Great Stuff Found on the Web — Wild Boar on “No Interviews Please”

In my daily readings using Google Reader I came across this comment about the Call Process from the Pastor’s viewpoint. I’ve been involved in my share of Call Committees over the years, and like the first commentator on the Wild Boar site, have always thought that there has to be a better way. I thought this needed publishing to make more laity think about the process in their own churches. Be sure to visit Wild Boar From the Forest for more interesting comments!



Once upon a time, a pastor would amble out to the mailbox, expecting only to find his telegraph bill, and instead return to the house with a large envelope marked “Call Documents.” As time went on, it became customary to inform the callee immediately after the call meeting – using the new telephone technology. Again, this would be the first time they had heard anything about it. When I was a young forestboar, such was the common practice.

By the time I was ordained, it was fairly typical to precede a Divine Call with what is called among pastors a “Divine Feeler” : A phone call that asks the pastor if he is in a position to consider a call. After all, there is no point in leaving his name on the call list if he is not able to consider it. (For example, he just accepted a call to another parish, urgent demands of his own parish preclude considering a call for the time being, or his family has health issues.)

In my few short years in the parish, a new custom has arisen between the Divine Feeler and Divine Call. It is called by some, rather crudely, a “divine grope”. Parishes want to interview pastors. Now, parishes certainly have a right to know more about pastors before issuing a call. And the jargon of the clergy, used in SET and PIF forms, while informative to us, may mean nothing to a congregation. A congregation could want to call a CFW Walther and, thanks to vague statements on the official “information sheet” end up instead with a FDE Schleiermacher. Or, they may want a Karl Barth, and end up with a Robert Preus. After all, the PIF anf SET act as a sort of Resume. Pastors are every bit as honest as there members when it comes to filling out Resumes. (It turns out congregations are as honest as pastors about filling out the congregational “Self Evaluation Tool”. The difference is that pastors know what code words to look for and so can generally decode them; congregations generally don’t and can’t.)

So, interviews are lawful. But are they good? This forestboar thinks not, for the following reasons :

1) It doesn’t really increase your chances of getting the “right” pastor. My evidence is anecdotal, but I have seen several cases where a congregation does extensive interviews, just like in the business world, and gets a pastor that lasts less than 18 months. Or gets a pastor that is later “encouraged” to leave. Sometimes by the voters removing him. (Whether justly or unjustly isn’t the point of this post. I’m jsut saying that the intervies didn’t work.)

Of course, this is anecdotal. Perhaps a scientific study could help. There was a study in Britain a few years ago. I’ve lost the citation, but they found that interviews actually decreased the chance of hiring the right person. Why? Because interviewers don’t know what questions to ask, or what answers to look for. A job interview becomes more about “do I like you”, than about “are you right for the job.” According to this study, they found that in certain circumstances, you were better off picking names out of a hat than interviewing.

I maintain that pastoral interviews are much this way. Why? Because an interview is unlikely to tell you what sort of theological outlook he has, unless you ask (interviews generally don’t do this). Instead, in the interviews I have done, the congregation is usually more interested in how you write sermons and what sort of delivery style you have (utterly insignifcant), how often you visit shut-ins (every 4-6 weeks, not that it matters because that is the standard in our synod), what your view of evangelism is (I’m in favor of it) and various other things that matter not one bit to the actual performance of duties.

Many congregations are compounding the problem. In addition to phone interviews, they will often do follow-up in person interviews. Why? To see if the pastor is pretty, I suppose. There is no practical or theological reason for it.

2) The pastor is looking at this process differently than you are. You are assuming that you are conducting job interviews with applicants. The pastors have applied (they haven’t), and you are conducting job interviews (you aren’t) to find the right man for the job (you won’t). I have seen several cases where a congregation does several interviews with a man, issues the call, and then is bewildered when the man declines. “Why did this happen?” they say. Well, what happened was this : The pastor did an interview, because he is open to the idea that maybe God wants him to serve in a different location. You wanted a follow up in-person interview. The pastor, being the likable and amenable sort, agreed. You assumed “He wants to be our pastor!”. He thought, “They are really interested in me. Gee it’s nice to be liked and wanted.” When you met him the second time, he spoke of possible plans for the parish, should he be elected as pastor and accept. This is because he is thinking about what would happen if… You are assuming he is talking about what he would like to see happen.

