Repost: Sinful Removal of Pastors — Let me count the ways…

countingEditors note: This is always timely but is being reposted because several examples of this horrid, shameful, and unchristian behavior have come to my attention.

 If you or your congregation are considering taking that “vote” to remove a pastor (or using such a vote to coerce his resignation), check to make sure that it is for legitimate reasons (persistent adherence to false doctrine; great public shame and vice [scandalous conduct]; willful and real neglect [or inability to perform] of his office).  If you are an official involved in removing a pastor check also to make sure it is for legitimate reasons…

Here are some thoughts to consider if your pastor is not teaching falsely, living in scandalous conduct, or gladly neglecting his duties (or unable to do them) in relation to the Ten Commandments:

 

The First Commandment

Who is your god if you have no Scriptural reason to remove this pastor and yet vote to do that or assist others in doing it?   Where is your trust in such a situation where you are “firing” your pastor?  God says that he is not mocked in regards to the support and care for pastors (see Galatians 6), where is your fear of God?

 

The Second Commandment

What does a sinful vote of a Christian congregation do to God’s Name?  What does it do if something has no supporting Scripture behind it but we still call it a divine action (such as a divine removal or even a human removal of a divine call)?  Luther in the Large Catechism calls the propagation of false teaching the worst violation of the Second Commandment (it’s not just about cussing), how does the unscriptural removal of your pastor teach any truth?

 

The Third Commandment

Are you gladly hearing and learning the word of God while you are voting out the man God has sent to you to preach and teach it?  Just who are you sending away, the preacher or the One who sent Him?

 

The Fourth Commandment

Pastor are considered fathers in the faith, does willfully removing your pastor or aiding in it honor his position as a mask of God?  Does removing his livelihood and calling honor him, serve and obey him, or love and cherish him?  By throwing him out the door of your church are you despising him, one of the “other authorities” that Luther names in the Large Catechism?

 

The Fifth Commandment

How does removing the livelihood of your pastor help and support him in every physical need?  This only gets worse if your pastor has a wife and then even worse if he has children.

 

The Sixth Commandment

How does the church casting out the messenger that her head, Christ Jesus sent to her work into this mystery of Christ and His Church?  Do you think such a “divorce” brings glory to God?  Jesus says that the ones who reject those He sends will be rejected by Him.

 

The Seventh Commandment

How does removing your pastor rate in relation to protecting his possessions and income?

 

The Eighth Commandment

Given that men who are removed from calls bear a giant black mark on their professional record, just what do you think an unscriptural removal does for his reputation?  Does masking your vote under district approval or other reasons exemplify the truth or a lie?  How has your conversation been about your pastor?

 

The Ninth Commandment

How does throwing out your pastor help or be of service to him in keeping his house or property?

 

The Tenth Commandment

How does casting your pastor out urge him to stay and do his duty?  Are you guilty of coveting another “type” of pastor?  For ear-itching pastors, see the Second Commandment again.

 

So you have it – sinfully removing a pastor (or helping to do it) without Scriptural cause is a good way to reap the wrath of a jealous God upon the children for the sins of the fathers for the third and fourth generation of those who hate Him (if you doubt that unscriptural removal is not hating God, then reread the questions above).

Repent.  Stop the vote.  Stop trying to starve him out.  God takes no pleasure in it, nor does He desire to punish for it – but He is not mocked.  You will reap what you sow on how you treat His messengers.

Christ did not die for you to act however you please – He died to earn the forgiveness of your sins, a forgiveness given through time and space through the means of grace – which is exactly why He sent you your pastor to publicly preach, teach, and administer for your eternal good.

As a final note, any comment attempting to talk about “bad pastors” will be deleted for being off topic and an attempted deflection of the serious matter at hand.

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO.

Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.


Comments

Repost: Sinful Removal of Pastors — Let me count the ways… — 131 Comments

  1. @Tim Schenks #21

    That is not true. Let’s hear from President Harrison on this matter. If that is true, then there are two kinds of divine calls. If it is true, then pastors who are serving at congregations should be warned never to take a call to a RSO because its not a divine call. Pastors should know this. District Presidents should tell pastors this before they allow a call to go through.

