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The North American Lutheran Seminary (NALS) is the seminary of the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). Many candidates for ministry in the NALC receive their education through study at the NALS. Whether you are looking to complete an M.Div. degree or need to supplement your previous education by studying confessional Lutheran doctrine through the Diploma of Lutheran Studies, the NALS is pleased to offer academically rigorous, biblically sound, and affordable theological education.

If you are discerning the Lord’s call to serve His Church in the ordained ministry and would like to explore the possibility of living into that calling in the North American Lutheran Church, we invite you to learn more about the candidacy process at the NALC webpage: thenalc.org/candidacy/.

Let’s talk about how candidacy works in the North American Lutheran Church.

Excerpts from an interview with Pastor Patti Morlock, former chairperson of the NALC Candidacy Committee.

Where do candidates come from?

We receive [candidates] from a wide variety of streams. Some are fresh from their undergraduate work and ready to step into the graduate realm. Some are second-career people. Some are coming from a very Lutheran traditional stream, and some are not. They get in touch with us, and we listen to their story. I ask, “How did you discover your call to ministry? Especially a call to Word and Sacrament ministry?” What’s been interesting is that we are finding people who are coming to us who haven’t previously had a connection to the NALC. 

Why the NALC?

The thread that we’re hearing across the board is this return to or a strong desire for orthodoxy. As [potential candidates] search through websites or by talking with other people, this — the NALC — is where they land. They resonate strongly with our orthodox approach to who we are as a denomination. They resonate with our return to the Scripture. They resonate with our emphasis on Christ-centeredness.

What is the candidacy process like?

At their first interview, the candidates are asked how their call has been affirmed by the Word, by churchgoers. Questions like, “What is a call? Why do [you] feel drawn to being a pastor?” Sometimes it ends there. All throughout the process, our committee takes very seriously the call that we’ve been given to be in discernment and be very prayerful about evaluating the candidates that are in front of us. 

If the candidate passes the entrance interview, they move onto seminary work. Or, perhaps, they’ve already finished. The endorsement interview, the second interview, is primarily concerned with their seminary education. We want [to see] how well they understand the Lutheran Confessions, Law and Gospel, and much more of what it means to be Lutherans. We measure their biblical knowledge, their confessional knowledge, their theological knowledge, their ability to articulate those thoughts. If the candidate is endorsed, he or she may begin a year-long internship in an NALC congregation. 

About three months before the internship is finished, we conduct their approval interview for ordination, so that they can begin the process of putting together their profile and sending that out for their first call — based, of course, on the caveat that they’ll only be approved after a successful internship. They write a final essay that goes deeper into their understanding of the Lutheran confessions, pastoral identity and formation, a strong understanding of the Bible as the Word of God, their capacity for ministry within the NALC, and their identity as an NALC pastor . . . and then we determine their readiness for Word and Sacrament ministry in the church.

How can people outside the candidacy process help guide potential pastors toward it?

Have conversations. As we see our high school kids who have a bent toward ministry, as we see them coming up or going through college, we must plant seeds. It’s crucial. Not even just as pastors, but you, a parent, an aunt, or an uncle are able to have those conversations.

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance may be available to entranced NALC candidates through the NALC, no matter what your educational institution. Full-time residential students who are entranced candidates at the NALS apply for scholarships through TSM, however, online, non-residential or part-time students may want to apply for assistance directly through the NALC. Find the application here.