A Survey on Theological Education for Professionals
Early October 2013; an online survey titled Theological Education for Professionals was conducted. The purpose of the survey was to understand the various possible ways to theologically equip Christian professionals to be effective witnesses in their sphere of influence. Also, the survey was intended to understand the needs and modes to equip Christian professionals to minister to their colleagues, connect their faith to professional context, and become change agents in their professional arena.
We had sent out this survey link through email to various Christian professional all over India. We had 102 people who had responded to this survey. Of these 78% were males and 22% were females. About 55% of them were employed in IT firms; 17% in academic institutions and remaining 27% were speared across Human resources; Sales and Marketing; NGOs and Government services. 76% of them were actively or very actively involved in ministry.
Some of the most interesting observations of this survey are presented below.
The constraints/ challenges that professionals face in presenting Jesus to their colleagues were mostly lack of knowledge on religion; theology and lack of counselling skills. Almost 76% of them agree that they needed theological knowledge to a great or very great extent and around 17% felt that it was needed to a moderate percentage.
It is very obvious that there is a great urge among the professional to gain theological knowledge and the fact that they can identify the lack of such knowledge is a constraint to share the gospel with their fellow colleagues.
In response to the question on the area that they would like themselves to be equipped to become effective transforming agents; Counselling, Theology and Apologetics topped the list. Following these three areas; knowledge on religion and preaching were other areas that the professionals wanted themselves to be well equipped.
Online mode of education was the most preferred mode of gaining their knowledge on theology (67%) and some proffered correspondence course (25%) or Evening courses (7%). Of those who proffered online course as the mode of education, almost 64% of them preferred to learn it in their own self-paced time and 35% felt that the online course must be time bound.
About 70% had expressed that they look forward to a high theological content in these online courses and for many of them (49%) felt that moderate fee would be acceptable. To some (30%), cost did not matter though, a few (10%) would like to have free online courses.
But, almost 93% did mention that they need to incorporate the knowledge they gain from these online theological courses in real life situation and hence wanted more practical insights.
For almost 80% of the professionals the motive for doing such online course was to gain knowledge and just 1% had the motive to have an additional degree. 19% had a motive to gain knowledge and to gain a degree.
Hence with this foresight, we look forward to preparing THEOn modules to equip Christian professionals through online courses in the forthcoming year.
Anita Wesley, A statistician works with an IT company. She is married to John Wesley, has two daughters and lives in Chennai