  2. I just can’t understand the people who are saying this catechetical instruction is useless unless names are named. When Jesus taught that it would be better to have a millstone hung around your neck and be tossed into the sea then to cause one of these little ones to sin, was that just gossip because he didn’t name names? It’s ironic that those who do name names are the very ones accused of breaking the 8th commandment. Sounds like a lose-lose to me. Either address issues in the article, or stop saying its mere gossip unless names are named. It’s beneficial for everybody to learn about biblical and unbiblical reasons for dismissing a pastor, whether a situation exists or not. I will no longer feed the trolls.

  3. @Reaper #48

    Maybe you can set the example by providing your full, real name and evidence that you are who you say you are. Perhaps you’ve done this on another comment thread, but it bears repeating for those of us who are not so regular on this forum.

  4. I often wonder, does anyone, remember what a/the Divine Call, really is? A call committee, is not a pre-ordering, committee. Every call committee, should be instructed, the weight of responsibility & accountability, as to what they, do. I do not think, this is done, anymore. Why I have no clue, as it impacts the livelihoods, families, and the lives of the Pastor & that Congregation, if done, with agendas or preferences.
    It speaks volumes, in showing a lack of faith & trust, in the Call itself and the reverence, we all should have, for that, Call.

  5. @Reaper #37

    Words of wisdom from my father: “Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see.”

    Words of wisdom indeed. With no disrespect to other posters intended, one thing I have learned in my life, is that people (including pastors) have this amazing ability to relate their problems in such a manner as to make themselves appear blameless. This is especially true if they are not blameless.

    We are a church body of over 6,000 congregations with about 9,000 clergy, and every last one of us are sinners. with numbers like that it would be shocking if no pastors were improperly removed. Reaper is likely correct in saying that those who are truly removed improperly, are a very small number. Those who say one improper removal is too much are also correct, but unless those claiming this is a problem are willing to provide specifics, these accusations must be treated as unproven.

    My experiences and observations are in no way statistically significant, but every example I have seen of a pastor supposedly forced out improperly (including non-Lutherans), involved fault on the part of both pastor and congregation. Pastor Scheer, I recognize that your article is not about “bad” pastors, but when discussing the removal of pastors, you simply cannot discuss one without also discussing the other.

    One last observation, if the situation has gotten to the point where “secret” meetings are held and the congregation “turns against” the pastor, there are almost always other issues involved.

    To those who have posted here who have undergone a forced removal, my heart goes out to you. Being fired (justified or not) is always traumatic, and the recovery is often years in the making.

  6. @Reaper #38
    Ok, let’s count. This shouldn’t take long because this type of thing is extremely rare.

    I’d say it’s pretty common, at least among congregations in the Altenburg, Cape Girardeau, and Jackson-Bootheel Circuits in the MO District …the three circuits nearest to where I live. Some have been successful. Some have not. The number of Intentional Interim Ministers in the MO District has tripled in the last eight years.

  7. @Tim Schenks #57

    Sorry Tim, you may as well be trying to tell me all of the places that Bigfoot has recently been sighted. You have no evidence to back up your claim. You were (I’m assuming) not present at those meetings and you are merely passing on information that badmouths three circuits and an entire district without any proof that such things have actually happened.

    Take Pr. Scheer’s advice: “If error is to be rebuked, evidence of the error ought to be provided.”

  8. The scriptures say that the desire to be a pastor is a noble thing. We would do well to treat it as such.

    A man who spends one to two hundred thousand dollars on an educational process that prepares him for no other line of work than that of a parish pastor, and does so in good faith, ought to be respected.

    Should he be removed unjustly or justly…..as some men find out they are not fit for the ministry only after a number of years in office….we ought to care for them and their families. Not only should there be financial help and some kind of retraining offered so as to prepare them to find gainful employment should the need arise for it, but most likely they will be in need of good counsel, an overall evaluation of their health, and most importantly good spiritual care. The Ministry is different than other vocations….when there is failure or scandal, it occurs where you go to worship…to receive the love of God in Christ. So a disruption there is a greater danger than disruption in other vocations. There is no Sanctuary…or at least it can seem that way to the one removed.

    Once the Church lays her hands on a man and Ordains him, they are now responsible for he and his family. I think it is fair to say that is a fact. Whether we are meeting our responsibilities is the big question.

  9. @David Hartung #55

    “Being fired (justified or not) is always traumatic, and the recovery is often years in the making.”

