Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry

Bringing the Love of Christ

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, imprisoned, seniors and 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 chaplains and Specialized Care workers serve?

Specialized Care is the opportunity to share the love of Christ to all, especially those in unique situations. Through Specialized Care, LCMS-rostered ordained and commissioned ministers are trained to serve in institutional and emergency services chaplaincy roles, pastoral counselors, and clinical educators.

Specialized Care workers serve people who are ill, imprisoned, aging, troubled, conflicted, isolated, and so much more. These rostered church workers offer comprehensive service that includes Word or Word and Sacrament ministry, compassionate care, and contextual education for specialized care.

In the classical sense, ordained clergy have been viewed as doctors of the soul. Specialized Care workers may be viewed as “spiritual paramedics”, the goal being to bring those entrusted to them to the hospital of the local Church and under the care of the local LCMS physician of souls.

Out of His joy for the work of the Office of the Holy Ministry, God created auxiliary offices to help share His holy Word. Chaplaincy roles, pastoral counseling, and clinical education are united in the work of caring for broken souls through a listening ear, sharing of God’s eternal love in Christ, prayer, and connecting them to a local pastor for Word and Sacrament Ministry.

Those serving in Specialized Spiritual Care Ministry seek to serve 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).

Those involved in Specialized Care — whether in chaplaincy roles, pastoral counseling, or pastoral clinical education — encounter people in the midst of everyday settings as they bear witness to the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Those in Specialized Care serve people in all circumstances. These situations may be:

  • 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
  • Disaster recovery trauma




Where do chaplains and Specialized Care workers serve?

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

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




Who can be a chaplain or 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 the 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. Certification in a particular professional organization may also be required. Ecclesiastical Endorsement information may be found in the Ecclesiastical Endorsement manual.




Interested in becoming a chaplain or 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 vast 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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Ministry Overview

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 (compared to a not-more-than ceiling of 10.5 percent the previous fiscal year). Contributions received and accepted by the LCMS are deemed to be in agreement with this statement.

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