Lord Have Mercy! Boomers, it seems, are flocking to seminaries! According to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) the 50+ demographic now makes up 20 percent of all new students. That's up from just 12 percent since 1995.
Finally, an occupation where advanced age is an asset, not a liability! A lot of poeple find gray hair on their pastors quite comforting. I would be among them. If I want parenting advice, I seek out someone with parenting experience. If I want advice on avoiding temptation, I prefer to get it from someone who has successfully faced that challenge regularly.
Of course, there are many reasons seminary school is attractive to boomers. Some have always thought they would be a good spiritual advisor, but felt doing so full time required too much financial sacrifice. Now that the kids are grown and the mortgage is mostly paid, some feel it's time to follow their passion. Others grew into the idea. Growing older and raising families has deepened their faith, given them perspective, and made them wiser - and they feel it's time to give back.
I'm really not so surprised by this trend. After all, we have also seen an uptick in boomer volunteerism (even in the way they vacation through voluntourism) and boomers have long been known for the willingness to mentor others. These are skills that can serve them well as counselors. And heaven knows, boomers have been through the highest highs and the lowest lows. They've earned every gray hair they still try to cover in color! And let's not forget how determined most boomers are to leave a legacy. What better way to do that than to help others when they most need it?
What do you think? Do you prefer a spiritual advisor who's been around the block a time or two or does it matter? Have you ever considered going to seminary?