What is the LDA’s approach to education and formation?
The LDA offers an education/formation process that is flexible, allowing students to complete the process at their own pace. Students work with the LDA staff to develop an individualized formation covenant (IFC) to determine their particular growth needs. The distance-learning option is available to all students, which means that students may complete their academic work near their own homes.

What is involved in the formation process?
Formation includes self-reflection and experiences that help students grow in their diaconal identity and service.  The formation process involves week-long seminars at the Center for Diaconal Ministry in Valparaiso, IN, each year during formation. Students are assigned to a diaconal mentor throughout formation for support and guidance. They are also required to attend the annual meeting of their community, held in various locations around the country.

What is involved in the education process?
The LDA education process does not require a particular major, although we encourage students to complete at least a BA degree.  Some students work toward a degree in a service-oriented profession, adding theology to their coursework, while others major in theology. Still others come to the LDA with a completed academic degree, taking only those additional courses required by their individualized plan.  Students complete several college/university or seminary courses in theology and diaconal ministry. We require that students have a good understanding of Biblical studies such as Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures), New Testament, Church History, World Religions, Lutheran Doctrine/Lutheran Confessions, and Theology of Diaconal Ministry. Other courses might be added to increase skill in broader ministry areas.

Where do students take courses?
Many students choose to attend Valparaiso University for a BA or MA degree. However, students may complete the theological requirements at a college, university or seminary near their homes. Some courses must be offered by Lutheran providers. A few courses might be completed through on-line learning, but we encourage study that offers dialog and feedback in a face-to-face setting.

How long does the education/formation process take?
The education and formation process takes a minimum of two years, and many students take three years or longer. The length of this process depends on the experience the student brings and the individualized service program.

What kinds of jobs could I do?
Diaconal ministry takes various forms and those forms keep changing as the church and society change. The education and formation process sometimes changes students' perspectives about the kinds of ministry available, and they may discover new paths for themselves as the process unfolds.

Must I be Lutheran?

Yes. The ministry of this diaconate is rooted, formed, and lived out in the context of the Lutheran faith. Applicants must be members of a Lutheran church, participating regularly in worship, study of the Holy Scripture, prayer and faithful use of the means of grace. We accept applicants who belong to many Lutheran denominations, including LCMS, ELCA, and Lutheran church bodies in Canada.

Are LDA deaconesses and deacons automatically rostered?
The LDA consecrates and approves deaconesses and deacons for service. Some LDA members complete additional requirements to become rostered in various church bodies. Applicants who are considering candidacy in a Lutheran church body may wish to talk to the LDA to coordinate the education/formation process with other requirements.  Visit your church body’s website to find out about other ministry programs.

How much does the education/formation process cost?
The LDA’s education/formation process offers access to LDA staff, deaconess mentors, and resource people. It will open many doors for you and introduce you to new ideas. Our fees reflect these costs.

The basic fee is $5,000. In addition, there is an annual fee of $2,500 for each year you are in the education/formation process. Other costs include application and interview expenses, travel and registration for each annual formation event and annual deaconess conference, and tuition for your coursework. Click here for more details.

The LDA has been able to offer scholarships to students with financial need.  The LDA encourages students who feel called to servant ministry to complete the education and formation process.  We will work with you.  Don’t let money be a barrier!

What financial resources are available?
In addition to LDA scholarships, students who attend Valparaiso University receive an automatic grant-in-aid of $500 per semester and most students receive additional financial aid from VU. The LDA can help you explore other resources including:

  • Thrivent Financial for Lutherans (supplemental funds)
  • Congregations
  • LWML
  • Synods
  • Districts
  • Church-wide organizations

When can I start?

Applicants must be at least 20 years old OR entering their junior year in college. Applicants must have completed at least two years of higher education in the liberal arts.  Contact LDA for more information. 

You may begin your application portfolio at any time.  Applications are reviewed twice each year.  Ask the LDA to begin a folder for your materials six months before the deadline.  Accepted applicants will participate in orientation seminars that are held twice each year, generally in mid-August and early March. 

How do I apply? Click here