/Religious Studies) is from a public university.  There is a VAST difference in how Biblical material was studied between that institution and seminary.  And not just in "denominational specific dogma, or cultic practice".  If a seminarian only had received that background before learning "denominational specific dogma, or cultic practice" at the seminary, he would not succeed -- at the seminary, nor in the parish.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 23, 2016, 09:54:21 AM
Sorry but I am not buying into the whole on-line training of pastors. If that happens to become the standard medium of pastoral formation then within a generation the LCMS will be a loose association tied together by Concordia Plans and LCEF but not by theological bonds.

It is a recipe for the loss of confessional Lutheranism in North America. But have no fear - the African Churches, who value theology and unity, will open their seminaries to the remnant of confessional Lutheranism in America. And probably send missionaries here.

President Gard, that's why at least me and Mark are talking about an "alt route" (alternate, not standard), which is online...

M. Staneck

Ah, the irony.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 23, 2016, 02:02:16 PM
if the church were listening to its congregations and its potential seminarians, instead of saying with disdain "you are too small for a pastor" or "if you had enough faith you'd come to St. Louis", it might see the Spirit working.
 


Who says that?  Not the sems!  Maybe the DPs but not the church as a whole.  This is a straw man.


This is an interesting bias to me, Larry.  You call Mark's opinion a straw man, but not entirely - you opine that "maybe the DPs" are pushing potential seminarians away.  I'm no longer in the DP union, but why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard? 

Dave Benke

It is not a straw man.  It is the core of the problem.  What a large number of congregation and potential seminarians are saying is - "We want to have an educated clergy, we want to train for this role that many might already be fulfilling.  The problem is that we are poor and deeply embedded in place.   Please give us a solution that meets the education needs without breaking bank and place.  Allow us to walk with you."  We praise this attitude in Africans.  We spend time and money and bolster activity to help them in their situations.  But when it comes to Americans, we lecture them.  And then erect barriers and have bitter debates over the wreckage created in individual lives.  All to keep alive a romantic notion of a residential seminary.

We can have educated and ordained clergy in very rough spots.  The only thing that needs to be let go is that romantic notion.  There will always be a residential option for those with the money and romance.  But it shouldn't be the requirement.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: FrPeters on May 23, 2016, 09:24:24 PM
Quote
why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard?

I did not say that DPs said that but who speaks to congregations and tells them they are too small to have a full-time pastor?  Not the Synod office?  Not some national structure?  Not the sems who want to recruit students and place them?  Who is left?  I can only surmise that it must those with the most direct relationship to small vacant congregations?  I do know of DPs who have said to a congregation that they were too small to have a pastor.  I do not disagree with that judgment but it was the DPs to make and no one else.  BTW in a couple of cases that statement itself pushed a small congregation to greater stewardship so that they could afford a full-time pastor.

Quote
The problem is that we are poor and deeply embedded in place.   Please give us a solution that meets the education needs without breaking bank and place.

Gadfry we have like a dozen routes to ordination -- some of them do not require residential seminary, some of them do not require a BA or even give a degree at the end, and some of them give life credit to the person along the way.  What more do you want?  I want money not to be an issue, too.  But the congregational and district support of Synod cannot cover all that we want to do on dollars that have effectively remained stagnant since 1975!  I don't think we should finance sems on the backs of the students and I believe in having options.  We have the options but we do not have the money yet (or the will) to stop financing clergy on the backs of the individuals themselves.  I have an idea -- since fewer and fewer bucks come through districts to Synod, why not have the districts subsidize those folks -- oh, wait, that is what we did in the Mid-South.  We put our money where our mouth is.  Guess what Synod has already budgeted money in the national operating budget to offer the LLDs financial support to get them into and through the SMP program.  Look around you.  Thanks are already happening in a good way to answer many of the concerns you have raised.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 23, 2016, 11:23:13 PM
Quote
why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard?

I did not say that DPs said that but who speaks to congregations and tells them they are too small to have a full-time pastor?  Not the Synod office?  Not some national structure?  Not the sems who want to recruit students and place them?  Who is left?  I can only surmise that it must those with the most direct relationship to small vacant congregations?  I do know of DPs who have said to a congregation that they were too small to have a pastor.  I do not disagree with that judgment but it was the DPs to make and no one else.  BTW in a couple of cases that statement itself pushed a small congregation to greater stewardship so that they could afford a full-time pastor.

