Dentist Shortage, by Pr. James Douthwaite

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?

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.


Dentist Shortage, by Pr. James Douthwaite — 3 Comments

  1. Well, at least this is good news for my brother. He’s studying to be a dentist, and will be going to dental school in Kansas City in the fall 🙂

  2. Who needs well trained dentists? I have a neighbor with a big set of pliers who can pull teeth just as well as any dentist. And my other neighbor once watched a dentist fill teeth in college. He can do it – he doesn’t need no stinkin training. How hard can it be? Drill, fill, and bill! Sweet!!! Hahahahahah!

    Clergy shortage? I have another neighbor that once read the bible through in a year – cover to cover we don’t need no stinkin highly trained guy who knows that original languages of the Bible. We’ll call him “Rev.” and pay him per sermon. Problem solved.

  3. Somehow I doubt your neighbor can pull teeth as well as a dentist Elnathan the younger. The first thing you do to pull a tooth is push, something most non-dentists wouldn’t think to do. But I do understand your point. Stick to the trained professional.

    Scott Diekmann D.D.S.

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