To encourage young people to consider teaching or pastoral ministry, LES principals could send motivated boys & girls (Grade 3-8) to lower grades as classroom assistants and send mature boys (Grade 5-8) on ride-alongs with pastor to hospitals (as allowed), nursing homes, and private homes. LES principals should attempt to include public school students as well as LES students in this intern program. Involving young people at an early age may identify those with aptitude, spark passion for teaching and preaching, and cultivate abilities.
In 2005 our Commission on Youth Discipleship chartered a study of WELS pastors and youth to determine why our youth were leaving the church. What struck me as most important in the study was the observation that pastors and youth reported different reasons for youth leaving the church. They did not agree. There was a disconnect.
In our 2007 review of ministerial training, we should learn from the 2005 study and not assume that we know why young people do/do not enroll at MLC. I'm reluctant to push all young people to MLC because (as Adam and Troy mentioned) we've all seen examples of people who dropped out of MLC or public ministry after giving it a try. As a Synod all of our youth are a precious gift -- not just those in ministerial training -- and we should be mindful of the effect of our actions on all youth. If we push them to attend MLC, and they don't, or if they drop out, have they disappointed us? Are they failures? I think consensus in this thread is that all vocations can be God-pleasing.
If we make opportunities for youth to experience teaching and preaching ministries at a young age, and as a result they are self-motivated to pursue those professions, our Synod will have a healthy, confident team of workers to help with the harvest.