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Staff Ministry Certification and Course Requirements

These certification guidelines authorized by the Conference of Presidents (COP) of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) seek to provide an adequate standard of staff minister training that will ensure proficiency in carrying out the aims and objectives of congregations and other calling bodies of the WELS. These guidelines provide processes for both students of traditional college age, as well as older students, to qualify themselves for ministry. In addition, they are designed to provide a flexible means for individuals, who are currently called, to fulfill certification requirements.

I. Definitions

A. Staff Ministry  Staff ministry is a form of public, representative ministry. An individual is given a call by a group of believers to carry out church work on their behalf. While pastors are trained for the broadest scope of ministry and for theological leadership, teachers are trained in Christian classroom education. Professional training for service in staff ministry includes knowledge and skills in the following areas: evangelism and assimilation, youth and family ministry, member care, parish education, and administration. The call itself defines the particular duties and responsibilities of a specific staff minister.

B. Certified Staff Minister  Graduates of Martin Luther College become certified staff ministers upon recommendation for a regular call into staff ministry. Others who have met the requirements for certification as outlined in these guidelines are certified by action of the Conference of Presidents.

C. Registered Congregational Assistants  Those who are serving in congregations, but are not prepared to serve in all five staff ministry areas. They are not eligible for a call to another congregation. They are encouraged to obtain synod certification for staff ministry, but are not required to do so. Registered congregational assistants are not listed in the synod yearbook.

D. Provisional Certification  Uncertified individuals who are serving in a staff ministry position are granted a provisional certification upon acceptance into the program. This will be maintained as long as there is satisfactory progress towards certification.

E. Regular Call  A call which is extended to a synodically certified staff minister.

F. Provisional Call  A call which is subject to annual renewal and is extended to a staff minister who qualifies for admission into the synodical staff ministry certification program.  Evidence of satisfactory progress toward certification is required for renewal.

G. Satisfactory Progress  Under normal circumstances, satisfactory progress toward certification is understood as the completion of at least three credits per year.

 

II. Categories

While education for staff ministry is normally done within the context of a degree program, students who fall into the following categories may be admitted to a certification program:

1. Those who already hold a bachelor’s degree  Full certification will be granted upon completion of the religion and professional components of the program. Candidates may need to make up deficiencies in the liberal arts.

2. Older and second career students  Certification will be granted upon completion of the religion and professional components of the program. Normally this category is open only to those who are 35 years of age or older.

3. Called Parish staff ministers  Provisional certification will be granted upon application to the program, and will be maintained as long as there is satisfactory progress towards certification. Full certification will be granted upon completion of the religion and professional components of the program.

4. Called non-parish staff ministers  This certification serves the needs of individuals who are administrators, development directors, or other staff ministers whose area of service is outside of the parish. Provisional certification will be granted upon application to the program, and will be maintained as long as there is satisfactory progress towards certification. Full certification will be granted upon completion of the religion courses and SMN 2001, The Theology and Practice of Ministry.

5. Colloquy candidates  Provisional certification will be granted to individuals who have completed the approved process for staff ministry colloquy; full certification will be given upon completion of all requirements agreed upon in the colloquy process.

Each application to a non-degree certification program will be considered on an individual basis.  Decisions regarding admissions and the structures of the programs will be based on what will best serve both the candidate for ministry and the needs of the church at large.

 

III. Academic Courses and Field Experience for Staff Ministry Certification

Religion Courses

  • THE1001  Biblical History & Lit I   3 crs
  • THE1002  Biblical History & Lit II   3 crs
  • THE2001  Biblical History & Lit III   3 crs
  • THE3001  Christian Doctrine I  3 crs
  • THE3002  Christian Doctrine II   3 crs
  • THE4001  Lutheran Confessional Writings 3 crs

 

Professional Courses

  • SMN2001  The Theology and Practice of Ministry 3 crs
  • SMN2003  Biblical Interpretation 3 crs
  • SMN3001  Introduction to Youth and Family Ministry 3 crs
  • SMN3010  Foundations of Evangelism 3 crs
  • SMN3011  Congregational Assimilation & Retention 3 crs
  • SMN3020  Parish Education 3 crs
  • SMN3030  Caring and Counseling 3 crs
  • SMN3031  Parish Visitation 3 crs
  • SMN3040  Organization and Admin in the Parish 3 crs
  • SMN3042  Developing & Training in Leadership 3 crs
  • EDU3215  Teaching Religion 3 crs
  • MUS4201  Lutheran Worship 2 crs

 

Field Experience

An internship or series of practica is required of all staff ministry candidates. The experiences will be structured on an individual basis, and will vary depending on previous involvement in congregational ministry.

