Strategic Plan: A Bold and Faithful Witness

Part 2: Implementation

2.1 Background and Rationale

The five goals named above work together to enable us to respond to God's call and to realize our vision for mission. The first goal clearly identifies the overarching aspiration and reason-for-being of this community. The second through fourth describe the particular means by which we will achieve the first goal. The fifth goal names our unswerving commitment to listen, learn, adapt, and change in order to be faithful to the promise of our mission and in this way enable us to achieve the other four goals.

Taken together, these five goals enable us to see our current situation in terms of opportunity rather than threat, in terms of abundance rather than scarcity, and in terms of hope rather than despair. Taken together, they orient us to the future God is preparing by building on a tradition of faithful learning and adaptation that has taken shape in three distinct phases at Luther Seminary over the last two decades.

Curricular Revision: In 1993, the faculty adopted a curriculum that recognized the church's need for leaders capable of purposeful action in service to evangelical mission. It is an incisive and innovative curricular strategy that leads from learning the Christian story to interpretation and confession and then to leading in mission in order to strengthen Christian discipleship. This curriculum continues to serve as the foundation for the seminary's teaching and learning.

Mission Statement: In 1995, the seminary adopted a mission statement affirming the curricular strategy of the faculty by highlighting Luther Seminary's primary calling to "educate leaders for Christian communities." Through its trinitarian shape, this statement also recognized and affirmed the centrality of witness to the gospel and of service to God's world. The mission statement continues to stand at the center of the seminary's self-understanding.

Serving the Promise of Our Mission: In 2000, the seminary adopted a groundbreaking strategic plan that focused the resources of an entire institution on preparing leaders for apostolic mission in an age of many faiths and cultures. It outlined ambitious goals and standards and led to a number of significant and strategic initiatives that continue to shape decision-making at all levels.

The present strategic plan stands as an affirmation of the impulses and insights represented in these closely connected events and is designed to keep the promises and realize the potential they embody. At the same time, this plan also represents an eagerness to learn from those positioned best to teach us--our graduates, constituent congregations, partners and supporters, and others we do not yet know--about how best to accomplish our calling to prepare public evangelical leaders for a church in apostolic mission. The plan seeks therefore:

  • to anticipate the needs of the church and world and devote our best efforts to meeting those needs;
  • to listen attentively to those we serve and encounter with regard to the outcome of our best efforts; and also
  • to be willing to reconsider our assumptions and practices in light of what we discover and adapt our efforts accordingly.

Establishing and maintaining this continuous cycle of listening and response is the only way, we believe, to continue to grow in our fidelity to the trust God has placed in us.

Given the emphasis in this plan on assessment, it is important to name briefly the impetus for and the mechanisms of our evaluation:

  • externally, our partners and constituencies press us to prepare graduates up to the task of mission in the present world--leaders who can preach and teach, serve and guide, lead worship and provide pastoral care, counsel and administer faithfully and well, foster the faith and vocations of the laity, envision and lead transformational processes; accrediting agencies increasingly demand the ability to demonstrate such accountability;
  • internally, the Reformation principle of semper reformanda ("always reforming") pushes us continually to reexamine every aspect of our work for the sake of faithful and effective witness to the gospel, recognizing that it will never be sufficient simply to repeat past tradition and accepted practices but that the tradition must always be made new and practices must always be retooled to meet the challenges and opportunities of changing contexts;
  • assessment will inevitably mean specific evaluation, using graphs and numbers, percentages and demographics; we will employ the best tools available to enter into this process completely and well;
  • assessment is finally not primarily about numbers, since the things we regard as most important (mission, gospel, faith, service) are not quantifiable; thus, for a seminary, assessment requires honest mutual conversation and public accountability, transparent to one another and open to the Spirit; we will join this conversation fully, humbly, and expectantly.

1.3 Institution-Wide Goals << Back — Next >> 2.2 - Strategies and Action Steps