The last time a significant empirical study on the role and challenges of theological education in so-called mission fields was presented was during the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh.

Since that time little, if any research has been done on trends and challenges in the area of ministerial formation and theological education in world Christianity.

After major studies on new developments in the rapidly changing landscape of world Christianity for the centennial Edinburgh 2010 study process, the World Council of Churches (WCC) started a worldwide research project of Global Survey on Theological Education in world Christianity on Oct. 8.

Theological education has been a key factor in the development of world Christianity in the 21st century, according to Dietrich Werner, coordinator of the WCC’s Ecumenical Theological Education program.

He characterizes this initiative as a “coordinated attempt to do an international research project on recent trends and developments in theological education.”

The global study project was jointly prepared by David Esterline from the Institute for Cross-cultural Theological Education in Chicago at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-related McCormick Theological Seminary, Todd Johnson from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Werner from the WCC.

The project is designed to gather perspectives on all forms of theological education from every Christian tradition around the world. The basic tool for research is an extended questionnaire on trends, conditions and needs in theological education.

The survey will be answered by theological educational institutions, regional and global associations of theological schools and individuals responsible for programs of theological education aiming at ministerial formation for churches in world Christianity. 

The Global Survey on Theological Education project was also introduced during the Oct. 4-7 Global Christian Forum meeting in Manado, Indonesia.