Connecting with God’s servants
Sage advice from three pastors on how
to encourage young people toward ministry
Pastors, commissioned workers, and even parents in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) serve as an encouraging example for many young men and women considering church work as a vocation.
In fact, an LCMS study found that more than 87% of church workers cite personal encouragement by their pastor, parents, or other commissioned church workers as the catalyst for their ultimate interest in church work.
Rev. Steve Schulz, campus pastor at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., has seen 11 people in his 31 years of ministry take his encouragement to heart and enter full-time church work.
“Being present at these ordinations and installations brings tears of joy to my eyes,” said Schulz. “The Lord works through His people to identify young men as pastors and young women as teachers or deaconesses. You have to be intentional and look for those young people that are asking questions in Sunday school—that’s how we can encourage them. It’s important for both pastors and laypeople to encourage and recruit young people, and it happens by being aware and looking for an opportunity to plant the seed. You just have to say it: ‘Hey, you should consider being a pastor.’ ”
“Sometimes I play it casual and just plant a seed. It’s never a hard sell, I’m just showing to them that ministry can be a really great thing. They see that, and it resonates with them.“
-Rev. David Kind
Sometimes it happens without our purposeful intervention, but rather through the faithful carrying out of our own vocations and conducting of the Lutheran Divine Service.
“We have an interesting dynamic at Immanuel in North Fargo,” said Rev. Bernie Worral. “We’ve had sons and daughters of the congregation grow up in our congregation and in turn choose vocations in full-time church work. And these happened rather spontaneously without any specific time we went up to them and said, ‘Have you ever considered full-time church work?’ I suppose that would be satisfying to say, ‘Yes, we did that, and boom, there was the result!’ Then we could say it was our expert eye that snagged the catch. But these young men and women learned to love Jesus and appreciate Him through the Gospel we preached, taught and modeled as a congregation. The witness of godly members, and their peers, interested in serving others had as much an impact on their lives, too.”
“You have to be intentional and look for those young people that are asking questions in Sunday school—that’s how we can encourage them.“
-Rev. Steve Schulz
Likewise, Rev. David Kind, pastor of University Lutheran Chapel, University of Minnesota, has encouraged dozens of men toward the Holy Ministry.
“Eighteen have actually gone over the last 21 years,” he shared. “Last year we had eight guys enrolled in seminary. That was probably a record! Oftentimes, [students] come to me and say, ‘I’m studying this but considering church work.’ Those are easy. Other times I have to say to students, ‘Look, I know you’re studying this and you can continue to do that, but have you thought about maybe serving in the church?’ Sometimes I play it casual and just plant a seed. It’s never a hard sell, I’m just showing to them that ministry can be a really great thing. They see that, and it resonates with them.”
“The witness of godly members, and their peers, interested in serving others had as much an impact on their lives, too.“
-Rev. Bernie Worral
Like many other pastors, church workers and parents, encouraging the next generation of church workers comes naturally to Rev. Kind because he simply takes joy in his vocation, even when it’s hard.
“I love what I do,” he added. “If you can show a joy in your work and openness to connect with these young people, and an honest glimpse into what church work can look like and the challenges, it gives them a warmness toward serving in the church.”