Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry

Bringing the love of Christ in specialized settings

Jesus gives life and forgiveness. All people in all circumstances need to hear this Good News, for there is no salvation outside of Jesus. LCMS Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry brings the Gospel to those who cannot or do not hear it in the normal course of a Sunday morning: people who are hospitalized, disabled or imprisoned, seniors and their caregivers, the doctor on-call and the firefighter keeping watch.

In these “specialized” settings, usually outside the four walls of a church, Specialized Care workers extend their congregation’s Word and Sacrament ministry by providing spiritual care to the faithful and bearing witness to the unchurched.

Christ’s mercy to us begets mercy to our neighbors. Specialized Care workers, themselves recipients of Christ’s forgiveness, life and salvation, bring His love to those placed in their care.



How do Specialized Care workers serve?

Those who work in Specialized Care have the opportunity to bring the love of Christ to everyone, especially to those in specialized settings and situations.

Through Specialized Care, those who are on the LCMS Ministers of Religion–Ordained roster or the Ministers of Religion–Commissioned roster are trained to serve in institutional and emergency services in chaplaincy roles, as pastoral counselors or as clinical educators.

Specialized Care workers serve people who are ill, imprisoned, aging, troubled, conflicted or isolated, bringing them the love of Christ amid many kinds of suffering. These rostered church workers, who have received additional training under Specialized Care, offer comprehensive services that include Word and Sacrament ministry (if they are ordained), sharing the Word of God and offering compassionate care. Traditionally, ordained clergy have been viewed as doctors of the soul. Think of Specialized Care workers as “spiritual paramedics;” their goal is to bring those entrusted to them to the “hospital” — the local church — and under the care of the local LCMS doctor of the soul — the pastor.

Out of joy for the work of the Office of the Holy Ministry, God created auxiliary offices to help share His Holy Word. Specialized Care workers offer themselves as servants of Christ, equipped to do the good works prepared for them through the blood of Christ, assured that these works are pleasing in God’s sight (Heb. 13:20–21). Through chaplaincy roles, pastoral counseling and clinical education, Specialized Care workers care for broken souls by offering a listening ear, sharing God’s eternal love in Christ, praying with those under their care, and connecting them to a local pastor for Word and Sacrament ministry.

Those involved in Specialized Care — whether they serve in chaplaincy roles, pastoral counseling, or pastoral clinical education — encounter people in both everyday settings and difficult circumstances as they bear witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Some of these circumstances include:

  • Illnesses and accidents
  • Palliative care and hospice care
  • Disabilities
  • Caregiver fatigue
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Elder care
  • Mental health struggles
  • Spiritual distress
  • Substance abuse
  • First responder stress
  • Trauma from disasters




Where do Specialized Care workers serve?

Specialized Care workers may serve in a variety of settings, including:

  • Hospitals and health care facilities
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Hospice care
  • Mental health facilities
  • Correctional facilities/prisons
  • Pastoral counseling
  • Clinical education
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire and rescue agencies
  • LCMS Disaster Response
  • Workplaces




Who can be a Specialized Care worker?

  • Rostered church workers are eligible to serve in Specialized Care.
  • Individuals serving in Specialized Care may also need to possess specific preparation and competencies related to their specialization.
  • All applicants must have no less than an undergraduate degree in theology, followed by additional, specialized training. Candidates who have attained rostered status through alternate means will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
  • Specialized Care Ecclesiastical Endorsement is normative and expected of those pursuing Specialized Care church work. Certification in a particular professional organization may also be required. For further information, refer to the Ecclesiastical Endorsement manual.




Interested in becoming a Specialized Care worker?

Are you curious about ways you may be able to serve people in the ways described above?

LCMS Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry (Specialized Care) invites you to explore the numerous opportunities to serve in this unique and important area.

For more information, please contact Rev. Brian Heller, manager of LCMS Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry.



Rev. Brian R. Heller
Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry


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Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry trains and endorses LCMS-rostered church workers to serve people who are ill, imprisoned, aging, troubled, conflicted and isolated.

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How to Help

Your gift for LCMS Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry supplies materials and focused resources to LCMS ordained and commissioned workers serving in chaplaincy roles in places like hospitals, prisons, retirement homes and long-term care centers for the elderly and disabled.

Gifts also support the recruitment, endorsement and training scholarships for potential Specialized Care workers.

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Give by mail

To make a donation by mail, make a check payable to “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod” or “LCMS.”

Write “Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry” or “Specialized Care” on the memo line of your check or on an enclosed note, and send to:

  • The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
    Mission Advancement
    P.O. Box 66861
    St. Louis, MO 63166-6861

Give by phone

To make a credit card gift over the phone, you can call the LCMS toll-free gift line between 8 a.m. and 4:10 p.m. Central time.

  • 888-930-4438


Contact LCMS Mission Advancement if you have questions or want to discuss the impact you can have on the LCMS Specialized Pastoral Ministry through your Christian giving.

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The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Inc., including Mission Central (in Mapleton, Iowa), is an IRS registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.

A contribution designated (restricted) for a specific purpose, when accepted, will be used only to fund expenses related to that purpose. Occasionally, we may receive more in contributions for a particular purpose than can be wisely applied to it in the foreseeable future or the purpose may cease to be feasible. In these situations, the LCMS will make reasonable attempts to contact contributors to apply their contribution toward another aspect of ministry that aligns closely the contributor’s goals and values. If a contributor cannot be contacted, the LCMS will use the gift to meet a similar pressing need that most closely matches the contributor's original intent.

Consistent with Synod Board policy and in recognition of a more challenging economic and philanthropic/fundraising environment due to inflationary pressure, not more than 12.5 percent of any charitable contribution will be allocated to administering gifts and communicating with contributors. Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.

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