Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we thine unworthy servants do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men; We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful, and that we shew forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives; by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee and the Holy Ghost be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
This is your bear. This is your bear on drugs. Please help young bears say no to drugs.
You often hear people lament the high dropout rate of those entering vocational ministry, particularly in their first few years.In a post earlier this week, John Ortberg repeated the statistic that “90 percent of people who enter vocational ministry will end up in another field.” I’ve heard similar comments to the effect that 50% of more of seminary grads will drop out of ministry within the first five years.
Those are pretty startling claims. If people are burning out of ministry that quickly, then we are doing something desperately wrong.
The problem is that it’s not true.
Actually, I can’t say for sure whether Ortberg’s statistic is true, since his comment refers to anyone who enters vocational ministry, not just seminary graduates. But, seminary graduates as a whole have a good track record for staying in ministry over the long haul. As Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, says:
Persons educated for ministry tend to end up in ministry, stay in ministry, and believe that their education provided good preparation for what they are doing.
Earthen Vessels: Hopeful Reflections on the Work and Future of Theological Schools (Eerdmans, 2008), p. 131.
Indeed, according to an Auburn Center study conducted in 2008, “nearly 90% of M.Div. graduates go immediately into some form of professional religious service,” only 5% of those will leave vocational ministry within the first 5 years, and only 10% within 10 years. So, the actual rate at which M.Div. graduates leave vocational ministry is only 1% per year on average.
The rates for women in ministry are somewhat different with fewer entering vocational ministry upon graduation and more dropping out in the first five years (the study suggested a number of possible reasons for this, but did not resolve the question). But even here the vast majority stay in vocational ministry for the long haul.
So, according to the numbers, at least, seminary grads fare very well in both the short term (5 years) and medium term (10 years). I haven’t seen any studies yet that go beyond 10 years, but I also haven’t seen anything to suggest a change in this pattern. So, it seems reasonable to conclude that seminary graduates as a whole tend to enter vocational ministry and remain in vocational ministry at very high rates.
So, although we still need to pay close attention to how we’re preparing people to face the demands of ministry over the long haul, we can at least do so with more confidence than pessimism.
- David Fitch offers five reasons that “leadership” is not biblical.
I feel like I need to put out there why I think leadership in this mode is not Biblical, why we might need to find a new word when we are talking about what leaders do in a church, and why if we are ever going to truly “lead” a community into the Kingdom it requires a skill quite different than what many in the church have come to describe as “leadership.”
- Bob Kellemen shares the Top 10 Trends in Biblical Counseling.
- The beatification of Pope John Paul II will take place on May 1.
- Koinonia is giving away a copy of Michael Horton’s A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering.
- Stuart is going to start running the news blog for Reclaiming the Mind. Stuart does a great job highlighting important news stories, this should definitely be worth following.
- And, on that note, Stuart also offers some interesting statistics on British evangelicalism.
- Diglot is putting together a list of journals focused on early Christianity.
- And, here’s The Wire‘s list of the 50 Most Influential People in Media This Year.
The story does a nice job summarizing several of the more important strands of research being done in this area, before concluding that technology is wiring our brains differently and possibly beneficially.
Here’s a beautifully well-done, short video of art made with water. It’s definitely worth 30 seconds at the end of your day.
We were discussing persecution and martyrdom in the early church during my church history class this morning, and I had the students read portions from The Martyrdom of . Polycarp was an early Christian leader (traditionally thought to have been disciple of John the Apostle) who was martyred around AD 155. Regardless of whether you think this account of his death is terribly accurate historically, it’s an amazing piece of Christian literature and a testimony to the ideal of Christian faithfulness under pressure. And, it has two of my favorite quotes from early Christianity.
Here are the relevant portions:
Now, as we were entering the stadium, there came to Polycarp a voice from heaven, ‘Be strong, Polycarp, and play the man’. And no one saw the speaker, but the voice was heard by those of our people who were there. Then he was led forward, and great was the uproar of those who heard that Polycarp had been seized. Accordingly, he was led before the Proconsul, who asked him if he were the man himself. And when he confessed the Proconsul tried to persuade him, saying, ‘Have respect to your own age’, and so forth, according to their customary forms; ‘Swear to Caesar’, ‘Repent’, ‘Say, “Away with the atheists!”’ Then Polycarp said, ‘Eighty-six years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?’
