Story Magazine - Fourth Quarter, 2003

Strategic Plan Update

Luther Seminary takes its Youth and Family Ministry programs to a new level.

For years Luther Seminary's Youth and Family Ministry Program has served as a benchmark for excellence for similar programs around the U.S. Instead of resting on its laurels, the program, headed by Roland Martinson, Carrie Olson Baalson Professor of Children, Youth and Family Ministry, raises the bar even higher by developing innovative learning techniques, new degree programs and new curriculum strategies.

There are 100 students currently enrolled in the youth and family ministry concentrations of the five degree programs (Ph.D., D.Min., M.Th., M.Div. and M.A.) and one non-degree certificate program. Twenty-four new students began this year, the largest group ever, Martinson said. The plan is to increase total enrollment to 150 students in the next three years, and to 175 students within five years.

In order to accomplish this, the objective for all of the youth and family degree programs is to create a flexible, nurturing learning environment for students while they are doing the work to which they are called, Martinson continued. The M.A. curriculum is being revised and reshaped to reflect the needs of the students. The new curriculum will begin in 2005-06. In addition, the way students take courses will change. Along with on-campus studies, they will be able to receive credit by attending "intensives" (one-week courses held on campus), studying online (already part of the curriculum), or attending workshops held on campus or elsewhere. Martinson foresees an increase in faculty and tapping pastors as adjunct instructors.

The Youth and Family Ministry Program will also strengthen its field education and support system components in the M.A. degree programs, which are administered by Youth Leadership, Minneapolis, Minn. All youth and family students must do ministry while taking courses. Also, each student--whether in the residential program on campus or a part of the distributive learning program that lets people study around the globe--is a part of a five- to six-person cohort, with a mentor/coach assigned to each group. This cohort provides a community of support for the students, and attends to "all the challenges that occur outside of coursework," Martinson said.

Martinson is enthusiastic about another new aspect: each student will graduate with a competency-based, individualized "portfolio," which will record evaluated experiences, and profile the student's strengths and challenges.

Along with the new M.A. changes, Luther Seminary is currently designing a new D.Min. in Youth and Family Ministry that will utilize the same cohort structure as the doctor of ministry programs in Congregational Mission and Leadership and in Biblical Preaching (see www.luthersem.edu/dmin/ ). The first cohort could begin in 2005-2006. The doctor of ministry degree provides advanced professional study for practicing preachers.

Learn More about Youth and Family Ministry

In order to continually gather new information about youth and family ministry, Martinson is conducting several studies, including:

Faith Factors, www.faithfactors.com, has compiled information about the faith lives of youth and
young adults.

The Study of Exemplary Congregations in Youth Ministry, www.exemplarym.com, is a study of congregations who offer exemplary youth and family ministry.

Learn more about the Luther Seminary Youth and Family Program by visiting www.luthersem.edu/admissions/degrees/, and click on "Master of Arts" and then "Youth and Family Ministry."