Ministry and Training- what’s your story?



There is no question that higher education is shifting beneath our feet. Many seminaries are struggling. Many others are flush with students but those students aren’t able to find viable positions upon graduation.

What happened?

This is not a rhetorical question. I really am curious.

I can name many amazing young students who were excited about ministry, longing to serve the Lord, well aware of the sacrifices and difficulties that were possible but also the joys and impact they could make. Unfortunately I can also now count well into double digits the number of those who are no longer in ministry and for many, not even part of the church. I want to be careful, I am also aware for some, life patterns change. Calling changes… and ministry might not be in a church. That is fine. I am talking about the numerous e-mails and calls I get from those still longing to serve, trained to serve and for a variety of reasons not doing so.

I can think of more than one bright, hard working student who I witnessed serving but he or she was never able to find an actual, viable job. And I am not talking unrealistic expectations. More like, needing enough pay to live a modest life AND pay off student loans accrued while training for ministry.

I can’t help but wonder what we did well in preparation and what was done poorly. What do you wish had been covered? Would what was taught have made a difference? Was it relationships that made the difference? Did we prepare enough for real life in ministry? Was it something that took place in seminary? A weekend training? Mentoring? What went right and what went wrong?

I am working with a group who is gravely concerned over such issues. We see amazing ministers have to leave vocational ministry in order to make ends meet after loans get the best of them. I meet people all the time knowing they need more training, wanting more but either unable to absorb the cost or fearful that it will be a waste of time.

Finally, I repeatedly have conversations with those who have had their lives torpedoes by other “Christians”. They are still seeking resurrection of their own lives feeling blindsided by those who should have been the most grace filled. This final category will receive its own post in the upcoming days in a series titled “Surviving Christians”.

So what about you?  What went right and what went wrong in training AND in ministry?

Please forward this on. Ask people you know to respond. Either in comments or contact me directly. I really want to know. I really want to be a part of the solution and not simply knowing that we are leaving lives and souls shipwrecked in the wake of ministerial training that just sin’t working. I also want to learn what is working…what do we need to keep and do more?

I look forward to hearing from you!

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About Amy Jacober

Amy Jacober (PhD, Fuller Seminary) is a youth ministry veteran with ministry and teaching experience. She focuses on practical theology, urban ministry, theology & disability, and marginalized communities. She is a volunteer youth worker in her church and community, lead consultant with Youth Ministry Architects and serves on the Young Life Capernaum national board. In her free time she can be found playing with her three young children, husband, and oversized dog.