Interested in Rostered Leadership in the ELCA?
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NRSV).
God works in the life of every person. Every Christian has a baptismal call to ongoing discernment of God’s activity in the world, in the Church, and in one’s life.
The primary purpose for emphasizing a phase of discernment prior to candidacy - normally with a pastor or mentor - is to assist applicants in reflecting upon all aspects of their lives that might confirm a call to rostered ministry. Some aspects worthy of consideration include an understanding of baptismal vocation, spirituality and prayer life, critical life experiences, relationship with the community of faith, significant life influences, and family of origin. Such preliminary discernment can help applicants clarify the interrelationship between internal and external dimensions of a call. It can also enable the individual to articulate some definite insights about what God is calling him or her to consider vocationally and how he or she arrived at them. The ultimate outcome of such discernment will be a decision whether or not to apply for candidacy. Even if the individual discerns God is calling him or her to another expression of baptismal vocation, this time of discernment will have been a valuable use of the church’s resources.
Several theological understandings undergirding this journey can bolster lifelong habits and practices:
Discernment is an ongoing process that begins at different points in a person’s life, continues over a lifetime, and is revisited periodically. This is true both for applicants who enter into candidacy and for those who choose to pursue opportunities for service other than rostered ministry in the ELCA.
Discernment of readiness for candidacy originates in the context of how the Church understands the vocation of every Christian disciple. Some are called to a ministry of Word and Sacrament or to a ministry of Word and Service; however, many Christians are equally called to other avenues of service that are better suited to their gifts and interests. All paths are valuable and necessary in God’s mission through the Church in the world.
Discernment of readiness for candidacy includes a communal component that is a part of the life and role of a community of faith. Such discernment is both internal (personal) and external (corporate). Both the internal and external dimensions complement each other.
Prior to applying for and receiving a positive Entrance decision, individuals typically engage in intentional discernment about a sense of call and readiness for candidacy, including participation in discernment opportunities provided by congregations, campus ministries, synods, and seminaries.
Use this time for intentional discernment…
Talk with your home pastor – people in your home congregation
Reflect on your gifts
Go to: elca.org/candidacy
Explore the many resources available
Give particular attention to the following:
“ Discerning Your Vocation”
“Vocation – Become a Leader”
“Lay Rosters (Word and Service)”
“Frequently Asked Questions”
Please be sure to read “Vision and Expectations”
Got Questions? – Feel free to contact Pastor Compton or Pastor Resch
The Rev. Dr. Christa M. Compton, Chair of Candidacy Committee
Pastor A. Rebecca Resch, Candidacy Coordinator