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In this episode of Under the Fig Tree, hosts Rev. Micah Glenn and Dr. Ben Haupt chat with the Dr. James “Jim” Baneck, executive director of pastoral education for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS). Baneck shares his own journey to ministry and explains a big focus of his current work — the LCMS’ church-wide church worker recruitment initiative, Set Apart to Serve. He also delves into some concerning statistics: The number of pastoral graduates from both LCMS seminaries needs to double to keep up with the number of pastors who are retiring and leaving churches vacant. Pastors are especially needed in cities, he says. “Look at the neighborhoods where are churches are; Hmong neighborhoods, Hispanic neighborhoods, Chinese neighborhoods,” he says. “They don’t necessarily have the Gospel. It’s not being preached to them and no one’s going to them. And so whether it be the seminaries or the church body itself, we have to figure out how to raise up pastors who will go into those areas. There’s a great need for pastors. … There are millions of people in the United States who do not believe in Jesus Christ or who do not know Him.” Baneck also shares another statistic: Only 50% of current church workers are encouraging young people to consider church work careers. That needs to change. “We want our church workers, parents and others to be intentional when talking to our youth about considering church work,” Baneck says. His encouragement to those considering vocational ministry? “Be in the Word,” Baneck says. “Let the Lord continue to grow that faith and that desire.”

“Under the Fig Tree” is a video and audio podcast of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. New video and audio episodes are added weekly each Monday during the academic year. “Under the Fig Tree” can be found on YouTube, the Seminary’s Scholar site ( and most podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. Those interested in vocational ministry are invited to join the Seminary contact list at Request-Information. You can learn more about Concordia Seminary at or by contacting the admissions team at [email protected] or 800-822-9545.


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Laity; Ministers; Future Seminarians; Future Deaconesses

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