The Specific Ministry Pastor program of Concordia Seminary is a 4-year distance education program that prepares men for pastoral ministry in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, established by the LCMS in 2007.
It is contextual in that the men receive their academic training in the setting where they will continue to serve following ordination. They work with local pastor-mentors who support and guide them in the program and who provide day-to-day guidance, encouragement and prayer.
The courses of the Specific Ministry Pastor program are supported by state-of-the art technology which engages the students with their instructors and with fellow students while building an interactive learning community. Each course includes a blend of internet-based instruction, mentor interaction, practical ministry application, and two hours each week of live instruction by the instructor and interaction with fellow students.
The SMP program is designed to meet the needs of the church for pastors in mission and ministry opportunities where a pastor with a seminary degree may not be available. (And it is doing so in surprising ways.)
In order to be eligible for the SMP program men must be serving in a ministry of a Lutheran congregation which desires their service as a pastor. They must be nominated for the program by their District President. Based upon this nomination, and their previous ministry experiences, the men begin their academic work as concurrent-deferred Vicars.
After two years of vicarage, and nine classes they become eligible for ordination in the specific ministry where they are serving following certification by the faculty of Concordia Seminary. They are then required to take two more years of classes in order to complete the basic Specific Ministry Pastor program.