ACELC — High Pastoral Care

May 22nd, 2014 Post by

ACELC-LogoI appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. I Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. I Corinthians 11:18-19 (ESV)

When you compare the two sections of God’s Word above, it almost sounds as if the Apostle Paul is trying to have it both ways, or is making a contradictory statement. Such is the paradox of being Lutheran. It is clear that God deplores division in His church. It is also clear that in a fallen world, God will use the divisions among us so that the truth of His Word can be recognized.

Sadly, there are many divisions of doctrine and practice among us in the LCMS. In the ACELC we have tried to fraternally point out these divisions, give evidence that they do in fact exist, and work  to bring about true unity under God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. Our work continues in all of these areas, and we pray for God’s continual blessing. We are also well aware that in pointing out the divisions that exist, some will accuse us of causing division. Often the messenger is blamed when the message is one we would rather not hear.

While our work continues, the question often arises, “What is a pastor to do?” “When my members travel or move to a new location, how can I care for them so that they are fed by God’s Word in its truth and purity (First Petition, Lord’s Prayer).” “When visitors ask to receive Holy Communion at the altar where Christ has called me to serve, do I examine them all or just a select few (I Corinthians 4:1-2)?” These are all matters of what I like to call “High Pastoral Care.”

At our most recent ACELC Conference, the member congregations of the ACELC unanimously passed two resolutions intended to give guidance and support in the name of “High Pastoral Care” and in light of the divisions that exist in our beloved synod. We offer them to the church at large for discussion and consideration.

In Christ,
Rev. Clint K. Poppe
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Lincoln, Nebraska
Chairman, ACELC

 

Link to Resolutions 14-01 & 14-02


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  1. LadyM
    May 22nd, 2014 at 12:07 | #1

    Praise to God that a group of people – pastors and congregations – have banded together to say, “Enough!” This waiting around until the DP’s do their jobs (which is a joke) is over. Let’s see, didn’t someone running for LCMS president say, “It’s Time?”

  2. DJ
    May 22nd, 2014 at 13:11 | #2

    I moved away from a LCMS congregation that became so liberal I no longer recognized the service and now am at a LCMS church where at least I can go to a traditional service 2 times a month and participate in the singing. The other 2 services in the month are contemporary albeit not horrible. I try to sing at the contemporary service, but I am totally lost. I also look around and see very few others singing. A 3rd CO/WO service is held at the 10:30 hour in a separate wing and it looks like a set-up for a night club. This is sadly the same space that our elementary kids worship at school and eat their lunches. What will they grow up to love? It is over folks. The LCMS is fading away and the ACELC can’t come quick enough or spread their influence far enough. My church has let me down but I keep hanging in there but I don’t see anything to give me hope anymore.

  3. LadyM
    May 23rd, 2014 at 11:50 | #3

    We need a website that true Confessionals can use to find truly Confessional churches that proclaim and teach Christ crucified for us poor sinners. And please, don’t start on the one that lists the liturgical congregations. I have perused that site, and some of the ones listed are liturgical, but not Confessional, because I have attended them. Women teaching men, laymen and women readers, preaching good works righteousness, and using the Bible class hours for Dave Ramsey seminars and “how to be a better ____” (from fundamentalist authors) does not equate to being Lutheran. Perhaps we just need to peruse the member congregations of the ACELC and see if one is close enough for us to travel there! Thankfully, my church is.

  4. Tim Schenks
    May 24th, 2014 at 00:11 | #4

    LadyM :And please, don’t start on the one that lists the liturgical congregations. I have perused that site, and some of the ones listed are liturgical, but not Confessional, because I have attended them.

    You can only get on that list if someone asks to be on it. The site owner doesn’t visit every congregation — there is a report/review feature on that site just for that reason.

  5. John Mundinger
    May 24th, 2014 at 05:42 | #5

    Who appointed the ACELC to be the gate keeper for God’s grace? How does refusing the Sacrament to those who would benefit or counseling persons who would benefit to decline to commune translate as “high pastoral care”?

  6. Rev. Robert Mayes
    May 24th, 2014 at 10:19 | #6

    @John Mundinger #5

    John:

    I don’t think that’s what Pastor Poppe or this post is saying. I don’t think the ACELC is about refusing the Sacrament to those who would benefit.

    Rather, it is that there are people who will not benefit from receiving the Sacrament due to an unworthy eating as described by 1 Cor. 11, and yet insist that they also receive the Sacrament. As a pastor, I have encountered this many times where a family member from a congregation that actively opposes the historic Lutheran Biblical teaching comes to our church. But in the Sacrament, we are to be reconciled with each other, which also includes being reconciled in what we publicly confess as the true teaching of the faith. So as a conscientious pastor, I want to give the Sacrament to help people, and not to stand against them for their judgment. That’s why I practice closed communion. I don’t want to be so heartless that I give someone something that will harm and destroy him.