While he may play with the idea in his head, pastors have drummed into them in seminary that you only consider a call after it is offered to you. In other words, the whole time you are interviewing him, he hasn’t given any serious thought to accepting your call. He does not actually begin to actively consider the call until it is offered. And then, as likely as not, he turns it down.

3) It may decrease the chances of him accepting. Just trust me. He is evaluating you this whole time as well. Familiarity does not necessarily breed contentment. I have had interviews and said afterwards, “I hope they don’t call me.”

I have actually told congregations during the interview, “You can call me, and I would consider it, but I am unlikely to accept it.” That usually finishes the conversation. Why did I tell them this? Because, even without seriously considering it, I know that it is not right for me. But I have never been on a “call list” of a congregation and gotten more positive about accepting a call than “utterly ambiguous” wihtout call documents in hand. In other words, A pastor will fantasize about the green grass on the other side of the fence (we are, after all, sinful). But during the interview process, he will not seriously consider accepting it, until offered. He may, however, seriously consider not accepting it.

So let’s review :

Decreases chances of hiring the right man.

You and the pastor have totally different ideas about what is happening

May actually increase the chance of the pastor declining.

It’s just not a winner of an idea.

So what should you do to make certain your next pastor is the ‘right man’? Look online for his sermons. Read or listen to them. Sermons matter more than anything. This is what you listen to every week for the next few years. Do his sermons reflect the kind of church you want? Are they doctrinaire? Are the too practical, with no doctrine? Are they simply a collection of stories? Is he trying to be the latest Billy Graham, Joel Osteen, or whomever? This will let you know who he is, and what he is about better than anything else. Then you can make an informed decision.

And remember, it’s still our Lord’s church. You are not “choosing” a pastor. Nor are you hiring one. God is calling one. He is using your system to do it. So, yes, attend to your duties on the call committee. Pay attention to the names on the list. And then trust that God will take care of his church.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff Found on the Web — Wild Boar on “No Interviews Please” — 34 Comments

  1. I recollect the process of calling pastors in my former role on church boards and as laity in past LCMS churches in college and after college. We did not conduct interviews, but simply looked at call sheets that were given to us by the Dist. President. I would think our circuit pastor and Dist. President in WELS has a good feel for the pulse of the pastors so that issues can be avoided.

    The point of the call is that we believe the Holy Spirit is guiding the selection committee and also the pastor in considering the call. An interview process seems to show a lack of trust in God’s guidance and blessings. God places faithful pastors in our midst and the interview process seems like a means for Satan to work his evil intent.

  2. I had it drummed into me at the seminary that it was suppose to be a divine call. With the advent of all the paper work, it has really ceased being a divine call in many different senses. Yes, Pastors do know the code words to use on their SET to make them look good. What I found as a Circuit Counselor reading through around 20 SETS for a particular congregation was that about 95 percent of those filled out could have had the name on the top placed onto another person’s SET answers and they (the laity) would never know the difference. Sometimes the members of the call committee would ask me what does this or that mean. I felt the only answer that could be given was exactly what it says with no reading into the answer. Yet, in one example for instance, the pastor stated he liked TLH but could use LW. It was read that he did not like LW. What was not stated by the Pastor was the fact, found out later, that his current congregation had yet to change to LW but he was familiar with it and therefore could use it. They did not call him because they read the answer as he would try to change them back to TLH after they had just spent all the money to buy LW.

    My preferred practice would be that we would rid ourselves of all this paper work stuff and just get back to the basic facts. The congregation states what they desire in a pastor to the one they call from the list they put together from men already on the roster of synod. They tell him about themselves and he in turn allows them to ask questions about who and what he is. COurse, this leaves it open that one they don’t want may take the call–but what pastor in his right mind would take the call to a congregation that wants nothing but the hymnal and liturgy when his desires is anything but a hymnal and the liturrgy???