    It seems to me that this thinking is at the very heart of the misunderstanding in this discussion. A pastor is not “hired,” nor is he “fired.”

    A pastor is called by God through the congregation to be Christ’s undershepherd – the one who stands in Christ’s stead. According to our Synod’s understanding of the Scriptures, the pastor is placed there by Christ Himself to feed the lambs in a specific location, but that Christ works through the congregation to effect such placement.

    When Jesus sends out the 70, He tells them, “He who hears you, hears me, he who rejects you, rejects me.” The fact that it was not just the 12 being sent out is significant. The 70 represent all who are sent in Christ’s Name to fill the office He established. Thus, the words, “He who rejects you rejects me,” applies not only to those who reject the apostolic doctrine, but the very person sent.

    When a congregation removes a pastor, they reject him as “unfit” for the office. They publicly declare that he is NOT Christ’s sent servant, but is instead a wolf who comes to steal and destroy the sheep. Removing a man that they asserted that God had placed among them, is a claim to stand in the place of God once again, this time to pronounce God’s judgment that the man has become “unfit” and is now a wolf. It is a statement that says, “Christ has removed this man from office.” Therefore, the removing congregation bares the responsibility of proving it’s case AND of protecting the 5,999+ other congregations of the Synod from the wolf that has crept in among the pastor-teachers on our Roster.

    To assert that a pastor is a mere hireling is to teach contrary to the Scriptures, the Confessions, and the historic understanding of our Synod.

    I suppose one could make the assertion that the Holy Spirit has “made a mistake,” but I would be quite cautious of saying God could err. There is also the possibility that the calling process was corrupted and instead of truly seeking the man God intended, the congregation is reaping the “rewards” of 2 Timothy 4:3. But, even in this case, we assert that the man in office, unless clearly declared unfit by God, is the man God has put into office and only God can remove him from office. This occurs either through a call to another field of service or by God allowing him to fall into an immoral lifestyle [this would include dereliction of duty, domineering, etc.] or God allows him to persistently teach false doctrine. Both of these, we should note, should get him excommunicated from the church entirely as well, until and unless he repents and is absolved!

    The very fact that men removed from office without formal charges, excommunication, and a subsequent removal from the Roster of Synod is proof enough of the reality of the problem that Pastor Scheer discusses in this article. The fact that pastors are ousted from one specific congregation, but that congregation does not pursue the course of action to excommunicate him and have the man removed from the Roster as a wolf intent on killing and destroying the sheep of God’s church means that the congregation either does not believe the man is truly “unfit” to hold the office or at the very least, believes themselves incapable of proving his “unfitness” for office. In such a case, a congregation has no recourse but to pray to God for relief from the tyrant and await the time when God acts clearly and decisively to reveal the scoundral for who he really is.

    Otherwise, the congregation who removes a pastor without providing the reasons for his removal, reasons that makes a public, clear and convincing case that he is a scoundral and a wolf intent on the destruction of Christ’s church is simply making an “anonymous complaint” with “no specifics.” They have, likewise, been unloving and unmerciful to their brothers and sisters in Christ by allowing such a wolf to run free to kill and destroy Christ’s church elsewhere.

    By their actions, irrespective of the actions of the pastor himself, the congregation makes a positive confession about the doctrine of the call and the man they formerly claimed God had placed into office (namely that GOD HIMSELF has deposed him from office). We can talk about whether their confession lines up with the Scriptures. We can also talk about their failure to love and serve their brothers and sisters in Christ in other congregations by failing to excommunicate the pastor and their failure to bring charges to remove him from Roster. We can do all of this without discussing the merit of those charges.

    We can also discuss the steps taken by the congregation and the methods used by the congregation and whether or not they were appropriate and in keeping with Christ’s teaching concerning the Call of His undershepherds into office, without even touching on the question as to whether or not those steps or methods were rightly applied in a specific instance.

    As such, it is entirely possible, and from a catechetical vantage point it is profitable, to discuss the removal of pastors without discussing the actions of the pastors that led to their removal in specific instances.

  10. @J. Dean #59

    Dean
    I am not saying that this never happens. In fact it seems that it has indeed happened before. My problem is that people seem to be saying that this happens frequently and that synod/DP’s/circuits willfully allow this to happen, encourage it, or do nothing about it. I will not accept that claim without evidence of it being true. I have read posts on this website and comments that drag the name of their neighbors through the mud and offer no evidence. It’s wrong. Treating the gossip as if it is true is also wrong.

