Become a director of church ministries

Jon Smelser answered the call to become a Director of Church Ministries at Grace Lutheran Church in Fargo, ND. Find out more about how the online Director of Church Ministries Certificate helped equip him for his call.

Becoming a Director of Church Ministries

Pastors are called to Word and sacrament ministry. This ministry is unique to their divine pastoral call, and it’s not something that can be delegated to laypeople. However, there’s a lot of work that can be done in service to the Church outside of the pastoral office. Some examples include Bible studies, youth group activities, Sunday school classes, mission work, evangelism, administrative work, and other ministries. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a congregation that couldn’t use some extra help.

“Then [Jesus] said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest'” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Every congregation has dedicated members who are generous with their time and talents. They continually step up to help serve the many operations and ministries of the church. In some cases, a congregation may even choose to employ a member who is willing to take on additional responsibilities. Ideally, the congregation would issue a call to this person to serve in the church. In order to be eligible to receive a call, the individual must first earn certification with The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

This was the case for Jon Smelser.

Jon, who was working as a pricing configuration manager, was a parishioner at Grace Lutheran Church in Fargo, North Dakota. Through his involvement in various ministries at church and in the community, Jon began to consider the possibility of serving the church in a called capacity. That’s when he stumbled upon the Director of Church Ministries (DCM) program at Concordia University Wisconsin.

The online DCM certificate program at Concordia provides laypeople with theological training to further equip them for service in the church. The program consists of three levels of coursework that can be done completely online. The third and final level results in eligibility to be called as a Commissioned Minister of Religion – Director of Church Ministries (DCM) in The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

Earn your bachelor’s degree along with your certification

To earn this certification, one must have a bachelor’s degree, which Jon did not have. Like many students in the DCM program choose to do, Jon also enrolled in Concordia’s online bachelor’s in theological studies. This allowed him to concurrently work toward his bachelor’s degree and DCM certificate.

After graduating from the program, Jon received a call to serve his home church in Fargo, and is now a rostered church worker. He assists in leading Bible studies and devotions, teaching Sunday school, and visiting shut-ins and the elderly. You can learn more about his story here.

"The online DCM program is definitely a blessing. It allowed me to not only pursue my passion of church work, and to continue deep-diving into God’s Word, but it allowed me to continue working full time and to continue supporting my wife and my children."


Do you want to become a Director of Church Ministries?

Students usually complete the 47-credit DCM certificate in two-and-a-half years. Cohorts only start once per year, with the 2022 cohort starting May 16th (there’s still time to submit your application). Christians of other denominations are invited to enroll in the DCM program to receive theological training and grow in knowledge of God’s Word. But, only members of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod will be eligible to earn certification to serve as a called church worker. Concordia also offers a DCM program for traditional undergraduate students.

If you want to know more about our church work programs at Concordia University Wisconsin, visit us here.

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