Earlier last month 175+ directors of Christian (DCE) met for their bi-annual conference hosted by the National Association of Directors of Christian Education (NADCE). NADCE is the professional organization for directors of Christian education in The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod and other church workers who are responsible for the faith formation of children, youth and adults, and are serving in local parishes, districts, universities, and other nontraditional ministry settings.
Meeting under the theme of “CELEBRATE-GROW-PRAISE” our group had the opportunity to hear and discuss this theme led by the Rev. Matt Popovits. Each session also included a time for us to learn from peers who shared brief “TED talk” type presentations on topics ranging from “Longevity in Ministry” to “Thriving with your Pastor”.
Along with the opportunity to represent LCMS Youth Ministry at the conference as an exhibitor and sponsor of the conference, it is my privilege to serve as secretary for the NADCE Board of Directors. I have been fortunate to serve as a Director of Christian Education for over 30 years (this DCE group of was recognized at the conference) and experience in many and various ways how this ministry serves and equips God’s people. (picture #10 of anniversary group)
As a DCE, I’m often asked, “How does a congregation benefit from having a Director of Christian Education?” I posed this question at the conference and here is a collection of the responses to this question from some of the participants.
How does a congregation benefit from having a Director of Christian Education?
A congregation benefits from having a DCE in many ways. Ultimately, it is a blessing to have a dedicated individual whose passion is to encourage the faith growth of children, youth, parents, families, and individuals alongside the pastor. A DCE strives to coordinate, plan, and administrate ministry opportunities that with the Holy Spirit allow for a better understanding of the Gospel and the relationship individuals have with Jesus. For me personally, it is a joy to have one-on-one conversations with a youth or parent where I am able to assist them with understanding life and faith better.
– Daniel Meyer, DCE;
NADCE Board Member; Saint Louis, MO
A DCE is a staff team member who is able to support the ministry of a congregation in a variety of ways depending on the gifts and calling of that specific DCE. As an educator, the DCE would train and equip others to support and carry on the ministry of the congregation as well.
– Jeremy Becker, DCE;
Past President NADCE; Weston, FL
Our Savior Lutheran Church has a 20+ year history of supporting DCE ministry. They benefit by having someone who is specifically serving with them and dedicated to ministering to children, youth, and young adults.
– Kayla Lohman, DCE;
The DCE provides congregations a trained professional to develop intentional and effective educational programs which engage participants of all generations in faith-growth and ministry. The DCE ministry enhances overall parish education which is an indicator of congregational health and vitality.
– Andrew Nelson, DCE;
NADCE Board Member; Saint Peters, MO
DCEs are partners to both pastors and the congregation, as they specialize in facilitating Lifespan Education among the church and community. DCEs help families of all sorts practically apply the Word as they grow and mature in faith. DCEs are on the front lines of care and education for children, students, young adults, families, and seasoned adults.
– Shelli Haynes, DCE;
NADCE Board Member; Placentia, CA
A Director of Christian Education compliments the pastor by having an extensive background and training in education. Congregations benefit from DCEs through their abilities to coordinate and oversee ministries and train lay leaders.
– Caleb Akers, DCE Intern;
St. Matthew Lutheran Church; Sonoma, CA
Research has shown that effective parish education practices are a major characteristic of congregations that consider themselves “healthy”. One of the components associated with effective educational practices is having a staff person who is trained in educational methods and can focus energies on educational ministries. That’s what DCEs focus on in a congregation.
The Great Commission commands us to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Congregations that have effective Word and Sacramental ministries and are looking to expand staff would do well to consider calling a DCE to help enhance their educational ministries. DCEs come equipped to facilitate the implementation of effective educational practices in a congregation – for children, youth, adults and families.
– Dr. Mark Blanke, DCE;
NADCE Board Member;
DCE Program Director; Concordia University Nebraska
Dr. Blanke also shared these comments for congregations considering the addition of staff:
Congregations looking to add a second staff person would do well to consider the primary needs of their congregation. Our synod has set up excellent preparation programs for a variety of commissioned ministries. If the need is more assistance with Word and Sacramental ministries, a pastor would be the best choice. If the need is in the area of educational ministries (all ages – children, youth, adult or family) then a DCE fulfills that priority. Make your central need be the main motivator for the type of called worker you seek. A common mistake is to call a worker because of a capability in an area that is of secondary need for a congregation – for example, calling another pastor to lead the educational ministries just so he can provide assistance with preaching on occasion. This often results in having a person less capable to effectively manage the primary need of the congregation.
Join with me and CELEBRATE the 2000 men and women who over the past 50+ years have been certified to serve the LCMS as Directors of Christian Education. May God continue to GROW the young men and women who are currently a part of the DCE Programs at our Concordia Universities in Austin, TX; Irvine, CA; Portland, OR; River Forest, IL; St. Paul, MN and Seward, NE. PRAISE God from whom all blessings flow!