  11. Thank you Dave H. It’s what I was thinking & so glad you posted it, so perfectly. This coin, has 2 sides. It’s been a long time, Dave. Glad to see your post.

  12. Reaper’s comments have been a distraction from a post meant to teach and encourage congregations to do the right thing.

    I will not divulge specific situations because to do so would hurt pastors and their families, and could damage congregations as well. As to District/Circuit/Synod involvement in these things, there are a few things out there written about this and I would advise all to look at those. This piece is meant to help congregations do the right thing (whether they are considering the removal of their pastor or have done so already).

  13. It’s articles & threads, like this, that make me shudder, as the parent, of a Pastoral Hatchling (since age 6). Now, as he knows, the USMC is out for him, he’s looking at being a Police Officer, as well. Why? Because he is worried, about things, that the Call, should be, concerned over. I continue to encourage his 1st choice, but as a parent, I can’t lie. I’d rather see him, in a vocation, where he can see & know, where threats come from, while protecting those he is charged with. He was taught, all of Matthew, Chapter 6, I was taught, that is an across the board thing, not just subset thing.
    This 2 sided coin scares me, as a member, as a sheep, and now, as a parent.

  14. @Pastor Matthew Dent #61

    Matthew, you may wish to reconsider some of what you said.

    First I fully understand that a pastor is more than just a “hireling”, but the emotional trauma of being forced out of a call is at least as bad as that of being fired from a job.

    [A side thought is that when pastors move from church to church, they give credence to the idea that they are “hirelings”.]

    There are several cases of pastors being removed from their congregations because of reasons beyond the control of the pastor, would you call for their excommunication and removal from the roster?

  15. The original article is excellent in pointing out the steps to be considered by congregations in similar unhappy circumstances.  I also, however, have trouble understanding how common is the problem of sinful removal.  Unsubstantiated comments such as #6 have no place around here.  “Synod bureaucrats” whose unbelief is on full display –  really?

  16. @Heather #2

    Personally, I think we should do what the Catholics do outside abortion mills: if we hear of a vote being held at any LCMS church for the unchristian removal of a pastor, we need to stand on that church’s sidewalks and get down on our knees before and while they are taking that vote.

    You will not “hear of a vote”. The people voting will not hear of it till 30 seconds before. Then, no matter how many are sitting in stunned silence, “the ayes have it; the meeting is adjourned” in another 30 seconds. Those who ask, “why?” do not get truthful answers, if they get any at all.
    [Instead, there will be slander behind the pastor’s back, some months later.]
    These things are not done with the full knowledge and concurrence of the whole congregation. They are “hole in corner” hatchet jobs by a very few.

    Why does the majority of the congregation put up with it!?
    Good question!
    One pastor I know said he had ‘supporters’ who came to him by night, but when he finally gave in to a sustained barrage of hate from a small group, only one family, to his knowledge, actually left that group and went to church elsewhere.
    In another instance, a rescinding of a Call, a dozen or so relatively new members transferred, some, thoroughly disillusioned, to non Lutheran churches in their family backgrounds.
    The majority will value buildings and long term habits over a clean conscience. Why worry? They’ll get another pastor faster than the ousted man will get another call, even if the CC was involved and bitterly against the whole illicit procedure.

  17. Any comfort, for a parent, who’s child, has chosen the Call & it’s concerns? This article, (I’ve been at BJS for a fair bit) if my son is doubting, this article & thread are not, encouraging me, as parent. I am speaking as parent, who little one, has only ever looked at the Call, whether w/USMC, or WELS, LCMS.

    Is there no one, to in spite, of the post & thread, have no words of wisdom, guidance, encouragement, for all us parents? This is my son. My little boy. Every Pastor’s Call, spoken of here, is someone’s little boy.

  18. @David Hartung #67

    you may wish to reconsider some of what you said.

    I would be happy to! Please provide a scriptural or confessional foundation upon which I ought to reconsider anything I have stated and I would be more than willing to discuss it in depth. If you would like to contact me directly, you can find my email address in the LCMS online directory.

