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decline chiefly in college students and among these chiefly from the older, larger, and richer Eastern institutions.

II. In answering our second inquiry as to the causes for this decline, the endeavor has been to get at the motives now influencing young men in their decision as to the ministry. Instead of giving you a statistical result, I desire to reproduce the mind of the college student of to-day as he faces the ministry, as I have learned it from the study of the more than 400 replies received.

Bred in an atmosphere where everything is brought to the test of dollars, the young man looks out upon life. The great prizes of the business world, and the abundant opportunities for success, stand out in sharp contrast with the inadequate provision for the ministry, — its small, pinching salaries, the uncertain chance for advance, early superannuation, with no provision for old age.

The financial basis of the ministry is entirely different from that of other professions. In business a fixed service brings a fixed salary,fidelity and hard work are rewarded, and one feels that he is responsible for the size of his salary. In the ministry the duties are indefinite, promotion does not at all depend upon faithful work, but upon certain personal and popular qualities, the essential value of which is at least questionable. In medicine and law, a given service receives a recognized compensation. In the ministry, a man is called to give all his time and thought and then to have his salary raised with difficulty, paid irregularly and with grudging, giving him the sense of being an object of charity. He has to beg for his pay, and get little at that. As one tersely puts it; he is to be a pauper all his life.

Another group of deterrent reasons is based upon the attitude of the church toward the minister, its lack of cordial support, its uncharitable criticism, its hampering restrictions, both to thought and activity, the isolation and moral seclusion which comes to the minister.

Only a few speak of the doctrinal disturbances, the break-up of old faiths, so that the student is uncertain as to all belief, and feels that he has nothing to preach. And combined with this is a fear lest one shall lose his independence and freedom of thought.

No class of deterring reasons appears more frequently than that which concerns the general popular estimate of ministers. The average student attitude toward the minister is one of utter disregard, if not of contempt. The ministry is of no reputation in the university. It is said that the ministerials are not manly men; that ministers don't live up to their own preaching; that the ministry is full of cheap, unprepared material; and that it emphasizes its small men as other professions do not.

May we ask now, How is it that the young man has come to have these views of the ministry? We shall have to admit that there is a great deal of truth in what is charged regarding churches and ministers. The young man sees part of the situation accurately. The trouble is he has a one-sided view. He does not see clearly the great compensations that balance criticism and hardship and self-denial.

There has been a decline in those agencies most potent in the past in leading men to the ministry: home influence, the consecration of sons to this holy calling, the old-time academy with its constant pressure toward this end, the pastors urging the claims of the ministry, the college presenting the same to its students. These all have largely ceased their activity in this direction, and no other agencies have taken their place. Hundreds of young men now in other callings might have been turned to the ministry if the matter had only been presented to them.

Some blame and more, I fear, than we dare to charge-must lie at the doors of our good friends of the Y.M.C.A. Much as I honor this organization, I must speak this word here among its friends. The growth of this movement has been remarkable in the last twenty years, and there has been a great demand for men to fill the places of secretaries, etc. With a perfected organization and a large number of field secretaries, they have been appealing to college men, setting forth the opportunities in that field. Wherever they have found a man of especial strength, they have laid siege to him until they have won him to their cause. This is, of course, perfectly legitimate, only it is to be greatly regretted that in many cases it has seemed necessary, in order to exalt their own calling, to discredit the ministry.

It needs to be said, also, in kindness, but in frankness, that a potent cause of this decline is the attitude and expressed opinion of some now in the ministry. The lazy minister complains of his hard work; the speculative minister rants about creeds and liberty of thought; the sensationalist assails the churches, the ministers, and the seminaries; the dyspeptic bewails the degeneracy of the times; some who have suffered criticism retail their woes in the press; and the unworthy man parades himself before the world. Now, there undoubtedly is room for criticism of creeds, churches, and seminaries, but the spice added to make a readable article and gain a hearing has surely given a wrong impression.

III. What is the remedy for this decline? How may the ministry be made again attractive to the best men in our colleges? First, some encouraging signs: 1. The past year or two shows a turning of the tide from the extreme low point. In many denominations there is

again an increase in students for the ministry. 2. Some of the seminaries have inaugurated a systematic visitation of the colleges in the interest of the ministry. 3. The Y. M. C. A. leaders have turned their attention to this problem. The conferences on the subject recently held under the leadership of Mr. Mott are sure to be helpful. 4. The attention of the churches and religious leaders is thoroughly fixed upon the problem; out of so much thinking and discussion some good ought surely to come.

