Story Magazine - First Quarter, 2009

Christians' Callings in the World: Five-Seminary Grant Funds New Ways to Teach

by Laura Kaslow, Communication Specialist

Religion? Faith and Values? The truth is, God would want to read the entire paper, cover to cover.

David Lose, Marbury E. Anderson Professor of Biblical Preaching, says he often uses this illustration when explaining that God is interested in "not just caring about our spiritual lives, our religious lives, but our physical, temporal, whole lives."

To work toward a better understanding of God at work in our lives, Luther Seminary is leading a five-year initiative funded by a $1.49 million grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The purpose of the initiative is to emphasize the work of graduates in preparing all Christians to understand and exercise their callings in the world.

The grant, titled Christians' Callings In the World, will work to create new ways to teach seminary students how to prepare lay people for their work in the world. Where the current model of theological education tends to focus on the pastor as the primary agent of ministry, this grant will work to better teach seminary graduates how to equip laity in their understanding of God as a partner with them in their everyday lives.

"In one way there is a long-standing interest at Luther Seminary invocation, or faith in daily life. It has manifested in various ways...through the Centered Life® initiative... it's been in the last two strategic plans. It's not anything new," says Jason Misselt, associate director for program development, Center for Lifelong Learning, who will play a large role in the implementation of this project.

Traditionally, mainline churches have had huge challenges in making that connection.

"For most of our people, it's almost like they leave one world to go to church," says Lose. "At church they expect to think about God, hear about God, then they kind of leave that there and go back to everyday life. Those two worlds only touch each other, but are not the same thing."

Lose, who will lead the project, says, "What we've learned is that we're fairly good at teaching our students about vocation but we haven't done as well at equipping them to teachmtheir parishioners about vocation. This grant gives these schools, each of which are of significance to their respective denominations, a chance to spend five years in conversation with each other thinking about how to equip our students to be equippers of the lay people."

The project will take place over five years with the intention of imbedding the findings into the culture of each of the participating institutions: Catholic Theological Union, Duke Divinity School, Fuller Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and Luther Seminary.

Misselt says the first three years of the project will be dedicated to experimentation "in ways that it is not an added burden," but in a way to "do what you're already doing with a twist." The final two years will then be dedicated to "structurally integrate these findings into the curriculum."

Says Lose, "It is really exciting to partner with these four schools. I don't know of another grant that has brought so many traditions together in this way.We're not just working on the future of the Lutheran church, but we're working on the future of the North American church."


Do you know an alum whose ministry exemplifies the excellent ministries of all Luther Seminary grads?
Faithfulness in Ministry Awards
The Luther Seminary Alumni/ae Council annually recognizes exemplary faithfulness of its alums who graduated within the last 10 years, within the past 25 years or more than 25 years ago. Whose ministry has inspired you?

Download a nomination form or complete your nomination online at www.luthersem.edu/fim. Nominations are due May 30. Questions? Contact Mary Steeber at msteeber@luthersem.edu or 651-641-3596.