What is a Congregational Assistant?
A Congregational Assistant is a called worker who works within his or her own
congregation assisting the congregation and its pastor in various areas of
There are many areas of service to which an assistant can be called. The work
an assistant may do mainly depends on the needs of the congregation and the
talents of the worker. Some of the areas of service that assistants have been
called to include outreach and evangelism, senior ministry, Youth and family
ministry, adult spiritual growth, assimilation, visitation ministry, mentoring
and coordinating volunteers.
An assistant call could take the form of a volunteer position, a part-time
salaried position, or a full-time salaried position. Because calling bodies may
find needs for assistants of either gender, the program is open to men and women
One strength of the program is that students are able to serve while they are
studying, and what is learned can immediately be applied in the local setting.
Relationship with other WELS Training Programs
Nine of the twenty assistant courses are taken from the former WELS Curriculum
for Congregational Service and Outreach. These courses are useful training for
all congregational leaders. Taking these courses may also increase a leader's
desire to serve in the public ministry as an congregational assistant, staff minister or
pastor. If a student begins taking the courses with a desire to become an
evangelist, it is strongly encouraged that the practical courses in evangelism
also be started from the very beginning so that it can be seen whether the Lord
has given the necessary gifts for outreach. The sample charts give scenarios for
completing the program in
The majority of the courses are taught by the student's local pastor or called
worker, and they are often scheduled as part of the congregation's offerings for
adult spiritual growth; this minimizes the additional work of the called worker and expands the variety
of opportunities for nurture within the congregation. Where there are interested
individuals and congregations in geographic proximity, pastors are able to take
turns and share the teaching load of the courses. Some of the courses can also
be taught by an outside instructor as weekend seminar.
The final component of the program, the only element that is not offered
locally, is a 10-day Capstone Session split between New Ulm, Minnesota and
Milwaukee and Mequon, Wisconsin. Students typically participate in Capstone
after completing the other program requirements over a three or four year
The assistant courses do not earn credit toward any other form of synod
certification except the Pastoral Studies Institute of Wisconsin Lutheran
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The only cost for the courses is the cost of the books and materials. The cost
for one complete set of materials is under $100.00. The materials may be
purchased from the program administrative assistant.
For the two-week Capstone Session there
is a minimal fee for the courses taught, a fee for room and board, and whatever
the student's transportation costs might be.
one-day seminar requires a $300.00 fee from the host congregation
and $10.00 from each participant. Congregations may work together and co-host a
seminar and share the $300.00 fee.
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Admission and Supervision
Since the assistant position is a form of local ministry, each local
congregation and pastor will approve candidates for the program. Materials are made available through the program
secretary. The program is
under the supervision of a committee made up of representatives from various synodical divisions.
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