But the Proconsul again persisted and said, ‘Swear by Caesar’; and he answered, ‘If you vainly imagine that I would swear by Cesar, as you say, pretending not to know what I am, hear plainly that I am a Christian. And if you are willing to learn the doctrine of Christianity, give me a day and listen to me’.
I have my students read this every year and it never gets old. I particularly like the part where God tells Polycarp to man up. That’s great.
Dane Ortlund recently 25 pastors and scholars to summarize the core message of the Bible in one sentence. Talk about a daunting task! The responses he received are fascinating. I’d be very interested in knowing who you think did the best job. So, head over there and check out the post. But make sure you come back and let us know what you thought.
Dane did a great job with the post, but I think he should have made it a contest and handed out awards for the answers. Since he didn’t, I’ll do it for him.
- Greg Beale (winner of the longest answer award):
The OT storyline appears best to be summarized as: the historical story of God who progressively reestablishes his new creational kingdom out of chaos over a sinful people by his word and Spirit through promise, covenant, and redemption, resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend that new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful (defeat and exile), all of which issues into his glory; the NT storyline can be summarized as: Jesus’ life of covenantal obedience, trials, judgmental death for sinners, and especially resurrection by the Spirit has launched the fulfillment of the eschatological already-and-not-yet promised new creation reign, bestowed by grace through faith and resulting in worldwide commission to the faithful to extend this new creation rule and resulting in judgment for the unfaithful, unto God’s glory.
- Gordon Hugenberger (winner of the “true, but still a cop out answer” award:
The message of the Bible in one sentence is that genuine truth, unlike every human philosophy, is far too luxuriant, too enthralling, too personal, too all-encompassing, too sovereign, and too life-changing to be reducible to one sentence (or, as Einstein once put it, the challenge is to ‘make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler’).
- Andreas Kostenberger (winner of the “I’ll quote Jesus because no one can argue with him” award):
‘God so loved the world that the gave his one and only Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16).
- Ray Ortlund (winner of both the touchy/feely and pink fuzzy awards):
The Lover of our souls won’t let the romance die, but is rekindling it forever.
- Mark Seifrid (winner of the “no one knows what I’m talking about” award):
Verbum caro factum est.
- Doug Wilson (winner of “the most creatively worded answer” award):
Scripture tells us the story of how a Garden is transformed into a Garden City, but only after a dragon had turned that Garden into a howling wilderness, a haunt of owls and jackals, which lasted until an appointed warrior came to slay the dragon, giving up his life in the process, but with his blood effecting the transformation of the wilderness into the Garden City
Let me see, imaginary friend? Check. Secret club you’re not allowed to talk about (i.e. G.R.O.S.S.)? Check. Lots of fighting? Check. Plans for world domination? Check.
It’s true, Calvin and Hobbes is Fight Club.
- Thomas Kid discusses How Evangelicals Lost Their Way on Alcohol.
The temperance movement reacted to a real social and medical problem. We should not dismiss it as a product of Victorian prudishness. But then a focus on reducing alcohol abuse morphed into the conviction that it was a sin for any person to take a drink, period. This was a simpler approach, but it is not biblical.
Can a well-placed expletive positively stir the soul? If something is deemed inappropriate for children, should it not be sold through “Christian” distribution channels? Can Christian art impact us positively through things that offend us? Is the act of “offending” a counter-Gospel act?
- C. Michael Patton calls on people to stop saying that “the Holy Spirit changed my lesson at the last minute.“
My basic thesis is this: The assumptions required for such homiletic detours are irresponsible both to yourself and to your audience, and they misunderstand the way in which God works in the life of the church.
- Robert Miller sparked a lively discussion with his argument that human dignity should not be the ground of Christian ethics (see also here and here). I found the discussion particularly interesting for Miller’s argument that main competing ethical systems (utilitarian, deontological, virtue) are incommensurable and that theologians cannot pick-and-choose aspects of each without lapsing into incoherence.
- Michael Hyatt offers Six e-Book Trends to Watch in 2011.
- Thanks to Jonathan for pointing out that Queensland Theological College has a nice collection of lectures and sermons from people like Bruce Winter, Ben Witherington, and Mark Dever.
- And, here’s a list of 10 Book to Kick of the New Year.