Re-Envisioning Theological Education and Formation for Mission, In-Context, Using Distance Education
Distance Education Leading To Ordination (DELTO) is a program of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) designed to prepare individuals for pastoral ministry. It is non-residential, and it is contextual, as those in the program are already engaged in ministry.
Three concerns about DEL TO are addressed in this work: the first is that it is a "dumbing-down" of pastoral formation; the second is that it is not possible to form a spiritual community of support on-line; and the third is the need for the seminary faculty to have enough information to be able to confidently certify DEL TO graduates for ordination.
This paper demonstrates the validity of DEL TO for the formation of non-degreed pastors so that Seminary faculty can confidently certify them for ordination, and so that the Church will receive them as recognized pastors of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. I believe that sound distance education methods, using contextual pastor-mentors, can effectively meet the needs of the church as well as the expectations of the seminary.
DEL TO was developed in response to the need in the Church for more pastors. Chapter One introduces the questions and the needs. The history of pastoral training and formation in the LCMS, including the move toward the use of distance education methods, is traced in Chapters Two and Three. Formation of community in the DEL TO program is demonstrated in Chapter Four; and Chapter Five proposes the use of portfolio assessment as the means of providing faculty with the information needed to certify DELTO graduates for ordination. Chapter Six summarizes the argument as it addresses the work of pastoral ministry