  3. I am circuit counselor in an LCMS circuit. One of the congregations a month and a half ago installed a new pastor. It was interesting. As they began the call process, the committee decided to do phone interviews of the top candidates from the list. That was done, the candidate was called, he and family came to visit, and declined the call. The second candidate followed the same process – phone interview, visit, and declination. The third candidate, new list, the committee decided not to interview. Two reasons – they didn’t learn much, and it took extra time. They had been vacant for nearly a year, and were ready to be done with the process. Of course, they had interviewed the one candidate. He was a local CRM that preached there once a month. Guess who was called. Guess who accepted the call.

    One other point, which goes back to the original writer. The LCMS Council of Presidents has prepared a set of interview questions which are to be used. The questions say only these questions may be asked. How many congregations and call committees stray from that “rule” I don’t know. They do help flesh out the PIF and SET.

  4. I was in Cedar Falls, when we began the call process for the then college LCMS mission congregation at College Hill. We were given 3 names with call sheets. The committee used only those sheets to make the decision whom to call. There were no interviews by visit or phone. The first two calls extended were declined, with God’s guidance I trust.

    The College Hill call committee then went down to Cedar Rapids, IA. and Iowa District East to meet with then DP Barry and others in developing a list of 3 more candidates. Again, with prayerful consideration, we issues a call to someone on the list and this time the call was accepted with God’s grace full at work.

    As Rev. Roger Sterle pointed out earlier, if the liturgy is solid and the Word of God is preached in truth and spirit, why would pastor’s decline a call unless they had opportunity to “investigate” earthly temporal matters, which should be of minimal influence in the call process?

  5. (chuckle) I have to say that this is pretty amusing. I thought that the writer was going to say “So, congregations should just trust that God is going to bring to them the right man and trust whoever the DP recommends!” Or something like that.

    But no! He wants to evaluate the pastor–just by a different set of evaluation tools! Hilarious!

    Anyway, we trust that the Holy Spirit works through His people and the process at hand. Through His people means that they use their own God-given intelligence to make some reasoned sifting of candidates.

    And no matter whether they are using a process that works poorly, or doesn’t seem to be humanly beneficial at all–God uses it to call His right man to the right congregation.

    For those laity who are reading this and might be on a call committee–when asking questions, don’t just ask for their attitude: ask for examples. “You say that you have a good relationship with your school parents: what are some of the ways that you communicated with them?” or something like that.

    The wild boar is right–the pastor is also using this interview as an opportunity to see whether the congregation would be a right fit for him as well. Which is why he ought to be asking questions to you as well.

  6. In the WELS, the congregation doesn’t interview the pastor on the call list. The congregation gives the synod the list of things that they are looking for in a pastor. And the synod will look at pastors that fit the things that the congregation is looking for. If a congregation has further questions for a pastor, they will be submitted for the pastor to answer.

    In a Divine call, a pastor is not supposed to consider such things as: The climate in the area of call, how close it is to schools that they like, is the call near family etc.?

    Typically WELS likes a pastor to be in one congregation at least five years, but not more than ten. However, many times pastors will stay with one congregation for 35 to 40 years.

    Most of the pastors that get a call, do make it easy on themselves and the new congregation by just using the hymnal and the liturgy in it. Why try to re-invent the wheel? Most of the congregations are expecting the pastors to do historical, liturgical Lutheran worship. But, the pastors do select the hymns that will be used. It’s just easier, and it allows the pastor to just concentrate on his sermons. It also enables the congregation and the pastor to bond more easily.

    That’s my two cents!

  7. Here is my two cents…I don’t like face to face interviews, period. I think they are inappropriate for the call process whether it be a pastor or commissioned minister. In my mind it simply introduces far too many factors that shouldn’t be at play in the call process.

    Take this real life example: I know a guy who fresh out of the Concordia University System was needing a call. This guy is pretty traditional. One of these young guys who is part of the confessional renewal that is happening amongst many young adults in the LCMS.

