Survey: Financial Difficulties Is the Largest Problem for Theological Graduates in Ministries

By Josiah Li, July 26, 2018 07:07 AM

A group of students read the Bible in the library of Heilongjiang Theological Seminary. (Mount of Olives Theological Base of Heilongjiang )

More than half of Chinese theological graduates say that the biggest obstacle in their ministries is financial difficulties, a survey has found. Here are its findings.

The Gospel Times, China's daily Christian news website, conducted a questionnaire answered by 138 theological graduates. 119 of those who have graduated from seminaries still work in churches, and the rest work outside churches who desire to come back to the church.

Almost half of the participants have served in the church for over five years, with less than 20 per cent for three to five years and nearly 30 per cent for one to three years. Over half of those questioned were the age of 30 and 50, more than one third above 30, and the rest above 50.

The survey found that their positions in the church were preachers (48.8 per cent), volunteers (28.8%), teachers (12%), and pastors (10.4%).

Asked what their biggest challenge was in their ministries, 58 per cent of theological graduates who are church workers said that "financial disadvantages" ranked for the first, followed by "self-limitation" (54%), "difficulty in balancing family and ministry" (53%), and "busy schedules and a lack of co-workers" (47%). Other factors involved the "relations with pastors, co-workers, and believers" (26%) and "pastoring bottlenecks" (25%).

The primary reason why theological graduates left church ministries was also "financial burdens". The second leading cause resulted in "interpersonal problems with pastors, co-workers, and believers".

109 claimed that the theological study was "very helpful" to them, while 26 people regarded it as "not very helpful" and only three said it was "little helpful".

The survey also showed that the three greatest help theological programs provided to them were "systematically learning Biblical truth and faith", "broadening their horizons", "spiritual growth", and "knowing co-workers", etc.

In response to what seminaries fail to achieve in cultivating students, about 20 people said that there was a lack of spiritual influence and spirituality fostering. Another common answer was "not enough practice". Other problems included "not down-to-earth teachings", "seminaries and churches knowing little about each other", "disqualified teachers", "students with low educational backgrounds", and "lacking practical courses like marriage, management, psychology, worship and praise, liturgy, and audio technique".

- Translated by Karen Luo

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