Leadership for Public Ministry Project

Project Number: 
Start Date: 
Mon, 10/01/1990
End Date: 
Thu, 12/31/1992

Over several decades, a therapeutic and managerial vision of ministry dominated the mainstream Protestant denominations. By this model, ministers are seen as pastoral counselors to individuals and managers of the congregation as an institution. Neglected in this "domestic" vision of ministry is the vocation of the pastor as public leader and persuader (or to use a more formal term, the "rhetor," one gifted in helping the entire community engage in conversation about difficult issues and concerns). Luther Northwestern Seminary addressed the question of leadership in ministry by building on analytical studies and experimental models. The seminary influenced the development of a new vision of leadership in public ministry by preparing, testing, and implementing a theological school curriculum designed to educate leaders with the skills necessary for that ministry. A three-person research and design team worked intensively to refine questions, develop a vision of the minister as rhetor, and generate new designs for ministry and theological education. Project task forces, drawn from the faculty, constructed new educational offerings intended to produce faithful and effective public leaders. A small curriculum committee, composed of administration, faculty, staff, students, practitioners, and laity guided the seminary and its constituencies in the project. The seminary provided the church a new vision of what ministerial leadership might be, one that takes public persuasion to be a central task. In order to prepare students for such a role, the seminary redesigned its curriculum and course offerings toward a program of theological education better suited to the needs of a changing church and world. (KA)