From atop its hillside setting, San Francisco Theological Seminary looks out over a stunning landscape of cresting hills and ancient trees. The school is located north of San Francisco, in San Anselmo, a city that somehow manages to balance “laid-back” and “tony.” The seminary has always lured students with its stunning geography. Now it’s also using the area’s rich resources—art, technology, and business—to create the Center for Innovation in Ministry.
Across the country, seminary graduates often complain that their degrees prepared them for congregations that existed 50 years ago and not for the church that we are birthing now. New pastors can feel unprepared for the richly innovative time in which they’re living.
Some graduates become unhinged. While they have learned to preach sermons from a pulpit, they may not be ready for the conversational expectations of social media culture. They meet the ordination requirements of Boomer-led denominations, yet when they enter the church they quickly realize that they need to attract younger generations. They’ve been trained to become full-time pastors but discover they need to supplement their incomes and help the church to have reasonable expectations of their time. They can preside over a funeral but know little about faithfully closing a congregation or starting a new one.