    In my reading, that’s where the ACELC is coming from.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  7. John Mundinger
    May 24th, 2014 at 10:35 | #7

    @Rev. Robert Mayes #6
    Rev. Mayes – The Sacrament is Christ’s gift to us – His body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. It is the Church’s duty to celebrate the Sacrament frequently and to serve ALL who confess that they are sinners; who confess the real presence; and, who approach our Lord’s table desiring the forgiveness of sins and the nurturing of faith that we receive. It is not ours for the purpose of retaining what sinful humans perceive to be the “confessional integrity of the Sacrament”.

    If the ACELC is coming from the place that you describe, they are judging those whom they would refuse to serve as unbelievers. That conclusion is wrong and ACELC’s method is unrepentant sin.

  8. Tim S.
    May 24th, 2014 at 11:02 | #8

    John Mundinger :@Rev. Robert Mayes #6 Rev. Mayes – The Sacrament is Christ’s gift to us – His body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. It is the Church’s duty to celebrate the Sacrament frequently and to serve ALL who confess that they are sinners; who confess the real presence; and, who approach our Lord’s table desiring the forgiveness of sins and the nurturing of faith that we receive. It is not ours for the purpose of retaining what sinful humans perceive to be the “confessional integrity of the Sacrament”.
    If the ACELC is coming from the place that you describe, they are judging those whom they would refuse to serve as unbelievers. That conclusion is wrong and ACELC’s method is unrepentant sin.

    The ACELC’s goals have been listed on their website all along. They aren’t hiding anything. They’re asking congregations and pastors to merely do what they’ve already agreed to do. You’re the one doing the uncharitable judging, Mr. Mundinger. But since you brought up “confessional integrity”, aren’t you a member of an ELCA congregation?

  9. Rev. Matthew Lorfeld
    May 25th, 2014 at 14:07 | #9

    I ask this with about 95% seriousness and 5% with a light hearted sense of humor… did not a single person make a remark or point out that the phrase “High Pastoral Care” could possibly be misunderstood, especially in CO and WA?

  10. May 26th, 2014 at 09:35 | #10

    Pastor Lorfeld,

    Yes, Colorado is a bit of a national joke/embarrassment along with Washington State, but no, it does not affect our ability to work as pastors to provided something other than “Low Pastoral Care” to those coming to the Lord’s Table. I don’t know of any LCMS pastors in Colorado who are taking advantage of the new and ridiculous laws respecting pot. I do, however, appreciate the humor!

    Mr. Mundinger,

    You have consistently shown yourself to be far left of the Book of Concord and Holy Scripture both on this blog and at the ALPB site. As such, I seen no need to respond to your comments.

  11. May 26th, 2014 at 09:51 | #11

    It is interesting to me that these very needed resolutions are only a reflection of the current practice of Confessional pastors throughout our Synod for some time now. The LCMS’ walk together has become a sad charade of true Christian fellowship that finds its ultimate earthly expression at the Lord’s Table where the undivided nature of God and of the two natures of Christ are reflected in the true unity of what is believed, taught and confessed in every article of doctrine. To do any less is to imply that God (who is unity itself) is not at all bothered by variants of doctrine present at His table of unity. Where is the “god” who would postulate that multiple choice doctrine is fine with him? That certainly is not the nature of the One, True God of heaven and earth and any attempt to shrink this True God down to human expectations is nothing but a counterfeit of both God and the faith He has revealed to us.

    Altar fellowship is Church fellowship and not a cheap imitation of human expectations.

  12. LadyM
    May 26th, 2014 at 13:26 | #12

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #11 Amen and Amen! Well written! Thank you!!

  13. Amy
    May 26th, 2014 at 14:12 | #13

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #11

    Thank you, Rev. Bolland, for your comments.

    Unfortunately, some of our LCMS congregations’ teachings are so far removed from our Lutheran Confessions that it makes no more sense to remain in altar fellowship with them than it does to participate in altar fellowship with a Pentecostal or Baptist church.

    I would like to see all truly confessional congregations join the ACELC in an effort to right the ship. It would make it so much easier for us as laity to find new church homes as we move around the country or send our children off to college.

    I commend pastors of the ACELC for remaining steadfast in their ordination vows and for insisting that others do so as well, for the sake of unity in the One, True God of heaven and earth.

