Mess of Pottage Blog

Luke's "Pro" Blog

The Seminary Bubble

From the Aquila Report, but I heard a UMC Bishop making essentially the same point 10 days ago:

Imagine an institution that requires its leaders to attend not only college, but graduate school. Imagine that the graduate school in question is constitutionally forbidden from receiving any form of government aid, that it typically requires three years of full-time schooling for the diploma, that the nature of the schooling bears almost no resemblance to the job in question, and that the pay for graduates is far lower than other professions. You have just imagined the relationship between the Christian Church and her seminaries.

Read the whole article. (Its title of the piece is a reference to the “Higher-Education Bubble,” the broader problem of which seminaries appear to be a piece.)

To complaints in this article I would add another. While I understand and approve of an educated clergy, the period of seminary education necessarily removes the student from the context in which his or her gifts for ministry were first manifested. Since we’re all about contextualization, a key aspect of the missional church movement, it hardly makes sense for the normal case to enforce decontextualization.

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The Church and Working Class Americans

Here’s an interesting finding, reported by LiveScience today:

In the 1980s, the researchers found, there was little difference in religious participation between high school- and college-educated whites. But by the 2000s, a gap appeared. Today, 46 percent of college-educated whites go to a church, synagogue or equivalent institution at least once a month, compared with 37 percent of high school-educated whites.

Whites without a high school diploma were the least likely to attend church in the 1970s and remain so today. In the 1970s, 38 percent attended church at least monthly. Today, only 23 percent do. (Blacks and Hispanics do not show the same declines.)

I wonder why this is. Are better-educated people more responsive to outreach? Do churches seek out and minister to better-educated people? And is there a difference between those questions? How can churches be more effective at communicating the gospel to people who aren’t as well educated?

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Pew Religious Knowledge Survey

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life just published the results of a survey they conducted to gauge people’s level of general religious knowledge. I’ll post more about the survey later, but first, let me invite you to take the survey yourself.

P.S.: the question I missed was about an eastern religion, and I didn’t know which one it was. Like Reverend Lovejoy, I had to file that question under “miscellaneous.”

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Home From My Retreat

What do you call it when you come back from a retreat? — an attack?

Serra Retreat Center

Well, technically, I wasn’t on a retreat. I was at the 2010 Academy of Missional Preaching (Southwest). But it was held at the Serra Retreat Center in Malibu, and there were retreat-ish aspects to it. If you needed to work on a sermon, you could go sit in a garden like the one above and think about what you were trying to say. It was a pretty harsh existence, but we must all be prepared to sacrifice for the Kingdom. 🙂

Of course, it was not only about preaching, it was about missional preaching. (Missional is the idea that the church exists as an instrument used in God’s mission to the world. See John 20:21, Acts 1:8, etc.) In addition to preaching, we also got to hear various speakers including John Dally (Choosing the Kingdom) and Darrell Guder (Missional Church).

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