Quote
The problem is that we are poor and deeply embedded in place.   Please give us a solution that meets the education needs without breaking bank and place.

Gadfry we have like a dozen routes to ordination -- some of them do not require residential seminary, some of them do not require a BA or even give a degree at the end, and some of them give life credit to the person along the way.  What more do you want?  I want money not to be an issue, too.  But the congregational and district support of Synod cannot cover all that we want to do on dollars that have effectively remained stagnant since 1975!  I don't think we should finance sems on the backs of the students and I believe in having options.  We have the options but we do not have the money yet (or the will) to stop financing clergy on the backs of the individuals themselves.  I have an idea -- since fewer and fewer bucks come through districts to Synod, why not have the districts subsidize those folks -- oh, wait, that is what we did in the Mid-South.  We put our money where our mouth is.  Guess what Synod has already budgeted money in the national operating budget to offer the LLDs financial support to get them into and through the SMP program.  Look around you.  Thanks are already happening in a good way to answer many of the concerns you have raised.

Gads, why be so thick.  Of course there are multiplying programs.  None of them that actually address the issue.  They all intentionally don't address the issue. They all intentionally cripple some aspect of the path to protect the residential program.  DELTO was the only one that didn't, and guess which one is gone?  Alt. Route is completely residential.  If you are former teacher/principle you get out of a year, but it is still moving a bunch.  SMP doesn't ordain as full minister at its completion, unless you go residential.  The ethnic institutes attempt to address the problem, but if you happen to be anglo, not so much.  LLD doesn't ordain at all.  And all of those programs sacrifice on the actual education.  You can hit the cost target, and the content of the education, and the locality, by a true online offering.  But that is the one thing that would never be offered.  You could fully fund students for residential, but that doesn't happen because money is fungible. All that would happen is the price tag magically goes up.  Its a game of protect the precious, with the precious being a residential academic seminary.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 24, 2016, 10:36:27 AM
Here is President Harrison, a man I would clearly vote for, but on this I think he is wrong to the detriment of his cause.  What I'm talking about is the last 3-5 mins of the talk when he starts to equate quality with the absolute need for residential education and calls it the crown jewel of the LCMS.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_SxSXnCFUE&feature=youtu.be (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_SxSXnCFUE&feature=youtu.be)

The last time I heard a leader talk in this way was the Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh when he came to speak to our MBA class.  He called the medical center "the crown jewel of the University".  He talked passionately how he would do almost anything to protect it and bolster it.  And then appropriate to a bunch of MBAs he gave the reason.  "Family doctor - expensive commodity.  Specialist - every place has them.  Third Level research institutes that hold out the hope for advanced cures - I can charge whatever I want and people will pay it.  As long as I have this unique thing - UPMC - I have a tollbooth and a vote.  Everything I do is centered around keeping and expanding that."

He stuck around for a Q&A session afterwards.  I asked him how extracting rents over desperate sick people meshed with the gauzy advertised motto for the system at the time.  (It was something like respecting every patient's dignity at that time.)  After a good chuckle from the student body, ha ha as if mottoes were for anyone but the uninitiated rubes, and I'd have to add I wasn't actually being confrontational with the question.  It was not a protest question.  I wasn't an angry guy.  Every MBA, including me, wanted to be him.  So, how did the guy who was him, handle the cognitive dissonance of using the crown jewels while selling hope.  The Chancellor answered that the true mission was the advancement of knowledge.  And if the advancement of knowledge meant playing hardball over sick people, then he'd play hardball.  And that it was the sick people who would line up to help him extract more funding.  He was respecting them by making their sickness mean something.  He'd get a bigger budget to advance knowledge of their disease.

When something other that Christ is the pearl of great price/the crown jewels, one can justify all kinds of things.  Dangerous ground.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 24, 2016, 10:56:15 PM
Quote
why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard?

I did not say that DPs said that but who speaks to congregations and tells them they are too small to have a full-time pastor?  Not the Synod office?  Not some national structure?  Not the sems who want to recruit students and place them?  Who is left?  I can only surmise that it must those with the most direct relationship to small vacant congregations?  I do know of DPs who have said to a congregation that they were too small to have a pastor.  I do not disagree with that judgment but it was the DPs to make and no one else.  BTW in a couple of cases that statement itself pushed a small congregation to greater stewardship so that they could afford a full-time pastor.