  14. May 26th, 2014 at 15:18 | #14

    Amy,

    Thanks so much for the kindness of your words for the ACELC. Quite frankly, what you propose is precisely what would promote much greater unity in our Synod. Can you imagine what would happen if say 500 congregations of the LCMS joined the ACELC and with one voice spoke to our Synod to say, “Enough is enough! Correct our errors and do it now!” That would be a strong, clear voice that our Synod bureaucrats could not ignore. Even though that number would only equal about 12 percent of Synod congregations.

    What has been most painful about the experience of the ACELC is the incredible silence of so many good pastors and congregations who seem to have blind faith in the Synodical machinery to right itself when all the evidence since 1945 clearly shows that no such Synodical will exists. Are there good men and women trying to be heard? Yes! By-in-large, their voices are truly ignored and their motivations are called into question. They say use the appointed means of redress that simply do not work, have not worked and are not likely to work. Instead, we are called “Liturgical Nazis” or “Legalists”, or “Black snakes in the bedroom that need to be thrown out of the house.” Now, frankly I simply do not care what others call me. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it and if others wish to denigrate me or my motives, that’s their problem, not mine.

    What is needed is courageous congregations and pastors who will simply do what Lutherans have done since the Reformation – declare God’s truth and call out error even if it must be done within our own Synod. That is my daily prayer that faithful Lutherans will simply insist on their own Synod being Lutheran!

  15. Rev. Matthew Lorfeld
    May 26th, 2014 at 19:37 | #15

    From whence did the term “High Pastoral Care” come? The email was the first I had ever heard of it.

  16. Amy
    May 27th, 2014 at 08:52 | #16

    It does take courage for pastors and congregations to call out error in our Synod.

    The fear that some may have of repercussions that come about as a result of taking a stand and insisting that our Synod be Lutheran is understandable. However, consider what our Synod will look like after 10+ more years (the amount of time we have to wait for any issues to be resolved as a result of the Koinonia Project) of false teachings. This should be feared much more than repercussions of declaring God’s truth and calling out error.

    For at least 10 more years, works righteousness and decision theology will continue to be taught to our children in Lutheran churches. Lutheran pastors and congregations which do not value our Lutheran confessions will continue to use Baptist and Pentecostal curriculums for teaching our children in Sunday school and Youth Group while the parents sit in another room blindly trusting that their children are getting a Lutheran (Biblical) education. These issues and many more are only getting worse and becoming more widespread.

  17. Amy
    May 27th, 2014 at 08:58 | #17

    Rev. Bolland is correct. The appointed means for addressing error in the Synod does not work. Our system is broken. Even when laity cry out first to the Circuit, then the District and finally the Synod leadership for help dealing with very specific, major errors in the church, the response is no response….not even acknowledgement that the formal complaint has been received.

    It is easy to ignore a small group of people who demand corrections be made. 

    “What is needed is courageous congregations and pastors who will simply do what Lutherans have done since the Reformation – declare God’s truth and call out error even if it must be done within our own Synod. That is my daily prayer that faithful Lutherans will simply insist on their own Synod being Lutheran!”-Rev. Bolland

  18. May 27th, 2014 at 10:23 | #18

    Amy, this is the scary thing about the Koinonia Project. Not only do we not know when the 10 year countdown even begins, not only do we not know what the plan is for bringing it to a conclusion is or how they intend to actually resolve the various issues, but it permits the cancer of false teaching and unbiblical practice to continue to exist among us for at least a decade before it is (hopefully) dealt with.

    What we know for certain is that false doctrine and unbiblical practice are most certainly not status, but dynamic. False teaching continually harms the eternal well-being of God’s people and continually gets worse, not better. Essentially, the Koinonia Project has placed a moratorium on the resolution of error within our Synod for an extended period of time without any assurance that it will actually resolve anything.

    Keep in mind as well that the Koinonia Project can disappear as quickly as did the Ablaze! initiative simply by having a different Synodical President elected at any given Synodical convention. Matt Harrison has no guarantee of re-election and if you think that the liberals in our Synod are going to sit idly by while Harrison slowly makes Confessional appointments to important Synodical positions, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell ya! The other sad possibility is that the liberals among us might be quite satisfied to have Harrison continue in office since his presidency has certainly given them nothing to be particularly worried about respecting their ability to believe and practice as they wish.

    Anyone remember when “Here I Stand!” actually meant something?

  19. John Rixe
    May 27th, 2014 at 10:57 | #19

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #18

    …but doesn’t the future direction of the synod toward Lutheran orthodoxy largely depend on what is being taught and promoted in the seminaries?   Respectfully, how will ACELC deal with this challenge?

  20. May 27th, 2014 at 13:20 | #20

    Depends which seminary you are speaking of.

