Monday, May 12, 2014

Just how are our seminaries stacking up these days?

When I visited seminaries back in 1978 prior to enrolling, I went to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary which was touted as the largest seminary in the world. Put together bold-talking Southern Baptists and tall-tale Texans and you've got a recipe for some heavy, heavy trash talking. Largest IN THE WORLD! Largest IN HISTORY!

Impressive, tough I chose not to attend.

How are things looking these days? Well, it depends on the measure but let's look at graduates and compare our six seminaries of 2003 with those of 2012:

                        SBC SEMINARY GRADUATES

                                       2003         2012
Golden Gate                      180          249
Midwestern                          80          141
New Orleans                      448          617
Southeastern                     333          333          
Southern                            409          556
Southwestern                     649          455

One wonders exactly what they are touting out at Southwestern these days, the seminary not being the world's largest, not even the largest in the SBC, not even the second largest in the SBC by this measure. Still, over four hundred grads is a huge seminary; nonetheless, although graduates may vary from year-to-year, SWBTS clearly is a declining seminary. In contrast, Southern is a growing seminary. Someone can play the Calvinist card here if they wish.

I admit to being out of touch with seminaries (see the note below about these figures) and there may be some wrinkle in this of which I am unaware but any way you slice it Southwestern is a declining seminary and New Orleans and Southern are growing seminaries. There are other measures to use in looking at seminaries.

One figure I would like to see is how many graduates of each of these institutions receive a graduate level degree and how many receive an undergraduate degree or diploma.

[Note on source: The source for these figures is the SBC annual reports. I was given the figures by a researcher and have not fact-checked them all. I did check a few by the SBC annuals that I have in my possession. If there are errors or omissions, perhaps a number-geek reader would inform me.]


Kevin Sanders said...

It would also be interesting to see if Southwestern does extension centers. I'm sure that's no small part of the growth of NOBTS.

Anonymous said...

I was on the campus of SWBTS several weeks ago. It was a tremendous experience! Had lunch with the Drs. Patterson and several faculty members. I can't describe to you the excitement I sensed among the students, faculty and the President and his wife about what is going on at SW and what is to come!SWBTS has a heart for America but also a great burden for the nations. I predict you will see SW outpace our other seminaries in the very near future.

Stuart Houston

Anonymous said...

"... but also a great burden for the nations."

What behaviors demonstrate such among SWBTSers, apart from the few that subsequently will become career missionaries in very impoverished areas?