 

IV. Procedures for Obtaining Certified Status

 

A. Information

1. Individuals who seek certification for staff ministry shall write for information to the Synod Certification Program (address inside back cover).

2. Synod certified teachers who serve as staff ministers are listed in the synod yearbook with a notation noting they are synod certified teachers, but not synod certified staff ministers. Synod certified teachers who serve as staff ministers are encouraged to obtain synod certification for staff ministry.

 

B. Enrollment into the Program

1. Application for admission into the program shall be made to the Synod Certification Program, which shall be responsible for acceptance of applicants into the program.

2. Applicants must submit official transcripts of credits for all work done at colleges other than MLC.

3. Applicants not currently serving in a called position in the WELS must submit a testimonial of good moral character signed by their pastor.  Applicants currently called in the WELS under a provisional call must submit a letter of validation from their pastor, principal, chief administrator, or chairman of the board of their calling body.

 

C. Pursuing the Program

1. It is preferable that as much course work as possible be taken on the MLC campus.

2. Courses for certification credit may be taken through the MLC satellite and online programs.

3. Credit for certification may be earned through Directed Study and Independent Study, as well as Experiential Learning Credit.  Information on these options is available from the Director of the Staff Ministry Program or the Director of Synod Certification.

4. Certification requirements must be completed within eight years after acceptance into the program or acceptance of a provisional call, whichever is first.

5. Those who are currently called will maintain their provisional certification by completing a minimum of one three-credit course per year.

6. Neither acceptance into a certification program nor successful completion of the requirements assures one of a call into a staff ministry position.  The credentials of all such persons are given to those WELS officials who are responsible for providing congregations and boards with lists of qualified candidates from which to call a candidate for an existing vacancy.

 

 

IV. Procedures for Obtaining Certified Status

A. Information

1. Individuals who seek certification for staff ministry shall write for information to the Synod Certification Program:

Dr. Lawrence Olson
Staff Ministry
Martin Luther College
1995 Luther court
New Ulm, MN  56073
Telephone:  507-354-8221 ext 252
Fax:  507-233-9109
E-mail: 

 

2. Synod certified teachers who serve as staff ministers are listed in the synod yearbook with a notation noting they are synod certified teachers, but not synod certified staff ministers. Synod certified teachers who serve as staff ministers are encouraged to obtain synod certification for staff ministry.

 

B. Enrollment into the Program

1. Application for admission into the program shall be made to the Synod Certification Program, which shall be responsible for acceptance of applicants into the program.

2. Applicants must submit official transcripts of credits for all work done at colleges other than MLC.

3. Applicants not currently serving in a called position in the WELS must submit a testimonial of good moral character signed by their pastor. Applicants currently called in the WELS under a provisional call must submit a letter of validation from their pastor, principal, chief administrator, or chairman of the board of their calling body.

 

C. Pursuing the Program

1. It is preferable that as much course work as possible be taken on the MLC campus.

2. Courses for certification credit may be taken through the MLC satellite and online programs.

3. Credit for certification may be earned through Directed Study and Independent Study, as well as Experiential Learning Credit. Information on these options is available from the Director of the Staff Ministry Program or the Director of Synod Certification.

4. Certification requirements must be completed within eight years after acceptance into the program or acceptance of a provisional call, whichever is first.

5. Those who are currently called will maintain their provisional certification by completing a minimum of one three-credit course per year.

6. Neither acceptance into a certification program nor successful completion of the requirements assures one of a call into a staff ministry position. The credentials of all such persons are given to those WELS officials who are responsible for providing congregations and boards with lists of qualified candidates from which to call a candidate for an existing vacancy.

 

D. Eligibility for Certification

1. A student must earn at least a C grade in all courses taken in the certification program.

2. Upon an enrollee’s successful completion of a program, a recommendation for certification shall be made by MLC to the COP. If an individual is serving with a provisional call at the time of completion, the person’s pastor, principal, chief administrator, or chairman of the board of the calling body must concur with the recommendation. For persons who are not serving in a called position, the recommendation of the MLC faculty will be requisite for certification and subsequent assignment as staff minister by the COP.

 

V. Responsibility for Certification

        The COP shall act upon all recommendations for certification and shall notify all concerned of its decision.