Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MegaChurch Seminaries

There was a piece today in Christianity Today online about the trend for some megachurches to start in house seminaries. Very interesting. I connect it with two other trends going on right now 1) the decentralization trend, away from centralized denominations and organizations and 2) the trend toward training in a ministry context.

Oops, the second one isn't actually a trend yet but I'm strongly predicting it will be. As far as I know, while other seminaries are increasingly making it possible to stay in ministry while going to seminary, we are the only ones actually capitalizing on it by requiring our MDIV students to be in ministry and fashioning our weekly assignments around it. I'm predicting that the real leaders in seminary education will soon follow our example. If any seminaries would like us to come consult with them, we'd be glad to :-)

The first, decentralizing trend is very interesting and I'm very curious to see where it ends up. However, in a very real sense, we are enabling decentralized seminary education more than a megachurch can. We have an IT, online infrastructure (about 6000 students taking classes online) that a megachurch would have difficulty matching. I suppose most seminaries end up serving subcultures anyway.

Mark Driscoll and John Piper clearly serve a different segment of the Christian scene than we will. While we would welcome anyone from their circles who will play nice, they would have trouble at their seminaries with anything but nominal Wesleyans. Someone with more than a superficial Wesleyan theology would feel like a major fish out of water in their programs, which are predestined to offer the most extreme form of Calvinist teaching. Remember when Piper, at Driscoll's church, urged truly evangelical colleges and seminaries to expunge any Arminian faculty they might have?

And since they don't believe a woman can be a senior pastor, no woman should even have a fleeting thought of going there.


Doug Chaplin said...

megachurch in-house seminaries AKA clone factories

Sarah said...

"predestined to offer the most extreme form of Calvinist teaching."

Ha! Oh, you.

Just thought I'd let you know that I've been enjoying reading your blog updates about the seminary. Keep up the good work, Dr. Schenck! I'm excited to see IWU step up to meet its calling.