Story Magazine - First Quarter, 2004

Strategic Plan Update: Center for Lifelong Learning Finds Innovative Ways to Equip Congregations for Ministry

Luther Seminary wants to help congregations assist members in discovering their callings and gifts in order to "live faithfully in their daily lives." This is one of the goals outlined in Luther's 2000-2005 strategic plan, "Serving the Promise of Our Mission."

The Center for Lifelong Learning was charged with the task of helping create vital missional congregations "who set free the baptized for their mission in the world and who equip their people from Sunday to Monday," said Jack Fortin, '71, the center's executive director. The Center for Lifelong Learning's mission is to engage, encourage and strengthen congregations, pastors and laity around the ministry of the whole people of God. Housed under the center are KAIROS continuing education, the Lay School of Theology, Centered LifeSM and Luther Productions.

"The seminary needs to engage congregations in conversation and be a listening partner to hear what they need from us in context," Fortin continued.

The Center for Lifelong Learning set about creating and redeveloping tools and resources to respond to congregations' needs. They include:

The Center for Lifelong Learning:
Resources for you and your congregation:

The Centered Life Assessment:
An assessment tool based on five years of research with focus groups of laity and clergy in six congregations, was developed through a partnership with the Wilder Research Center, St. Paul, Minn. It is the starting point for Centered Life congregations and helps determine members' perspectives on their congregation's efforts to equip them for ministry in daily life (for more information about Centered Life, see president's article on pages 6-7).

The Centered Life Web site:
www.centeredlife.org was launched Jan. 7, 2004. The site offers information, inspiration and resources to congregations and individuals. In September, Centered Life will launch a private site specifically for Centered Life congregations. This will allow them to share ideas, take online courses and use online tools.

Dependable Strengths Workshops:
The strategic plan for the Centered Life initiative incorporates courses developed and regularly offered through continuing education for Centered Life congregations and leaders. One of the first courses of this sort is the Dependable Strengths workshop, which teaches leaders in congregations how to help members uncover their strengths and grow in their areas of excellence as a way of unleashing God's call in their lives.

Luther Productions:
Luther Productions came under the umbrella of the Center for Lifelong Learning in the summer of 2002. Its mission is to share the wisdom and knowledge of Luther Seminary faculty with the larger church by creating multimedia tools for pastors, congregations and laity. An editorial committee of pastors, lay leaders, faculty and staff meets regularly with Luther Productions to develop ideas. Luther Productions has also begun to take advantage of Luther Seminary's Lay School of Theology and Kairos continuing education courses, recording faculty presentations to produce short audio courses on CD.

Fisher's Net:
The Fisher's Net is an e-learning service provider that delivers theological education courses and resources to learners worldwide--including Luther's academic online courses. Now, the Center for Lifelong Learning is working with Fisher's Net to develop and distribute two online courses: "What's God Up To?" designed by Emily Hegener Rova,'99, and developed by a committee of the Western Mission Cluster; and "Living Out Our Calling," a course developed from a Lay School of Theology class taught by Jack Fortin. Both of these courses are now housed on the Centered Life Web site, www.centeredlife.org

The Center for Lifelong Learning has many resources for you and your congregation: