“…equipping the saints for diakonia; building up the Body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12)
What is diakonia?
Diakonia is a process of spiritual formation and theological education for baptized members of the Evangelica Lutheran Church of America or anyone wishing in good faith to study these teachings. This process occurs in three basic ways.
- By thorough grounding in the classic church-leadership disciplines of practical, systematic, historical, and Biblical theology;
- By identifying particular skills and aptitudes in ministry, and encouraging their use in the local parish;
- By providing spiritual growth through worship, retreats, and a supportive community of fellow students, mentors, and instructors.
These are the tools diakonia uses to help equip God’s people for service in parish and neighborhood ministries. The primary theme and focus of the diakonia experience is the word of Jesus in scripture (e.g. Mark 10:43): “Let the one who would be great among you be your servant (Greek: diakonos).”
What is the emphasis of diakonia?
The purpose and goal of the diakonia program is to provide each participant the opportunity to discover their God-given gifts, strengthen their faith and their abilities, and give them purpose within their own congregations, synods, and the church-wide body of Christ. Through the diakonia educational experience, each student’s understanding of theology and their relationship to God is allowed to blossom and bear fruit as a light of Christ in society.
Diakonia emphasizes the baptismal vocation of all Christians to serve as did our Lord Jesus. Participants are often already leaders in their parishes, and have a high degree of commitment to the ministry of the Church. They want to deepen their life of faith and discern their spiritual gifts for ministry. They are committed to serve through the Church in a variety of ways: teaching, administration, liturgical leadership, action for social justice, evangelism, visitation of the sick, community organization, youth work, ministry among the elderly, and the like. In every way they seek, and are helped by diakonia, to grow closer to the image and example of Christ the servant and to be more comfortable in bearing witness in word and deed about the good news of Jesus Christ.
How is diakonia structured?
The diakonia curriculum of twelve courses, six per academic year. Each course is 5 sessions in length, and meets weekly for 3 hour sessions. All of the courses are introductory in nature. Weekly readings give students a solo background to the topic. Either weekly assignments or a final assignment will relate the subject matter to the students’ context of life and ministry (family, parish, neighborhood area of ministry) or give them new insight into the course’s content. Students work at their own level, and assignments reflect the understanding that students are already busy in their families, jobs and parish. Typically, students average approximately three to five hours of study per week in addition to class time.