Here I Sit

Mar 2nd, 2020 | Category: Columns, Here I sit
By Shirley Morgenthaler

Faith Formation and Spirituality in Our Congregations

Welcome to Lutheran Education Journal, Volume 156! What a joy it is to celebrate the continuing publication of this historic journal, and at the same time celebrate the sixty years of ministry preparation for the Directors of Christian Education in our church body.

It began right here, folks! It was Concordia Teachers College in River Forest who took the brave step to move beyond the preparation of Lutheran Teachers for ministry in schools and congregations, and to include the intentional preparation of teaching ministers for a more comprehensive ministry to the entire congregation. I suspect it was that move that led to the eventual name change to Concordia College, and the beginning of the morphing into Concordia University Chicago, with its multiplicity of colleges and programs. 

More and more, the congregation-wide preparation of DCEs for ministry has been focused on the topics of faith formation and spirituality development. This trend mirrors the developments in the larger community of denominations across the country and the world. From 2003 to 2012, Concordia University Chicago was host to a triennial Children’s Spirituality Conference, attracting Christian-education leaders from a wide range of denominations and faith traditions.  Christian education leaders from across the globe! 

That conference has morphed into the Children’s Spirituality Summit, now convened at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee every two years. This summit attracts church professionals and university faculty from across the country, as well as from Australia, the Philippines, England, and Canada, among others.

Faith formation focuses the attention on the learner, exactly where the focus should be. It takes what we are discovering about learning and about the brain and applies it to the spiritual realm. Learning about God is no different a brain activity than learning about math or about history. The difference is that it is also a heart activity. The difference is the eternity for which a relationship with Jesus Christ prepares us. That eternity makes the work of the individual in DCE ministry both exciting and daunting.

This issue of Lutheran Education Journal reviews, explains, and celebrates the office of public ministry known as DCE ministry. At the same time, it gives each of us a deeper and richer picture of the Office of Public Ministry in general as well as of DCE Ministry in particular. The next time you see Dr. Debra Arfsten or Dr. Kevin Borchers, thank them for the work they do in forming, continuously and creatively, the next generations of DCEs for our church. LEJ