Quote
The problem is that we are poor and deeply embedded in place.   Please give us a solution that meets the education needs without breaking bank and place.

Gadfry we have like a dozen routes to ordination -- some of them do not require residential seminary, some of them do not require a BA or even give a degree at the end, and some of them give life credit to the person along the way.  What more do you want?  I want money not to be an issue, too.  But the congregational and district support of Synod cannot cover all that we want to do on dollars that have effectively remained stagnant since 1975!  I don't think we should finance sems on the backs of the students and I believe in having options.  We have the options but we do not have the money yet (or the will) to stop financing clergy on the backs of the individuals themselves.  I have an idea -- since fewer and fewer bucks come through districts to Synod, why not have the districts subsidize those folks -- oh, wait, that is what we did in the Mid-South.  We put our money where our mouth is.  Guess what Synod has already budgeted money in the national operating budget to offer the LLDs financial support to get them into and through the SMP program.  Look around you.  Thanks are already happening in a good way to answer many of the concerns you have raised.

Gads, why be so thick.  Of course there are multiplying programs.  None of them that actually address the issue.  They all intentionally don't address the issue. They all intentionally cripple some aspect of the path to protect the residential program.  DELTO was the only one that didn't, and guess which one is gone?  Alt. Route is completely residential.  If you are former teacher/principle you get out of a year, but it is still moving a bunch.  SMP doesn't ordain as full minister at its completion, unless you go residential.  The ethnic institutes attempt to address the problem, but if you happen to be anglo, not so much.  LLD doesn't ordain at all.  And all of those programs sacrifice on the actual education.  You can hit the cost target, and the content of the education, and the locality, by a true online offering.  But that is the one thing that would never be offered.  You could fully fund students for residential, but that doesn't happen because money is fungible. All that would happen is the price tag magically goes up.  Its a game of protect the precious, with the precious being a residential academic seminary.

I was and remain a big fan of DELTO.  We brought a number of our district deacons through DELTO, taught by Ft. Wayne profs at Concordia Bronxville when there was face to face time, and it was a blessing.  The DELTO pastors were ordained into the office of the holy ministry without impediment or restriction.  The SMP pastors, who take at the most one less course than the DELTO regimen, are restricted.  Their ordination happens earlier in the course of studies, but that should not eventuate in their restricted status in terms of full participation in the life of the Church.  And yet it does.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Likeness on May 24, 2016, 11:27:23 PM
It is a fact that fewer and fewer residential seminarians attend a Lutheran
University prior to enrollment at a seminary.  This is especially true of our
2nd career future pastors in training.

It is necessary for Lutheran parishes to have a theologically educated clergy.
This means that future pastors in training need to have the same amount of
theology courses regardless of their path to ordination.

It is a reality that financial assistance for pastors in training needs to actually
come from LCMS circuits who pledge to adopt a seminarian and help with
his expenses.   
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 25, 2016, 08:16:28 AM
Quote
why would it occur to you that the District Presidents may be a problem in this regard?

I did not say that DPs said that but who speaks to congregations and tells them they are too small to have a full-time pastor?  Not the Synod office?  Not some national structure?  Not the sems who want to recruit students and place them?  Who is left?  I can only surmise that it must those with the most direct relationship to small vacant congregations?  I do know of DPs who have said to a congregation that they were too small to have a pastor.  I do not disagree with that judgment but it was the DPs to make and no one else.  BTW in a couple of cases that statement itself pushed a small congregation to greater stewardship so that they could afford a full-time pastor.

Quote
The problem is that we are poor and deeply embedded in place.   Please give us a solution that meets the education needs without breaking bank and place.

Gadfry we have like a dozen routes to ordination -- some of them do not require residential seminary, some of them do not require a BA or even give a degree at the end, and some of them give life credit to the person along the way.  What more do you want?  I want money not to be an issue, too.  But the congregational and district support of Synod cannot cover all that we want to do on dollars that have effectively remained stagnant since 1975!  I don't think we should finance sems on the backs of the students and I believe in having options.  We have the options but we do not have the money yet (or the will) to stop financing clergy on the backs of the individuals themselves.  I have an idea -- since fewer and fewer bucks come through districts to Synod, why not have the districts subsidize those folks -- oh, wait, that is what we did in the Mid-South.  We put our money where our mouth is.  Guess what Synod has already budgeted money in the national operating budget to offer the LLDs financial support to get them into and through the SMP program.  Look around you.  Thanks are already happening in a good way to answer many of the concerns you have raised.

