Developing Pastoral Leadership

Today (Thursday, October 14, 2010) I have been visiting St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City.  They have been gracious hosts of the SCJ College of Bishops.  (The South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops meets once a quadrennium with Perkins School of Theology, St. Paul’s School of Theology, and Lydia Patterson Institute.)  St. Paul’s commitment to developing clergy leadership for the local church is impressive.  Like virtually all seminaries the economic downturn has negatively impacted finances and challenged the full implementation of ministry.  It is a harsh fact that lower endowment drives the cost of higher education up (less scholarship money!).  In addition, with some exceptions (notably Duke, Candler & Asbury), seminary enrollment is down.  I am impressed with what St. Paul is doing, but issues of seminary education continue to challenge the church as a whole. In my thinking I overlay the issue of seminary education (in part) with development of a new generation of leaders.  Seminaries are designed to develop pastors.  Church wants leaders.   The expectation of pastoral leadership in the local church has gone up phenomenally.  People don’t just want the Bishop and Cabinet to send them a pastor.  They want the Bishop and Cabinet to send them a leader.  Seminaries, even good seminaries, are rarely well equipped in leadership development.  New experiments and partnerships are coming into being (teaching church working with seminaries, etc.).  The need for lifelong learning among both clergy and lay has never been greater. It strikes me that we often ask seminaries to deliver what they are not really equipped to deliver.  What do seminaries do best?  Obvious answers begin with biblical and theological education but do not end there.  There is emerging a wider discussion on the issue of leadership development that is encouraging.