Barriers To Entry Into The Pastor Profession
Four barriers to entry into the pastor profession are clergy wages, lack of interest, seminary student debt, and geographical constraints.
- Out of the approximately 9,100 churches within the ELCA, about one in four are unable to afford a pastor as the church sizes, budgets, and full-time positions in the United States are decreasing. Wages are no longer enough to cater to the pastor and his family needs, thereby forcing most pastors to work second or even third jobs, which has made the job unattractive to many.
- Furthermore, over the past few decades, inflation has negatively impacted compensation for pastors.
- To combat this issue/barrier, many church leaders are receiving advice on ways to be innovative and entrepreneurial, along with understanding PayPal the same way they comprehend the Gospel of Paul.
- Specifically, a vice president at Luther Seminary, Rev. Dwight Zscheile, supervised a Lilly grant in 2018 to encourage innovation amongst faith leaders. He says that the deep-rooted business model for religious institutions is currently being modified and clergy members must be prepared.
- Churches are being encouraged to find alternative streams of income to enable them pay clergy wages and satisfy other needs.
Lack of Interest
- Fewer individuals are inclined to become pastors. According to the ELCA, since 2010, around 3,661 pastors have entered retirement, yet merely 2,241 minsters have been ordained. Hence, there are reportedly fewer recruits willing to spearhead a fresh spiritual landscape requiring them to balance social media, fundraising, and their faith.
- To combat the drop in enrollment and lack of interest, seminaries are using creativity and are currently seeking means to draw and keep pupils. Throughout the United States, many are providing hybrid Master of Divinity degrees, which combine comprehensive short courses that occur on campus with online learning and virtual participation through TV monitors placed in classrooms.
- Lawrence Wohlrabe, an ELCA bishop, claims that the majority of candidates are disinterested in rural areas.
- Numerous seminary graduates have specific geographic limitations and are hesitant or reluctant to travel across the United States to serve churches in rural areas or small towns because of economics, personal preferences, and finances. Also, if their spouse/partner is unable secure a job within the area, their family probably cannot afford to live reasonably off the salary of one minister.
- To overcome this barrier, in an attempt to make rural areas more attractive, a Lutheran superintendent originating from South Dakota began establishing support structures to assist brand-new ministers, such as offering financial resources to aid them in paying their educational debt, as well as marketing districts as vigorous and formative places to perform ministry. As a result, the number of pupils desiring to participate rose significantly.
Seminary student debt
- Some are departing ministries due to mounting student debt. Both attendance at church and donations have reached levels witnessed in the 1920s. Wages for full-time clergies that can help individuals pay for food, seminary debt, and health insurance are not commonplace anymore. Furthermore, the US business sector supplies stability that the church can no longer provide.
- Financial aid for seminary education is no longer readily accessible. Seminarians are regularly graduating with massive debt. Also, individuals are unwilling to attend seminary while aware of the probability that they could graduate with crushing student debt and start their career with the possibility of compensation remaining significantly lower than what they require to care for their family and service their seminary debt.
- Initiatives such as "Deep Roots, New Life" have been put in place with the aim of relieving seminarians' and seminary graduates' student debt. Donations to this initiative will offer Deacons and seminarians scholarships and supply seminary debt relief.
ECLA/ Protestant/ Lutheran
- The ECLA is a protestant church formed by the merging of three separate Lutheran institutions.
- The Lutheran Church is a " Protestant denomination that best identifies with the teachings of friar Martin Luther." "Lutheranism is a denomination of the Protestant division of the Christian Church."
During our research, we identified some barriers to the Lutheran pastoral profession and others referring to the Protestant and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). We added this information because while searching for the barriers to entry into the pastor profession for Lutherans, we found that some sources lumped the ELCA and Protestants together. We then sought to understand their differences and history.
We found that a merger of three different Lutheran churches (the American Lutheran Church, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches, and the Lutheran Church in America), in the year 1988 resulted in the ECLA, which was the largest protestant denomination in Minnesota.
We also discovered that the Lutheran Church serves as a Protestant denomination that primarily follows the schoolings of Martin Luther, while Lutheranism acts as a denomination of the Christian Church's Protestant section. Also, Lutheranism came from the principles bestowed by Luther, and Protestantism is a movement ignited by Luther.
For these reasons, we assumed that the ELCA and Protestant churches are similar, and that the barriers affecting one probably applies to the other.