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Fundraising Training in Seminary: Practical Realities

Boston University School of Theology (which, for full disclosure, is a sponsor of this site) has recently instituted finance courses for seminary students. As the article from BU Today explains:

Starting this fall, the course, STEWARD—short for Stewardship Thinking, Economic Wellbeing, and Reduction of Debt)—is mandatory for all of STH master’s degree students receiving financial aid from BU, “which is almost all of them,” says Bryan Stone, associate dean for academic affairs. Expanding the requirement to include all STH master’s students is under review.

STEWARD consists of seven classes. Three deal with personal finance and three with institutional issues like fund-raising and budgeting. The final class covers “stewardship more broadly,” from caring for the environment to one’s body, Stone says.

The article goes on:

STH added some institutional finance instruction “so that the people we graduate who are going to be leaders can read an income statement or balance sheet.

“So many people graduate without even being able to know the basics of that, or even the basics of budgeting,” [Stone] says. Yet “many of our future pastors will find themselves in parishes where they’re responsible for doing a lot of the planning and budgeting.”

A common complaint of clergy in their first few years is the lack of practical training in seminary. Sure, there are classes on the Old Testament and Preaching, but how about managing interpersonal conflict or budgeting? Practical training about learning how to read and interpret a financial report and envision a fundraising campaign are often central for pastoral success, particularly in small congregations where the pastor is the only full-time staff member.

What do you think of the push to teach financial literacy to pastors? What other things do you think seminaries should train pastors to do? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Author
Dr. Ellen Childs holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Notre Dame. She is Website Director at