    I fully understand that a pastor is more than just a “hireling”,

    It’s not a question of “more than,” he is simply not. He is the man whom our Lord Jesus, Himself, has placed in that location to serve His lambs. Only our Lord has the authority to remove him, which He does through the voice of the congregation when it is manifest that the Lord has removed from the man the Holy Spirit so he falls into an immoral lifestyle or persistent false doctrine. Until that is clear and unambiguous, the assumption must remain, the Lord of the Church knows what He is doing and will see both the pastor and the congregation through the difficulties they are experiencing. What God has joined, let no man rent asunder applies as much here as it does in the case of a husband and wife.

    the emotional trauma of being forced out of a call is at least as bad as that of being fired from a job.

    Don’t I know it!

    There are several cases of pastors being removed from their congregations because of reasons beyond the control of the pastor, would you call for their excommunication and removal from the roster?

    No, if the congregation has claimed to speak with the voice of God to have the man removed and it is manifest that God has not deposed the him (i.e., it is not clear to those outside the situation that God removed the Holy Spirit from him and he fell into an immoral lifestyle or persistent false doctrine), he should not be removed from the Roster. Instead, the congregation should voluntarily withdraw or be removed from membership in the Synod for arrogating to itself the authority to speak on God’s behalf when God has not clearly spoken.

    And, to preempt another line of thought – what about those instances “outside the control of both the pastor and the congregation? (eg., an embezzelment that so financially devastates a congregation that they have to ‘let go’ an associate or assistant pastor)” [as was the case for me]. There are ways of dealing with that without violating the doctrine of the Call and subjecting the congregation to the judgment of God who says, “It will be more bearable for Sodom than for that town [which rejects you].” Unfortunately, all to often, in the heat of the situation, few people are thinking clearly enough to find a sound way and resort to what they know from the business world, “Cut expenses by firing staff.”

    This is one reason that this discussion and this article are so important. It’s important that we think about these things apart from an immediate crisis and even apart from the specifics related to specific cases. The teaching of God’s call of a man to a congregation is clear in the Scriptures and has been well understood throughout our church’s history. That we have recently tried circumventing it by creating “emergency loopholes” that become standard operating procedures poses a great danger to our fellowship, but more importantly to our witness and our members (as helen’s comment above points out).

  19. @Walter Troeger #50
    If it is true, then pastors who are serving at congregations should be warned never to take a call to a RSO because its not a divine call.

    Those who are most “technical” about the “divine call” will say that an RSO, or a synod cannot issue one. [Harrison has his courtesy call to a congregation for a reason.] Anyone who accepts a position at an RSO (including CPH) would be wise to have such a “back stop”. At the end of the job, even without being fired, the next call to a parish is very slow in its arrival.

  20. @Dutch #70

    To be sure, it’s frightening. God dealt far more graciously and mercifully toward me than some of my brothers in the ministry. I know that isn’t directly a consolation.

    We have His sure and certain Word, “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” FIRST, pray for your son and his congregation (or future congregation) that this evil will not befall them. While this IS a problem, and a growing one, it is not happening in every congregation. Pray that it will not happen in his.

    SECOND, be open and honest about it – acknowledge that it frightens you – and then comfort yourself with the Scriptures, “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

    THIRD, recognize that this is a problem because of sin in the world – and that problem isn’t going away until Christ returns when there will no longer be a need for pastors at all. It is not unfaithful to be as wise as serpents. When Paul was in want, or even in order to express the love that God had enkindled in him for those whom he served, Paul worked with his own hands to supply his needs (Acts 20:34). He had a “RIGHT” to be supported by those whom he served, but out of love, he did not exercise that right (1 Corinthians 9). The Church does not have a right to force a pastor to serve at a less than livable wage (notice, I said “The Church” – where a congregation cannot afford to supply the needs of a bringer of good news, her sister congregations should step up as the Macedonian churches did for the relief of those in Jerusalem [2 Corinthians 8] – the closure of struggling faithful outposts of the Gospel in our land is as much of a travesty as the deposing of faithful pastors). However, even though the Church has no right to demand it, a pastor has the right to love the people committed to his care by supplying his needs apart from the support of his congregation. If he has a strong desire to enter the ministry, and recognizing that the continued downward spiral of civilization may put him in a position where, to continue to do the work which a minister of the Gospel must do, he may need to also have a means of support not directly tied to that work.

    The Lord is faithful. He is gracious and merciful. We have been promised hardship and trial and trouble, but also we have been promised the strength, in Him, to endure faithful to the end. And that’s the important thing.