Gads, why be so thick.  Of course there are multiplying programs.  None of them that actually address the issue.  They all intentionally don't address the issue. They all intentionally cripple some aspect of the path to protect the residential program.  DELTO was the only one that didn't, and guess which one is gone?  Alt. Route is completely residential.  If you are former teacher/principle you get out of a year, but it is still moving a bunch.  SMP doesn't ordain as full minister at its completion, unless you go residential.  The ethnic institutes attempt to address the problem, but if you happen to be anglo, not so much.  LLD doesn't ordain at all.  And all of those programs sacrifice on the actual education.  You can hit the cost target, and the content of the education, and the locality, by a true online offering.  But that is the one thing that would never be offered.  You could fully fund students for residential, but that doesn't happen because money is fungible. All that would happen is the price tag magically goes up.  Its a game of protect the precious, with the precious being a residential academic seminary.

I was and remain a big fan of DELTO.  We brought a number of our district deacons through DELTO, taught by Ft. Wayne profs at Concordia Bronxville when there was face to face time, and it was a blessing.  The DELTO pastors were ordained into the office of the holy ministry without impediment or restriction.  The SMP pastors, who take at the most one less course than the DELTO regimen, are restricted.  Their ordination happens earlier in the course of studies, but that should not eventuate in their restricted status in terms of full participation in the life of the Church.  And yet it does.

Dave Benke

An obvious solution to the problem of funding seminary education is to sell one of the seminary campuses, combine the faculties and use the proceeds as the scholarship fund to bring down tuition costs at the remaining campus for residential students.  Some funds from the sale would/could be made available for the expansion of non-residential lead-to-ordination studies, sites and faculty development. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 25, 2016, 09:14:31 AM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 25, 2016, 02:41:32 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 25, 2016, 04:12:08 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 25, 2016, 04:20:22 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 25, 2016, 04:29:32 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."

Your example seems to show that Clayton doesn't keep out the 99%.   ;)

We lived 1 mile south, in Maplewood, between the Sem and Schlafly Bottleworks. Seemed appropriate.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 25, 2016, 04:51:45 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."

Your example seems to show that Clayton doesn't keep out the 99%.   ;)

We lived 1 mile south, in Maplewood, between the Sem and Schlafly Bottleworks. Seemed appropriate.

Lived in the city not far from CPH and the old sem.  I could show you a picture of the crack house at the end of the block and the picture of me with the next door weed dealer.  The dope dealer's market was fantastic.  Tower Grove area was clean enough for Clayton kids to come down to, but scary enough they would be looking over their shoulders.  I knew my neighbor was making a sale when a 17 year old white girl in a BMW was parked in front of my place.  She'd make her beau actually get out of the car.  Mike used to say he'd make the guy stand there a little longer just to see if he'd piss his pants waiting for weed. He kept needling me about cracking the seminary market and he thought all us THE-O-LO-Gins needed some.  Told him "they live in Clayton, but not 'in Clayton'. Couldn't afford his wares." I've got more and older kids now, so I doubt I could do that again.  Enough of a realist/conformist to want better schools.  But if they had an online academy offering...
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Daniel L. Gard on May 25, 2016, 04:52:36 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

This is true. The Synod would have no revenue from closing CTSFW - we would have only the expenses. Plus the new library is massive, modern and has an amazing technological infrastructure.

On the other hand, CSL was at one time said to be valued at $120,000,000 due to location. I have no idea if that is accurate but, in any case, it is a valuable piece of real estate. Its sale would fund a unified Fort Wayne campus through a tremendous endowment.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark Brown on May 25, 2016, 05:14:22 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

This is true. The Synod would have no revenue from closing CTSFW - we would have only the expenses. Plus the new library is massive, modern and has an amazing technological infrastructure.