    At the time he graduated there was only one call available and it was to one of the more liberal LCMS churches I have heard of. The call process operated like a baptized corporate job search. Phone interviews for every candidate, questions that focused on quantitative results, vision statements, and face to face interviews for the final four candidates. He was scared stiff.

    He had been out of school for a while with this being the only “job prospect” and bills were piling up. He knew the congregation to be a little “willy nilly” on some doctrinal stances but was advised by his mentors that if he didn’t accept this first call it could make it very difficult to get calls in the future. He felt like the whole point of the face to face interview was to be “sized up” by the committee and to tell them what they wanted to hear. According to him it was like they wanted to see if he fit the “image” they were going for. Keep in mind that he didn’t lie to them but he wasn’t as forthcoming about his stances on doctrine and practice as he should have been.

    Long story longer he was called and he (very) reluctantly accepted. He said he trusted God to work it out. Now he is serving in a type of ministry that does not fit him, in a church that is, in many ways, the opposite of where he would ever feel comfortable, and is already (he has barely been in the ministry 6 months) contemplating requesting a call to another church. Can and does the Holy Spirit work through all of that? Yes. Was it right of him to accept that call? I truly don’t know.

    Looking back on the experience he feels that had there never been a face to face interview or even a phone interview he would not have been called. Now there is no way to know how things would have gone differently or even if they should have. The Lord does indeed work in mysterious ways and has a sense of humor that I don’t always understand. All this is to say that having seen this guy go through that and knowing what the interview/call process has been like for others…I cannot support the use of face to face interviews for a call. I am even uneasy about phone interviews to an extent.

    Do I know a better way? No. But there has to be something better than interviews…

  8. Sojourner #7:

    You make very good points. I really feel for the pastor that you mention. What a horrible mess it is when in the name of “adiaphora” Lutheran pastors implement the CG stuff, and make it hard for a new pastor that is confessional to be confessional.

    If I were the pastor that you mention, I would immediately start doing the services right out the the hymnal. Of course, this heterodox congregation would probably be irate, but the pastor would just tell them that he is being faithful to his call as a Lutheran pastor.

    Of course, many folks would probably leave. Then you could educate the congregation with maybe some instruction classes on why using historical, liturgical Lutheran worship is more Biblical. I believe that God will eventually change the hearts of the congregation.

    Folks put way to much emphasis on numbers. It is better to have a smaller, confessional congregation than a large heterodox one.

  9. It has been said already that congregations typically do not ask the right questions when interviewing prospective pastors.

    The right questions are the theological ones relating to our Articles of Faith as found in our Confessions and how they all interact one with another and that if one falls, i.e., any given article, they all will fall. As all refer to and refer back to the Central Article of our Lutheran Faith, the Article of justification.

    It is quite easy to discern a Ministers faith by what he answers and how he answers questions of a nature that get to the heart of Lutheran Doctrine and Practice, historically and and contemporaneously.

    If a candidate for a call obfuscates, tip toes, shucks and jives concerning the above or flat out does not answer because he does not know, and that is a real consideration these days, then of course do not consider him.

    By all means check him out with all the resources of the Internet, with search and background checks of all sorts.

    Contact anyone that seems relevant to his vocation as a minister of the Gospel.

    As regards an Interview and or Bible Study or a Sermon or to delivered to a congregation calling, I do not see what would be the matter of that when Lutheran Churches of the Reformation did the same thing, weather of a first time candidate or an experienced ordained man. Others could site the actual sources for this, as I do not recall them as of this writing.

    We make pretty sure who and what will be our financial Investors and Doctors and Dentists and so on, we should be as diligent and knowledgeable in this also as this pertains to a man who will either preach and teach you and yours into Heaven or into Hell.

    The Devil is no fool, neither should we be.

  10. @Lloyd I. Cadle #8

    Good points Llyod and Deacon Hughes. For the sake of clarification I will say that the guy mentioned in my comments is a commissioned minister (auxiliary church worker) and not a Pastor.

    If he was the pastor though, and went straight to the hymnal (which he would have to work around the fact that they are “the green hymnal”) he would most likely be fired within a year. At least that is my take on it. Tough situation.

