Who is eligible to enroll?
Any WELS member can enroll in the program. People who are not interested in serving as congregational assistants might profit from the courses as well. However, those interested in possibly serving in an official capacity in their congregations should formally enroll in the program.
The program is open to both men and women. there is no difference in training, just as there is no difference in the training of male and female students at MLC for the teaching ministry. Distinctions based on gender are determined by the congregations or calling bodies as they establish responsibilities of specific positions.
How does someone get started?
A student can begin at any time of the year. Simply fill out an enrollment form (available on-line or from the administrative assistant). The pastor will fill out a recommendation form for the student (available on-line or from the administrative assistant). After receiving an official letter of acceptance, the local pastor can order the necessary course materials and begin teaching the courses.
Who pays for the course materials?
This is really dependent on the end goal of the individual(s) interested in the program and/or coursework. Some congregations have offered to assist the student with the costs for materials, while others assume the entire costs, and still others let the student assume the responsibility. Will the student be taking the courses for personal growth? If so, it may be something they would cover. On the other hand, is the student pursuing coursework to become certified and serve the congregation? If this is the case, often the congregation covers the costs. If the materials are being ordered for Bible Study materials, then the congregation usually covers the costs.
Do all the materials need to be ordered at once?
Most instructors order the materials one course at time. However, you are free to order as many of the course materials as you like.
How do we arrange for the Saturday courses to be offered in our area?
A pastor should complete a seminar request form and return it to the administrative assistant. The fee to host a seminar is $150 (first seminar) and $300 for any seminar thereafter. This cost may be met cooperatively with other area CAP congregations. Each participant is also asked to pay a $10.00 registration fee which covers the cost of materials. Seminar fees are payable following the seminar. The host congregation may choose between 2 scheduled times (either 8 am – 3 pm, or 9 am – 4 pm). In the interest of good stewardship, the pastor is asked to invite his entire congregation and promote within his district. The administrative assistant will supply promotional materials for the seminar and send invitations to surrounding WELS congregations. The seminar will also be listed on our website so others have an opportunity to participate if they are in the area.
How much of the pastor’s or called worker’s time will this take?
The longer courses are designed to be taught like other Bible studies in a congregation. The student does homework, however, so that the weekly meeting with the pastor can concentrate on the “meat” of the lesson. The pastor is also provided with a teacher’s guide so that he can prepare for the class as efficiently as possible. The practical courses, evangelism and teaching, are meant to be on-the-job training courses. These courses can be covered in conjunction with the congregation’s regular evangelism activity and Bible classes. Guest instructors are available to teach some of the remaining courses as intensive one-day seminars (usually on Saturday). Thus, the time commitment for pastors and other called workers need not be as great as one might expect. Three-, four-, and five-year curriculum samples are available on the home page.
How can I find the time to instruct my members?
This program can be offered to your entire congregation as a part of the congregation’s offerings for adult spiritual growth. You may also work together with other pastors and/or staff ministers in your area to share the workload in training all of your students together. One of the strengths of this program is that students are able to serve while they are studying, and what is learned can immediately be applied in the local setting. As your students are trained they will be able to assist you in your many duties which will in turn free up your time to continue to instruct them.
What if I’m not sure whether this program is right for our people or congregation?
The basic courses for the program are profitable for all Christians, especially leaders in the church. Members need not be officially enrolled to take the courses with their local pastor. If a student does start to consider serving as an assistant, it is good for him or her to formally enroll, however. By doing so, the students will be apprised of any upcoming Saturday courses in their region and of the upcoming CAPstone sessions.
What if I can’t attend the 8-day CAPstone Session?
The CAPstone courses will be offered in the summer each year if there are an adequate number of participants. The 8-day session is split between New Ulm, Minnesota, Milwaukee and Mequon, Wisconsin. Those who, for legitimate reasons, are unable to attend should contact the director so that some alternative arrangements can be made.
How is this program different from the WELS Staff Ministry Program?
The Congregational Assistant Program differs from the WELS Staff Ministry Program in a number of ways.
Call: A person who completes the assistant program may receive a call to serve in a part-time or full-time capacity in his or her own congregation. A staff minister may be called or assigned to any congregation within our fellowship.
Training: The assistant program trains people for certification while they remain in their home congregation. The staff ministry program is made up of college level courses. Students pay tuition, and usually are required to have some residency at Martin Luther College in New Ulm Minnesota.
For further information on the staff ministry program, see the WELS Staff Ministry website.