Seminary Trained Plumbers

Posted on: 05/20/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Do you have to be a minister… to do ministry?

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A fireman.”

“A doctor.”

“A pastor.”

Is one of these more noble than the next? Is only one of these jobs “ministry?”

The Washington Post just posted an article about seminary grads who have no plans to become pastors, like Alethea Allen, a Virginia resident who graduated this week from Wesley Theological Seminary in Northwest Washington. She is going to be a pediatrician.

“I see what I’m doing as a form of ministry.” She said.

The article reveals that only 41 percent of master’s of divinity graduates expect to pursue full-time church ministry, down from 90-something percent a few decades ago.

Maybe this isn’t such a bad trend in a world where people are growing increasingly skeptical of the church. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a shortage of pastors. But I can’t say that I’d be bummed if we raised up a generation of people who studied God’s word… and lived it out in their own jobs, their own homes and their own neighborhoods.

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3 Replies to “Seminary Trained Plumbers”

  1. John, i’ve been in ministry for over 20 years. i was an insurance adjuster for two years before going to seminary and full-time ministry. It has always been my opinion that working in the “real world” has been a valuable experience. i would suggest to those considering ministry as a vocation to consider working in the “real world” as being almost a mandatory experience.

    After all this time, i’ve begun to flirt with what you suggest here. My wife and i discussed it yesterday for the first time. One of my mentors went back to school to get his MA for the sole purpose of engaging with the people group to whom he is called. There are far more opportunities to engage in spiritual conversation with those that are seeking Christ outside of the church office, and far more opportunities to engage in building relationships with unchurched.

    It’s kind of scary to think of doing something like this, but we must obey the call to make disciples, no matter what the cost may be. It is something i have been wrestling with quite a bit in recent months.

    If our ministries do not become engaging with the lost, we will be forced to engage with them because our churches won’t have the money to pay full-time salaries and we’ll have to get at least part-time jobs, quite possibly full-time ones. At least this should weed out those who are taking up places in ministry that don’t belong there.

  2. My wife and I were recently “released” from ministry at a local church, having been told that “our season was finished” after 16 years of full time ministry.

    That being said, we found ourselves in the unique position of looking for a church the way that most people do. We found that the things that I as a church staff member was told was important, as a church member I found that it really wasn’t that important at all. I found that as a staff member I was really sheltered and oblivious to the world outside of church services, church events, church friends, etc. While my motives as a staff member were sincere and genuine, my understanding was negligible at best.

    The last message I preached to our youth group and college students was the difference between full-time ministry and professional ministry, and the fact that as a follower of Christ we are all called to full time ministry, a concept most of them had never heard before, and consequently their parents had not heard either. My personal opinion is that I believe anyone going into professional church ministry ought to work at least two years in a “secular” vocation before beginning ministry. It will open your eyes to see the world as Jesus sees it.

  3. Do you know of people who have degrees that are not in the biblical or ministry field who have become youth ministers?
    I have a Biology degree, but I may be considering Youth Ministry. I have experience leading youth in my church.

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