Interesting Angle on Ablaze’s Shortcomings ““ Starting Churches without Pastors, by Pr. Rossow

Here is a quote from a recent Ablaze newsletter. It is written by an Ablaze worker in the Philippines (LCP).


The LCP has 92 churches, many of which are mission stations, and 26 ordained pastors

with an Ablaze goal to establish 100 new churches by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

(October 31, 2017)!

The newsletter I quoted from was reporting and rejoicing in laypeople being taught to evangelize. As the quote says The Lutheran Church Philippines has 92 churches, 26 ordained pastors and “Ablaze Philippines” is starting 100 new churches. Here is the interesting angle on Ablaze and how  it all ties together with so many of the comments on this site recently about the lack of funding for our seminaries and the faulty SMP program.


Ablaze is so concerned about reaching its goal of starting a gazillion congregations by 2017 that they are by-passing the godly process of training pastors well and starting churches only with trained pastors. The church is watering itself down with church starts without pastors and SMPs (specific ministry pastors – a short cut into the ministry with little residence time at the seminary, like getting your MD through correspondence classes) to the extent that we will end up one day with a very weak church that is not able to withstand the flaming arrows of the Evil One.


We need to slow the Ablaze train down so that we can redirect our resources and reorient our efforts to teaching well qualified pastors and then starting churches with those pastors. But it will objected that we do not have enough pastors to start churches. In that case, then, we need to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He send workers into the field rather than tilling fields with inadequate equipment. When our children start to put the cart before the horse we instruct them to slow down and be patient. Ablaze reminds me in so many ways of an impatient, antsy prepubescent that just needs to slow down and grow up a little. As a matter of fact, the whole race to re-make the church in the form of the culture (contemporary music and Hawaiian shirted clergy and the like) also looks to me like a teenager church. We need to grow up in the teaching of the Lord so that we are not tossed to and fro by the waves of unsound teaching. We need to give up this quest to be a titillating church that tickles the fancy of adolescent tastes and grow up into the mature church that God wishes.


Our congregation recently gave several thousand dollars to the Luther Academy to support an exciting new opportunity in Indonesia. And what was that opportunity? It was the opportunity to better train pastors in Indonesia who want to be more confessional in their Lutheranism. That is truly on-fire work. May our synodical leaders recognize this practical error of starting churches without well trained clergy and stop putting the cart before the horse.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


Interesting Angle on Ablaze’s Shortcomings ““ Starting Churches without Pastors, by Pr. Rossow — 50 Comments

  1. Rossow wrote, “…the whole race to re-make the church in the form of the culture (contemporary music and Hawaiian shirted clergy and the like) also looks to me like a teenager church.”

    To their credit, most teenagers even recognize that this whole tendency to dumb down the church & make it hip, cool, relevant is simply patronizing & silly.

  2. Unfortunately, revgeorge, actual teenagers, who might recognize condescension when they see it, aren’t the ones in power.
    These are supposed grownups, who’ve–more unfortunately–failed or refused to get over themselves and their childish ideas. And they aren’t playing; they’re dead-serious.
    They’re taking a grownup entity and re-making it into their own immature, wanton image, and, just as if they were indeed children, will stop at next-to-nothing to have their way.
    And it’s ‘grownups’ who are falling into line. It’s not children who are adapting their churches to the culture, or clamoring for it; it’s the ‘grownups’ in charge of those churches, and other ‘grownups’ who allow it.
    There are undoubtedly more children-over-40 in the LC-MS, in charge and in-line, than there are actual children.

  3. Susan, you had me confused for a moment; it sounded like you were talking at first about the current White House administration. But then I realized you were actually discussing the Purple Palace adminstration.

  4. The similarities are striking, aren’t they Carl Vehse?
    We could pretty much post our same objections on Lutheran and political sites.
    Satan loves this age.

  5. Just playing devil’s advocate for a moment…

    Did Paul put the cart before the horse? He didn’t seem to spend more than a few weeks in a city before moving on to start a new congregation (with a few exceptions). Somehow I doubt that 3 weeks was enough time to fully train a pastor. Also his instructions to Titus to appoint elders suggest that many churches were started without pastors.

    I’m not saying I am onboard with Ablaze, but what is the harm of establishing new congregations?

  6. Dan G,
    Isn’t a congregation poorly served if they don’t have an ordained minister to teach them God’s Word, preach the Gospel, absolve sinners in the stead of and by the command of Christ, and administer Baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

    Should it be the goal of a synod of well served congregations to start new congregations which are poorly served?

  7. Dan,

    I would say that Paul’s model is a good one. He is constantly talking about getting elders (i.e. pastors) in each place that he goes. He also returns as often as possible to build those elder up with continuing education if you will (e.g. Acts 20). I would say that Paul was quite conscious of getting a pastor in each church.

