Witness Moment

Synod Launches Set Apart to Serve Initiative

The LCMS has a robust system of church worker formation through our Lutheran schools, Concordia universities and seminaries. We rejoice in the 142,000-plus preschool to high school students currently enrolled in Lutheran schools across the country, the 978 students enrolled in church work programs at our Concordia universities, and the 443 ordination-track students studying at the Synod’s two seminaries.

Yet, these numbers have been steadily declining. In the last 14 years, enrollment in M.Div. programs at the seminaries has decreased by 55%, and enrollment in Concordia university church work and pre-seminary programs has declined at similar rates. With an aging pastorate in the LCMS, if these rates held up, the number of LCMS pastors could decline from 6,000 to 3,000 in the next 15 years.

Confident in God’s provision and knowing that God uses His church in every age to raise up church workers for the next generation, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod passed a resolution at its 2019 convention to undertake a comprehensive church worker recruitment initiative through the LCMS Office of Pastoral Education.

Pastoral Education has been hard at work on this initiative, now titled Set Apart to Serve, ever since. Initial research surveyed both current church workers and youth about the state of church worker recruitment in the Synod, as well as the key motivations for entering church work. Resources are now being created by subject matter experts, divided into the categories of primary and secondary influencers for three key age groups: baptized infants through sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade.

Among the resources developed will be a program to nurture young people on the path to church work; resources to help parents, pastors and other influencers to identify potential future church workers; a library of testimonies from church workers about their journeys to church work and the joys of their vocations; and curriculum resources that catechize about church work vocations. Once completed, these resources will be made available online, accessible by the whole Synod.

Through this initiative, with the partnership of stakeholders across the Synod, Pastoral Education hopes to encourage the formation of future church workers across the Synod, in every congregation, school and home, and the formation of faithful Christians along the way.

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Stacey Egger 

Staff editor and writer for LCMS Communications.

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