The real remedy that must in some way be found is to make the ministry again respectable and attractive in the eyes of the college student. How much may be done to remove the real evils in the case, the small compensation, the uncertain tenure, the excessive criticism, the restraint of freedom, is not altogether clear, and will vary in amount and method in different denominations. But that something ought to be done in this direction is evident, and something is surely possible. More important is it, to correct the false impressions that are abroad, and to make the real difficulties seem small by a positive presentation of the great place to be filled, and the large work to be accomplished in the present age by the well-equipped consecrated Christian minister.

In securing this result I am convinced that the college department of the Y. M. C. A. will be by far the most effective agency. It has a thorough organization; it has the ear of the college man, and its experience will enable it at once to bring the claims of the ministry effectively to bear upon the students. Let this be done year after year, and we shall see notable results.

The distinct effort made to have the claims of the foreign field pressed home upon the consciences of students has produced the striking result that in many institutions the number of student volunteers exceeds that of those looking forward to the ministry. (Harvard, 9 ministers, 12 volunteers; University of Illinois, 4 ministers, 25 volunteers; Ohio State University, 2 ministers, 7 volunteers.) Let a similar effort be made to recruit the ministry, and similar results may be looked for. If decisions for the foreign work are expected from college men and secured in large numbers, there is no reason why the college period should not be fruitful in many decisions for the ministry.

We must create a new sentiment regarding the ministry. Laymen must learn to treat the pastor with more reasonable regard. Ministers must learn to estimate in due proportion the real privilege and the more superficial difficulty. We must all pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers, while those who are set as overseers in the field must see to it that no laborers wait in the market-place till the day declines because no one has summoned them to the work.




An observation of more than twenty years convinces me that there has been an improvement in the quality of students seeking the ministry, and that they average, in mental ability, fully the equals of any body of students preparing for any profession. In character, now as always, their rank is, save in the rarest instances, unexceptionable. So far as there has been any change affecting the quality of students, the causes which have led to the diminution of the number of theological candidates have probably worked towards improvement. The most conspicuous of the causes of the relative decrease in the number of theological students is the rise to significance of other scholarly professions besides that of the ministry. Teaching and journalism are essentially new professions in the extent of the appeal which they now make, and the call, particularly of the teaching profession, is one of exceeding attractiveness to that very class which would, most naturally, turn towards the ministry. The appeal of medicine and of law is undoubtedly much greater than it was forty years ago. The revolutionary discoveries in surgery, the almost universal recognition of the need of a highly educated body of physicians, the increasing business of the country and the consequent augmentation of the opportunities of the legal profession, have rendered the incentives to enter these life-callings much greater than was the case half, or even a quarter, of a century since. Instead of being, as it once was, the profession which appealed to most men of scholarly tastes, ethical purpose, and Christian character in our colleges and universities, the ministry has become only one among several.

Another cause, one that is certainly remediable, is the short pastorate. Investigation of lists of graduates of our theological schools shows that very many have changed their pastorates once, at least, within the last three years, some twice, and a few even three times. It is a natural and justifiable demand that one who gives his life to a particular profession should expect from that profession reasonable compensation and support. That is not at present the uniform prospect of the ministry. It may be questioned whether it is even the average prospect of the ministry. But no small part of this restlessness leading to frequent ministerial changes is chargeable to the ministry itself. The minister can move more readily than the physician or the lawyer, and with less loss, and therefore allows himself to entertain the hope of bettering his position, or at least avoiding existing discomforts by a change.

A fourth cause is the change in what is required of a minister by the average congregation. In some respects this alteration is greatly to his advantage. The minister is now expected to touch common interests at many points, to be an organizer of aggressive church work, a teacher of the young, a man broadly interested in all that makes for the betterment of the community. Nowadays, owing partly to the great diffusion of entertaining periodical literature and the relative cessation of interest in doctrinal exposition, the demand made of the pulpit is one which few men can supply. Ethical and religious truths must be made interesting; they must be put in such form as to attract a jaded attention. The multiplicity of labors now expected of a pastor may doubtless be remedied in larger churches by the increased subdivision of ministerial work.

It is evident that the relative decline in the number of ministerial students is a phenomenon in some measure to be expected in our transitional age. But some of its most conspicuous causes are remediable. We need a deeper appreciation on the part of the churches of the dignity and importance of the ministerial profession. And this increased appre- . ciation of the dignity and significance of the ministry may best be wrought out by the ministry itself. It is to be feared that if a lower estimate of the ministry now widely obtains, it is the ministry itself which is in considerable measure responsible. We need to insist, in our own thought, upon the dignity and honor of the calling which is We need to urge it upon young men, especially upon young men of wealth, as a service of joy, usefulness, and sacrifice, beyond any other calling. Its claims are far too infrequently presented to the young men of our schools and colleges. Its usefulness and honorableness is too seldom impressed upon our congregations. These defects may be remedied and they should be as far as lies in our power, for His sake who honors men by calling them into His service in the noblest of all professions, the Christian minister.


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