    Starting a church without a pastor is like starting a medical office without a Dr.


  8. I would agree that ultimately these congregations need pastors, and they need them as soon as possible. Is it Ablaze’s goal to have congregations which will never have regular pastors? It seems that it is better to have a congregation with no pastor than no congregation at all.

  9. Dan,

    In the end, we should not choose between the two. They go together like hand in glove. You cannot have one without the other. It is very appropriate that Walther titles his book “Church and Ministry.”


  10. The LCMS web site says that Ablaze is “an initiative to ignite 100 million hearts with the Gospel!” A quick search shows that National Mission Ablaze! goals include:

    2000 New Mission Starts
    600 Covenant Congregations
    2000 Revitalized Congregations

    If I remember right they want to do this by 2017. I didn’t check to see what they mean by “Covenant Congregations” or “Revitalized Congregations.” 2000 new mission starts is a laudable goal, and if the synod wants to set a goal like this it should use less of God’s gifts on bureaucratic expenditures and more on training and supporting pastors. The LCMS should more faithfully follow Christ’s model of Word and Sacrament ministry and spend less money hiring business consultants to figure out how to best “grow” the Church.

  11. ‘It seems that it is better to have a congregation with no pastor than no congregation at all.’
    If that were the necessity, then perhaps.
    But what proves, or even suggests, that necessity?
    And why not make the goal new *pastored* mission sites?
    Why not make the goal new confessional pastored mission sites?

  12. Rossow, you wrote: “Ablaze is so concerned about reaching its goal of starting a gazillion congregations by 2017 that they are by-passing the godly process of training pastors well and starting churches only with trained pastors.”

    How very baptist of Ablaze. In fact, the more one looks at the stuff happening by Ablaze, the more similarities to baptist theology and practice it appears. If this awful business of side-stepping a properly trained clergy continues, it will leave our children and grandchildren and generations to come with a theologically bankrupt church . . . *sigh*

  13. OK, I just have to step in here with my 2 cents… I am in a small town in Idaho. There are at least 4 other LCMS churches in near by towns that, like ours, have no pastor. And they haven’t had one for several years. For a long time we didn’t even have a visiting pastor. These small churches can not pay a full time pastor. But you know what? In these churches you will find GOD’s people!

    I find it amazing how the pastors of the LCMS lose their focus on the big picture of God’s plan and what their job really is. I praise the SMP program and the LAP program. I believe that the trainig that is provided is enough to correctly lead a small church in the direction of salvation. If you do not think this is the case, then I invite you as self proclaimed experts, to help in the education of these people! Check it out for yourselves!

    What is our job as Christians? To sit around and talk about how someone is attempting to spread God’s word, or to actualy make an attempt ourselves to spead God’s word.

    If you do not like the ablaze program, then help start a program that you do like. If these churches that we start help to save ONE PERSON, won’t all of the effort be worth it?

    I expect more from Pastors! After all you are working directly for God. Only He is your boss! Can you not just do his work? If this is not a good program, find a way to repair it.

    We need to stop the bitching about the LCMS, and support it! By supporting it, we can work on keep it true. Do you think all of this is productive in God’s eyes? Drop the negitive attitudes, guys….

    Fact: the LCMS is the closest church on earth to the truth. True or false?

    We need to be there for God’s people. If the ablaze program is a way to do this, then let’s get behind it and make it work. If it is short on Pastors, lets get some of you who have nothing to do but bitch in there to help.

    I want to know what YOU are doing! This web site is only making the Lutheran church look bad. Is that your goal? Is that God’s plan?

    Let us pray.
    Dear Loving God, please forgive us our short comings! We are so near sighted, that we fail to see your plan for your kingdom here on earth. Please send your Holy Spirit to us to open our hearts to see the important things in life here on earth. In the name of Jesus Christ, who was here in the flesh to teach the first pastors, Amen.

    layman dan d

  14. Dan,

    Thank you for your participation on this website. It is much appreciated.

    In response to your points let me offer a few things. First of all there are more lay people who comment on this site than pastors so this is not a pastor thing.

    Secondly, each of the pastors and lay people commenting on this site are involved in bringing others to Christ. We do not have a problem with the goal of Ablaze but the faulty means that it uses, such as starting churches when we have a clergy shortage. Your situation is a perfect example. We should supply the congregations we have rather than starting new ones that we cannot staff.

    I have to run now but hopefully we can continue this conversation.


  15. Dan,

    As a layman, I recognize the importance of having a pastor. Another Dan brought up Paul, saying he didn’t stay in one place that long. If Paul didn’t stay, he did always leave someone behind to guide the new congregation (Timothy, etc.) He also brought the concept of what we think of elders to bear – so the Pastors wouldn’t have to “wait on tables” and could focus on the most important matters of the church – studying the Word, praying, etc. Things laymen don’t have full time to do.

