What Happens Next?
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates there are between 2.2-3.4 million pastoral leaders. Only 5% are trained for pastoral ministry. If we filled all the brick and mortar seminaries to full capacity, that number would rise to 6%.
A typical seminary educational cost can range from $35,000-$50,000. That hefty price tag guarantees virtually no graduates will deploy to urban poor neighborhoods. It’s asking more than most can bear to minister to a poor congregation with a large amount of personal debt. Urban churches cannot provide high enough salaries to provide for both a living wage and debt service.
There is also the issue of the courses offered. Most are not relative to life in an urban environment, as most traditional seminaries have a suburban bias. Curriculum, affordability, and accessibility is no small matter when we consider that most of the world’s pastors minister in urban, poor communities. Typically, people think the most effective urban ministries are compassionate in nature, such as food pantries, tutoring, etc. Doing such activities builds a platform of goodwill, which in turn provides an opportunity to share the gospel. What most don’t do is ask what happens next?
Say the goodwill opportunities and evangelism are so successful that it’s possible to form a church plant. What follows? Hopefully a vibrant church that is self-supporting, self-sustaining, and multiplies. That only happens if the leader of the church is effectively trained.
The best model for training is not the brick and mortar one. Instead of asking them to go to seminary, seminary must be brought to them. It should be offered at an affordable price and required courses align with city life. We offer this through The Urban Ministry Institute (TUMI).
TUMI provides affordable seminary-level education for the urban context worldwide. We have 296 teaching sites, with 25 of them international (in 20 countries) and 62 of them in jails and prisons. We presently have 3,087 students enrolled, and over the years have graduated 1,249 of them. Your support and prayers allow TUMI to continue equipping leaders to serve in our cities, transforming their communities with the Gospel.