    I agree though…that a small confessional congregation is much preferred over a large heterodox congregation.

  11. Pr. Harrison is confessional. If he gets elected, he will be facing these issues to a far greater extent. He will be trying to pull congregations away from a diet of twinkies (CG) and give them spinach (confessional Lutheransim), and the babies will be screaming.

    However, these changes are necessary in order to clean up the mess. That is, a modern day Reformation.

  12. I agree with the basic point of this post and string – interviews typically get in the way of the work of the Holy Spirit.

    Having said that, I want to addd to the discussion that here at Bethany – Naperville, Illinois we do interview when we call pastors, teachers, DCE’s, etc. We have a large called staff and so in the seventeen years that I have been the administrative pastor I have been privileged to be involved in about ten calls.

    Here is why we interview. Most of the horror stories described above have to do with the fact that we are mixed synod. We interview so that we can talk to the person face to face and tell which LCMS we are in and to make sure that they are in the same synod. In the case of pastoral calls we spend several hours with the candidates. It is still possible for them to deceive us but much less likely. We have passed several candidates on paper and then rejected them after the interview.

    So, the primary reason we interview is to discern the doctrinal position of the candidate. Lloyd, you WELS folks have a great advantage in having a more theologically unified synod.

    We also interview because we are placing the pastor, teacher, DCE, Cantor into a team. We do our best to judge the teaming ability of the candidate and if they have the gifts that will be required to fit the position of leadership and teaming that they will be called into.

    I was comforted in this practice by a confessional brother years ago who reminded me that after the Reformation got going Luther and the boys went around the country-side interviewing pastors to make sure that they knew the gospel and were thus fit to serve.

    So, there you have some food for thought. Cast stones at me. (Johannes – I may finally need a flack jacket!) I can take it. I also respect those who reject interviewing for all the good reasons given above.

    Oh, and despite what I said above, I was the one to approve this blog post and let me say that the Forest Boar is a pastor that I respect deeply and am thankful for his constant call to us to kepp it confessional and Biblical.

    TR “The Interviewer” 🙂

  13. I was comforted in this practice by a confessional brother years ago who reminded me that after the Reformation got going Luther and the boys went around the country-side interviewing pastors to make sure that they knew the gospel and were thus fit to serve.

    As a matter of Pastoral Supervision as a Church Superintendent, Chemnitz would do a in depth interview of all his Ministers using his Encurideon, right spelling ? Every two years or so.

  14. Pastor Rossow #12:

    If confessional folks are doing the interviews, like yourself, Wilken and folks like that, I wouldn’t have a problem with it. The problem is with the CG folks doing the interviews.

    It is important to determine if the prospective pastor will preach and teach according to our Lutheran confessions, or if he is a savage wolf.

  15. @Lloyd I. Cadle #14

    I agree. It depends on those interviewing. My blanket statement of “I don’t like face to face interviews, period” is based on my personal experiences. It is good to know there is a confessional side to this.

    Until I found BJS I thought I was the only one out there who thought a “How Lutheran are you?” or “What kind of Lutheran are you?” test was a good idea. Many LINO churches and pastors would balk at the idea of being questioned on their theology. I say let the Reformation begin. 🙂

  16. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Some good thoughts on this post!

    Does an interview of a pastor considering a call militate against the Lutheran understanding of the call? Yes and No.

    Yes–it may very well militate against the understanding of his call, as held by that pastor’s current parishioners, if they find out about it. If I remember correctly the discussion of this issue by John Fritz, in the standard “Pastoral Theology” textbook he authored, this is the traditional primary concern with interviews. An interview, when known publicly, disturbs the present relationship with the parishioners, who expect that he is dedicated to the ministry itself and to them, not to a so-called “career” or “moving up in the synod” or getting better salary or benefits. The lowered loyalty of parishioners to their pastors today is a direct corollary of present-day pastors seeking “higher things.” (bad pun)

    No–the interview itself may be absolutely neutral theologically, and often very helpful. I conducted several interviews annually while I was director at CHI, since we hired seminarians and their wives. There are many aspects of personality and competence that do not become evident through written applications. In fact, synod’s standard employment application for the national offices is really all that is useful to have on paper (about three pages). The rest is best to find out in personal interviews.