    We ask Godly men to lead us in the right administration of the Word and Sacraments, for good order and because it is what Jesus told us to do, and Paul enacted. Without a pastor, yes a congregation can get by, but is it the ‘best’ way to get by? Just as with our liturgy, it is not the only legitimate way to order a service, but since it uses the Word of our Lord, is arguably the best way.

    If things are worth doing, they are worth doing right.

  16. Dear Dan D,
    I too am a layman and part of BJS. Thank you for raising your concerns. I pray for the day there is more unity of doctrine and practice in the LCMS so that less correction is needed. Until that time we are conscience bound to call our brothers to task where we see the pure teaching of God’s Word and faithful stewardship of His gifts, lacking. None of us is better than another. We all sin much and indeed deserve nothing but punishment. That is why we daily return to our baptism, repent of our sin, and ask our Father for forgiveness. He has always been faithful to forgive.

    I am saddened to hear that your churches in Idaho are without shepherds or under-shepherds as the case may be. I pray that God will send workers to your fields.

    Part of what BJS is about is training laymen in the pure doctrine of the Church. I think it would be beneficial for the brothers in Idaho to be part of the Brothers of John the Steadfast. The more we are in the Word together and sharpen one other, the better it is for the church.

    We all want to be positive and we desire peace, but like Christ we must stand up for the truth. Jesus was not always positive. He chased the merchants out of the temple because he had zeal for his Father’s house, as it was to be a house of prayer. He told His own disciple Peter to “get behind me Satan” because God’s will, not man’s nor Satan’s, must be done.

    Is Ablaze all bad? No, but it has serious flaws that are unscriptural. These must be pointed out and corrected or those who know better are guilty of letting their brothers go down dangerous roads.

    I don’t know about making the Lutheran Church look bad. Since the Church is made up of people like me I suppose it is bad, but the Lord and bride of the Church is Good. He is Perfect. He will never leave His Church nor forsake us.

    Peace be with you brother Dan,

    Yours in Christ,

  17. Dan,

    Here is another thought for you. Find a good concordance to the Bible (a book that lists every use of main words in the bible) and then look up the word “evangelize” or “evangelism.” What you will find is that nearly every use of the word is connected to the work of pastors. This is probably a new revelation for you but it is straight out of scripture. Evangelism (and thus church planting) is the work of pastors.

    BTW – a great concordance on line can be found at the website for the ESV Bible.


  18. Is the Ablaze program the problem here, or the lack of clergy. It is my belief our (LCMS) problem is in our clergy training.

    Correct me if I am wrong.

    In order for me to become a pastor the normal way, I would have to go back to school to earn a degree of some kind. It really doesn’t seem to matter much what kind of a degree, just a degree. This takes about four years.

    Then, I would enter the sem for another four years. So, this is eight years of schooling…. to go to work as a pastor. I could also be a doctor in the same amout of time or even less.

    I, as a layman can point people to Christ and help them to gain salvation. But I, as a layman, can’t do heart surgery. Are you seeing any of this?

    I believe that todays pastors are afraid of their jobs. They had to go through all of this schooling to get to where they are. So, they believe that all pastors should do the same.

    They believe only they can minister the sacrements. (Non arguement. Read Luther, the power is in the Word, with the elements. Not the Word through the man, with the elements. To be called by the flock, and some simple instruction is enough to do this correctly.)

    I have news for you. The world is changing! NOT God’s Word, the world. We need a faster way to keep up with the world!

    Did Paul go to school for eight years before he began his mission work? NO.

    Any of the 12? NO.

    Do I need to go to school for eight years to do God’s work in the church? NO. Not as long as I have help from those who have.

    I have seen faults in pastors from the LCMS, just the same as lay. I have seen pastors who argue about how good the LCMS insurance company is, when more than half of their sheep have no insurance at all, trusting in God to get them through. Where is that trust? I can go on and on, but we are all just sinful men.

    Bottom line. Lets make more pastors, to tend to the ever growing flock. If we don’t there will be no need for the Lutheran church anymore.

    We have an amazing tool called the internet. With it we can share all kinds of information. Tak e a look at the tools that are out there. Lets use the pastors in the field to help train the up coming. They should learn more that way anyway. Let’s keep learning. And keep teaching! And lets lower the cost and requirements for the sem… Where would anyone get enough money to go there nowdays?

    I would like to talk to someone about the content of this website. e-mail [email protected]

    Pray! and listen and watch for his reply!

    dan d

  19. The Bible does not say one must study in a classroom for 4 years to become qualified to minister or evangelize. It is shameful that one must take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt to obtain the requirements for ordination. Apprenticeship is more biblical. Also, congregations should be able to send a qualified individual from their congregation for training to become their pastor, and not have to be without him for 4 years or spend a hundred thousand dollars to do it.

