Jo Ann Deasy: Multivocational Plans of Theological Students

How can seminaries respond to the reality of multivocational ministry? Learning about the multivocational plans of seminary students is a good place to begin.

Jo Ann Deasy, an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, is Director of Institutional Initiatives and Student Research at The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

This is one of a series of video posts from the authors of Bivocational and Beyond: Educating for Thriving Multivocational Ministry (forthcoming April 2022). This book is an edited volume for church leaders and those that teach and support them. Contributors include bivocational pastors and other reflective practitioners as well as theological educators and researchers.

In Chapter 15, “The Multivocational Plans of Students in Graduate Theological Education,” Jo Ann Deasy challenges seminaries to respond to the reality of multivocational ministry, based on data from student questionnaires. Since 2013, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) has tracked the bivocational plans of entering and graduating students among member schools. In 2019, ATS revised the questionnaires to better understand the nature and scope of bivocational ministry, expanding the idea of bivocational ministry beyond paid ministry. The ATS data reveals a complex landscape of multivocational students and graduates navigating work, ministry, vocation, and education in a wide variety of ways. In response, theological schools have the opportunity to rethink current educational models to focus more on integration and life-long learning, to attend to the broad financial ecology of ministry, and to create a more just system designed to equip and support those preparing to serve in multivocational and volunteer ministry roles.

For resources on bivocational and multivocational ministry, see the book’s webpage.