Monday, February 23, 2015

The soft underbelly of theological education in the LCMS

Seminaries begging for money all the time... students borrowing money for undergraduate and seminary cost.... Dwindling numbers of residential students at our sems....  is there a common thread for all of this?  Watch and weep...

Now do something about it.  Contribute to Concordia Theological Seminary, to Concordia Seminary or to the Joint Seminary Fund.  Do it.  Do it now.  Do it generously.  Do it joyfully.


Anonymous said...

It is too bad there isn't a more cost affective way to train our church workers!

Unknown said...

Isn't it possible to move away from brick and mortar to online with the student under the direction of a local church pastor(s) as well as district?

Paul Becker said...

Can the church resolve this problem? What are our congregations doing to stop the madness?

Anonymous said...

Anyone wishing to attend a confessional Lutheran seminary should do so in Africa, in South America, or in Siberia/Eurasia. Learn to become a pastor while serving as a missionary at the same time. After training, either provide a call back in the USA or let the newly ordained pastor remain overseas if there is a need. It would be a lot cheaper for everyone.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad there isn't a more cost-effective way to train our doctors and surgeons. Brick and mortar medical school is just way too expensive. Perhaps we could cut costs by simply training them online, perhaps put them under the supervision of a local doctor if that's really all that necessary. Better yet: let's just close all the medical schools in the US and send our doctors and surgeons to schools in Africa, South America, and Siberia. They can come back to the US if there is need. This would be no inconvenience to their families and no deterrent to them personally. Plus, it would be a lot cheaper for everyone. What really matters when educating our doctors and surgeons is getting it done on the cheap. With less in student debt, they'll work for less salary. Our copays will get even smaller! This is great!

All the more for pastors. It's not like it's his vocation to care for anything as valuable as our bodies! It's not like he's responsible for anything more important than the 80 years we spend in this earthly life.

If you all thing so highly of the Office of the Ministry as your comments seem to indicate, don't be surprised when God gives you exactly what you pay for in quality of pastor, or takes them away all together.

Pastor Peters said...

What is the problem? Is it that the financial cost is too great or is it that the church has saddled the cost upon the church worker? The cost may be great but spread out over a forty year career of service, it is less than it seems but the problem is that the lone pastor (and his family) bears the undo burden of it all instead of the church.

Unknown said...

I love when people compare the medical field with the Office of Holy Ministry. Men can still learn online and from a local pastor to serve the church and bring comfort to souls. Medically there is a chance to actually kill someone without a good education.

You want to know what God has given us? Burnt out Godly men who leave the ministry on their own accord, do so because of their family, or do so because of sin. Why? So many burdens including financially.

You know why 5-2 or COWO is so attractive to new pastors or seminarians? They can actually have churches that pay them well or at least enough not to be broke poor. (Large(er) churches)

God have mercy, but to continue with the unreasonable cost of seminary there won't been enough men in the next 20 years.

But I forgot, lets make it a confessional or biblical issue on how we train men for the Office of Holy Ministry. Come to think of is that working with the mess the LCMS is currently? Seems a lot of seminary grads sure do follow the direction of the fathers...if their fathers are from Seminex, evangelical enthusiasts, or of Woolsey's 5-2. Brick and Mortar doesn't work either to protect the church or the Holy Office.

Unknown said...

Pastor Peters,

I agree about the cost being pushed from the church to the pastor. But wouldn't you agree that the system the way it is currently isn't sound? Are there not alternatives that could produce godly pastors for the Lutheran church? Educational systems change and are different throughout the centuries and Lutherans have changed their systems too. So couldn't possible now be the time for some changes?

Anonymous said...

"Medically there is a chance to actually kill someone without a good education."

Talk about missing the point! Theologically there is a chance to actually kill someone ETERNALLY without a good education!

Wow. Then following it up with (paraphrase) "the appeal of groups like 5-2 is a paycheck"? Yes, let's sell our souls for a buck like good little hirelings.

The pessimism and madness of some these posts literally drops my jaw.

In answer to your question, Fr. Peters, the problem is not the cost per se. The M.Div. from our seminaries probably costs the same or less than other comparable post graduate programs. The problem, by reference to our own historic documents, is that synod no longer exists to support the training of pastors (thus minimizing or excluding altogether post-seminary debt).

The problem is precisely this: where your heart is, there also is your treasure, Missouri. And, apparently, your heart cares very little about the Office through which God creates justifying faith (AC IV, V).

Unknown said...

My point is there are ministers within the LCMS that have went to the seminary's and still teach false doctrine. There is no way to guarantee solid men coming out of our schools. You seem obviously to what is happening. A good education does not happen always within the four walls of a classroom. The classroom is not the parish. It is not a theological classroom. It is real people in real need. The church will bleed good men due to debt. If Missouri wants to back their men fine. They won't. So we need to figure out something new that works.

You obviously do not have a family nor the pressure of providing for them.
When you live in an ideal world there is no way to change the way you think.

My jaws drops at such asinine refusal and stubbornness to realize that brick and mortar won't always produce solid ministers and that other alternatives can actually train solid men for the church.

Anonymous said...

Unknown, your point is that seminary-trained men can still turn out to be false teachers? Well, duh. We will always have false etchers with us. Until the end. Christ says so. And bad police officers, and bad teachers, and bad doctors as well. Should we close all these schools? My goodness, even Jesus Himself had Judas as a student.

You say that we need to find something else that works. Like what? Do you really think we'll get better pastors by training them in Africa or South America? Seriously? Do you really think we'll get better pastors by training them under a single pastor (instead of an entire faculty of pastors and scholars)? Seriously?

The problem isn't with the seminaries or the education they offer. They provide us with the best possible opportunity to produce faithful men. The real problem (if you would please reference Fr. Peter's OP) is that the seminaries are not being funded. The real problem is that the LC-MS could reallocate funds to support the seminaries, so that it would once again be a financially-viable option for men and their families.

Or ... we could ship them all off to the lowest bidder, so that the quality of pastor we get matches the quality of merchandise at Walmart. That would be cheaper!

Or ... we could just create "pastoral simulators" so that men could learn how to conduct the pastoral office from their parent's basement, video-game-style. That would be cheaper too!

Of all the options you (and others here) have presented, not one will actually produce better pastors. Rather, the common theme seems to be: how can we do this on the cheap?

You also wrote, "You obviously do not have a family nor the pressure of providing for them." You're wrong here too. I do have a family. I'm the son of a pastor. He struggled daily to provide for us. Now I have a family of my own. I struggle daily to provide for them.