twelve Pastoral-Diaconal Practices

Wartburg Seminary’s core curriculum centers on the formation of leaders who demonstrate the Twelve Pastoral-Diaconal Practices for the life and mission of the church.  The twelve practices have guided the faculty through ongoing curriculum innovations.

“We undertake continual assessment of our curriculum in partnership with synods to monitor the emerging developments in the church and world and make revisions that meet the needs of engaged, compassionate, and wise leaders for the 21st Century church.  These practices cultivate a distinctive set of highly relational leadership qualities.”      – Rev. Dr. Craig Nessan, Academic Dean


  1. Practice of Being Rooted in the Gospel:   Articulates the Gospel in a way that is heard as Gospel.   Is publicly Lutheran and Gospel-centered.
  2. Practice of Missio Dei in Word and Sacrament:   Is grounded in Word and Sacrament as the means by which God creates faith in Christ and a community (koinonia) for God’s mission (martyria and diakonia) in the world.  Pastors exercise faithful worship preparation, evangelical preaching, and sacramental leadership.  Diaconal ministers and deaconesses serve as a strategic bridge between church and world.  Associates in ministry serve faithfully in their areas of call in relationship to the worshipping community.  All the baptized are sent by the Spirit to employ their gifts in God’s mission for the life of the world.
  3. Practice of Biblical and Theological Wisdom:   Interprets reality theologically and biblically as a habit.  Has a core set of theological concepts that are interpreted with flexibility in different contexts.

“…serves Christ’s church through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by being a worship-centered community of critical theological reflection where learning leads to mission and mission informs learning.”

  1. Practice of Ecclesial Partnership:    Displays a healthy sense of connectedness with the whole church.  Fosters partnership with the ELCA and ecumenical openness.
  2. Practice of Complex Analysis:   Demonstrates capacity to carefully examine complex social, economic, scientific, and religious issues without oversimplification.  Sees relationships from a systems perspective, remaining spiritually centered in the face of ambiguity.
  3. Practice of Curiosity:   Is fundamentally curious, employing creativity in the use of language.  Is open to grow beyond current perspectives and eager to pursue learning with intellectual depth.

“The community embodies God’s mission by stewarding resources for engaging, equipping, and sending collaborative leaders…”

  1. Practice of Pastoral Concern:   Loves God’s people with the compassion of Christ, demonstrating a generous spirit in relating to others, teaching and modeling stewardship.  Maintains a clear sense of ministerial identity and desire for excellence in ministry.
  2. Practice of Personal Faith and Integrity:   Lives as person of faith, grounded in a life of prayer and study.  Is self-aware in seeing the larger picture, proclaiming hope, leading courageously, and setting healthy boundaries.
  3. Practice of Collegiality:   Leads in a way that is responsive to the situation and promotes team building.  Creates collegial groups within and beyond the church for promoting many forms of ministry.

“who interpret, proclaim and live the gospel of Jesus Christ for a world created for communion with God and in need of personal and social healing.”

  1. Practice of Evangelical Listening and Speaking the Faith to Others:   Listens in a way that leads people to deeper faith questions.  Engages in thoughtful witness to the Christian message, especially to youth and those outside the faith.
  2. Practice of Immersion in the Context:   Shows awareness of the context through listening to, dialogue with and involvement in the local community.  Has ability to interpret texts and contexts with insight.
  3. Practice of Engagement with Cross-Cultural and Global Dimensions:   Engages multicultural issues and religious pluralism in the context of globalization.  Understands the inclusive character of the Christian Gospel.

[Last revised October 2014]

Download the Twelve Pastoral-Diaconal Practices Document