Called to ministry, but not in the Church

If you, like me, have been pondering the rise of the “unaffiliated” in American religious life, then here’s something to consider.  Michelle Boorstein writes in The Washington Post about the increasing number of people who graduate from seminary but do not intend to pastor a church.  According to the Association of Theological Schools, about 41 percent of master’s of divinity graduates expect to pursue full-time church ministry, down from 52 percent in 2001 and from 90-something percent a few decades ago.  It seems that skepticism about religious institutions has broadened the concept of ministry. I suspect skepticism about the value of institutions of higher education and the tracks they lay out for us also plays a part.

 “Millennials really think people my age have screwed it up,” said Shaun Casey, founder of the new urban-ministry program at Wesley, where 65 percent of graduates go on to full-time church ministry compared with 85 percent 20 years ago.

“They look at the institutional church and say, ‘I’m happy to change the world with the church’s help, but if the institutional church gets in my way or makes it harder, I’ll join [a nongovernmental organization] or nonprofit.’ There’s a fair amount of impatience with institutional bureaucracies.”

 If you have a minute, go read the article.  It’s not just about education, it’s about the future leadership of the Church and how the Church will be situated within society.  It’s about being faithful to God’s call in a changing world.


  1. Bob says:

    First people feel free to “church hop” to find a compatible group of spiritually minded. Preachers form megachurches of like minded people to
    support their spiritual message. Then administrators form denominations of like minded churches more than likely because by nature we are “groupies” as well as professionals.

  2. Ellen Woodworth says:

    This is why many mainline denominations may also be facing a shortage of pastors in the near future. It certainly is true for churches of color.

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