By Caitlin Magness
Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support (PALS), a collaborative effort of The Lutheran Church Missouri—Synod (LCMS) Pastoral Education department and the Synod’s districts to help pastors and their wives in the transition from seminary to congregation, has released a new course on the transition to rural or urban ministry.
“Regardless of your ministry context, the transition from seminary to first call brings with it many challenges, a huge learning curve, situations you never expected, and emotional and spiritual adjustments for you and your family,” says the Rev. Dr. James Baneck, director of LCMS Pastoral Education and PALS, in the introductory video to the course. “My prayer is that this course will enhance your skills and wisdom in equipping you even more in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus and caring for all God’s people.”
Created and led by the Rev. Todd Kollbaum, director of LCMS Rural & Small Town Mission, and the Rev. Dr. Steven Schave, director of LCMS Urban & Inner-City Mission, the course uses a combination of videos, prayers, Bible readings and study questions to guide new pastors in their transition from seminary to rural or urban ministry.
In Session 1 of the course, Kollbaum elaborates on the similarities between urban and rural ministry, noting, “We as the church exist to care for those whom God has called into our midst and to reach out to the world that’s all around us.”
In the same session, Schave says, “The easy answer [to what urban and rural ministry have in common] is sin and brokenness, and this manifests itself in similar ways in these two very different worlds. What [we] have in common is to try to help find the best ways to use limited resources for the most effective ministry in a given place.”
Subjects covered include:
- Unique challenges and joys of rural and urban ministry.
- Differences and similarities between the two contexts.
- Balancing witness, mercy and life together.
- Taking an appropriate, Christ-like posture toward the poor, the marginalized, the hurting and the broken.
- Showing charity without taking away peoples’ dignity or forming unhealthy, dependent relationships.
- Getting involved in a new community without sacrificing the mission and ministry of the church.
The study guide includes recommendations for other resources relevant to urban and rural ministry, along with suggested answers to the study questions.
“Ministry in the inner city can be complicated and even messy,” says Schave. “But we hope that through this study guide, new pastors and their families will be encouraged that this work is also extremely rewarding [and] … can be transformative, not just in individual lives, but for entire inner-city communities.
“This guide will also help the new worker to understand that they are not in it alone, nor do they need to reinvent the wheel for urban missions. It points them to resources that will allow them to focus on their Word and Sacrament ministry while also enhancing their outreach and witness to the communities in which they have been called.”
Caitlin Magness (email@example.com) is a writer and editor living in High Ridge, Mo.
Posted Jan. 29, 2018