Raising Up Leaders for Smaller Congregations

The THRIVE Campaign: Equipping a vibrant church to be sent into the world.

Identify and equip fifteen lay leaders to enroll in the TEEM (Theological Education for Emerging Leaders) or SAM (Synod Authorized Ministers) program to serve in contexts where the congregation is not able to fund a full-time rostered pastor but still has a desire for mission.


The growing reality in the Southern Ohio Synod is that we have congregations who want to thrive and share the Gospel but can no longer afford what we call full time ministry with a full-time pastor. We need to creatively move beyond our traditional thinking. How can we in the synod support thriving small congregational ministry?

1. Raise up 15 individuals who will serve TEEM/SAM leaders in the area of worship and education, building a faith community, and service to the world outside of a congregation’s doors, and work toward numerical growth in the membership of the congregations served. These individuals will be invited to serve as participants of the TEEM or SAM programs.

  • TEEM is a program sanctioned by the ELCA which leads to an individual’s ordination without the prerequisite of a Masters of Divinity degree. Once ordained, the individual can serve as an ordained pastor throughout the ELCA. These candidates are entered into the candidacy process as sanctioned by the synod.
  • Create an educational process for SAM candidates to live into their role serving our smaller congregations.

2. Create an educational process for SAM candidates to live into their role serving our smaller congregations.

“Serving as a pastor in the Muskingum Conference these last 15 years … I’ve witnessed our congregations struggle to keep pastors, and then struggle to figure out how to continue their mission and ministry without one. I’ve been an advocate for years to create new ways and methods that will enable and equip our lay members to practice the priesthood of all believers so they can continue in their mission efforts and remain relevant in their communities.”


Budget: $60,000

  • $20,000 to develop and implement an educational and training program for Synod Authorized Ministers (2 year program) for lay leadership development for pastoral service in a congregation who cannot afford a full time pastor, but who wish to thrive and grow in mission. (now this will provide a small stipend for the person creates the educational program and runs it...this is not an assistant to the bishop position but more an admin and creator)
  • $40,000 will provide educational stipends (up to $3,000)for laity to enter candidacy and attend seminary (TEEM) to serve a congregation that in a particular setting:
    • Urban/rural or emerging (redevelopment)and the congregation wishes to thrive in mission. TEEM candidates will be ordained in the ELCA. SAM's are those committed laity who wish to assist a congregation in pastoral needs, Sunday Worship who are small and ca

For more information contact Campaign Manager, Pastor Larry Donner, by completing the form below.