PALS: Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support

Post-Seminary Applied Learning & Support

Helping pastors and their wives transition from seminary to congregation


PALS (Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support) is a collaborative effort of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and our districts.

PALS regularly brings together groups of recent graduates of our seminaries throughout the first three years of their ministries. In these meetings, the new pastors worship, study and discuss new ministry experiences in the company of an experienced pastor.

About PALS

The LCMS is blessed with excellent seminaries that form students for service as faithful, compassionate servants of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. In the tradition of Martin Luther, the Synod affirms that formation for ministry extends beyond seminary graduation. It is a life-long process of growth and development.

The early years of parish ministry are critical for a pastor as he looks forward to decades of service. During these early years:

  • Practices and habits are established that will likely continue for many years to come;
  • Pastors and their wives can encounter situations and circumstances they did not anticipate during the seminary years of formation; and,
  • The need for a pastor’s continued growth and support is probably more acute than at any other time in a pastor’s entire life of service.

PALS provides an excellent source of continuing education and support for new pastors and wives during the first three years of parish life. Throughout the Synod, facilitating pastors gather groups of four to 12 new pastors and wives for a series of meetings that include worship, study, discussion and fellowship.

Resources

Contact Us

To receive additional information concerning the PALS program, please contact:

PALS Program
Office of Pastoral Education
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
1333 S. Kirkwood Road
St. Louis, MO 63122-7295

(800) 248-1930, ext. 1254
(314) 996-1254

PALS@LCMS.org

 

Study Topics

The PALS program has developed a series of video/workbook courses organized around three main categories of modules: Preaching/Teaching, Pastoral Care, and Administration/Leadership. Groups should choose at least one topic from each of these categories each year.

In addition, there are two course offerings intended to be done early in the first year of participation as they focus specifically on the transition from seminary to parish. These are “Transition from Seminary to Parish” and “Getting to Know Your New Congregation.”

Some study topics are available electronically through our PALS e-Learning collection. All other study topics must be ordered from the LCMS Pastoral Education department.

View Course Descriptions

 

PALS Facilitators

Facilitators are a vital part of the Post-Seminary Applied Learning and Support (PALS) program. As experienced pastors, facilitators lead and organize PALS meetings, helping to guide recent seminary graduates and their wives in the transition from seminary to congregation.

Facilitators, new and experienced, attend an annual training event held in St. Louis each summer.

If you are interested in serving in this capacity, please notify your district president.

 

How are PALS groups organized?

When seminary candidates receive their calls, they also receive information regarding PALS. A facilitating pastor from the district to which they have been called then contacts the pastors and wives assigned to him to begin the formation of a PALS group.

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  • PALS group meetings begin in the fall, and groups meet for the equivalent of six full days each year. While in many cases these meetings run from noon to noon at a mutually convenient location, other arrangements may be made when warranted by circumstances like distance and schedule.

     

    Who are the facilitating pastors?

    These experienced pastors, called “Facilitators,” are chosen by their district president in conjunction with the PALS office. Facilitators are generally from the same geographical area as their assigned groups of new pastors.

     

    How are wives involved?

    PALS recognizes that the support of the pastor’s wife is vitally important for both the family and the congregation. PALS is often particularly helpful to the wives for whom this transition can be most challenging.

    Wives are involved in some shared activities with their husbands and, when desired, in separate learning activities as a wives' group. To accommodate families with young children, babysitting is provided.


 

What happens at PALS meetings?

PALS group meetings have four foci — directed toward the personal, spiritual development, vocational development and encouragement of new pastors and their spouses.

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    • The group gathers around the Word in worship, prayer and study, recognizing that pastors, no less than others, need to be nourished by the same Word they use to nourish others in their faith.
    • Time is allotted at every meeting for each pastor to reflect upon his ministry in his parish and to bring forward cases of casuistry. This is an opportunity to support, encourage and learn from one another. In these discussions, the facilitator is also able to offer direction and suggestions regarding resources and support.
    • Time is given to the study of a pertinent topic that offers opportunity for growth in ministry. The PALS office develops the materials for these formal ministry-based studies.
    • There is time for personal sharing, not only about parish activities, but also about frustrations, hopes, triumphs and trials.

    The wives join their husbands for portions of the meetings but also meet separately following much the same format as the pastors.

    All discussions that take place in PALS group meetings remain confidential.

     

    Is there recognition for participating in the program?

    A certificate of up to six Continuing Education Units (CEUs) is awarded at the end of each year for faithful participation in PALS meetings. As with other CEUs, these are reported to the district president and recorded on the Pastor's Information Form.


 

Testimonials

Pastors and wives offer feedback after participating in the PALS program.

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  • Pastors:

    “Incredibly informative, great interaction, good insight, very honest sharing, encouraging for my future ministry.”

    “Great time to share honestly about where I'm at – not sure I could do that anywhere else.”

    “I am benefitting from the advice and experience of our facilitator. He has been through everything we are facing as new pastors, and his perspective is very helpful.”

    “I've appreciated the time to worship together. It's so important to be able to sit in a pew with my wife!”

    “[PALS] has helped me a great deal and aided keeping me in the ministry. Thank you for this program.”

     

    Pastors’ wives:

    “[Our facilitators] exhibit genuine concern for those struggling and support of pastors and wives. They have been our lifeline for/during two years in a difficult parish.”

    “This meeting was great! I feel refreshed and encouraged. I also feel that I have gained some new friends. Thanks!”

    “Wonderful! As our group changes this year, we all discussed how PALS absolutely accomplished its purpose in building relationships and connections. We have built a network of support that will continue even after PALS.”

    “This has been a good way to connect with others in the ministry and a good way to ‘force’ a break for my husband.”

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