    Maybe the best solution to the first problem is for congregations to conduct face-to-face interviews at the annual pastoral conferences and tri-annual district conventions. The clergy are there anyway; they are plenty of them available; and no one will second guess what the pastor is up to. When a congregation starts the calling process, conference phone call interviews with all the candidates would also be helpful; but I would advise face-to-face when they get down to the short list.

    Another solution is when pastor and elders together agree that it is time for him to move on. Fritz says that there are any number of problems that develop in congregations that are not his fault, but can only be resolved by him leaving voluntarily, by accepting a properly issued call (Augsburg Confession XIV, “ordentliche Beruf”). Then the congregation will be happy to find out that he is interviewing!

    Regarding the effectiveness of interviews, it really helps to have a seasoned manager or personnel officer on the call committee. They can advise about the process and what to look for in the interview. The congregation itself still is responsible, in any event, for deciding what qualities and competencies they are looking for, and for weeding about possible heterodoxies in doctrine or practice.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  17. Martin R. Noland #16:

    Very good points. And, thanks for your great teaching on Issues!

  18. Sojourner #16:

    The BJS website is a blessing to all confessional Lutherans. We can encourage each other, and let each other know that confessional Lutheran theology is worth fighting for!

  19. @Lloyd I. Cadle #6

    Lloyd, we have a pastor who has been here at our WELS congregation since his first assignment in 1980 straight from seminar. Of course, he served in a satellite congregation and started a sister congregation for a time, near the primary congregation. I am not sure he was encouraged too consider or was offered other calls. In my time here in the last 10 years, I can not remember him saying he was considering a call. However the WELS do not have a pastoral shortage right now.

  20. @Lloyd I. Cadle #18

    I agree wholeheartedly that BJS and Issue, Etc. are a blessing to no only the confessional Lutherans, but the invisible church in general. Wherever the truth in spirit is preached, confessed and taught, God blesses people.

  21. I’m a seminarian, and I would love to have an interview in-person for my call before I graduate. I actually interviewed for my vicarage that I’m currently serving. I met with the pastor who would be my supervisor, one with the supervisor and congregational president, and one meeting with the congregation–all were face-to-face. Now, without getting too specific, my vicarage is a little different in a number of ways that I won’t go into. Anyway, I still subscribe to the divine call, but I also think interviews are a great way to talk about expectations so there are no surprises. And besides, the interview was a way for the congregation to unite under one candidate: me. If a bunch of Lutherans agreeing isn’t divine, I don’t know what is.

  22. Perry Lund #20:

    If you’re ever in Phoenix, you’ll have to visit our church!

  23. Harold L :
    I’m a seminarian, and I would love to have an interview in-person for my call before I graduate. And besides, the interview was a way for the congregation to unite under one candidate: me. If a bunch of Lutherans agreeing isn’t divine, I don’t know what is.

    I would say a bunch of Lutherans agreeing is NOT divine in the true sense of the word divine. Agreement can be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in working in our hearts without a face to face interview. If a congregation and pastor need to have a face to face interview, are the reasons temporal, earthly thoughts or the Spirit working?

  24. A call interview should be a beneficial process for both sides; however it can be handled, by either side, well, badly, or somewhere in between.

    A confessional Lutheran congregation should put forth efforts to provide a good call interview not only to share information with the call candidate about their mutual efforts in God’s Kingdom but also carry out their Ãœbertragungslehre process and responsibility.

    Likewise a call candidate should also prayerfully desire to help the call interview be beneficial to both sides. Such an interview can be a way to show God’s will if, in addition to God’s current call, he receives a call to this congregation. The interview also provides a way to present the Word of God and show opportunities for remaining faithful to God, even to a congregation that has drifted from their Lutheran foundation.

    Boorish comments about a “Divine Feeler” or a “divine grope” are not helpful for a beneficial call interview.

