Called to Serve: A Theology of Commissioned Ministry

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How can called workers better understand their own role? And how can pastors and laypeople honor this position while not confusing it with other callings?
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There are thousands of active-rostered commissioned ministers in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, faithful men and women who serve in the congregations, schools, and recognized service organizations of the LCMS.

But all too often, commissioned workers struggle to know their place in the church. They’re more than just laypeople, but they’re not public ministers. How can called workers better understand their own role? And how can pastors and laypeople honor this position while not confusing it with other callings?

David Rueter, a director of Christian education program director, invites the church to hold a high view of both pastors and commissioned workers while not sacrificing the dignity of either, nor confusing the theological and historical significance of both. This in-depth look at the theology of commissioned ministry will lead all to properly respect and rightly balance these offices of ministry.

About the Author
Dr. David L. Rueter (PhD, Talbot School of Theology) is professor of Christian education, director of ministerial formation, and assistant DCE program director at Concordia University Irvine. He also serves as youth and family ministry facilitator for the Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS.

Praise for Called to Serve
“In his dual role as both a district executive and as a university professor who teaches and equips future church workers, Dr. David Rueter is uniquely positioned to understand what it means to be a called commissioned minister in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In Called to Serve: A Theology of Commissioned Ministry, Rueter cogently explores this auxiliary office within the Office of Public Ministry through the lenses of church history and theology, as presented by highly recognizable church fathers (Luther, Pieper, Walther, and more), to establish and uplift the value of commissioned ministers. This text provides readers with a deep and rich exposition that supports the existence and need for Kingdom workers who are called into professional church work vocations in a non-ordained capacity.”
—Dr. Kevin Borchers, associate professor of Christian education, assistant director of DCE program, director of colloquy at Concordia University Chicago

“Commissioned ministers have had a substantial impact on many Lutherans, but their status is often the subject of significant confusion. Are they mini-pastors? super-laity? a mixture of both? Rueter tackles these questions head-on in Called to Serve, showing along the way that debates about commissioned ministry are nothing new. Most important, he draws on Scripture, Luther, Gerhard, and Walther to propose an understanding of commissioned ministry that honors both it and the pastoral office.”
—Rev. David W. Loy, PhD, associate dean of Christ College, director of FaithWorks Center, associate professor at Concordia University Irvine

“Dave Rueter has done an excellent job of tracing the theology and history of the offices for ministry in the LCMS. He has highlighted the conflicts as workers have sought to serve together in ministry. While professional church workers are called to serve congregations as a unified team, conflict has often disrupted this leadership. How we recognize ministers of religion ordained and commissioned in conventions of the districts and synod is an ongoing debate, which Dave addresses with a recommendation. This book is a helpful study for all levels of the Church.”
—Rev. Dr. Larry Stoterau, president emeritus, Pacific Southwest District of the LCMS

“David Rueter’s Called to Serve is a much-needed revisit on the Office of Public Ministry. Thoroughly researched from the days of Luther up to the present day, Rueter reveals the lack of clarity or fogginess that commissioned ministers hold (and perhaps feel) in regard to their place or position within a congregation. Perhaps because of Rueter’s own family background and vocation as a commissioned minister, one can absorb not only the research expertise he brings to this topic but his passion too. In his closing chapter, Rueter provides his own take on auxiliary ministries and the Office of the Public Ministry. The book is well-researched and succinctly written and organized. The chapters and sub-headings make the work easy to navigate and enjoyable to read. After consuming the work, I not only felt more well-versed in the Office of Public Ministry but honored to be a part of it. Called to Serve is both informative and inspirational.”
—Dr. James Pingel, dean of the School of Education, Concordia University Wisconsin

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