Pastoral Competencies

As a seminary, it is our goal to prepare men to “Shepherd the flock” as 1 Peter 5:2 commands. It is our honor to serve the congregations of the AFLC and to provide men who are competent to Pastor the congregation.

When interviewing men interested in attending the Free Lutheran Seminary, I do not first look to the accomplishments of the candidate. I am most concerned with the ability to learn and grow, the heart condition of the candidate, and whether the one applying has a teachable spirit. A haughty, boastful spirit will not only hinder the growth of the seminarian, but it will be a detriment in the classroom, impeding the instruction of all. On the other hand, it is important that seminarians are confident in the call of God on their lives. Some of the men, feel inadequate and lacking somehow. They see themselves as young men, barely out of college, with little experience or no experience. They cannot picture themselves as the one standing in the pulpit every Sunday Morning, or counseling the bereaved widow, or leading a Deacon’s meeting.

To those men who feel inadequate and lacking, I encourage with the statement, “you are exactly where God wants you right now.” It is our task to teach the men the basic competencies of ministry, but it is God’s pleasure to fill what is lacking in all of us, not just Pastors.

Competency in Exegetical Theology is one of our main objectives at the Free Lutheran Seminary. Correspondingly, our program devotes a great number of its courses to the Languages and to the study of Old and New Testament books. Our Systematic and Practical courses also reflect the desire for our men to be capable of studying and applying God’s Word to a ministry setting and thus prepare them for service in the congregation.

Competency in Seel Sorge is also an objective at the seminary. Seel Sorge is the Norwegian word for soul care. It describes a comprehensive practice of practical ministry that we strive to teach our seminarians. While Seel Sorge here is being separated from Exegetical Theology, they are inextricably linked together. We teach Seel Sorge as a practical application of God’s Word. Our students will, with time, practice, and diligent instruction, learn to council, to encourage, to admonish, to protect the congregation, and each individual soul entrusted to his care. Instruction of this import cannot be left to the pages of a Pastoral Theology book. Instructors who have actually practiced Soul Care share their experiences, successes and failures. Instructors at the Free Lutheran Seminary have all had extensive Pastoral experience and have unique insights into parish ministry that can be passed on to the seminary students.

Systematic Theology and Historical Theology are also taught from the perspective of Exegetical Theology. The goal of our program is not to have clear demarcation lines between exegetical, systematic, historical, and practical theology, but to apply the three competencies of Leadership, exegetical study, and soul care to all.

Of course, the ultimate goal is that men are prepared for the rigors of Pastoral ministry, competent to preach, council, evangelize, disciple and lead. This is a task too large for our human efforts, but God is sufficient through His word to equip the men for this important task of ministry. And so, in his strength and relying on His Word we are confident in this strategy of training.

Dr. James Molstre began serving the Free Lutheran Seminary as Dean in June of 2017.  A graduate of FLS, he previously pastored churches in Zumbrota, MN, Bethel Park, PA and Newark, IL.

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