“Our mission to share the gospel is so important that it demands nothing less than our very best,” says Rob Guenther, pastor at Grace, Kenai, Alaska, and chairman of the Continuing Education of Called Workers Task Force. “We want to always strive for excellence in all that we do and push ourselves to be better not only because eternal souls are at stake but especially because our Savior’s love compels us. And because we each have a sinful nature that is very active, we want others to push us and encourage us to stay focused on that task.”
Guenther explains that these thoughts drove the work of the Continuing Education of Called Workers Task Force, which was created at the direction of the 2013 synod in convention. Convention delegates resolved that a special task force should be appointed to develop a continuing education process for pastors and staff ministers “so that progress toward professional growth for pastors and staff ministers can be more formally encouraged and reported.” In recent years, special emphasis has been placed on professional growth for teachers, so this task force’s work helped formalize growth for other called workers.
As the task force began its work, it quickly recognized that spiritual and professional growth is taking place throughout the synod. “For that we are thankful to God and his grace,” says Guenther. “But we’re also glad to 1) keep pushing that growth with an online newsletter to encourage it; 2) better track that growth through regular reporting to circuit pastors and district presidents; and 3) help create and locate resources to help with that growth and present a toolbox of resources.”
The first issue of this newsletter, titled The Four Branches, will be e-mailed to all pastors at the end of September. Each issue will contain one article on each of the four traditional branches of theology—systematic, exegetical, historical, and practical.
As Joel Seifert, editor of The Four Branches, explains, “More than anything, the newsletter is meant to be a starting point for self-guided continuing education. The articles all have links to other online resources for those who want to take their study a little deeper. Even those who just read the short articles should receive a little more insight into some Scripture or dust the cobwebs off some learning they once did long ago.”
Much of the task force’s work was in conjunction with Grow in Grace, the institute for pastoral growth at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. One such project became known as Fan God’s Gifts into Flame, an essay and workbook to help a called worker develop a well-designed annual plan for growth. Grow in Grace is also housing an ever-growing list of growth tools that a pastor or staff minister can use to pursue growth. This toolbox of resources includes listings of articles, essays, books, videos, websites, podcasts, courses, workshops, and more. These tools are available at wls.wels.net/grow-in-grace.
Now that these resources have been created and compiled, the Continuing Education of Called Workers Task Force is praying that called workers and their congregations use these tools.
“My encouragement to congregations is to make continuing education a part of your annual church budget,” says Guenther. “It shows your called workers that there is an expectation to grow and improve. . . . Give them time to grow as well. Time spent at conferences, at workshops, and in the study is not time wasted. It’s critical to becoming a better servant of our Savior.”
Guenther continues, “My encouragement to called workers is to continue to make use of what’s right at your fingertips. Read what you’re sent. Invest in good books, and make time to read them. It doesn’t need to be huge leaps forward, but regular improvement in an area of ministry will pay big dividends in the long run.”
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Volume 103, Number 10
Issue: October 2016
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