DCE Program

DCE Mission: Our mission is to prepare Christian Educators in a collaborative, field-based environment for leadership in equipping people of all ages for various church-related ministries.

What is a Director of Christian Education?

DCE Program Requirements

Formal Admission into the DCE Program

Practicum Information and Forms

Internship Information and Forms

Helpful Links for DCEs


What is a Director of Christian Education?

A Director of Christian Education, by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod definition, is a synodically certified, called, and commissioned life-span educational leader prepared for team ministry in a congregational setting. In this setting, a DCE is:

  • A called minister of the Gospel;
  • A professionally trained parish education specialist;
  • A team minister who works with the pastor, staff and lay leaders of the congregation;
  • An administrator and resource person of parish education and youth;
  • A teacher of the faith, and;
  • A trainer of the laity for service inside and outside of the parish.


In 1959, the LCMS in convention resolved, "that congregations be encouraged to analyze their parish program and, where needed, to establish the office of Director of Christian Education in order to provide additional leadership for the educational program of the congregation." In 1962 in convention, the LCMS encouraged "the field to grow with the passing of another resolution that teachers' colleges be encouraged, with approval of the Board of Higher Education, to intensify the program for training Directors of Christian Education in their curricula." Almost 50 years later, there are six Concordia Universities that certify DCEs. Concordia University Texas is the newest to add DCE certification to its list of majors. At present, it is the fastest growing program on campus -- increasing almost 500% since beginning in 2000. Concordia University Texas accepts and abides by the Synodical mission statement for all DCEs established at the 1999 DCE Summit:

Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the DCE plans, administers and assesses ministry that nurtures and equips people as the Body of Christ for spiritual maturity, service and witness in home, job, congregation, community and the world. (Ephesians 4:11-16, 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

What are the DCE Career Opportunities? Right now, there are fewer than 800 DCEs serving within the full-time ministry of the LC-MS. In Texas and elsewhere, DCE graduates are in great demand.

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DCE Program Requirements (Total Hours: 134-145)

Four years of college work and one year of full-time internship are required to complete the Religious Education major with DCE Certification. Upon successful completion of the requirements, the student is awarded the DCE certification and is eligible for a Call into full-time ministry of the LC-MS as a Director of Christian Education. Scholarship assistance is available.

Beginning in Fall 2012, students wishing to be admitted into the Religious Education major will need to complete the following   course requirements:

Common Experience (PDF)

52-56 hours

Normally completed during the first two years of attendance.

DCE Professional Preparation and Supporting Courses (PDF)

73 hours

DCE Specialization

18-29 hours

(Added to the Professional Preparation hours)

Missional Emergent (PDF):
If you are interested in serving as a missionary or in a congregation outreaching to the community, this specialization is ideal for you. Students study the latest in missions philosophy not only global but also local. A Mission Trip is a required part of this specialization.

Theology (PDF):
Students selecting the Theology specialization take an additional 18 hours of theology, Greek, or Hebrew. These classes assist those students who desire a strong Theology background for teaching Bible classes in the parish or perhaps a student who is considering entering the seminary sometime in the future.

Children's Ministry (PDF):
This area offers a strong background in early childhood education. Students take courses in foundations of early childhood, motor development and learning, reading and special learner and school law. This specialization is recommended for students who are thinking of children's ministry or who have interest in assisting a congregation in beginning a Day Care Center at the church or working with a Mom's Day Out program.

Outdoor Ministry (PDF):

If you love the outdoors and ministry in an outdoor setting, this specialization may be your choice. With courses in botany, zoology, geology, astronomy, outdoor Christian education, first aid, and other science-related courses, you will be equipped to lead retreats, science camps or work in a camp setting.

Youth Ministry (PDF):

The Youth Ministry specialization serves as a way for DCE students to receive additional education, outside of the required youth ministry class, on how to minister to adolescents in our changing world. The Youth Ministry specialization is open to non-DCE students who desire to receive ministry education in order to work with adolescents in both church and para-church organizations.

