Strategic Plan: A Bold and Faithful Witness

Part 1: Vocation & Vision

1.1 God's Call and Our Calling

As the first decade of the twenty-first century comes to a close, we confess that the Holy Spirit is calling and sending the church of Jesus Christ into apostolic mission for the sake of God's world.

Apostolic Mission

The church is apostolic as it bears confident witness, with the apostles, that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the love and mercy of God have been poured out for the world (Luke 24:45-48).

The church is apostolic as it faithfully confesses, with the church of all ages, the nature and work of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as defined in the Apostles' Creed.

The church is apostolic as it is "sent" (apostello) by the Holy Spirit into all the world to participate in the mission of the triune God.

This call comes at a time of significant cultural change that presents the church with distinct challenges and opportunities. Among these, two were named by our constituencies as particularly important for Luther Seminary to address: (1) the lack of clarity about the relevance of the Christian message and (2) the growing search for spirituality, community, and intimacy. Other pressing challenges were also identified, including the plurality of belief systems that offer competing claims to truth and meaning; the deterioration of structures that have traditionally taught the Christian faith; the radically altered nature of the communities and world in which our graduates will serve because of patterns of worldwide immigration and the globalization of the economy; threats facing the environment; and the worsening physical and emotional health of many of our trained leaders of the church. In this changed and ever changing context, the "old, old story" of the gospel must be interpreted anew for the sake of the world, as we prepare students for ministry and as graduates enter into ministry, for, while the times may have changed, God's call to apostolic mission remains constant.

Luther Seminary responds to this call in at least three ways:

  • members of the seminary community respond through their congregations and as individuals, carrying out their witness and their vocations in the world as people of God;
  • the seminary community itself bears witness to the mission of God in the world through its work and worship, its convictions and confession, and its life together in the spirit of the gospel;
  • as its primary work, the seminary, through the cooperation of faculty, staff, students, boards, and supporters, educates leaders for Christian communities called into apostolic mission.

As disciples of the crucified and risen Lord, and committed to the distinct vocation entrusted to us, we believe that God has blessed Luther Seminary with the gifts and commitments to educate leaders to serve God's church and world. We also recognize that though we may hear God's call, we cannot know with certainty the path ahead, and so we are eager to learn from any who will teach us how best to offer in this time and context a lively confession of the hope that has been given to us in the gospel. Accordingly, we acknowledge that we do not do this work alone, but in essential partnership with others committed to the mission of the church and the seminary: the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and its synods; the Western Mission Cluster of the ELCA; the Minnesota Consortium of Theological Schools; the ecumenical agencies and church bodies increasingly present among us as supporters, students, and teachers; our partner seminaries and other academic institutions throughout the world; and the congregations, pastors, and leaders of the church who send us students and support us with prayers, counsel, and gifts.

Relying on the mercy of God, confident of the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and thankful for our partners in this work, we offer this strategic plan in order to make plain our response to what God has called us to do. Building on the curricular, institutional, and strategic commitments of the last two decades, this plan is divided into two sections. The first outlines our vision for mission by sharing the vocational identity and convictions that underlie our sense of mission and lead to the enduring institution-wide goals to which we are committed. The second section outlines our plans to implement our vision by amplifying our goals, naming our long-term strategies, and identifying concrete action steps that will be revised annually. A constant thread throughout this plan is the commitment to listen--to congregations, to graduates, to partners and allies, to constituents and supporters, and to the needs of the world--and a willingness to change in response to what we learn for the sake of greater fidelity to God's calling.

Next >> 1.2 - Identity and Convictions