Author Topic: Theological education crisis...  (Read 7120 times)

Keith Falk

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #45 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.
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Dave Likeness

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #46 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.

exegete77

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #47 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.
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Dan Fienen

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #48 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.
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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #49 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

exegete77

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #50 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.
Rich Shields (TAALC)

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Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #51 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 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.

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #52 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

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #53 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.

DCharlton

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #54 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.   
« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 02:22:18 PM by DCharlton »
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Daniel L. Gard

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #55 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
« Last Edit: May 21, 2016, 03:04:36 PM by Daniel L. Gard »

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #56 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....


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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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

peter_speckhard

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #57 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.   

Dan Fienen

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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #58 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.
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Re: Theological education crisis...
« Reply #59 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