It’s a given today. If you want to be a pastor, you need to go to seminary. Don’t worry about the tens of thousands of dollars of seminary debt you’ll pick up along the way. All you need is one of those upper middle class pastoral positions and you’ll have the debts paid off in no time, right?
This is much less true than it was many years ago. Positions for full-time pastors and associate pastors are becoming more scarce, and in many instances the pay for such positions is much less than it once was. This is illustrated by a story published in The Atlantic on July 22, 2014. The story talks about a seminary graduate named Justin Barringer. Barringer was unable to obtain a job after applying to over 200 churches, according to the article, and now works three different jobs with little hope of paying off his seminary debt. Justin says he does not harbor any ill-will toward the church. He also says, “I wish someone had advised me against taking on so much debt in order to be trained for ministry.”
Justin isn’t the only one in this predicament, though. In 2011, Forbes Magazine published an article about the massive seminary debts acquired by many who wanted to be pastors. This article, like the one in The Atlantic, demonstrated the unavailability of sufficient positions for the current number of seminary graduates. Still another story featured on PBS talked about seminary graduates who were unable to put their training to use upon graduation.
Can You Get Training Without Seminary Debt?
So what course of action is available to you if you feel that you are called to preach the gospel? Taking on mountains of seminary debt will only guarantee you mountains of seminary debt. Is there another way to receive training that won’t leave you with more bills than you can pay?
Most seminarians would say no. Seminaries have been around for years. They have time-honored traditions, thousands of books concerned with the exposition of religious doctrine, tenured professors, and the full weight and authority of their church behind them. Seminary is the only way to get great, authoritative training for ministry in the church.
Jerry Bowyer, a contributor to Forbes Magazine, has a different approach to this idea. He says that we should return to the original method of training church leaders that was modeled for us by Christ: apprenticeship. Apprenticeship doesn’t require that enormous seminary debt be required to pay for training. Additionally, it has the benefit for the student of actually experiencing the life and ministry of a pastor. This, Bowyer says, is worth more than the hours spent in a seminary classroom.
But What About Theological Education?
Theological education is important. Jerry Bowyer acknowledges its importance in his article, “Bursting the Seminary Bubble (part II),” but he offers a solution for that as well. Get your education for free! Bowyer points to a few different sites and resources around the internet that offer some materials that will assist with theological education. There are even resources to assist ministry aspirants in learning Biblical Greek and Hebrew. Bowyer talks about a class his daughter is going through about the theology and impact of C. S. Lewis. There may be some searching and piecing together to do, buy Jerry Bowyer points out that all the education you need is available without the necessity of a seminary building.
But what if somebody had all these materials in one place? What if a prospective pastor could get access to all the theological education he needed without accruing mountains of seminary debt, and without piecing together a hundred different internet resources by himself? What if there was already somebody there in 2011 when Bowyer wrote the article who practiced the free model of seminary training, hand-in-hand with the apprenticeship model?
Christian Leaders Institute Leaves No Seminary Debt
Another word for apprenticeship is mentorship, and Christian Leaders Institute has been vocal about the mentorship since its inception in 2001. Students are encouraged to find and stay in frequent communication with mentors. Mentors are asked to participate in the student’s studies by encouraging them, listening to sermons and giving feedback, and guiding them through the theological education at Christian Leaders Institute.
Additionally, course materials at Christian Leaders Institute reside entirely on the internet. There are no classrooms for students to attend, which means no seminary buildings requiring millions of dollars annually to operate and maintain. With the low budget that is facilitated by this online method of bringing the training to students, Christian Leaders Institute is able to offer the training to anyone in the world without cost to them!
Christian Leaders Institute will not have any Justin Barringers with mountains of seminary debt, working three jobs to recover from their ministry training. Even in the event that a graduate of Christian Leaders Institute is unable to find a full-time pastoral position, she will not be weighed down with seminary debt in whatever calling God has for her. Christian Leaders who are trained at CLI can use their ministry training for any ministry role without having to be concerned with paying off their student loans. This also offers people the freedom to take the courses even if they aren’t planning to use the training for a high-paid job elsewhere. And CLI accomplishes all this without compromising on the quality of the ministry training courses.
Have you been called to the ministry? Would you like to get your training without the mountains of seminary debt that accompany it? Enroll at Christian Leaders Institute. It’s free to join, and you can get started with your first class TODAY!