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Saturday, April 05, 2008

Seminaries in Trouble

Saturday's NYT's "Beliefs" section (really one column buried deep within the first section, carries a fascinating article on the 250th celebration of Andover-Newton Theological Seminary. It's an article everyone who is interested in the future of seminaries around the world for the church. The two key observations are: 1. the growing financial short-fall coming from traditional denominations to seminaries and 2. the changing nature of the church. The author notes that seminaries are often training students for a church that is no longer present.
North Park Theological Seminary sits at a strategic junction with an incoming denominational president and a concurrent search for a new seminary dean. Will Gary Walters, the incoming president of the denomination address problem number 1? Will a new dean address problem number 2?
In a post-denominational world, the big players like Fuller seem to have the edge on theological education due to their deep pockets and broad appeal. How does the more boutique seminary like NPTS compete? For churches like the one I serve, who are not overt "champions" of the denomination, but are healthy and vibrant because of our denominational rootedness, we need pastors and leaders who come to serve well-grounded in who we are as Covenanters in 2008, but also trained to live in 2008 and beyond. The first part of the challenge is being done well. Time will tell about the second part.

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