"I teach pastors and lay leaders to be pro-active in shaping families for life and faith and responsive in ministering to families in crisis."
According to Roland Martinson, the church faces a multi-dimensional challenge. "In our time, all primary relationships—the family, parenting, singleness, gender, and old age—are being re-invented. Consequently, people feel a great sense of dislocation."
His research shows two thirds of 16- to 19-year-olds baptized as Lutherans leave the church, and that only half of those who leave return by age 35. To address this crisis, pastors and lay leaders must, in part, learn to speak a new language. Martinson has developed five degree programs and four new initiatives that prepare students to read contemporary culture and to minister to youth and their families in that context. He is also writing a trilogy of books on parenting from a theological perspective and is conducting studies to develop new models for nurturing faith among people between 16 and 30 years of age.
A graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesota, Luther Seminary, and San Francisco Theological Seminary, Dr. Martinson has served as pastor in California and in Moorhead. He currently serves on the National Council on Family Relations. "I teach pastors and lay leaders to be pro-active in shaping families for life and faith and to be responsive in ministering to families in crisis," Dr. Martinson says.
Although he sees this work a great challenge, he exudes a sense of joy at the discoveries he is making. And his own family gives him strength. He is a gardener, a restorer of collector cars and tractors, and is planting vineyards and orchards on a farm in Wisconsin, "so that my grandchildren can be with the earth," he says. "My mother gave me permission to drink deeply from the wellsprings of life. She taught me to wrestle with God until God blesses me."