Worship and the Arts (PDF):

If you are interested in leading people in worship through experiential forms such as music, art, drama, and/or visual design; then you should consider Worship and the Arts. Most students in this specialization go on to be worship leaders in a church setting but other possibilities are available as you will be equipped in many forms of worship expression.

Instead of a Specialization, a student may choose from one of the following minors or concentrations: Behavioral Science (PDF), Business (PDF), Broadcast ProductionComputer Science (PDF), Interpersonal Communication, Marketing,  Music (PDF), Political Science, Public Relations

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 Formal Admission into the DCE Program

Once you are at Concordia University Texas, you will need to be admitted to the Program. Applications should be submitted during the Spring application period.  Program admission forms are available in the DCE office and as a writable PDF form under the Requirements for Full Admission below.

Requirements for Full Admission (See the DCE Handbook for more details)

An applicant to the College of Education - DCE Ministry Church Certification program must:

  • Be a student in good standing at Concordia University, both academically and personally 
  • Meet the requirements for admission to the public ministry of the Church appropriate for entering the professional program.  Distinction is made between those entering the program and those finishing the program
  • A member in good standing of a congregation of a Lutheran Church
  • Have a minimum of 30 semester credit hours by the end of the semester of application
  • Be academically eligible, with a 2.50 or higher, both in the major and cumulative
  • Submit all application materials
  • Complete a Program Admission Interview
  • Receive approval from the DCE Program Director
  • Receive approval from the College of Education


Admission Materials

  • A 300-500 word autobiography documenting your personal and spiritual journey with Christ
  • Three completed Reference Forms (PDF) or Reference Forms (PDF form): One from a Concordia faculty or staff member, one from your congregational pastor and one personal (non-family, at least 21 years old)

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The DCE Senior Capstone Practicum classes are designed to give participants on-site involvement with a practiced DCE in order to acquire experience and skills related to DCE ministry. This normally occurs during a student's senior year.

Practicum Information and Forms:

Practicum Handbook (PDF)

Observation Form  (PDF)

Leadership Report Form (PDF)

Practicum Report Form (PDF)

Ministry Project Proposal Form (PDF)

Practicum Evaluation - Completed by Student (PDF)

Practicum Evaluation - Completed by Mentor (PDF)

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After graduation, the student performs and carries out the duties of a DCE in a directed and supervised, academic, one-year experience in a congregational setting. The paid, benefited internship is designed to enable the student to experience as many aspects of the educational and youth ministries in a parish as possible. The parish pastor or other church professional serves as on-site supervisor. The DCE Program Director or Associate Director serves as the University supervisor and campus contact.

Internship Information and Forms:

DCE Internship Application (PDF)


Complete DCE Internship Handbook 2011-12 (PDF)

Complete DCE Internship Handbook 2012-13 (PDF)

Complete DCE Internship Handbook 2013-14 (PDF)

Personal Budget Worksheet - p21 (PDF)

Inner Disciplines Assessment (Intern) - p22 (PDF)

Realistic Expectations Worksheet - p23 (PDF)

Principles of Effective Teaming Worksheet - p25 (PDF)

Behaviors of Effective Teaming Worksheet - p25 (PDF)

Intern Weekly Report Form - p28 (PDF)

Intern Weekly Action Planner - p29 (PDF)

Intern Time Log - p30 (PDF)

First Evaluation Form (Mentor) - p35 (PDF)

Second Evaluation Form (Mentor) - p37 (PDF)

Final Evaluation Form (Mentor) - p40 (PDF)

First Report Form (Intern) - p46 (PDF)

Second Report Form (Intern) - p48 (PDF)

Intervention Plan - p51 (PDF)

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The following links may provide helpful information for DCEs, especially those going into youth ministry:

Youth Specialties"Youth Specialties and Zondervan in partnership with Concordia University Texas are dedicated to helping teach those who've been called into the ministry of working with youth. We are official members of the Youth Specialties Academic Support Network. Visit the Youth Specialties website at www.YouthSpecialties.com to learn more about the training, textbooks, and resources that Youth Specialties provides."

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This page was last updated on Mar. 06, 2014.
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Our mission is to develop Christian leaders