I went to the dentist today. We always talk a lot, and he was telling me about a seminar he went to where they were told of a looming dentist shortage – too many dentists retiring or leaving because of injury (lots of repetitive stress injuries), and not enough new dentists to fill the void.
Hmmm. This sounds to me exactly like what we are being told about pastors. Many are retiring or leaving because of abuse or burnout. An interesting commonality that deserves more thought.
My dentist went on to say that what is beginning to happen is that those who are not fully trained as dentists are beginning to do some of the work – like “cleaning clinics” and “denturists” to simply clean our teeth and make dentures. But, he said, while these may do fine at cleaning and making dentures, these folks are not trained to see and treat many other problems that a dentist is, like mouth cancer. There is a great danger looming here, he said.
Hmmm. This sounds to me exactly like what we are beginning to do with pastors. Those who are less than fully trained are beginning to do some of the work – but what is the great danger looming here for the church? Are the classes and training these folks are missing not really important (why do fully trained pastors have to take them then?), or could a “cancer of false doctrine” begin growing in the spiritual lives of people and churches that these good-intentioned-but-not-fully-trained folks are not trained to understand?
So, my dentist then said, the government is probably going to try to encourage and help folks to become dentists, probably by tax breaks or credits.
Hmmm. Here’s where the similarity ends, for what is the LCMS doing? The funding for our seminaries and student aid is not being increased (the seminaries have received very little to no funds from the synod for a while now) to help folks become pastors. Instead they are touting and encouraging the “lesser training route.” My dentist can see the great danger looming. Do we?