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Students at commencement

Ministry in Context

Director's Word: On Sending Well

Without question, ending well is essential to one’s ministry practice and ongoing leadership formation. In fact, you’ve possibly heard the phrase “stick the landing” once or twice. It’s a gymnastics metaphor that punctuates the importance of finishing up one’s internship year, or ministry chapter, in any given community of faith. The fact of that matter is that ending well (or not ending well!) can make or break the ministry context for the incoming minister. We have the opportunity to steward leadership transitions through the things we say and do. As we provide leadership in the beginning, middle, and end of an internship, we are reminded that our leadership - as we exit - matters!

There is another side to the "ending well" coin. It was lifted up recently by one of our internship supervisors during a New Supervisor Workshop panel this past month at Luther Seminary. This particular supervisor emphasized their congregation’s emphasis not on only ending well, but also “sending well.” Internship congregations are engaging in the work of the great commission, that is, sending forth into the wider church and world a minister uniquely equipped for preaching, teaching, and pastoral care among many other ministry skills and capacities.  

As ending well and sending well occurs, both the intern and the internship congregation tap into the forward momentum of the Holy Spirit. New ministry horizons appear, and draws one into new possibilities for ministry, new possibilities for community, new possibilities for God’s presence to be known and experienced, yes, even in unforeseen places. Today, I give thanks for our internship congregations, as they offer the final gift of “sending well” to our interns. We appreciate the love, care, and guidance provided. We especially give thanks for the very public ways that you will bless our interns, recognizing their unique gifts, while also imparting your faith lesson that God has more in store for them… and your faith community as well. It’s a blessed exchange, and for this, we in contextual learning give thanks.

As a child, I had the opportunity to participate in many a worship service with the green hymnal or Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW). One of my favorite hymns, "Sent Forth by God's Blessing," was an up-tempo hymn that led us out of the worship space into our callings out in the larger mission field and world. The cynic might think my childhood feet were ready to run find the cookie table, but I like to think that the words were sinking in in this sending hymn as well.

The tune still rings in my ears:

Sent forth by God’s blessing,
Our true faith confessing,
The people of God from His dwelling take leave,
The supper is ended,
Oh, now be extended
The fruits of this service in all who believe.

Blessings to you and your community as we join in the important work of sending well!

In closing, on behalf of the Contextual Learning team at Luther Seminary, I would like to take this opportunity to give my heartfelt thanks to our program coordinator and office manager, April Winebrenner-Palo. April will be leaving Luther Seminary for new career opportunities on June 24th. Prior to her departure, we will be having an open house recognizing April’s many gifts and contributions offered to the Office of Contextual Learning and wider Luther Seminary community over these past three years. If you are in the area and would like to join us, we will be gathering for light refreshments on Tuesday, June 21, 2-3:30 p.m. in the Olson Campus Center Coffee Shop. If you are not able to join us, I encourage you to drop a note to April ( over these next few weeks that you might join us in sending her very well!

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