From Atlantic Post:
“There is certainly a growing trend towards bi-vocational ministry in both mainline and evangelical churches,” says Kurt Fredrickson, a professor of pastoral ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.This trend dovetails with other recent developments that are troubling to many religious communities. Not only is church attendance in long-term decline, but financial giving by church members is at Depression-era lows. Meanwhile, seminary students are taking on ballooning debt for a career that may not exist by the time they graduate. This trend began before the Great Recession, and has only worsened since then. Of the seminary students who graduated in 2011 with a Master of Divinity degree (the typical degree for a full-time pastor), more than 25 percent accrued more than $40,000 in educational debt, and five percent accumulated more than $80,000 in debt. Those lucky enough to get a full-time job as a pastor will join a profession whose median wage is $43,800, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.“Many denominations are concerned about the burden of student debt and how that impacts the vocational lives of clergy,” says Sharon Miller, interim co-director of the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City.Miller says some denominations are addressing the problem by covering a student’s tuition in exchange for a promise to later work as a pastor in that denomination. Other denominations are helping clergy who minister in underserved areas (and who thus aren’t compensated all that well) pay off their student debt—“But these efforts are quite limited in scope, as denominations are financially stressed themselves,” she says.
This is why Northern Seminary has adopted an affordability plan:I’ve been teaching for 35 years and the best experiences I have had teaching have been the cohorts at Northern Seminary. The combination of a week-long intensive with an active Facebook cohort page along with trips abroad for 10plus days … the classes become a fellowship of friends, of fellow followers of Jesus, and a classroom joy that transcends ordinary classes.Think of joining us even this summer. We begin with a one-week intensive but then the classes during the school year can be on campus or in our innovative Northern Live alternative. Think about enrolling.And our affordability plan is an innovative approach that reduces the temptation to go into debt.
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By studying the New Testament in a Jewish context, the life of Jesus, Paul, Peter and John — among other characters like Junia and Priscilla and Phoebe and Mary — are seen in a refreshingly new way. Class after class, you will feel your confidence rising as a competent minister of the gospel, built on a solid foundation of biblical understanding and application.