Licensed Lay Deacons and Supervisors

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Mike Newman

Talking on the Gospel DNA to LMM

Licensed lay deacons and supervisors

The NOW District has a long and storied history of Licensed Lay Deacons (LLDs) serving under the supervision of ordained pastors. Many new ministries and congregations were launched by LLDs. Other congregations unable to support a full-time ordained minister are able to receive the Word and Sacraments in a responsible way, served occasionally by LLDs. Many LLDs -- vetted by their local congregations -- have gone on to become ordained pastors as a result of this “farm system” approach in the NOW District.

Our training systems are robust – find out more at Mission Training Center in the links below. Our licensing process is detailed – find out more in the link to the LLD Guidelines below. The annual licensing process conducted by the District President is built on the expressed need of each congregation, supervision by an ordained pastor, and annual continuing education requirements for each LLD.

In May 2017, the NOW District Board of Directors dissented from an LCMS resolution limiting the use of Licensed Lay Deacons. That dissent, titled “Workers for His Harvest,” then became a public document in January 2019, at the request of the LCMS President. This document, which remains the official stance of the NOW District Board of Directors, remains available at the website that curates many theological perspectives on the Office of the Ministry and how it interacts with the ministry of baptized believers (Priesthood of Believers).

Beyond the theological conversation (which is not settled, and which has much support for many roles serving under the office of ministry), there are other significant issues, which include the following:
- The ongoing and growing shortage of ordained pastors.
- The challenges in West Coast communities for congregations to pay for a full-time worker.
- The data-driven reality that LLD training has been a robust "farm system" for quality applicants to the ordained ministry.

As a result, the NOW District continues to focus its energies in two ways: 1. launching and supporting new pathways for the identification and training of lay leaders of all kinds (men and women); and 2. strengthening and advocating for the ministry of Licensed Lay Deacons.


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