Candidacy in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the churchwide process of preparation and formation leading to approval for the public service in this church as a rostered Minister of Word and Sacrament (Pastor) or as a rostered Minister of Word and Service (Deacon). Candidacy calls for active partnership between candidate, congregation, synod, seminary, and the Congregational and Synodical Mission (churchwide unit).

It is by Christ’s gift that all baptized persons are called to ministry. Every baptized believer is given gifts and abilities for ministry. Every baptized believer is called to ministry in daily life. Some are given gifts and abilities that equip them to provide leadership in one of the two rostered ministries of this church. People become aware of their call and their gifts in various ways: some in a dramatic moment of inspiration, some in the normal course of their disciplined church life, some at the urging of leaders in the church, some through years of struggle and doubt.

The ELCA is committed to the intentional identification and recruitment of those persons who are so gifted by God that they can provide leadership in the life of this church. Through a process of reflection and discernment, individuals are encouraged to consider whether they are called by God through the church to serve in one of the rostered ministries of the ELCA.

In the Lutheran tradition, a person’s call from God to public ministry is understood as both internal and external:

  1. through an internal, personal sense of call that God is leading a person to public Christian ministry
  2. through public confirmation that the person has the character, commitment, preparation, and ability to serve in a specific public ministry roster
  3. through the receipt and acceptance of a letter of call to serve in a particular ministry setting

For more information or to start a conversation, send a message to You can also contact Rev. Matt Larson, Assistant to the Bishop for Candidacy, Leadership, and Congregation Care.