    I often wonder if requiring such extensive schooling of all pastors results in some pastors turning away from pure hearts and sincere faith for meaningless talk in a fashion more suitable for attorneys.

  20. In reading through this thread it brings me to think of a Pastor in southwest Texas. He shepherds four congregations over one hundred miles apart. These are small congregations that each cannot afford a full time Pastor. There are ways for those congregations in Idaho to have a real Pastor. They just need to put away their individual desires and join with the other congregations to call a Pastor. There are men willing to serve several small congregations because they are called to serve the Lord.

    Pastors, join ELDoNA. Laity, join The Augustana Confraternity

    Bill, the fire starter, uncivilized lump of coal and official speed bump,

    For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
    Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great
    number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will
    turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. ll Tim 4:3,4

  21. Quote >>>


    Here is another thought for you. Find a good concordance to the Bible (a book that lists every use of main words in the bible) and then look up the word “evangelize” or “evangelism.” What you will find is that nearly every use of the word is connected to the work of pastors. This is probably a new revelation for you but it is straight out of scripture. Evangelism (and thus church planting) is the work of pastors.

    BTW – a great concordance on line can be found at the website for the ESV Bible.


    Comment by Pastor Tim Rossow — March 31, 2009 @ 11:06 pm


    OK, then… Pastor Rossow, how many new churches have YOU started?

    How many did Paul start?

    If it is the Pastors job, then let’s do it. Get them going! What is there, 330 million in the US? How many of them does God want to see in a Christian church? Are you then failing God by not starting a new church to reach the lost sheep?

    How many pastors do we have? If they each started one new church….

    Again, I think the Ablaze movement is a move in the correct direction. Is it flawed? Yes, I’m sure. But, do you know what? I have seen what God can do. And you would be amazed too if you open your eyes!

    Dear Lord, Creator of the earth, holder of all life on earth, please forgive us our short comings, and give us the insight to see your will, and your will in motion! Let us not stand in the way of your work. Instead let us jump in and help as we can. Let us not cut down your church body the LCMS, but support it and it’s work. When we find flaws, let us correct them with methods that support your ways, and not with down grading words of hate and malevolence. We ask that YOUR will be done, not ours, as we can’t see the big picture. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. AMEN.

    dan d

  22. How many churches did Paul have to admonish because they had fallen into false teaching?

  23. Yes Marcy, but how many survived? One of those churches Paul started in faith, may be the very reason we are here today! If we do only things that are safe in OUR opinion, will we be able to do anything but sit behind closed doors at home? Afraid to go out side? Afraid of failure? By even thinking these new churches will fail is putting a limit on our faith and in God’s abilities.

    I am in a church without a pastor. Would I like to close our church? NO WAY. We have many positive things going on here! Our numbers are even growing! Everyone should have the same chance!

    No disrespect to pastors, but they do not have the corner on God’s Word. He does! If there are not enough pastors to go around, God will provide the leader. Trust the one who made us!

    Look up to Him, and you will see! Jesus died on that cross for His sheep. It is our job as Christians (not just pastors!) to find and tend to His sheep.

    dan d

  24. Dan,

    We trust Christ precisely BY trusting in the things He sets in place, not by going our own way. He set in place the holy ministry. If we don’t feel like we need what Christ set in place, then it is NOT trusting Him.

    You should say that we should trust God enough to call a pastor, rather than say we should trust Him enough not to. The second statement is nonsense.

    The ministry is the preaching of the Word and administering of the Sacraments through a man called by the congregation. If a congregation does not have those things, they are starving spiritually, no matter how positive things may seem.

    No one is saying we should do things that are safe in our opinion. But we should only do things that are safe in God’s opinion, according to His Word. The holy ministry is one such thing, because it makes the sheep safe in the preaching of the Word.

  25. Dan,

    Trusting Jesus means trusting what He has set in place. He set in place the holy ministry. If someone tries to trust in Christ while rejecting or being indifferent toward the holy ministry, they are not really trusting in Christ at all. If a congregation trust in Christ and hungers for His Word, they should trust Him enough to call a preacher.

    The holy ministry is not an optional extra, as we Lutherans affirm in our Augsburg Confession. The holy ministry is men called to preach and administer the sacraments. I think you’d agree that we all need those things. Through them, Christ feeds His sheep. Without them, Christians starve spiritually, although they may feel that they are perfectly fine.

    Rev. Andrew Eckert

  26. Oops! Please pardon the duplication. There was a technical hiccup somewhere.

    (At the very least, we preachers do not have the market on techno-knowledge.)

    Sorry for repeating.

