The LCMS E-NEWS communique' I received today states the following:
'Headcount' at Synod colleges hits new record...
Total enrollment at the Synod's 10 Concordia University System (CUS) schools continues to climb, and this fall's 18,569 for both undergraduate and graduate programs sets a new record high, with nearly 1,000 more students than last fall.
Sounds great, right? Now for the bad news (much later in the email):
* The number of students studying for church careers is down by 137, or 5 percent, since fall 2004, continuing a four-year trend. This year's 2,613 church-work students include 1,439 teachers, 426 pre-seminary, 404 directors of Christian education, 182 lay ministers, 57 directors of family life ministry, 38 directors of parish music, 34 directors of Christian outreach, and 33 deaconesses.
Meyer cites the shrinking pool of high-school students in general, combined with a reluctance on the part of today's young people to choose what are typically low-paying careers in a "church body that is divided by conflict."
"Students are perceptive," he said. "When there's conflict in the church, they're not about to gamble with something as vital in their life as their future."
What is particularly interesting here are the reasons given for the church-work student decline.
2) We don't pay enough
3) Conflict in the "church" (did you mean Synod?)
I might concede the first reason (excuse). Maybe even the second (though, hasn't it always been that way - in fact, hasn't it been much worse?)
But the final reason does not sound realistic to me. Really, in one sense has there not always been conflict in the LCMS (as in every church body)? What's really so different now?
Oh, are we talking about the post-911-Yankee Stadium era? I can agree that the conflict has been greater lately, but is there REALLY a direct correspondance between the last 4 years of tusseling and the longer trend of church-work-student decline? It seems to me the Concordias have been going this way since long before 2001.
Maybe the angst over current politics is coloring our thinking here a little.