  21. @Deacon Brad #45
    I know personally a pastor for which the congregation (LCMS) cut the salary 50% because they wanted him to leave. He later left the LCMS.

  22. Thank you Pastor Dent. I’ve taught both, my boys, as both want to serve, quite a few things. If you are called & serve, you must, be able to support yourself & a family, should you choose to have one. With, or with out a Call. No member or child you teach, can always see threats & the enemy, the way others, who do not serve that way, can. You, should you choose this, will be held to higher account, from Above, that is where your aim, goal, & focus, must be, if that is what you choose, to do & know, not feel, KNOW, you are to do.
    Not many parents, trust me, I’ve asked, have 2 out of 2 kids, how have declared their chosen, vocation, like mine have. Scary business as a parent, not many ya can go to, when they are that little. My oldest graduates, HS next year, my youngest, the year after. They knew so, early, they were so little, when they knew. How scary is that, as a parent, looking, at the state of things?! I should be, being their Mum, is my, vocation, by election, not choice.

    But seeing this, both in my Lutheran Denom & their’s (WELS), scares me, more than I can say. I’ve seen this article, the original posting & both threads, that followed. Part of me, wants me boys, to dig ditches or do anything else, yet, I have a vocation, too. They knew, from so very little on, what they wanted to do. I am blest, to have that! I do all I can to encourage, remind, & edify, if called to, for them.
    These posts, remind me, as a parent, why I wish, they’d pick anything else, but the Divine Call.
    Sue me, I’m a fallen, sinful, parent. Show me one, who isn’t?!

  23. Our Lord said to his disciples, “I send you out as sheep amongst wolves.” The brutal, honest truth is that pastors risk everything in being pastors, even here in America.

    There are quick martyrdoms and slow ones. Given the choice, I would rather have my head cut off on beach than live the slow martyrdom some pastors must endure, all while watching the bloodless torture of wife and children. The betrayal, the lies, the feelings of shame, and sorrow, and forsakenness, and failure – and packing up the house, and telling your family and friends, doubting yourself, questioning God – decades – no, a lifetime – of suffering those wounds, praying desperately that your wife and children won’t walk away, even though you’re scared-to-death you might.

    There are some Christians who who not show compassion because they simply do not understand. They would prefer to scoff and quibble. We must pray for them, too, and treat them with love.

    Christians need to study what Pr. Scheer is teaching. Those who desire to be pastors need to understand that there is nothing at all that is “safe” about the pastoral office. And many of those “pastors” who “play it safe” will, on judgment day, find that their wise and winsome “safety” produced little more than wood, hay, and stubble.

    Who wants the sheep scattered? How does one scatter the sheep?

  24. IMHO, all men who desire to become a pastor of God’s people should be fully warned that all kinds of bad things can happen from the people in the congregation he serves. It can happen for trivial things or things that he had no control over. He should not count on the congregation being forgiving of mistakes or sins. He should not assume that they will treat him fair. And he certainly should not be surprised if the district doesn’t support him. I’ve known of pastors who were removed by their congregation for no good reason with full support of the district. The bottom line is that you can end up suffering in many of the same ways Jesus and his disciples suffered. It might happen that you indeed do spend many thousands of dollars and years of study, and end up with a very short stint as a pastor. Persecution and rejection should be expected for all who are truly Jesus disciples.

  25. having a well liked pastor that is a good teacher of Law and Gospel. I truly dread the day when we, as a board of elders and a congregation must place a call and replace him. I could not even dream of doing it in a hostile manner.

  26. @Rev. Loren Zell #77

    I’ve known of pastors who were removed by their congregation for no good reason with full support of the district.

    What’s amazing to me, here, is that so many can say, “I know one (or several) of these ill treated men personally” and yet others will say, “hearsay”, “prove it” or some other refusal to listen!
    I can’t help wondering if the ‘others’ are in denial because they are or have been complicit, and don’t want to accept that as a possibility.

    All the men that I have known have been confessional liturgical Pastors in “praise” districts. I have never heard of a man who pushed the “contemporary” service being removed from a call.
    What makes me so sad is that, five years after a vote for change, nothing has seemed to change.
    We get rid of the good Lutheran Pastors; we can’t get rid of the Matthew Beckers, and (semi-baptist) DP’s!
    [Sorry if that misjudged a baptist!]