    Rev. Andrew Eckert

  27. OK, yes that is true. But how does this feed the sheep?

    Quote >> If someone tries to trust in Christ while rejecting or being indifferent toward the holy ministry, they are not really trusting in Christ at all. <<> If a congregation trust in Christ and hungers for His Word, they should trust Him enough to call a preacher. <<< Yes this is true.

    Please use God’s Word AND Luther to define a pastor…. Look in the Abiding Word. This may solve some of your lack of faith in this matter.

    Here are 5 congregations here in Idaho without a pastor. What are we going to do with them? Not a one of them has enough members to support a pastor. EVERYONE of them has Christians in them! They are doing fine. The local Pastors help them when they need help, and are not getting watered down faith.

    I think we have lost the point here. Ablaze is going to start new churches. That is not the problem. We should be behind this 100%. The problem is what WE (you too!) are going to do to help them succeed. There are lots of ways to do that. Provide sermons, hymnals, music, teaching materials, overseers, etc. Even YOU could pick one of these new churches, and through the internet help them stay on the true path, by mentoring their new leader.

    Each of these new churches will have a leader of some kind. God will point him out. If it is a pastor who has been through the sem (AND IS A RIGHT MAN WITH GOD), that would be best. One who has had SMP training or at least LAP training would be next best. But a congregation can call their own pastor out of their own if there is no one else to call, and it is OK. Study this, if you don’t beleive it!

    This is why I say pastors do not have a corner on the Word of God. We are all men in the end. Sinners too! And as Lutherans, we study Lurheran materials, doctrines and creeds. So will these new churches. They will need some training of course! Let’s give it to them!

    When Paul was starting churches, he didn’t pick out pastors who had 4 years of sem training. No, not at all. God gave them what they needed. And you know what? They did it without Martin Luther! Are we blessed today or what!

    You see, I think you pastors here have your heads in the sand. Pull them out and see what God can do with you!

    Stop thinking that you are special because you are a pastor. Humble yourself, you are a servent just like me. You are wrong in this matter, and you know it in your hearts. Just listen to God, … that’s all I ask. We have to support this. This IS God at work.

    God, giver of life, who came to us in the flesh so we may one day join you in heaven, let us not get in Your way as you extend your kingdom here on earth. Let us instead jump in and help when we see the short comings of the Ablaze program. We ask that you look after these new churches, and help us to provide the things they need, be it leaders, teaching materials, doctrinal support, and more to keep them on the true path to YOU. Forgive us for looking down instead of up! In the name of Jesus Christ, we ask and pray, Amen.

  28. Dan D,

    I would respectfully ask you to pull your head out of the sand. Why do you assume that pastors are full of themselves?

    Every conservative pastor that I know works 60 – 80 thankless hours a week, has given up more time to study God’s word than the medical doctor has given up to study the human body, still feels humbly inadequate and wishes he knew the Word of life even better so that he would be less threatened by Satan every time he steps in and out of the pulpit, sweats the fact that God is holding him accountable for the sheep has to care, and I could go on and on…

    You are clueless about what a pastor has gone through and goes through every day to keep you in the faith.

    Knowing what I know about how much pastors sacrifice for thier members, I would say it is quite clear that you are the arrogant fool here who really does not know what he is talking about.

    I am really tired of your fake humility. I am humbled everyday as a pastor seking to be faithful in a world that has rejected God’s word and tramples down the faithful shepherds who keep turning the other cheek to the enemy!

    You do not have a clue what you are talking about and yet you keep carrying on about evangelism and the lost and the so called great commission, blah, blah, blah.

    Do as Jesus asked you to do and pray to the Lord of the harvest that he would send you a shepherd.


  29. Quote from Bill Kope >>>
    In reading through this thread it brings me to think of a Pastor in southwest Texas. He shepherds four congregations over one hundred miles apart. These are small congregations that each cannot afford a full time Pastor. There are ways for those congregations in Idaho to have a real Pastor. They just need to put away their individual desires and join with the other congregations to call a Pastor. There are men willing to serve several small congregations because they are called to serve the Lord. <<> For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. <<< Who is saying we don’t have sound doctrine? Are you saying that we have to have a pastor from the sem in order to read a book? In order to study God’s Word? In order to be Christian? You guys over rate your selves!

    Who in your congregation is responsable for the teachings in your church? Just the pastor? No. He works for the Elders of the church. Guess what? We have Elders too!

    Am I talking here to Pastors who have studied this before? Or a wall? Do you think you think that you have some secret knowledge that is only for you to hold? When Jesus died, the curtian ripped… We need pastors, but maybe not like some of you.

    Sorry for the rant…..

