I came across this one in my Google Reader and thought it interesting reading for our Steadfast Lutheran readers. It was found here on Wild Boar from the Forest; I just love his new header image!
District President Cripe of the Ohio District speaks on his blog of the impending reality in our synod : we will have many more clergy than we have congregations to support them. (Notice what I didn’t say in that sentence.) It is actually already happening. I have many a facebook friend who is on CRM status (It stands for “Congregation Rejected Minister”). The seminaries can not find placements for all the candidates, and the COP notes that there are now 2X as many calling vacancies as “non-calling vacancies” (Whatever the heck that means. I think it means they are reading a different Book of Concord from the one to which I subscribed).
President Cripe speaks of some possible “Blessings in Disguise” in this situation. Now, let us be clear. It is dangerous to reject the counsel of Holy Scripture. It is not (as one commenter suggested) merely a matter of “rethinking the historic practice”. If we embrace such a model, we are going against the clear word of Holy Scripture. However, such a model may be forced upon us, and we will have to deal with it. (Whether such “forcing” is actually occurring or is simply being foolishly self-imposed is in and of itself a debatable point, but not today. Today I am agreeing with President Cripe.) I’m not clear how it is a benefit that pastors who work at a job to support themselves and their families in addition to the work they do laboring in the Gospel will “rub elbows” with more unchurched people. So I can’t really agree or disagree with that point.
However, his second point is pure genius. He says,
…the ministry is no longer the desk job that some have made it into…
With this statement I wholeheartedly agree. The ministry is not, never was, and never shall be a desk job. If one wants to associate the pastorate with a piece of furniture, then far better to call it a Prei Dieu job. (“Kneeler”.) The pastor should be in prayer for and with his people. Our churches would be far stronger if they eliminated “meeting night” entirely and replaced it with “praying night”, where the council and pastor just got together to pray. One could even use one of the prayer office orders in the hymnal. (Crazy thought to use the hymnal for prayer, I know. It’s just the sort of nutty idea that Wild Boars have.)
But that is not really the point I want to make. The point I want to make is this :
I agree that the ministry is not a desk job. No pastor should ever delude himself into thinking that he is serving the church if he takes a position that removes him from the Predigtamt (Preaching office) to sit behind a desk and move papers all day. Indeed, a pastor who has left a congregation to do so should be admonished to reject such an office – however *ahem* presidential it may appear, and get back to the parish. One could cite Smalcald 3-10 as suitable reason to do so, in addition to the rather obvious waste and poor stewardship that lies behind the idea – a point President Cripe makes quite elegantly.
Although, perhaps that wasn’t the point he was trying to make. Having read some of his previous columns, and knowing he is man of integrity, one can always hope that it was exactly the point he was trying to make.