  25. As a help to people posting blog articles or responses, it is not a good idea to try making a point by stating:

    Of course, this is anecdotal. Perhaps a scientific study could help. There was a study in Britain a few years ago. I’ve lost the citation, but…

    1. “this is anecdotal” – so it has no statistical value in making the point.

    2. “Perhaps…” – by definition also implying “perhaps not” of help in making the point.

    3. “a study in Britain” – a land whose churches relate more to the Missouri Synod than, say, in Bora Bora.

    4. “a few years ago” – implying sometime either in the past decade or in the most recent 10 percent of the Christian era.

    5. “I’ve lost the citation…” – and am apparently too careless or lazy to provide the reference to whatever point I’m trying to make.

  26. Perry Lund #24:

    Timothy Moke is a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Chandler, AZ. Every year we have a huge Reformation service for our churches in the Phoenix area, and Mr. Moke always plays his trumpet there. He played for four years with the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra. Recently he participated in the WELS Conference on Worship, Music, and the Arts.

    Last year, the theme at our Reformation service was Luther’s Catechism, then we celebrated with the Lord’s Supper.

    I know that my borthers and sisters at BJS would have loved worshipping our Savior at this Reformation service!

  27. @Lloyd I. Cadle #28

    Tim Moke had mentioned to me that he did his Master’s work at the U of Iowa, so being in Cedar Rapids makes sense. I am currently working on my WELS Teaching certification, so maybe I will be called to the Arizona area. I know that Pastor Bucholtz is the DP there.


  28. Perry Lund #29:

    DP Buchholz is a great guy, hates CG, as confessional as one can be, and he speaks great Spanish!

  29. The one thing I have learned from this discussion is that WELS has a much better way of calling a pastor than LC-MS. How many LC-MS district presidents really know the pastors under their supervision? In larger districts this might be next to impossible.

    It seems to me in WELS the district president knows the men under his supervision. He is in an excellent position to recommend a pastor to a vacant congregation who will carry out the duties of the Ministry. In LC-MS, we are far too broken for the Call process to work properly because of doctrinal division. Not to say in LC-MS the Call process is bad and needs to be scrapped. But there could be a more excellent way if pastors trusted each other and congregations were well taught on their expectations as well as the pastor’s expectations.

  30. Rev. David M. Juhl # 31:

    Very well said. All of the WELS DP’s are pastors. So that helps out a lot. I know that our Calif.-Arizona DP is extremely confessional, and he know’s everyone on a call list, and how it will fill a need in a congregation.

    Our DP is very helpful, but not meddlesome.

  31. Okay, so as everyone else knows what the SET & PIF stand for, and as, we all know, there are those who do not know what these are…
    Flak jacket fastened…I humbly ask,

    Could someone please explain, what the SET & PIF are, and explain the “proper” process for calling a Pastor, vs. the “culturally & business mixed version” of calling a Pastor? I don’t know this, and I am quite sure, unless your on a call committee, not many will either. I’m WELS now, so I only remember my Dad doing this, in 1979, in the LCMS.

    The Shepherd/Pastor I remember our church calling,(sniff, can’t wait to get Home to say thank you again) as it wasn’t far from where we lived, that Pastor invited the Call committee, to come to your average Sunday Service. Remember, please be kind, the request was made, & my Dad followed that request. My Dad would not have known the finery of a Call, most today, don’t either. Please, be respectful in your answers, I hold those in my “Grandfather’s & Father’s Church” highly, they are Home.

    Is this typical? It was a true Divine Call, that I can most certainly say, without doubt (1980-1998, he went Home, at this Call) He, is truly missed, even after 11 years, by many there & elsewhere, we all learned what a “shepherd” really is, from this dear man!

    So, what has changed since 1979, in regards to the call process? Those of us who were in short pants, are now on call committee’s, your aid, would be most warranted.

  32. PIF – Personal Information Form
    SET – Self-Evaluation Tool

    Gotta love the acronymns–and a good pastor.

    Hope your calling process has been fruitful.

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