What a headline – “Canadian Seminary Enrolments drop by 15 – 20% in five years!” It’s true. In 2005 the total reported enrolment in Canadian Protestant Seminaries was 5751, but in 2009 this has decreased to 4860. The numbers have stabilized in the last year or two.
What does this mean? In the next few years the leadership deficit in our churches will become more serious. Our aging population means that more leaders will be retiring, but there will be fewer younger leaders to replace them. This can only mean that the competition among churches to locate exceptional ministry leaders will increase.
What a challenge!
But the story in Northwest is different. A modest surge in growth is occurring. In Spring 2009 we enrolled 44 students; in Spring 2010 64 students enrolled. We believe this change is due to the innovative work our Northwest team is doing, in collaboration with our Fellowship leadership, to make ministry training more affordable, more accessible, and more responsive to real leadership needs.
Please pray with us for God’s wisdom as we collaborate with our Fellowship leadership and selected lead pastors to consider developing a second path for training pastors. While the outlines of such a process are not yet clear, we recognize the need to engage and involve lead pastors more deeply, consistently and intentionally in identifying and developing candidates being called by God to pastoral ministry. This would parallel the successful work we have done in collaboration with your youth pastors to implement an alternative way to equip new youth pastors. This year we will be graduating another three youth pastors through this system. We believe the same can be done for other kinds of pastoral leaders.
An important forum discussing this second path will be held with selected lead pastors just prior to our April Fellowship Convention.
Thank you for your encouragement, prayers and support in these recent months. Change continues to be our primary challenge. Please pray that God will give us wisdom and Spirit-based courage to know how best to lead Northwest in such times.
Larry Perkins, Ph.D.