  30. Tim I do know! And if you do all of that GOD BLESS you, you are one of the few!


  31. Dan — you are really getting under my skin. I know quite a few pastors, and as Pastor R says, most of them work 60-80 hours a week and CARE for the sheep entrusted to them by God. Perhaps you have not be blessed to have true confessional pastors, but when you say that pastors need to get their head out of the sand, well, that just gets me upset. I think you need to give most pastors a HUGE apology for that.

    I am THRILLED to have two pastors at my church who have deeply studied through their seminary time and have the knowledge to teach and answer the difficult questions. I’ve had lay-led bible studies and pastor-led bible studies and the difference is quite noticeable. A pastor can answer questions that are asked, rather than a group of lay people who talk about the issue and attempt to come to a consensus that may not be what God’s Word actually says.

    If your church is lacking a pastor, there are all kinds of lists of pastors who are good who are looking for a call. How long has your church been lacking a pastor?


  32. Thanks for defending me, FAther Rossow. I think I’m also speaking for the multitude of Pastors that you also just defended.

    Why say more?

    Rev. Andrew Eckert

  33. I must join with Norm and say that there are too many good men of God who are without a parish and are available for a call when they now have none. (though they are told that there is no place for them)
    And Dan-you don’t need to stop posting. As a fellow laymen, I enjoy your “rants”. If I was still in a parish that didn’t have a pastor, I would still react the same. As it is, we didn’t know that so many pastors are CRM and that even 1st calls are delayed for lack of wanting a man just finished with Sem. Someone, somewhere is keeping the pastors that are available from being connected to the congregations that need them, how and why is a question I have been unable to have answered.

  34. Guys guys… I have nothing against pastors! Nothing at all! I do not want to offend anyone! I’m sorry if I did!

    What I am saying is the Ablaze program is needed!

    I am saying that God will provide the leaders!

    I’m saying that thy may not be the leaders you think they should be, but it will be fine if we help.

    We need pastors! But the process to train them it too costly, and too long. I don’t think we dare wait for enough trained pastors to start new churches.

    Sorry guys… I feel bad….

    We have been almost two years without a full time pastor. We have a retired pastor who helps us. We get along just fine. Between the several churches that are within 150 miles, we still wouldn’t be able to pay someone who has bills from going to school.

    Maybe I’m wrong in these matters, show it to me. I need to know if I am!

    Again, I am sorry to have offended anyone. That was not my intent!


  35. Dan,

    If you are sincere in this apology, then re-read the posts from REvs. Fisher and Rossow. They said there are many pastors (hundreds and hundreds!) waiting and hoping for a call. Many of them would be happy to serve at less than full wage, or to serve multiple parishes at great distance. (Although surely that would not even be an issue for a congregation that is growing.)

    But we only need Ablaze!tm if the Word is no longer the powerful, living, and active Word, from which even satan flees in terror. And yes, that Word may be spoken by lay person or clergy alike.

    Rev. Andrew Eckert

  36. Dan D,

    The Scriptural evidence is overwhelming that congregations are to have pastors. I will get to that in a moment. First lets consider the evidence that you have offered to the contrary.

    You read one article in an anthology written during a period of the church’s history when most seminary professors in the LCMS did not believe in the innerrancy of the word as you and I do. It was written during a time when many people were proposing counter-cultural ideas about the church that did not square with the 1,960 yeasrs of church theology up to that point. So, you have offered limited and flawed proof.

    Now to the scriptures. Several comments ago I asked you to do a word study of evangelism in the scriptures. I have seen no proof that you did that. If you do, it will kill two birds with one stone. Such a word study proves that evangelism, accrding to the scriptures, is done by pastors preaching the word. Evangelism, i.e. planting churches, which you are so fond of, is done by pastors in the scriptures. Check it out. Evangelism is not lay people going door to door, it is pastors preaching. For example check out Acts 21:18, II Timothy 4:5, Acts 8:12, Luke 8:1 (Jesus himself as the ultimate shepherd/pastor), I Peter 1:25, I Thess. 2:9, Galatians 2:7, etc. (Note that “good news,” “gospel,” are from the Greek word eaungelion, i.e. evangelism.)

    Then there is the constant work of Paul to appoint pastors everywhere he went and preached and the word took root. I know of know instances where Paul preached the word and it took root and he did not stay long enough to appoint pastors. For examples of Paul appointing and instructing pastors/overseers see Acts 20:28, Phillipians 1:1, I Timothy 3:1, I Peter 5:1-5, Titus 1:5, II John 1:1 etc. (I Peter 2:25 shows how “overseer” and “pastor” i.e. “shepherd” are the same thing.)

    Read the pastoral epistles (I, II Tim, Titus) and you will see that the scriptures hold the pastoral office in the highest regard and that it is an office of upholding the truth of God’s word. This is the sort of person that Paul was appointing in each of the churches.

