Last spring Larry Fransson, the president of the Pacific Northwest Region of the CLB, called the seminary and asked about getting some training for their youth workers. Their leadership team was concerned that these willing servants would be better prepared to teach the Scriptures to the high school students in their congregations. He specifically asked for an LBS faculty member to come and teach.
In God’s providence one of our faculty, Professor Mark Erickson, was developing lay training courses for his final project in earning a doctor of ministry degree from Knox Seminary. To test their effectiveness he has been teaching two courses on-line, in biblical interpretation and in preaching.
Each week of the eight-week course involved an hour of lecture, which he recorded using our distance technology, and an hour of personal study. Participants learned basic concepts for interpreting the Scriptures. Their homework included writing a brief summary of the meaning of a text. The preaching course added the task of writing the sermon idea and a sermon outline. Twelve volunteers started the courses and about half of them finished.
Mark taught the biblical interpretation course in September at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Brethren Church in Minot, North Dakota. Sixty people attended. About a third of them were from other churches in the Western Region.
In November he travelled to Seattle and taught this material to several youth leaders from the Pacific Northwest. Rev. Stan Olsen, the Regional Pastor, gave this feedback: “The youth leaders were really impressed with the unity of the Scriptures. They were very engaged and enjoyed the teaching. This was a great start, and our intention is to have more teaching like this. The group that was here will come back for further instruction and they will bring others.
We really need these courses. Our youth leaders are teaching the Scriptures, and if their interpretation is off-base, that is not inconsequential. It’s so important for them to get the right foundation. Mark did a terrific job.”
Our goal is to develop a whole program of study for lay persons like these youth leaders. Our seminary and our churches are committed to preparing people to teach the Scriptures at all levels. These courses that Professor Erickson has developed are the beginning.
This all started with a directive from the CLB Council of Directors giving LBS responsibility to: “Prepare elders to lead their congregations in their calling to make disciples…and resource CLB congregations in making disciples among our young adults.”
For several years we have had both of these concerns in our long-range strategic plan. This year we budgeted $65,000 to develop this program of study for preparing lay leaders. We will only spend a portion of that, but we have a good beginning.
Down the road we anticipate using components of this program to help our churches engage our young adults and prepare them to lead and to teach the Scriptures to their own generation.
Lutheran Brethren Seminary serves the Church and world by preparing servants of Christ for a life of ministry in God’s mission and for equipping his people to serve in his mission.