By Stacey Egger
For over three years, the LCMS Office of Pastoral Education (PED) has been working on Set Apart to Serve (SAS), the church work recruitment initiative called for by the Synod during its 2019 convention.
This effort has so far focused primarily on encouraging youth to consider church work vocations. Now, SAS is launching a second phase that will seek to encourage church work as a second career path for adults already in the workforce.
Stakeholders across the Synod encouraged the leadership of SAS to incorporate this focus on second-career workers, and a timely grant from the Schwan Foundation enabled it.
The effort to recruit youth is “long term,” said the Rev. Dr. James A. Baneck, PED executive director. “We’re working to build a church worker formation and recruitment culture in our congregations and schools.”
While these long-term efforts are essential, this second phase of SAS, begun in December, is expected to yield more immediate increases in LCMS church workers.
“This has the potential to meet major needs right now,” Baneck said, noting the urgency with which many schools and churches are looking for workers. “Last year, there were around 450 requests for commissioned teachers in our LCMS schools. Only 98 of these could be filled.”
The goal of the second-career phase of Set Apart to Serve is to engage adults who have already established themselves in a career but may be considering a change, as well as adults working in a church-work-adjacent field who may wish to go through the colloquy process and become rostered LCMS workers.
On Dec. 19, this phase was launched with a meeting of various stakeholders from across the Synod, including representatives from both seminaries, the Concordia universities, the Schwan Charitable Foundation, LCMS School Ministry and the Synod’s colloquy program. As a result of this meeting, SAS will embark on a research phase to better understand how to reach potential second-career church workers.
“This meeting got all the major stakeholders together so that we could work on this collaboratively. Everyone has a stake in this: the seminaries, the universities, Lutheran schools. We talked about some of the resources each could provide and offer. They also provided anecdotal material, and now we’re going to verify it with research,” said Baneck.
In January, “pilot” congregations and schools from each of the 35 districts, plus one National Lutheran Outdoors Ministry Association camp, began using and evaluating resources from the first phase of Set Apart to Serve, which will be updated and released Synodwide in the coming months. Resources related to this second phase will be similarly piloted and released once research is complete.
Learn more at lcms.org/set-apart-to-serve.
Posted Feb. 13, 2023