Each candidate’s formation journey is distinctive and unique. Just like the pastors and deacons you know, rostered ministers-in-training will find some aspects of ministry natural and fun, while other aspects require greater effort or development. While no minister is the “complete package,” we do expect ELCA rostered ministers to show competency in four core areas: leadership, theology, ministry, and wellness. In other words, candidates spend a lot of their ministry developing not just knowledge, but a whole new way of being.
Leadership development in the ELCA includes growth in mission orientation, adaptive leadership, and understanding and developing one’s leadership style. Through coursework and contextual education, ELCA candidates learn leadership theory and practice their developing skills in hands-on settings. While ELCA seminaries offer a wide variety of educational programs, all tracks incorporate contextual learning from the start.
Ministerial competency development is the process you’ll undertake of refining your sense of call and living into what it means to be a pastor or a deacon. Reflect upon the duties of each roster as outlined in the ELCA Constitution. Which roster resonates most deeply with your sense of call? Clinical Pastoral Education and internship will help you develop your understanding of what it means to be a pastor or a deacon in a supervised hands-on setting.
Theological development may sound like the most academic of the competencies introduced above – and developing your Lutheran theological knowledge is crucial to effective rostered ministry. Your candidacy journey will focus not only on knowledge, however, but also upon holistic development of attitudes, beliefs, and skills for applying Lutheran theology in meaningful and healthy ways. As Lutheran Christians we are called to live our convictions, constantly exploring, and reexamining, what it means to follow Christ. We enact our theology in the world.
Finally, we want our candidates – and our pastors and deacons – to be healthy and well-balanced humans. Pastors and deacons are privileged to work with people from diverse backgrounds and walks of life. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence skills are vital for serving others well while keeping yourself healthy. Cultivating intellectual, relational, emotional, physical, financial, vocational, and spiritual wellness will help you maintain healthy boundaries, and establish resiliency in ministry. Reflecting upon the Wholeness Wheel may help you determine which of these areas are growth areas for you. Note that “wellness” will look different for each person. “Self-care,” for example, is a term that may resonate for some, while people nurtured by communal cultures may find care through connection.