May summer be giving you time for well-deserved rest and recharging! Years ago a friend told me not to plan the parish program for the next year during August. In August you’re rested and imagine you’ll have more energy than you’ll really have. Better now, early summer, when you are more realistic about what you can and cannot do.
President Larry Rast of our sister LCMS seminary in Fort Wayne, Ind., and I just attended the biennial meeting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The ATS is one of our accreditors, a peer group of about 270 seminaries. One of many benefits of the ATS is hearing other seminary leaders talk about their problems. Some are also our challenges, but one thing always emerges. Our LCMS seminaries are viable, strong in mission and well supported by the members of our church. For that we are thankful, to you and to the people you serve.
Rest and recharging. At ATS I picked up “A Five-Year Report on how New Ministers Learn in Practice.” From Auburn University, the study’s last finding is instructive about seminaries and, I hope, suggestive for your summer:
Relationship to God is at the heart of forming wise pastoral leaders.
The classic critique dismissing overly academic theological education decries a focus on earning about God rather than building a deeper relationship with God. Yet theological education at its best—from the early church catechumenate, to the monastery and cathedral schools, to the emergence of the medieval university to the wide variety of seminaries, schools, Bible institutes, and churches carrying out theological education today—has had at its heart a desire for relationship with the One who made the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that dwells therein (Psalm 146). Our participants—to a person—went to seminary with a desire to know God more deeply and learn how—in a wide variety of paths in ministry—to serve God more truly in and through the church for the sake of the world and its great needs.
Learning pastoral imagination…finally finds its beating heart in relationship to the God of Jesus Christ who in love and mercy comes to make all things new.” (52)
May summer bring you a slower pace and a heart beating ever more closely with your God and Savior!
Dr. Dale A. Meyer, President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis