The Future Shape of Theological Education

July 1, 2013 — Leave a comment

chapelAndy Crouch has a good article on the future of theological education in Catalyst (Contemporary Evangelical Perspectives for United Methodist Seminaries).

In the article he identifies three major transitions (or maybe more aptly what seminaries are lacking in) that they will need to adapt to. They are 1) the transition to the visual age 2) the multi-racial/generational transition 3) leadership and entrepreneurship training.

Although not everyone will agree with his analysis, I am thankful for his creative thinking on this subject. Seminaries can no longer sit idle and simply do what worked in the past. They must either adapt or die.

However Crouch also rightly says that they cannot lose who they at their core.

The challenge is to connect the energy at the innovative edge with the depth of the traditional core — and to find ways to make the edge just as rigorous and deeply rooted as the core, while the core becomes just as entrepreneurial and vivid as the edge.

Seminaries that invest too heavily in exciting new projects at the edge, without committing to deep excellence at the core, are likely to find that students (and even faculty, institute staff, and donors) who arrive excited about interdisciplinary work will leave feeling that their seminary career was like the seed sown among the rocks, springing up quickly, but then withering without depth of soil. Seminaries that neglect the need to experiment and explore how to serve new audiences and address pressing questions in church and society at the edge are likely to find that students (and eventually talented faculty, staff, and donors) will never arrive and, thus, never have the chance to discover the richness at the heart of theological education. The seminary of the future will nurture deep roots and expansive and innovative branches at one and the same time.

Patrick Schreiner

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I teach New Testament at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. I am married with three children. This blog, against all wisdom, includes anything I am interested in. That includes movies, music, theology, culture, hermeneutics, the Gospels, and politics. Feel free to comment and let me know you are reading or that you have found something helpful. I reserve the right to delete unhelpful or rude comments. Many of these posts are simply things I find interesting and therefore I am not asserting I agree with everything I link to.

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