Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

If you could look into a crystal ball at the future of theological education, what would you see?

The editors at Patheos.com have been wondering the same thing, and so they've assembled essays from an impressive list of seminary presidents, deans, professors, and other interested parties on the topic "The Future of Seminary Education" (or, more specifically, "Does the Seminary Have a Future?").

The responses include a substantive and wide-ranging interview with Daniel Aleshire as well as a "just the facts" reply from Barbara Wheeler, director of the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Seminary. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge reflects on the role of seminaries in post-Christian and more diverse environments. Philip Clayton and Tony Jones write more explicitly about seminary education for the post-institutional emergent church. Gary Peluso-Verdend and Mark D. Roberts both suggest that laity should be the ultimate focus of theological education. All together, the series is long on issues of content, context, structure, delivery, and mission.

But the essays are short on the future of seminary governance.

Like the institutions they serve, the governing boards of theological schools must continually be assessing the context in which they do their work. Not only should boards be concerned about the content of their work -- such as those issues raised by the Patheos series -- but that should be equally concerned about their own best practices, member recruitment, internal cultures, and ongoing education.

"Good governance" is not a concrete list of principles and practices that exist regardless of context. Good governance is a dynamic, flexible, and self-aware orientation to which a board commits into perpetuity. Just as seminaries change, so must the boards that govern them. 

 

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