There are a variety of vocational choices in the ELCA. We have pastors, but we also have chaplains, youth workers, musicians, evangelists, nurses, diaconal ministers and deaconesses, counselors, caregivers and associates in ministry. We are a church that believes God is calling us into the world — together. The ELCA has many needs to fill as we carry out our mission to share God’s boundless love with the world.

Ordained Clergy

Ordained ministers, called by the Church of Word and Sacrament, serve with hearts filled with love and courage, to offer the hope of the sacraments and to lead the proclamation of the Gospel.

Pastors of the ELCA carry out their ministry as they proclaim the Gospel. They are called to a ministry of servant hood and bring the witness of faith to the lives of God’s people. Providing care and nurture of others and reaching out to a hurting world are essential expressions of this form of ministry. Pastors assist the Church in transforming congregations as vibrant communities that reach out to serve the world and share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Ordained ministers normally serve in congregations, sometimes in a team ministry with other ordained or lay rostered leaders. Some pastors, after an initial congregational call of three years, will serve as chaplains, faculty at colleges and seminaries, leaders in social service agencies, or in staff positions at synod or churchwide offices.

Associates in Ministry (AiMs)

Associates in Ministry are commissioned for ministry in the areas of education, service, music and administration.

The partnerships provided by those who serve on this lay roster are of deep value to the Church. AiMs frequently share in a collegial staff ministry and focus in areas such as learning ministries, family ministries, youth, administration, volunteer ministry, music, ministry coordination or parish nursing.

Some AiMs serve in staff positions in congregations where the position includes more than one area of specialty. An AiM may also be called by a synod to a non-congregational setting such as a social service agency, counseling center, college or seminary faculty or synod staff.

Many congregations benefit from the life experience and skills of theologically trained lay people who serve as commissioned AiMs in the ELCA. They provide leadership and support for specific program ministries of the whole people of God in serving the mission and ministry needs of the Church.

Diaconal Ministers and Deaconesses

Diaconal Ministers are consecrated for service in ministries at the intersection of Church and world.

Diaconal Ministers work to seek wholeness in the world and to help the people of God to live out the Gospel. They are committed to alerting the Church to the needs of the world.

Diaconal Ministry is a ministry of Word and service, sharing the hope of Christ, helping where there is need, and equipping others for healing and justice in the world. Diaconal Ministers serve through agencies, institutions and traditional church programs as they build bridges between the Church and the world.

A Deaconess is consecrated for service in the context of the Church’s mission to proclaim the Gospel, to relate the Gospel to human need in every situation, and to extend the ministry of the Gospel to all the world.

The Deaconess Community of the ELCA has roots in 19th century Germany and has prepared and supported women who are committed to a life of service to Church and society. It is centered in a community of women for spiritual, personal, and ministry growth and support.

The skilled and theologically prepared women of this roster serve in a variety of ministries, including health care, parish work, education, church music, administration, chaplaincy, and social services.

More information on discerning your vocation