Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers Initiative

This section of the ESR website is an outcome of the “Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers” grant funded by Lilly Endowment. This initiative encouraged seminaries to address develop strategies to prepare ministers-in-the-making for the financial realities they would like encounter upon graduation.

The economic issue is not a simple one. The myth surrounding ministry is that those who embrace it have less concern for earthly riches. This is often true, but unfortunately translates into church attitudes and practices that lead to unreasonable compensation of ministers. And, congregations have their own financial struggles as membership ages and declines, often leading to a strained budget for the congregation. Add to that the rising costs of education and the lingering effect of educational debt to the usual costs of living and raising a family, ministers can be headed for a lifetime of financial struggle with its ripple effects on one’s entire life.

These issues are further complicated by the changing role of religion in society, and the implications this has for organized religion. For a seminary, these changes have a direct impact on thinking about preparation for ministry. These changes bear on how ministry is offered and where it occurs. Friends have always embraced the concept of universal ministry in which any service or profession to which God has called an individual is rightly considered ministry. Ministry is not confined to the pulpit.

For these reasons, Earlham School of Religion seized upon this opportunity to not only educate students with regard to financial matters, but also to explore new models of ministry and strategies for funding them. This website contains a section devoted to each facet of the grant: