“And Moses said unto him, ‘Art thou jealous for my sake? Would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!’” Numbers 11:29
Back in 1964, over 5,500 students were enrolled in our 16 synodical colleges and seminaries. This included two seminaries, two teacher’s colleges, and 12 junior colleges. Connected to every college was a synodical high school. The enrollment in the synodical high schools that year topped 1,500 students. 6,350 of those 7,000 students went into professional church work vocations.
These days, the usual number of professional church worker graduates from all our synodical schools comes to less than 200 per year.
A lot has changed over the years. High school departments were phased out as junior colleges sought to become universities. Seminaries changed the standards for admission to bring in more students who had not been prepared at synodical schools. Colleges expanded their course offerings to increase enrollment of “general” students. Over the years, it would seem that the original purpose of the synodical school system was lost.
There are different expectations for students and parents these days as they consider navigating today’s educational landscape. Sports and sport facilities, housing and dining amenities, cultural views of high school and college life have made it a challenge for the church and her educational goals. The question is, “how do we move forward?”
One’s Christian vocation is important no matter what sort of work force one ends up in. Even in the past, not every student was expected to become a professional church worker. However, every student was encouraged to use their talents and abilities in a vocation that was Christian.
For those who attended these “schools of the prophets” for reasons other than church work, there was elbow rubbing with those who would. There would be an educated laity who understood God’s Word and had an appreciation for the mission of the church. Perhaps that is not what the majority of students (or even parents) are expecting, but that is the benefit that they will get.
“Would that all of the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!”
Rev. Paul M. Mehl