About the SMP Program
In its most basic form the SMP program starts with a congregation seeking to call a pastor. Rather than following the traditional process of calling a pastor from another congregation or from our seminaries the congregation looks within for men with the skills and willingness to be trained to lead them as their pastor.
Upon admission to the SMP program the candidate begins serving his vicarage and can expect a very intense training in the basics of Lutheran theology and congregational leadership for the mission field. After two years of online study he can be ordained and serves as a pastor under the continuing guidance of his supervisor. Upon completion of the entire four year program he is certified as a Specific Ministry Pastor and is eligible to serve as an ordained minister in that specific situation or in a very similar one, though still under supervision.
The SMP curriculum itself is focused on mission and ministry in the specific contexts which the students live. Dr. Arthur Just, Professor of Exegetical Theology, sees SMP as a reflection of ongoing growth and study at CTS. “The SMP curriculum captures the genius of this simple but profound way of teaching future pastors about first things – that Christ does it all through us – the preaching, the teaching, the baptizing, and the celebrating of the Lord’s Supper.”
SMP doesn’t just open up new ways to enter pastoral ministry. The seminary is also forging new paths in how the education process works. Because SMP students are unable to come to the seminary for an extended time, the majority of the courses will be taught using innovative methods of teaching online. Rather than simply seeking to duplicate the traditional classroom online, course creators are looking for creative ways to teach the SMP student the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need for ministry and mission in their specific context. Students will also have opportunity to interact with faculty and fellow students and take part in campus activities through yearly week-long seminars held on campus.
The new SMP curriculum at Concordia Theological Seminary will intentionally seek to immerse the students in the world of Scripture—the text itself—at all points. The Scriptural narrative will form the underlying core for the program, but it will be an integrated curriculum, each course being designed by a cross-departmental team of faculty members. With a curriculum that is Christological, pastoral and missional, the seminary hopes to attain that goal that the participants in the program will emerge with a sensitivity to the cultural context in which they conduct their mission and ministry. The curriculum is also designed to fit in well with the on-campus curriculum course requirements to facilitate transfer to the master of divinity program if or when a student wishes to continue on to regular ordination in the LCMS. “We are trying to be as flexible in the design of our SMP program as possible so as to meet the needs of our church and the students,” stated Dr. Rutt.