Alan Roxburgh isn’t saying anything new in a recent reflection on Leadership Training (and changes (and opportunities) at University and Seminary Level. That he isn’t saying anything new isn’t a bad thing. It keeps reminding me that there are some significant challenges and opportunities facing not only leadership in general, but leadership within congregational settings in particular. The signs have been there for sometime, and I think Al is absolutely correct.
For me the challenges and invitations to creativity, experimentation are all the more pressing as the Anglican Diocese I live within reconsiders it’s Episcopal model, and if the current model is retained, then it moves to looking for a new Bishop. It’s at a critical juncture and it will be fascinating to see what happens in the next few months.
Here’s an excerpt from Al’s reflection:
“…On the way through the Vancouver Airport earlier in January I picked up a copy of The American Interest (Vol. VIII, No. 3). It’s not a magazine I read regularly, but the lead on its front cover caught my attention: The End of the University as We Know It an article by Nathan Harden. In the light of the incidents above, it caught my attention. Inside the first page of the article, this stark statement was highlighted:
EVERYONE KNOWS THAT CHANGE IS COMING TO HIGHER EDUCATION, BUT FEW REALIZE JUST HOW DESTRUCTIVE (AND CREATIVE) THE COMING REVOLUTION WILL BE.
Harden argues that in less than a generation, half the colleges and universities in the US will no longer exist. What is also clear is that in less time than that the majority of seminaries and Bible schools will no longer exist. My conversations over the past several weeks around the challenges major seminaries are facing as noted above are early warning signs of this reality.
There are three reasons for this massive change.
Economic: Seminary education is now far too expensive. It’s less and less affordable to students who are acquiring more and more debt, and the schools themselves are less able to keep ahead of overhead costs through endowments etc. There is a wave of deferred giving up ahead that will last for a short window while the ‘loyalty’ generations pass on and their gift promises pay out, but after that, the money simply will not be there the way it has been in the past. At the same time, we are reaching the point where, in many denominations, over 50% of congregations can no longer afford full-time clergy and many of the remainder can’t pay their clergy the salaries needed to maintain a decent living and pay down their student debt…”
You can read the complete reflection here.