Specific Ministry Pastor (SMP)

The Specific Ministry Pastor program of Concordia Seminary is a 4-year distance education program that prepares men for pastoral ministry in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, established by the LCMS in 2007.

It is contextual in that the men receive their academic training in the setting where they will continue to serve following ordination. They work with local pastor-mentors who support and guide them in the program and who provide day-to-day guidance, encouragement and prayer.

The courses of the Specific Ministry Pastor program are supported by state-of-the art technology which engages the students with their instructors and with fellow students while building an interactive learning community. Each course includes a blend of internet-based instruction, mentor interaction, practical ministry application, and two hours each week of live instruction by the instructor and interaction with fellow students.

The SMP program is designed to meet the needs of the church for pastors in mission and ministry opportunities where a pastor with a seminary degree may not be available. (And it is doing so in surprising ways.)

In order to be eligible for the SMP program men must be serving in a ministry of a Lutheran congregation which desires their service as a pastor. They must be nominated for the program by their District President. Based upon this nomination, and their previous ministry experiences, the men begin their academic work as concurrent-deferred Vicars.

After two years of vicarage, and nine classes they become eligible for ordination in the specific ministry where they are serving following certification by the faculty of Concordia Seminary. They are then required to take two more years of classes in order to complete the basic Specific Ministry Pastor program.

Information and Timeline for 2015-16 Academic Year

A. Admissions

Application forms and information are provided via the links below.

NOTE: Deadline dates are firm and are for the receipt of complete applications, submitted through the office of the district president to the seminary. It is suggested that complete applications (with all approvals and attachments) be mailed as soon as possible, but no later than one week prior to the deadline date.

  • Applications are sent FROM the district office.
  • Applications are sent TO the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

Applications for the Fall Cohort which are received by the deadline will be presented at the July meeting of the Admissions Committee (ordinarily the second Monday of the month).

Applications for the Spring Cohort which are received by the deadline will be presented at the December meeting of the Admissions Committee (also the second Monday of the month).

The application deadline is about a month before the deadline for completing the three Entrance Level Competency Exams (ELCE). Any acceptance will be contingent on a passing score on all three exams by this second deadline.

Complete applications submitted in advance of the application deadline will be eligible for earlier decision. All applications will be considered, and cohorts will be filled, by priority of the date received, subject to the passing of all competency exams (ELCE in OT, NT, and Doctrine). Incomplete applications and those received after the deadline will be given priority for the next cohort date (fall for spring cohort, spring for fall cohort).

District offices should also inform the seminary of potential and forthcoming applications to assist in planning and timely processing of applications.

1. Fall 2015 Cohort:

Deadline was May 29, 2015
Enrollment is closed.

2. Spring 2016 Cohort:

Application Deadline: October 30, 2015

ELCE deadline: Nov 25, 2015
Vicarage Application deadline: Nov 25, 2015

Completed applications for the Spring 2016 enrollment will be due from the district offices to the Seminary’s Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment by October 30, 2015.* Please do not send applications to the SMP office. They should be addressed to the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

*The complete application must be received by the seminary no later than the due date. All ELCE’s (Entry Level Competency Exams) must be passed by 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 25, 2015.

Students who are accepted and will begin in the Spring of 2016, along with their pastor/mentors, will be required to attend the Orientation Seminar on Concordia Seminary’s campus in February. These dates are tentatively set for Feb 1-3, 2016, but are yet to be confirmed .

3. Fall 2016 Cohort:

Application Deadline: May 31, 2016

ELCE deadline: June 30, 2016
Vicarage Application deadline: June 30, 2016

Completed applications for the Fall 2016 enrollment will be due from the district offices to the Seminary’s Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment by May 31, 2016. Please do not send applications to the SMP office. They should be addressed to the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

The complete application must be received by the seminary no later than the due date. All ELCE’s (Entry Level Competency Exams) must be passed by 11:59 p.m. on June 30.

Students who are accepted and will begin in the Fall of 2016, along with their pastor/mentors, will be required to attend the Orientation Seminar on Concordia Seminary’s campus in early September, 2016.

B. Term Dates, Seminar Dates, Intensive Weeks

The SMP curriculum follows the 10-week terms of the seminary academic year, as indicated in the Academic Catalog. Courses extend into the week following the final day of each term to allow the tenth journal to be submitted and discussed in the evening online session.

1. Term Dates:

Summer 2015 (X-Term): June 8 – Aug 7
Online sessions: June 8/9 – Aug 10/11

Fall 2015: Sept 8 – Nov 13
Online sessions: Sept 8/9 – Nov 16/17
Note: Monday classes meet on Wed (9/9), this week only.

Winter 2015: Nov 30 – Feb 19
Online sessions: Nov 30/Dec 1 – Feb 22/23

Spring 2016: Mar 7 – May 19
Online sessions: Mar 7/8 – May 23/24

Summer 2016 (X-Term): June 6 – Aug 5, 2016
Online sessions: June 6/7 – Aug 8/9

2. Intensive Course Weeks:

Note: Intensive courses meet Monday noon through
Friday noon.

January Intensive Week: Jan 11-15, 2016

Summer Intensive Week: June 27 – July 1, 2016

3. Residential Seminars

Note: Residential Seminars meet Monday noon through
Friday noon.

Fall (SMP 105 and 109): Oct 5-9, 2015
SMP Call Service: Oct 9, 2015 (9:30 am)

Spring (SMP 105 and 109): April 4-8, 2016
SMP Call Service: April 8, 2016 (9:30 am)

C. 2015-2016 SMP Program Costs

The SMP program of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, consists of 16 courses which are taught sequentially, one per academic quarter — these courses are counted as 3-credit-hour courses, and are billed as such. During the first two years of the program the student is also a vicar serving in the congregation which has asked him to prepare for the pastoral ministry — there is an administrative charge for this vicarage, it is a one-time charge but is billed over two years.

The SMP fee structure for academic year 2015-2016 is as follows:

  • Tuition: $2,025 per course
  • Non-Credit Re-integration $200
  • Vicarage-Congregational Fee $605 one-time fee (billed in two installments)
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Student Technology Fee: $50 per course

Residential Seminars: registration fee: $100
Plus travel, housing, meals at individual expense

Students will need to purchase some books; an estimate is $100-200 per course. It is recommended that you budget between $8000 and $10,000 per year for the SMP program. These costs may be shared by the calling (sending) congregation, district, and student.

Additional information

SMP Curriculum
SMP Application Form
SMP Admissions Criteria
SMP Admissions Sequence
SMP Pastor Supervisor’s Position Description
SMP Partnership Covenant
Recommended Field Seminars: Recommended and Suggested Opportunities
SMP Policy Manual

Instructions to Congregations Applying for an SMP Concurrent Vicarage (the “Vicarage Application” is available through your district office. Please contact them for this form).

Read the Synodical resolution that established the SMP program (pdf).

For further information, contact the SMP office of Concordia Seminary (smp@csl.edu) or call 314-505-7764