Lay people have always filled important leadership roles in the church, from worship to congregational care. This reality is only becoming more pronounced as the landscape shifts toward a “mixed ecology” of inherited and emerging forms of Christian practice and community. From youth ministry to stewardship, passionate lay people answer the Holy Spirit’s call to step forward in leadership every day.
Maybe you know such a leader in your congregation. Maybe you are one!
Much of our work at Luther Seminary in recent years has focused on lowering barriers to theological education so that geography, time and money don’t keep those whom God calls from faithful preparation for ministry. While many of these efforts have taken place within our degree programs, we also know that Christian leadership isn’t limited to professional clergy. Our mission to educate leaders for Christian communities isn’t, either. In this time of change, how can Luther Seminary support the church to equip and empower more everyday disciples to answer God’s call, right where they are?
The seminary has a long tradition of providing lay theological education, yet it remained inaccessible to those who were not able to be on campus. Enter the School for Lay Ministry. For lay leaders who haven’t had the opportunity for formal theological education, this 12-month program from Faith+Lead offers the space to learn, reflect, and dive deep with a community of peers. Regular convenings on Zoom and independent lessons provide a solid foundation for growth, with training on topics that include pastoral ministry, preaching, leading funerals, biblical interpretation, rural ministry, church history, spiritual practices, congregational care, and more.
First offered in 2011, Faith+Lead moved the School for Lay Ministry online as an experiment in 2021, not knowing if the virtual model would meet the needs expressed by our congregational partners and church leaders. The response was immediate. More than 90 leaders representing dozens of communities across North America have completed the program since 2021, and we look forward to welcoming our third and fourth ecumenical cohorts this year.
This “back to school” season reminds us so powerfully of the gifts to be found in community, “no longer strangers and aliens, but […] fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Whether in person or online, through a degree program or a learning community like the School for Lay Ministry, it’s a privilege to come alongside all our students in their study and discernment about God’s calling for their lives.
Thank you for your prayerful support of this life-giving work.