It’s a brand new year and with it comes the opportunity, even the necessity, to think creatively and intentionally about the church of the future. What will it look like? What will ministry look like? It’s on our minds a lot; in fact, McCormick’s new president, Dr. Frank Yamada, has themed the activities of his inauguration (and his inaugural address) “The View from 2040.”
These next years are critical ones if our churches, governing bodies and seminaries are to successfully adapt to a future that is rushing toward us. How do we face the reality of the changes that are taking place? How do we facilitate theological learning and practical ministry skills so that today’s seminarians are equipped to lead churches and faith based organizations of the future? How do we tutor them in organizational redevelopment as well as in the art of creation and management of churches and entities that we may not yet have envisioned?
How do we continue to hand on the faith in a society where increasing numbers of people (especially young adults) are unchurched and not all that interested in what we have to offer?
McCormick and many of its sister seminaries have already begun this process, as we examine making changes in our curriculum. The curriculum review committee has brought a number of key questions before the faculty, staff, and board of trustees. It has invited denominational executives and clergy from both the PCUSA and other denominations to tell us what they think seminary education needs to do to most effectively train new ministers AND what they wish they’d learned when they were in seminary.
The curriculum review committee will be taking some of these same questions to our students and alums. Out of that mix will come initial plans and programs for the coming decade which will, we believe, keep McCormick relevant and on the cutting edge as we provide theological education for the future. It will help us continue to evolve as a place that proclaims the gospel and effectively provides its community with the academic, spiritual and practical tools that will be needed to successfully promote ministry and mission in 2040 and beyond.
Over the next weeks, I’ll be exploring some of the ideas, proposals and questions I’ve been hearing in a number of different venues. I don’t claim to know the answers; but I hope some of these blogs will provide food for thought, and expand our collective understanding and hopes for the future. Mostly, I hope these musings will challenge us to listen for the new ways that God is speaking to us of the things that are happening in our midst and how we may be called to respond.