  27. @David Hartung #67

    I have known three pastors personally who were forced from their calling congregations. Only in one of these did the congregation have valid reason. Our DP did not support the pastors or call the congregations to repentance. I heard this from members of the congregations, NOT from the pastors, who, yes, are friends, but who never bad-mouthed the erring flock to me. Whenever you imply that by taking another call a pastor is promoting his “hireling” status, I wonder if you have considered the reasons one may accept another call. Please be careful of judging motives pastors may have for accepting another call. That call, too, is from God and I am certain, is not taken lightly.

  28. @LadyM #80

    I have known three pastors personally who were forced from their calling congregations. Only in one of these did the congregation have valid reason.

    My only comment is that you very likely do not know the entire story in all three situations.

    This is always my caution. Make certain that your information is complete and accurate, before passing judgement, especially of that judgement is public.

  29. To all,
    In reality, we never know the true reasons for probably 90% of the situations. When confidentiality agreements are signed, that is it. When we want to talk about it and name names, nope.
    To fix a problem, you must understand it and open it up, dissect it, to understand it.

    We talk, talk talk, no true action.

    Perhaps that is the way it is?

    Want to talk, email me. I was involved in the removal of a pastor that should have resigned from the call. I was also forced to resign from a call.

    Still, God IS good and I continue to do His work.

  30. Pastor Dent,

    You seem to forget that pastors may also rightly/properly be removed for inability to carry out the duties of the office. For instance, a pastor who becomes disabled and can no longer truly carry out the duties of the office may rightly be removed. Obviously, the congregation would need to first of all do all they can to assure he is properly provided for (Concordia disability and/or Social Security, for instance). But there is nothing wrong in the congregation assuring that it has a man who can serve them.

  31. @David Hartung #81

    My only comment is that you very likely do not know the entire story in all three situations.

    Of course, someone like you, not at all cognizant of the given situation, probably has the better judgement!?

    My observation is that the people here who seem to know more about the removed Pastor/erring congregation than those “on location” do, seem all too often to be “alternate route”. I wonder about that. 🙁

    How do you keep that spreader so clean when it’s used so much?

  32. Over the course of my 20+ years as a pastor, I am aware of a number of situations in which the pastor in question claimed that his removal was unscriptural and without proper cause. I also am aware that, in more cases than I would like to admit, that claim was untrue: the congregation did have proper grounds. The sad thing is that the congregations, for a number of reasons (such as advice from the district president, or not wanting to “air dirty linen in public”, or not wanting to formally charge the pastor with false doctrine or scandalous life in order to spare his reputation), did not make plain those grounds thereby enabling the false claims by the removed pastor. It also enabled those men to move on to another parish and do damage there.

  33. @Rev. Steven W Bohler #85

    Exactly this.
    Districts and churches do a great disservice by not pointing out the hirelings and adulterers, letting them instead be shuffled from church to church and district to district.

  34. @Michael Borg #86

    Both of you, I agree, but the problem is still internally generated. No one wants to admit error or being wrong. The easy way out is often taken.

    Outside in the “other world”, a man is told, “you are not cut out to be a computer programmer, try another skill”, etc. Hard to swallow, but often it may be the truth.

    In the Church, “some” hide behind the comment, “I am divinely called.” Did the Holy Spirit goof up when the man is a bust?

    I know one thing, most all problems that occurred on both sides get buried, hidden by many ways.

    Transparency is not our best character. Perhaps we cannot be??

  35. @Pastor Prentice #87

    Well said.

    I am thankful that our Lord promised His Church divine perpetuity and that the Gates of Hell will not prevail against it – it is sad when the gates of hell occupy the Holy Office and those appointed to protect the church just shuffle them about.

  36. @Pastor Prentice #87

    What’s the measure of “when a man is a bust”? We’ve established the measure, on the basis of the Scriptures–the proper grounds for removal from office. Other than that, that is, where the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and the Sacraments are administered according to Christ’s institution, the pastor is not a bust. The Holy Spirit is still blowing where He will, so that men may obtain justifying faith. Is this an excuse for lazy pastors, pastors who don’t care to treat the people God called them to serve as the Holy Nation, the Bride of Christ, pastors who view their call as an “entitlement”? No, but these are all covered in those proper grounds for removal.

