Is it possible that people outside of the ELCIC have good ideas to share with us? What if we invited in people with experience and education to help the ELCIC find its feet again? Could we ask new leaders to come and serve among us (perhaps even people from non-Lutheran corners of the Kingdom)? We need to open the doors for those who come from the outside – recognizing that we don’t have all the answers. Right now we have a KEEP OUT sign on the ELCIC when it comes to attracting new leaders. What if that was to change?
One way of flipping that KEEP OUT sign over to WELCOME is to forge relationships with seminaries who are engaged in innovative ministry and leadership development. I would like to draw some comparisons between a couple Western Canadian seminaries as a way of understanding ourselves and the challenges we face. Lutheran Theological Seminary in Saskatoon sent out a letter detailing their year. They anticipated eleven graduates in 2009 and welcomed three new students that year. I contacted another well known seminary, Regent College in Vancouver, and found that they had 198 students graduate in 2008. I created a very simple calculation to compare the price-per-graduate ratio of both institutions. Here’s what I came up with:
-LTS had total revenue of $1,142,164.00 and 11 graduates = $103,833.00 per graduate
-Regent has total revenue of $8,022,965.00 and 198 graduates = $40,520.00 per graduate.
Certainly this is a rudimentary way of calculating the stewardship or effectiveness of an institution. But could we recognize that quality education is thriving and available outside of our limited resources?  Could we allow effective partnerships to form with these schools and even attract new leaders?
From my perspective, there are two key questions:
- Is the primary goal of our seminary system to preserve itself and its programs in spite of mounting costs and decreased interest?
- Or, is it the goal of our efforts to raise up leaders to lead the church into a new era of effective outreach and ministry?
Some, it would seem, are more concerned about the first question. It’s understandable; we want to retain our Lutheran culture, and for good reason. We have enjoyed the fruit of decades of hard work and hope to keep it up. But I believe the issue of cultural Lutheran protectionism is at the root of our challenge today. This protective stance prevents institutions from opening themselves, thwarts growth, and has created a culture that hinders skilled and gifted “outsiders” from being welcomed into this family. It would seem that in an effort to preserve our cultural Lutheran identity, we have created a hedge that keeps us at a distance from non-Lutheran Christian ministry activities. This, in turn, keeps qualified and capable leaders from entering our community.
 In the Regent World newsletter for Fall 2008, Dennis Danielson, Head of the Department of English at UBC suggests that “Regent offers a picture of ‘sane evangelicalism’ to UBC; an example of Christianity thoughtfully articulated and lived out.”