Pastoral Formation Survey
The faculty of Concordia Seminary is in the midst of an assessment and revision process for the residential Master of Divinity, Alternate Route, and Deaconess Studies curricula, and we’d like to hear from you. Curriculum revision is an ongoing process; individual courses are added or adjusted regularly. Here are some of the considerations that the faculty has already recognized:
- The residential program at Concordia Seminary remains the premier program for teaching, training, and forming pastors.
- Our revision will take into account not only course content and sequence, but pedagogy, field education and vicarage, spiritual life, family expectations, and financial considerations.
- The debt that students bring to the seminary from their undergraduate programs continues to increase dramatically; seminary-related debt has been able to be controlled, but the overall debt with which students graduate has increased dramatically over the last five years. The spiraling costs of undergraduate education and the impact of the economic downturn that began in 2008 have both contributed to this increase.
- The pluralistic, non-churched, and indeed anti-Christian culture in which our congregations live creates greater challenges for faithful witness to Christ and his Word. The need for clear, sound, and winsome scriptural and confessional witness is greater than ever.
- Students are coming to the seminary from a wide range of backgrounds, education, and contexts.
- Greek and Hebrew will remain requirements for entrance into the MDiv program, and Greek will still be required in the Alternate Route program. Concordia Seminary is the only seminary in the LCMS, and one of only a handful in the country, that require that students pass standard Greek and Hebrew exams before beginning their program of study.
- Time pressures are constant on students. Between time in class, study, field education, worship, family, and work, their schedules are increasingly full and occasionally study, worship life, or family receives too little attention.
- The reality that most of the congregations in the LCMS are plateaued or declining in size makes it more difficult for these congregations to support a full-time pastor.
- The opportunities and needs for pastors with specialized skills in outreach, church planting, cross-cultural ministry, youth and family ministry, etc., are significant.
These few items, of course, are not comprehensive and represent only a sample of the issues that the faculty is taking into account in this process.
Information about the current configuration of our Master of Divinity program is available here.
As the faculty revises the curriculum we have shared our thinking with our graduates, students, the Council of Presidents of the LCMS, and our colleagues at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne. We have also surveyed pastors, laity, and the COP. We are now reaching out to pastors, church workers and interested lay people to learn what you believe to be the key knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for a pastor to succeed in the ministry. It consists of four open-ended questions and should take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. The survey will be available from Monday July 7th – Saturday July 19th. We thank you for your time and help in forming the future pastors of the LCMS.
Take the survey now.
With thanks for your partnership in the Gospel,
Provost, Concordia Seminary
Rev. Dr. Richard Zeile July 8, 2014
We need the spiritual formation centered on Lutheran identity and commitment now more than ever. This cannot be done on-line but through face-to-face accountability.
Jeff Kloha July 9, 2014
Thank you, Rev. Zeile. This survey is about the residential program. As the first bullet above points out, one of our key considerations is that “The residential program at Concordia Seminary remains the premier program for teaching, training, and forming pastors.”
Rev. Don Miles July 13, 2014
Rev. Zeile’s comment warms my heart and that’s the sort of pastor I strive to be in my personal heart and conduct. However, when addressing a pagan world that thinks Christianity is passe and denominationalism ridiculous, we need to keep our Lutheran focus in-house. We need to “become all things to all men, that by all means some might be saved.” This means simply being Sola Scriptura Christians, faithfully teaching and preaching the Bible, yet open to new patterns of ministry, including the social media, house churches, and extensive use of gifted laymen in preaching and teaching the Gospel in all sorts of venues. We also need to abandon the “democracy is next to godliness” attitude of our churches, and get on with a Biblical model in which there are no elections and politicing, Biblical methods of choosing leaders followed, and Jesus installed in both words and deeds as head of the Church.
Pastor Paul Ficken July 26, 2014
It seems that many congregations struggle internally from the influx of many different theological perspectives. The boomers lack the desire to remain faithful to a current institutionalized concept of loyalty to the LCMS and many have found other doctrinal positions that have blended into the life of the church. It would be a great blessing to teach students how to navigate between those who desire to blaze a trail away from the institutional LCMS (both in doctrine and practice) and those that desire to find a home that is authentic to what they say the believe, teach, and confess. I was unable to take congregational dynamics while attending there. It may be a class that should be required as well as revamped.