On the other hand, CSL was at one time said to be valued at $120,000,000 due to location. I have no idea if that is accurate but, in any case, it is a valuable piece of real estate. Its sale would fund a unified Fort Wayne campus with a tremendous endowment.
Sounds like a good 2019 convention overture, combined with a the stipulation of a true online program based out of Ft. Wayne.  What do you think, joint Indiana/Eastern district resolution?  Whereas the Clayton campus is worth $$$, whereas the entire student body could be handled at Fr. Wayne, whereas there is a great need to work with the entire continental US as well as overseas in a cost effective way.  Resolve to sell CSL, resolve proceeds create Ft. Wayne residential endowment, resolve that Ft. Wayne will implement a true online M.Div leading to ordination before 2021 school year that does not require residential stays that defeat the purpose.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Voelker on May 25, 2016, 05:21:40 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

This is true. The Synod would have no revenue from closing CTSFW - we would have only the expenses. Plus the new library is massive, modern and has an amazing technological infrastructure.

On the other hand, CSL was at one time said to be valued at $120,000,000 due to location. I have no idea if that is accurate but, in any case, it is a valuable piece of real estate. Its sale would fund a unified Fort Wayne campus with a tremendous endowment.
Sounds like a good 2019 convention overture, combined with a the stipulation of a true online program based out of Ft. Wayne.  What do you think, joint Indiana/Eastern district resolution?  Whereas the Clayton campus is worth $$$, whereas the entire student body could be handled at Fr. Wayne, whereas there is a great need to work with the entire continental US as well as overseas in a cost effective way.  Resolve to sell CSL, resolve proceeds create Ft. Wayne residential endowment, resolve that Ft. Wayne will implement a true online M.Div leading to ordination before 2021 school year that does not require residential stays that defeat the purpose.
Transplant the CSL faculty and you might be on to something.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dave Benke on May 25, 2016, 06:10:34 PM
Dr. Benke,

My understanding is that the property for the Fort Wayne seminary would revert back to the family who donated it if the synod decided to sell/close/move the seminary.  Or is that just legend?

Craemer, isn't that the name?  I have no idea.
My own issue with Ft. Wayne is that it is not an easy place for air travelers.

Dave Benke
That's the point. It is like a moat to keep out coastal and southern invaders.
As compared to Clayton which just keeps out the 99%?  One of the funniest jokes I ever heard was a young new Prof living in faculty housing at St. Louis comment about the "junk mail" he now received (i.e. Hanna Anderson and Tiffany catalogs).  "I live in Clayton, but c'mon, I don't really 'live in Clayton'."

OK - how many of our synodical schools fall into that category?  I'm thinking three others:
Bronxville - one of the dozen wealthiest zip codes anywhere
River Forest - ditto
Irvine - really nice out there in Orange County

Dave Benke, serving a congregation in the Cypress Hills Section of East New York, Brooklyn - Re-zone #1 for the ongoing gentrification of NYC; a two family home in Bushwick, which was right there with us at the center of the crack wars, now offers two family homes for $1.2 million. 

Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Daniel L. Gard on May 25, 2016, 06:38:17 PM
By the way, I oppose closing either of our excellent Seminaries. The 1970s should teach us something. We need both.

Rather, we need to commit resources to strengthening both residential programs. To not form pastors at the Seminaries is a disastrous notion.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Mark_Hofman on May 25, 2016, 06:56:15 PM
This is an interesting conversation, given the sixteen years I spent working with wonderful people who gave generously to ensure the church has well-formed (world-class, I would say) clergy. Some of what is being tossed around as possibilities are the stuff of legendary conversation going back a couple of decades at least.  Always comes up around convention time.

Some of it could bear a little more scrutiny before being proposed as a course of action.  Complex problems aren't resolved by simple action.

Selling property isn't the panacea of money people think it is. Ft. Wayne's reversion clause is always tossed out but, to my knowledge, has never been verified with clear documents.  The idea that the St. Louis campus is worth $100+ million has never been verified by an appraisal, nor butted up against the expenses tied to an aging campus to determine the final net proceeds.  Its worth is whatever someone is willing to pay for it, not what any of us think its worth should be.

Then there is my "Boeing needs Airbus" theory.  If Boeing were the only company in the world manufacturing commercial airplanes, I wouldn't get on one.  Monopolies are breeding grounds for sloppiness and ZERO innovation due to the lack of healthy competition.

