The courses are structured with two groups of students in mind.

The “Core Courses” are for students who are seeking deeper knowledge and experience in three specific focus areas, or tracks, of faith. These tracks are the Bible, Church History and defining and deepening your spirituality or discovering spiritual practices in Faith & Spirituality.

Old TestamentChurch HistoryLiturgy & Life
New TestamentSystematic TheologyFaith & Spiritually
Lutheran Confessions
Core Classes for First and Second Year Students
NOTE: Not all courses are offered yearly. Courses are offered on a bi-yearly rotation.

Although the course structure is set up for students to complete all three tracks in two years, it is possible to create a flexible schedule that completes the Core courses at a pace that works for you. When all Core courses are complete, it’s a time to gather and celebrate this milestone in your faith formation!

“Continuing Education” is the other group of courses offered at ECSW Lay School of Ministry. The subject of these courses often encompass more timely events or dive deeper in conversations that students are pondering. Students are not required to be completed with core classes to participate in these courses. In fact, some students have started with a Continuing Education course, found the experience engaging, and enrolled in Core Courses the following year.

Why do you love Lay School?
I have asked that question to myself numerous times, the only answer I can come up with is the Lord led me to this chapter in my life. I have always cared deeply for people I know and don’t know and wondered how I could help them. Which led me to serving shut ins communion. I have learned that listening, encouragement, and conversation go a long way with helping homebound to feel good about themselves. Which in turn I began to feel the pull to do more for the church family. Then the lay school bulletin came out and I prayed and talked it over with my Pastor and she thought it would by a good fit. So, lay school was it and am I ever proud, glad, and humbled that the difference I hope I can contribute to fellow Christians and maybe turn a few into Christians. The schooling is amazing and fulfilling to me…

Jackie Bushar

Course offerings for 2020-2021 School Year

Core Courses for Two Year Program

New Testament

Dr. Ann Fritschel
Friday 6:10 p.m. – 8:20 p.m.
Course Syllabus

The goals of this course are to gain a working knowledge of the content of the New Testament, a basic understanding of its socio-historical background and an awareness of how the New Testament came into being. The student will develop skills in reading bibilical texts while exploring the various Gospel portrayals of Jesus. Students will also explore key theological concepts such as grace, justification, the theology of the cross and stewardship. The instructional method will encourage students to grow in love and excitement for the reading and study of the Bible.

Lutheran Confessions

Pastor Mark Ziemer
Rev. Nile Sandeen (guest instructor)
Friday 8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Course Syllabus
Course Overview Video

It is now more than five hundred years since Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses. The purpose of this class is to question and wrestle with what does it mean to be Lutheran today? Is “being Lutheran” still important or even relevant? How does Lutheran theology fit and/or contribute to other Christians, other faith traditions, and to the global and secular world? Three desired outcomes from this course are for participants to 1) more clearly establish the why, what and how for their identity, purpose and faith, 2) understand the Lutheran Confessions as a call and guide to actively live out faith in love of neighbor and as a shared action of the Christian community both as an individual and within a congregation, and 3) be able to engage with deeper passion and understanding in worship, service and witness with fellow Christians of other denominations and globally.

Faith and Spirituality

Pastor Cheryl Davis
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Course Syllabus

The longest journey can be from our heads to our hearts. We may learn bibilical facts and Christian doctrines with our heads but struggle to move them into our inner being where we can be loved and transformed by our Triune God. In a welcoming classroom environment, we’ll combine Dr. Brame’s text with Bible study, prayer, silence, and honest sharing. We’ll experience the joy of Christian community as we learn together to articulate our faith and receive God’s love for us as individuals and as a group.

Church History

Mr. Mark Granquist
Saturday 10:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Course Overview Video

“We believe in the one holy catholic
and apostolic church.” Behind those few words from the ecumenical council that met at Nicea in 325 C.E. lies a lot of history from the time of Jesus and the first apostles to the present day. This class will help students understand the basic story line from the Day of Pentecost to the global Church today, albeit from a 30,000 foot view. Decisive moments that shaped the Church in profound ways for generations to come will be highlighted in more depth. Students will learn the history of the church includes controversy, heresy, struggle, and abhorrent behavior as well as inspirational proclamation and teaching and exemplary witness and service. Through it all we will rejoice in God’s faithfulness in Jesus Christ whose very Body is the one holy catholic and apostolic church.

2020-2021 Continuing Education Classes

Liberation Theology

Rev. John Czarnota
Friday 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

The gospel is good news! What does this good news sound like to those that are being oppressed? Liberation theology is movement that looks at the good news through the lens of the least, the marginalized, the exploited, the oppressed. It grew out of South America and took root in Africa as well. It’s produced some of the most vibrant churches of our day. How do we, the privileged West, interact with, understand, support, and love our neighbors who have been so poorly treated? What does this teach us about God? About ourselves? About ourselves in Christ?
Text: Liberation Theology Armchair Theologians by Miguel A. De La Torre.

A Return From Exile—Marks of the Church in a Pandemic Age

Pastor John Meachen
Friday 7:40 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Course Syllabus
Course Overview Video

Covid-19 has scattered the church into a necessary form of pandemic exile. From the shelter of our home and with available bandwidth, church appears through the likes of Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook. Pastor and leaders grapple with what it means to be the church in their individual settings by adapting to whatever means are available. Congregational leaders contend with a return to the gathered assembly that will be both safe and faithful. We long for a return to our worship spaces. We dream of returning to normal; to a time before our abrupt scattering. For better and for worse, the church as we have known it, will not return to normal. What will the new normal look like? How do we rejoin the assembly safely and faithfully? How do the reformation marks of the church inform and direct our return? This continuing education class will be especially helpful for church committees and leaders as they plan for returning to in person worship. We will explore ways to be safe and at the same time faithful to the marks of the Christian assembly.
Text: Christian Assembly — ”Marks of the Church in a Pluralistic Age” by Gordon W. Lathrop and Timothy J. Wengert ISBN:0-8006-3660-0

Christ at the Center

Dr. Ann Fritschel
Saturday 9:00 a.m. — 10:30 a.m.
Course Syllabus
Course Overview Video

During the walk to Emmaus we read, “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). This class will explore the books of the Hebrew Bible to show how these writers are preparing people for the coming of Christ and will develop themes around Christ that will enrich our reading of the New Testament. For example, exploring Christ in creation will take us to Proverbs, the Psalms, and Isaiah as well as Genesis and move us to the Gospel of John, Colossians, and the Book of Revelation. We will deeply engage a variety of texts that move beyond the concept of mere prophecy and fulfillment to see Christ at the center of all Scriptures.

Homiletics: Preaching and Practice

Rev. Jenn Collins
Saturday 10:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
Course Overview Video

Preaching is an event that provides an encounter with the crucified and risen Christ. As a means of grace, preaching summons the Word’s presences in this broken world as a balm of healing, comfort, and challenge. We know a good sermon when we hear one. But we also know when words fall flat. Crafting a faithful sermon is multifaceted: it is bibilical, autobiographical, contextual, theological, intellectual, emotional, and inspirational. Proclamation that is faithful is centered in an embodied preaching life. This course will explore strategies for crafting a sermon and provide feedback for novices and experienced preachers alike.
Text: A Lay Preacher’s Guide — How to Craft a Faithful Sermon, Karoline M. Lewis.

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