Those who are training to be doctors spend many years preparing for that work. Intensive study takes place in the classroom as future physicians learn about human anatomy, diagnosing diseases, and the proper use of available medications. But they can’t become doctors with book knowledge alone. Before they become fully qualified physicians, they spend time as interns, gaining hands-on practical knowledge of the work they will do as doctors.
The same thing is true for those who will serve our congregations as pastors. They will spend a total of eight years preparing for the work they will do as shepherds and spiritual leaders. But the seventh year of training is not spent in the classroom. The seventh year of training for future pastors is spent in a congregation serving as a vicar. The vicar year is similar to a doctor’s year of internship, in which future pastors are given hands-on training and experience in the various aspects of the pastoral ministry.
It’s August, and that means the members of this year’s vicar class will be arriving in congregations to begin this important year of their training. Over the next 11 months they will gain experience in preaching, teaching Bible class and confirmation class, planning and conducting worship, working with the congregation’s lay leadership, and making hospital and shut-in calls. Perhaps most of all, they will spend this year gaining an understanding of the spiritual needs of people and how they will depend on the Word of God to serve those needs.
If your congregation is blessed to have a vicar this year, recognize that you will play an important role in his training as a future pastor. Welcome him (and his wife if he is married); encourage him; and, most of all, pray for him. By doing that, you will help him return to the seminary for his final year of training with a strong desire and a commitment to serve God’s people as a pastor. If your congregation does not have a vicar, take a moment to thank God for those young men who are training now and who may someday serve as your pastor.
Serving in Christ,
President Mark Schroeder
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WELS churches and schools featured in their local media.