"Serving the Promise
of our Mission"
Strategic Plan 2000-2005
A summary of Luther Seminary’s strategic plan
by Rev David L. Tiede, President
Before Christianity was the religion of the empire, while its bishops were still pastors in congregations, the name of the game was teaching, proclamation of the Gospel, and healing.
Let me tell you, God’s mission is alive! The reform Jesus initiated within Israel brings this same challenge to Christendom and restores God’s promise to the world.
So what is Luther Seminary’s calling to serve the church’s missions? Five years ago, confident of God’s promise, Luther Seminary’s faculty, administration, and boards unanimously affirmed a mission statement that focuses outside us:
Luther Seminary educates leaders for Christian communities,
+ called and sent by the Holy Spirit
+ to witness to salvation through Jesus Christ and
+ to serve in God’s world.
Then we wondered. What will Luther Seminary look like in 5 years if we shape it deeply to serve the promise we made in our mission statement?
At our January board meeting two years ago, we began a quest for a shared vision: faculty, board members, staff, students, and constituents together. We already had ten years of listening for the Spirit’s call in the church and five years of a reformed curriculum. Several hundred people have been working with us in a discernment process, and a faculty staff writing team has produced ten drafts of a plan entitled Serving the Promise of our Mission.
On December 15, without dissent, the faculty affirmed the plan’s vision and goals and called upon the students, boards, administration and constituencies of Luther Seminary to join us in making it happen.
“We believe God is calling and sending the church of Jesus Christ into apostolic mission in the 21st century world of many cultures and religions,” the plan document begins.
This is a confession of faith in God’s promise for the church’s future.
At Luther Seminary, we want to be in on the action!
We plan to be faithful not only by training pastors to fill the parishes of Christendom or to maintain the immigrant church. God is calling and sending Christian communities beyond conserving the faith for themselves. Luther Seminary must transform theological education into an enterprise where faithful confession leads to obedient mission.
Luther Seminary’s four educational arenas serve the church’s future.
|1. Lifelong Learning:
We have a great doctrine of vocation focused on God’s love for the world, but millions of baptized Christians have only a faint awareness that God has called and sent them to be Christ to their neighbor in their relationships, work, and communities. Thousands of congregations can become centers to equip “the priesthood of believers” or the mission of the baptized. Pastors can be “apt teachers,” making disciples of Jesus and apostles to the world. Lifelong learning is the future of a church in mission. As our first educational arena, we plan to help you do this work.
Strategic Plan Update:
Center for Lifelong Learning Equips Congregations for Ministry
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.
See article from The Story, vol. 20, no. 1: Center for Lifelong Learning Finds Innovative Ways to Equip Congregations for Ministry.
|2. Specialized Ministry:
God has already called a growing number of our M.A. students to specialized, non-ordained ministries. These are ministries of teaching, and our new professor of educational leadership will help us focus on the immense opportunities of lifelong learning. We could place 10 youth and family leaders for every one we graduate. As congregations become centers of healing, they also need leaders in healing ministries: parish nurses, social workers, ministries to the aging. Luther Seminary is nationally known and ecumenically collaborative in several of these arenas of leadership. We expect this growth to continue. God is making the church ready for its future. Callings to teach and heal are at the frontier of mission.
Strategic Plan Update:
Children, Youth and Family
We are aware that “children, youth and family” represents the growing edge in our M.A., M.S.M., and certificate offerings in terms of congregational needs. Our vision is to strengthen this offering and publicize it as a flagship program at Luther Seminary.
See article from The Story, vol. 19, no. 4: Luther Seminary Takes Youth and family Ministry Programs to New Level.
3. Pastoral Leadership:
Luther Seminary educates about one third of the pastors of the entire ELCA and a growing number for other churches. The ELCA is asking for two new pastors for each M.Div. graduate available, and quality outweighs quantity. Our congregations need pastors to announce God’s mercy and equip vocations. Our graduates must excel in biblical preaching and worship as well as congregational leadership and mission. This renewal of our congregations is the promise we serve.
Strategic Plan Update:
Preparing Missional Pastors
We believe God is calling and sending the church of Jesus Christ into apostolic mission in the 21st century world of many cultures and religions.
See article from The Story, vol. 20, no. 2: Sending Missional Pastors Prepared for Today's World
4. Graduate Theological Leadership:
Since Martin Luther himself, the public witness of the tradition has been strong in higher education. Our confidence in the gospel of Jesus Christ has given intellectual courage to other Christians and engaged non-believers and people of other faiths in serious dialogue. The graduates of our young Ph.D. program are thriving in teaching positions around the world. The church needs Luther Seminary’s full educational depth for its apostolic mission.
|Strategic Plan Update:
New Ph.D. Leaders
We are taking leaders already in congregations and giving them new tools and new ideas to re-energize their ministries. These programs are prime examples of how Luther’s strategic initiatives are finding concrete expression.
See article from The Story, vol. 20, no.4: Post Graduate Programs Train Scholars/Preachers to Re-energize the Church
Over the next 24 months, each of these four arenas will receive the sustained attention of a work group. The plan offers a host of proposals for what it will take for this educational work to serve the church's call. That is the new bottom line: our excellence will be known by our effectiveness in educating leaders for Christian communities.
The future of the church is interesting and hopeful because it is God’s! We follow Jesus who sent his followers to teach, proclaim, and heal. In faith, we glimpse the abundant future of these missions of the church. We are bold to plan for this future and to pray the Lord to send laborers into his harvest.
The implementation of this strategic plan is made possible by gifts from individuals like you. Please consider making a gift to support the mission of Luther Seminary.