Having been in the mud for some time when it comes to funding theological education, I've become convinced that part of the solution is to shift the cost of the faculty at each seminary OFF of the backs of students (tuition) and onto endowment, preferably endowed chairs. At one time there was very nearly a 1:1 correlation between gross tuition revenue and the cost of the academic program, but the endowments were mostly geared toward helping students pay the cost of tuition with financial aid.  Go bolder.  Endow the faculty. Encourage gifts of all sizes that go into faculty endowment.  Resources targeting student financial aid, then, are freed up to help with living expenses.  The case for facilities maintenance endowment is also strong, so that students aren't shouldering the cost of maintaining beautiful, functional spaces.  That leaves only the costs of the professional and technical staff, including maintenance and facilities.  Why not ONE admissions team, rather than two?  Why not ONE accounting department/system, versus two?  Why not one advancement/development team, rather than two? Shoot, why not ONE Board?  At least stir the pot on that a little bit.

Second idea. With a greater number of students falling into the second-career/alternate career area plus coming in married, the cost of having dormitories and food service on campus is problematic.  But you can't have dorms and dining halls sit empty.   

Instead, beef up the seminaries by having undergraduate pre-seminary students earn their B.A. or B.S. degree as residential students at the seminary campuses.  Form partnerships with area colleges and universities to provide the general ed component (math, science, history, etc.) but fill the dorms with UNDERgraduate students.  Ph.D. and STM candidates can teach the undergrad theology courses to offset their costs of being back at the sem.  It would be a step back toward the 'system' that we've conveniently dismantled over the years and could shorten the path to an M.Div by perhaps a year being on the same campus. Single undergrads fill dorm rooms and require a dining hall. 

The older students, married students and second-career students are mature enough to live off campus and manage those costs themselves without being tied to dorms and dining halls.  And offer both an accelerated track as well as an extended track to meet the academic needs of each individual.  Let students step out for a year or two to pay down debt, and re-enroll without the whole admission process being repeated (maybe it isn't).

AND...there should be a distance learning option/s, spread out over a longer period of time, with variations to serve the needs of individuals who - for truly valid reasons - aren't candidates for a residential program.

Oh, and take an annual church-wide freewill offering every year for the CUS debt until we've paid it off.  It's sucking nearly $1.5 to 2 million a year in worship offerings away from missions/missionaries and seminaries and other Gospel-centered work to make mandatory principal and interest payments. I have the stats on that one in front of me. 

I could go on.  My point is that selling one campus may create as many problems as it attempts to resolve.  Complex problems can't be solved with a single path solution.  We are blessed and I believe we already have that which is required to overcome the immediate problem.  Like Gordian's knot, it could be solved by turning the issue sideways and coming at it from a completely different perspective.  Perhaps that perspective is one of BOTH/AND rather than the normal EITHER/OR. 

But, hey, these are only my opinions. Each idea has its own set of shortcomings and untested assumptions.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: FrPeters on May 25, 2016, 07:35:12 PM
Mark makes many good points and I hope that the church will listen to Mark and others to KEEP residential seminary as the primary path while also dealing with strong, effective alternate routes.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Dan Fienen on May 25, 2016, 07:44:22 PM
Another possibility would be to keep the two seminaries but sell off the colleges and universities.  The seminaries are already prepared to educate students who do not get their bachelor's degree from one of our schools.  For teachers and other church work students, again we already have online colloquy programs for students who do not get their degrees from LCMS schools.  The seminaries could also provide a final year for their training much as they have programs to educate Deaconesses, or one campus to do the same.  The money raised could be used to fund and endowment to maintain the seminaries, programs and provide student aid.
Title: Re: Theological education crisis...
Post by: Pasgolf on May 25, 2016, 10:28:41 PM
There is also another possibility.  Resurrect the BD and confer it at the colleges of the Synod (including at the residential seminaries to fill up the empty dorms with single males...), in connection with an accredited BA or BS.  With a BD from one of the colleges, intentional formation in ministry and personal devotional life, and an additional year of vicarage formation, a call of the church could be issued. The LC-MS does this for teachers already.  The seminaries could then be true "graduate" institutions, offering the M.Div to those seeking professional advancement, the STM and ThD to those seeking to teach. The notion posed by Mark Hofman of endowed chairs is a very good one.  Should not be limited to sem. How about an endowed chair for pastoral formation at every one of the colleges of the Concordia system?  Being no longer a member of LC-MS, I have no dog in this fight or pony in this show, but I do think the current Lutheran forms of Clergy formation leave much to be desired at too great a cost all around.