  21. helen
    May 27th, 2014 at 13:59 | #21

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #18
    Essentially, the Koinonia Project has placed a moratorium on the resolution of error within our Synod for an extended period of time without any assurance that it will actually resolve anything.

    In fact, it is designed to drift off into the sunset….

    The other sad possibility is that the liberals among us might be quite satisfied to have Harrison continue in office since his presidency has certainly given them nothing to be particularly worried about respecting their ability to believe and practice as they wish.

    Why not? They go on importing willowcreek, and the other ‘protestant’ practices…. and they don’t even get the flack they used to get. :(

  22. Tim S.
    May 27th, 2014 at 14:06 | #22

    Rev. Richard A. Bolland :Depends which seminary you are speaking of.

    Pr. Bolland,

    Some of the most Confessional Lutheran pastors I know (Rev. Dave Dissen, Rev. Alan Wollenburg, and my own…Rev. Marty Reed) actually graduated from St. Louis.

    Tim

  23. John Rixe
    May 27th, 2014 at 14:59 | #23

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #20

    I would think all seminaries.  It seems to me this would be a major focus (or even the primary focus) of ACELC’s efforts.

  24. May 27th, 2014 at 15:47 | #24

    John and Tim,

    I do not mean to cast aspersions on every STL graduate. As you correctly point out there are many fine pastors from the STL seminary. However, I do have grave concerns with the STL seminary these days. Case in point – While rooming with a DP a couple of years ago, he confided in me that every year he must fill out a request form for each seminary itemizing what kind of graduates he is looking for. Every year he asks for traditional, liturgical men who practice closed communion. Every year Fort Wayne provides those men and every year he receives a note back from STL indicating that they have no such men for him. I think that says it all.

  25. Randy
    May 27th, 2014 at 16:31 | #25

    Rev. Richard A. Bolland :John and Tim,
    Every year he asks for traditional, liturgical men who practice closed communion. Every year Fort Wayne provides those men and every year he receives a note back from STL indicating that they have no such men for him. I think that says it all.

    Well put Rev. Bolland. I’ll take it a step further. The fact that a DP has to ASK for traditional, liturgical men who practice closed communion is a sad commentary on our seminary system and synod. ONLY men with these theological beliefs should be coming out of our seminaries. Men who hold contrary positions and beliefs shouldn’t be ordained. Yet, the Willow Creek-ers continue to flood the ranks of ordained LCMS pastors.

    It’s like a zookeeper who opens all the cages of the dangerous predators and lets the beasts run free only to later realize that he has a big mess on his hands. Such an action would be illogical, harmful, careless, a total disregard for his vocation, and just outright stupid. Yet, our seminary system does it all the time.

  26. Tim S.
    May 27th, 2014 at 17:14 | #26

    I guess that’s why both the men from our congregation who went to Seminary in the last seven years went to Fort Wayne. :)

  27. May 28th, 2014 at 10:13 | #27

    If you really want to see the dialog respecting these resolutions check out the ALPB “Your Turn” blog. The libs really show their colors!

    http://www.alpb.org/forum/index.php?topic=5481.60

  28. Randy
    May 28th, 2014 at 20:23 | #28

    @Rev. Richard A. Bolland #27

    Rev Bolland,

    Having a logical and thoughtful discussion with most liberals is like playing Frisbee with a helium balloon. Individuals, or groups of individuals, who refuse to acknowledge that “right and wrong” exist are beyond reason.

    The really unfortunate thing is that a Christian pastor should be the last one to have such issues. Yet, in our synod, many of these pastors are unapologetically teaching and preaching whatever they “feel” is right while concocting a max effort defense of their right to do so.

    Thank you for all you do!

  29. May 29th, 2014 at 07:55 | #29

    Randy,

    Yes, occasionally I must come to the conclusion that debating theology on the ALPB site is a bit like casting pearls before the swine, but there are some others on that blog who are actually being thoughtful. Not too many, but some. It’s also helpful to know what some of the DP’s within our Synod are actually saying as it provides some insight into their rather strange view of things.

    You’re welcome but just one voice doesn’t make much difference…that’s why belonging to the ACELC is so important!

  30. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    May 29th, 2014 at 14:42 | #30

    @Rev. Matthew Lorfeld #15

    Sorry for the delay in responding… just back from vacation.

    I have borrowed the term “High Pastoral Care” from Rev. Brent Kuhlman here in Nebraska. In general it means a pastor who knows and visits his people (the Lutheran term would be “seelsorger” or curate of souls) as opposed to some of the current trends where the pastor is more of a “CEO” type and does little “hands on” pastoral care.

    Thanks, Clint

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