Baby boomers “embarking on a second or third career by answering a higher calling” are the fastest growing segment in theological seminaries, reports Time magazine (Jan. 31).
While those under 30 are still the largest cohort of students—accounting for one-third of the enrollment—the 50 or older group has grown from 12 percent of students in 1995 to 20 percent in 2009 (the most recent year for which data is available). While some baby boomers enter the ministry after suffering career setbacks, it may also be that this new wave of seminarians are pursuing lifelong passions and goals now that they are no longer burdened with mortgages and children’s tuitions.
Many of the boomer theological school applicants have been active in their churches for a long period of time and have recently increased their involvement. “They all seem to have had a calling to the ministry at some point,” said McKennon Shea of Duke Divinity School.