Need Your Input on Use of the Word “Ministry”

(from Pastor Rossow) I thought I would highlight a comment that I posted in answer to an excellent post by Luke (responding to Pastor Simcak’s ¬†insightful article on missionaries).


Here is Luke’s post:

Yah, our missionary situation is a problem. Although this is hearsay, it does come from a missionary – but one tells me that when the LCMS reports X number of missionaries being “sent out” in a given year the majority if not all are only being “sent out” for 2 weeks or so to learn a new language. Once they’re done, they come home and are reported in the “missionaries” numbers. I’d call them students. But hey, that’s just me.

With regards to whom can be a missionary, we’ve come to the point in our church where we’re going to need new names for all of these “dumbed down” vocations. The same thing is happening with the Call process and the Ministry. I have started being clear about all of these terms by using upper case and lower case letters. A Call is for a pastor. A call is for everyone else. A Minister is a pastor. A minister is someone in another vocation. And now I guess we’ll need Missionary and missionary too. Just my thoughts though.

Here is my post:


I am with you on this. It is so hard to keep people from collapsing distinct things into one thing, e.g. “Minister” and “minister,” “Call” and “call.” I like your tactic of using capital and lower case consistently and precisely to solve the problem.

In our congregation we struggle with the same. For instance, we are having a “ministry” fair this fall, i.e. a collection of booths in the gymnasium highlighting all the different service activities in our parish. When I used that term the other morning in a planning meeting, three of my laymen corrected me (based on my 15 years of catechizing them) by saying “pastor, we need to call it something other than a “ministry” fair since that word ministry ought to be reserved for the giving out of word and sacrament.” I accepted thier rebuke but still it is hard to find a good solution to this problem. We are going to try to be more precise and call it a “volunteer fair” or a “Christian services fair.”

I will keep you posted on any other aproaches that we come up with and would appreciate hearing any other solutions that you come up with. Anybody else out there have some insights into this?

I put my question to Luke to everybody out there – any further insights on this?


Pastor Rossow

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