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Protestant pastors still place a high value on seminary education and regularly integrate the skills they learned in their preaching and the way the lead, according to a new study from LifeWay Research. Of the 1,000 pastors surveyed, 95 percent said they regularly use things they learned in seminary in their daily work.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed had at least a master’s degree, and 85 percent had taken seminary classes. Pastors of smaller churches were less likely to have attended seminary. Among pastors of churches with an average worship attendance of less than 50 people, 74 percent had attended seminary classes, compared to 88 percent of pastors in churches with more than 50 in attendance.

Of those who had attended seminary, 83 percent said it was worth their time and money. The number was even higher among those with doctorate degrees, where 94 percent said the experience was worth it.

“This is encouraging news for seminaries at a time when a 2009 report from the Association of Theological Schools indicated seminary enrollment is in a slump,” said Scott McConnell, associate director of LifeWay Research. “The lack of new students does not appear to be linked to any decline in the perceived relevance of seminary education among pastors. In fact, pastors use the seminary education they have received and value the investment it required.”

Although a high number of pastors place an emphasis on seminary education for themselves, most do not require staff members for age-group ministries to have the same education. Only 10 percent said they would require candidates to have seminary degrees, and instead placed priorities on personal beliefs and experience. [, 3/22/10]

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