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.

Fall 2015 Cohort

Completed applications for the Fall 2015 enrollment will be due from the district offices to the Seminary’s Office of Admissions and Ministerial Recruitment by May 29, 2015.* Please do not send applications to the SMP office. They should be addressed to the Admissions Office of Concordia Seminary.

NOTE:  A revised application has been posted as of April 30, 2015, in the link below.  The changes are not substantive, but will provide additional information that we would previously have requested separately.  If you have already used the old application, that is fine; it will be processed.  If you have not yet submitted an application, please use the new form posted below.

Students who are accepted and will begin in the Fall of 2015, along with their pastor/mentors, will be required to attend the Orientation Seminar on Concordia Seminary’s campus September 1-4, 2015.

The complete application must be received by the seminary no later than May 29, 2015.*  All ELCE’s (Entry Level Competency Exams) must be passed by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, June 30.*

2015-16 program costs and academic calendar dates will be posted as soon as they are available.

* Please note that 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 at soon as possible, but no later than one week prior to the deadline date.

Fall applications received by the deadline will be presented at the July meeting of the Admissions Committee (ordinarily the second Monday of the month). Spring applicants received by the deadline will presented at the December meeting of the Admissions Committee (also the second Monday of the month).

Complete applications submitted in advance of the 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.


2014-2015 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 2014-2015 is as follows:

  • Tuition: $2,025 per course
  • Non-Credit Re-integration $200
  • Vicarage-Congregational Fee $579 one-time fee (billed in two installments)
  • Application Fee: $100
  • Student Technology Fee: $50

In addition you will need to purchase some books and there will be expenses associated with the Orientation Seminar (which both new students and their pastor/mentors are required to attend) and an annual Residential Seminar, as well as some field experiences. 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.

On Campus Dates for Orientation, Residential Seminars, and Intensive Courses, 2015-16


(Note:  Residential Seminars and Courses meet Monday noon through Friday Noon) 

  • New Fall 2015 Cohort Orientation Seminar: September 1-4, 2015
  • Fall Residential Seminar for SMP 105 and SMP 109 (Fall Cohorts): October 5-9, 2015
  • January (2016) Residential Intensives: January 11-15, 2016
  •         Spring (2016) Residential Seminars (courses 105 and 109): April 4-8, 2016
  • Summer (2016) Residential Intensives: July 11-15, 2016


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