Concordia Seminary Newsroom
How do I start a conversation with my pastor about pursuing ministry?
by Rev. Micah Glenn
My dad was an active-duty Marine until I was 11 years old. Being a military brat comes with many things, but perhaps the most consistent theme in the life of a military brat is transition. Either you move or a friend moves or a new family moves into the house across the street. You end a school year in one grade, and when you begin the next school year, your class is mostly filled with people you have never met.
When my dad retired and we moved to St. Louis in 1995 that changed for the most part. There were still life transitions of course, but the people in my life mainly stayed the same. Then, near the end of my high school years, the pastor of my congregation retired. We went through a period of having an interim pastor and eventually the congregation called a new pastor, Rev. Ted Laesch, who still serves at Chapel of the Cross in St. Louis today. When Pastor Laesch first arrived at Chapel of the Cross, I was wandering through this world and we didn’t get a chance to get to know each other. He knew of me through my parents, but the two of us didn’t have much interaction then. A few years later, someone encouraged me to pursue ministry, and as I was thinking about it, I thought it might be a good idea to talk to the Pastor Laesch.
Maybe you have a story similar to mine. Maybe you are currently considering a career in church work and you don’t have a strong relationship with your current pastor for one reason or another. Maybe your story isn’t like mine at all. Maybe the pastor of your congregation is the same pastor who baptized and confirmed you and has known you your entire life. Whatever the case may be, if you are thinking about pursuing church work it is a good idea to speak to your pastor about it. But how do you go about it?
I didn’t really know what to do to start this conversation. But when I asked Pastor Laesch if the two of us could talk for a bit, he was happy to sit down with me. I’ve never asked him, but I’m sure he was simply happy for the opportunity to get to know a member of his congregation. When we met, I first asked if I could have a private Confession and Absolution. I never had done it before, but I thought it would be a beneficial experience before I began the path to becoming a church worker. When we finished, he asked me what was going on and I told him that I was thinking about becoming a Director of Christian Education. He was pleasantly surprised and afterward he asked me where this was coming from. We had a great conversation about things that were going on in my life that had led me to that point.
Speaking from life experience, transitions are often difficult. There is a fear of the unknown, a feeling of regret about leaving things behind and so much more. Deciding to pursue a career in church work is no exception to this regardless of your current position in life. It is a great thing to talk to your pastor about. I’m sure that your current pastor, whether you are great pals or don’t know each other well at all, will be more than happy to have the conversation with you. I wouldn’t spend too much time asking your pastor about whether you are fit for the task. While this is an important topic to cover and your pastor could have some personal insight into what he thinks about you personally, our LCMS seminaries do an excellent job in our Ministerial Formation programs of shaping people into the kind of pastors and deaconesses that the church needs. Instead, ask your pastor about his experiences as a pastor, what his life is like, what it was like to be a seminarian, what his work week looks like, and the joys and challenges of being a pastor. I think that these questions will be extremely beneficial in your discernment process to see if pastoral ministry is something that you can see yourself doing in the future. Then ask your pastor if he has any brothers in the ministry who have slightly different calls than he does, who would be willing to talk to you about their lives in ministry so you can explore the different possibilities.
To give a simple answer to the question, “How should you start a conversation with your pastor about pursuing a life in church work?” I think you should just call him. You don’t really have anything to lose, but you could possibly gain the encouragement that you need to begin a life in the most incredible career that there is, sharing the love of God with those who you are called to serve.
Rev. Micah Glenn is director of recruitment at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.