  37. @Rev. David Mueller #90

    Is this an excuse for lazy pastors, pastors who don’t care to treat the people God called them to serve as the Holy Nation, the Bride of Christ, pastors who view their call as an “entitlement”? No, but these are all covered in those proper grounds for removal.

    The above was suggested as examples of men who are not covered by Pr. Scheer’s topic, I believe.
    The men I know have remained on the roster and have had no charge laid against them or have even been told in public, in front of their congregations, that no “Lutheran reason” is involved and they are free to accept another call. [Should one appear!]

    “A few of us don’t like hearing what God’s Word says” is not a Lutheran reason!

  38. @helen #92

    To be sure, you are correct. I was responding to Pr. Prentice’s remarks re: the *measure* of whether a pastor is a “bust”. I do believe that the “gates” we have set up for men to get into the seminaries/pastoral education/certification programs have not always been as “narrow” as they should have been: “apt to teach”–“new converts”, etc. are a couple of the issues I’ve seen blow up on us. Once again, do we trust (when it looks like we’re going to have a pastor shortage, when a seminary becomes “desparate” for students, etc.) that our dear Lord really will provide shepherds for His Church? He teaches the Church to pray for laborers in the harvest, and will He ever fail to hear Her prayer? With all due respect, this was one of the “panic buttons” pushed to get us to “Licensed Lay Ministers/Deacons” and the SMP program–with all due respect to sincere men who have entered those programs and worked under them: “We don’t/won’t have enough pastors!”
    Do the right thing, even if it looks like the stupid thing, the wrong thing. I think there’s something in the Heidelberg Disputation along thos lines…. 😉

  39. @Rev. David Mueller #93

    With all due respect, this was one of the “panic buttons” pushed to get us to “Licensed Lay Ministers/Deacons” and the SMP program…

    And the truth was: “We don’t have enough pastors who will put the DP’s agenda over the Word”, who will “get with the ‘methobaptocostal’ program” [old terminology, sorry!]; who will go for the latest fad, even if their churches decrease because of it (not least because they were encouraged to invite the Lutherans to leave… and then found that the entertainment crowd left, too, when they were expected to support the congregation).

    [We apparently have enough of the “cooperate” sort now, most of them (if i read this list correctly) nowhere near the “hardship” congregations the program was supposedly designed for. Former CRM’s are more likely there!]

  40. @helen #94

    Dear Helen,
    Thanks and praise be you have us guys:
    01) Stay true to God’s Word.
    02) Urge all to be righteous with the Lord (“fear the Lord”).
    03) And when we all fail, we look to Christ and the Cross where He died, then rose.

    No fads here!

  41. @David Hartung #55

    “every example I have seen of a pastor supposedly forced out improperly (including non-Lutherans), involved fault on the part of both pastor and congregation.”

    Every example I have seen of a pastor supposedly forced out improperly involved fault on the part of both the pastor and congregation as well. However, in every case I’ve seen, the faults of the pastor and his subsequent removal were entirely different issues. Like the woman who dresses provocatively and gets raped. She is in the wrong for dressing provocatively, but the rapist is fully responsible for what he has done. She is not guilty of rape. Or the shrill, nagging woman who drives her husband crazy. She is guilty of…well…of something but if the husband runs off with another woman, he is completely at fault for breaking the bond of marriage.

  42. @Pastor Prentice #87 “Outside in the “other world”, a man is told, “you are not cut out to be a computer programmer, try another skill”, etc. Hard to swallow, but often it may be the truth.”

    In the “Church world” this is also done…when the Seminary certifies that the seminarian is fit to be a pastor. I am sure that some seminarians are approached that they probably aren’t going to work out…or aren’t they?

  43. I think we may, I say may, be forgetting, some things here. We know, there are rules, regarding dismissals & etc. for Pastors. There are also, Employment laws, at work here, as well. We have established, that Pastors have been asked to leave, with very thin causes & we’ve established, that Pastors who should have been, were not.
    We all need to understand, that employment laws, matter, just as much, within Synod, as they do, in any other workplace. We have established a/the process.
    Am I correct, in understanding, that the final decision, rests with each District?

  44. District has very little say — Synod is “advisory.” Pastors are considered self-employed regarding taxes, employed regarding the Concordia Plans, then it’s up to each individual congregation how anything is handled.

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