    I would apprecaite your response to these points and please do so with specifics. This is far too important of an issue to deal with in generalities.


  37. I will do that when you do a study of what is a pastor, who he is, what are the requirements to be one, how he is trained, how he is put in place, who are his overseers. Please use the Bible, Martin Luther, and the Abiding Word if you like.

    I see nothing wrong with lay people evangelizing. Do you? We do this every day!

    Pastor, I agree with you on what you are saying here. However I do not beleive we agree on what a pastor is now and even more what it was during the bible times. I see no need to do a word search on evangelism. I’m sure you have done that and I beleive you. I have no reason not to.

    What I am saying is God will provide the men to lead these new churches. Just like the men in Timothy and Titus. But they may not come from normal channels, because our normal channels can’t keep up with the demand of our world. Thus the SMP and LAP programs for example.

    Thanks for continuing this discussion! And I READY didn’t mean to hurt your feelings… sorry.

  38. Dan D,

    The issue from the very beginning has been should we start churches without pastors. You have said yes and quoted no Luther, no Scriptures. I have said yes and quoted a dozen or so scriptures. The ball is in your court my friend. You have tried to divert the issue to a different question – what is a pastor. Please stick to the issue and show us from Luther and the Scriptures that churches should be started without pastors.

    We are waiting for you to prove your point. We can discuss what a pastor is after you have used Scripture and Luther to prove your original point.


  39. What is a pastor IS the issue here. I am saying that God will send a pastor to these new churches, and we have to trust that He will do that. Isn’t that your issue? No Pastor, no church?

    To say this will not happen is to say that God doesn’t look out for us. That he doesn’t answer our prayers. That he doesn’t care about his lost sheep. Is that what you beleive? I don’t!

    Do you have another plan that will take the plase of the Ablaze program?

    What is a pastor?

  40. (ISBE)Pastor: literally, a helper, or feeder of the sheep.

    1 Timothy 3
    Titus 1
    Small Catechism: Table of Duties.
    Small Catechism: The office of the Keys.
    Abiding Word: The Universal Priesthood of Believers.

    I can’t print them all here…

    God will provide.

  41. OK men, I give up.

    I will support the Ablaze program. I support the LCMS. I believe God has a plan. I believe that the current leadership of the LCMS is part of that plan, just as much as the president of the US is part of a plan. We may not agree with the things that go on. But each of us is just a tiny fraction of the picture in God’s eyes.

    I will continue this by e-mail if there are those who are interested. Pastor Rossow is on the defense with me. So, it matters not what I say any longer.

    Sorry again if I stepped on anyones feelings, that is not my way.

    I will not repost here.

    Keep up the faith!

    [email protected]

  42. Dan D.,

    Your last post says absolutely everything and nothing.

    What does it mean?

    You site the priesthood of all believers as some sort of proof of something – I am not sure what.

    According to the Bible priests make sacrifices. The sacrifices of the new testament era are described in Romans 12:1ff. They are the good works expected of us all. This has nothing to do with the office of pastor. I am a member of the priesthood of all beleivers and I am rightly called as a pastor. You are a member of the priesthood of all beleivers but not a pastor because you are not rightly called.

    You site the Abiding Word. It has no doctrinal authority in the synod. It wrongly quotes Martin Luther before his mature writing on the office of the ministry. How many volumes of Luther have you read? I have read dozens and invested countless hours of study to Luther. Luther’s doctrine of the ministry is not accurately portrayed in the Abiding Word article that you refer to. I mentioned in an earlier comment that this book was written during a period of experimentation in our church but I guess that means nothing to you.

    Your citation of the Small Catechism makes my point not yours. As Luther says, there are some who are pastors and some who are hearers.

    According to your citations, I can just wake up one day and say that I am a pastor since I am in the priesthood of all believers. God is a god of order (I Cor. 14). This is not how it is done in the church. It is disorderly to start churches when there are no shepherds there to tend the flocks.

    Now, if you want to say that the lay people are going to shepherd themselves then you are really running contrary to Scripture and Luther. You ought to join an Assembly’s of God church where the Spirit moves people directly and they decide out of their own experience if they are fit to be a pastor. I would not want to live in such church.

    One more thought, you are focussing on pastor as shepherd but the Bible also speaks of the pastor as overseer. Earlier you had asserted that the pastor works for the people. This is unscriptural but it fits your whole misguided “priesthood of all beleivers” doctrine. The pastor is the overseer of the congregation and is accountable only to God and his word. If we make our pastors slaves of men then they will be people-pleasers and again all sorts of problems will commence. It is God’s will that you be under the supervision (humble servant leadership) of a pastor. As others have encouraged above, your four congregations ought to get together and call a pastor to shepherd you.


  43. Wow. I’m often amazed to counsel married couples who are talking, but not communicating very well. And as a pastor, I think I’m pretty average in the counseling department.

    I think some folks have gotten Dan wrong.

    Yep, the Office of the Ministry is VERY important in relation to the Doctrine of the Church. They interweave. Theology is systimatic (one system) and so the issues must be wrestled through.

    At the same time, I think Dan is talking to an issue that has been a real challenge throughout the history of our beloved Church. There is a harvest that IS in process. Gathering of Lutherans can happen where there is no clergy, yet. More people can learn the faith, even if a pastor isn’t present yet.

    YET. A key word in this discussion. I have not seen Dan say that there should not be a pastor. I have not heard anyone in the LCMS state that these “zillions” (I smile at the term) of congregations should plan on forever ministring without an overseer. I think that Dan is fully on board with having clergy at every place possible!

    It’s that he doesn’t see the need to wait for clergy to start the ball rolling. Must clergy start every congregation? Can people gather before a pastor is present?

    Dan isn’t attacking the Office of the Ministry. Dan isn’t saying that congregations SHOULD be started without pastors. I think he’d like to have more pastors in Idaho. That’s good. Somebody help Idaho! Who is close?

    I don’t know the specific situation. I would imagine some congregations are afraid to lose their identity and history by merging with another congregation or sharing a pastor. Shame, shame if that is the reality. But Dan doesn’t control that. He simply seems to long for numeric growth along with depth of teaching. He sees a harvest field goign to rot. He prays for workers for the field. And as he prays in faith that God will send those workers, he’s doing the best he can in the interim.

    The congregation I now serve (2 years now) has helped to begin 16 congregations and preaching stations in the last 20 years. Believe me, there have been challenges, and plenty of mess, and that is with clergy present.

    Our congregation is not, nor am I desiring to be part of the synodically approved “Ablaze” movement. We do not log our “witness events” or whatever they are calling them into the Ablaze website. But I’m sure that those who desire the ABlaze thing to come off well are glad we continue to teach the next generation, or the current one, in new places.

    Some of our locations have begun with clergy from day one, certainly preferred by us. A few have not. They started as lay led groups. This work has all been done overseas.

    I also long for the return of our circuit riders here in the United States. (Probably not on horseback, but maybe so in Idaho!) Congregations are blessed to have a pastor present, even if he isn’t there all the time.

    Technically, I think our circuit counselors are to play an oversight role where there is no interim pastor. That would make sense. In that case, there are no ministries in our beloved Church without a pastor.

  44. This discussion causes me to reflect on one of the saddest moments I have ever witnessed–granted, from afar. That moment was last year, when the Synod did not place fourteen men who had trained on the campus of Concordia Theological Seminary. Were parishes in rural settings such as in Idaho to agree on being dual or tri- parishes, they would perhaps support a man such as one of those fourteen. The same is true in the inner-city. I understand that parishes may have historic identities, and I would not want to disparage that. Yet, if they are in need of a pastor, namely, if they are vacant, they do well to also become duo- or tri-parishes settings.

    Such congregations do not need the resources of Ablaze. They really thirst for men such as those fourteen who have the Scriptures in one hand, the Book of Concord in the other, and the LSB close by.

    Sure, we who are lay leaders in our parishes can teach and serve our neighbor in our vocations, yet, the Pastor is he whom God calls to serve His Church the blessed Word and Sacraments. While Synod, Inc. puts folks on c.r.m., ridicules the pure preaching of God’s Word by running Confessional Pastors from some parishes, they create a division which grows by the day. They also diminutize and disparage those beloved, small parishes who need the Word just as much as the large ones do. Yet, there stood fourteen men without a call last spring.Yes, I’m thankful that, from what I’ve heard, some of them have received calls since. Yet, the scene is still etched in my mind.

    Folks, the rural scene needs good Pastors, real Pastors, four-year seminary-trained Pastors, just as we all ineed to hear the Word and receive the Sacraments which God calls them to administer.

  45. While it may be difficult for some rural congregations to call and support a pastor, other “missional” congregations are founded with Ablaze or district program money with “lay ministers”, that is, men (for now) semi-trained in a few classes who are not ordained and do not have a regular call. Some of these “missional” congregations originate in towns and communities that already have large LCMS congregations with called pastors. This makes no sense to me.

    Frankly, I don’t think everyone would necessarily need 3 (+vicarage) years of seminary training to be a pastor. However, I do prefer a form of training that includes the essential linguistic, historical, and theological education. In fact, Luther did make a distinction between pastors based on the level of education. Our goal should be the best trained pastor possible. There could be circumstances where the seminary-trained pastor is not available. Perhaps, SMP will fulfill this need, but somehow I doubt it. However, we should never let the exceptions make the rule.

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