Great Stuff Found on the Web — Wild Boar on “Desk Job”?

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.

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, LCMSsermons.com, 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 KNFA.net.

Comments

Great Stuff Found on the Web — Wild Boar on “Desk Job”? — 14 Comments

  1. I have four members of the congregation I serve that are on candidate status. Each one is a capable pastor with a unique story. Who fights to get these men a call? It’s time to come up with a system to allow these men, if they so desire, to go through the placement process along with our new graduates. Right now they are often pitted against each other.

  2. C.R.M. really is “Candidatus reverendi ministeri”. Don’t know if you were joking. OTOH, the reality of the matter is that your definition is pretty close to the truth too.

    Way too many congregations view pastors are disposable items: “If he doesn’t do what we want – we’ll just send him packing.”

    Walther’s address to the Iowa District in Harrison’s book “At home in the House of My Father’s” is an excellent discussion of the problem and despite it’s age very relevant to today.

  3. I believe it’s a present reality: the LCMS already has more clergy than we have congregations able to support them. The ranks of the pastors on CRM status are swelling.

    Who fights to get these men a call? Great question. Sadly enough, the answer appears to be that no one is fighting for them. When the news came out last spring that over 30 seminary graduates did not yet have a call, we were assured that the COP was working feverishly to find calls for them, and I was glad to hear that. I’d love to hear that the COP is working on addressing this growing pool of pastors without calls, but such news hasn’t yet reached my ears.

    For the moment we have an embarassment of riches, more experienced pastors than we know what to do with. How can we as a church body best be good stewards of the gifts God has blessed us with?

  4. the impending reality in our synod : we will have many more clergy than we have congregations to support them.

    Using the Association of Religious Data Archives’ LCMS data, 1925-2006, the LCMS church member density per clergy has been declining since 1961. We are now at such a low point that not all pastors can find positions with congregations or within the synodical bureaucratic structure. In 2006 there were 8,601 clergy in the Missouri Synod for 6,155 congregations.

    This can be associated with the end of German immigration earlier in the 20th century, declining birth rates of congregational members and consequently an aging average membership, the slowing of new congregation starts since the late 60s, and the steady increase in the number of pastor from 1925 until 2000. In 2006 there were 8,601 clergy in the Missouri Synod for 6,155 congregations.

  5. How can we as a church body best be good stewards of the gifts God has blessed us with?

    As soon as somebody figures out the answer to that question, please let me know! 🙂

    Seriously, when I was asked to resign my call 5 years ago, there were three other LCMS pastors who were asked to do the same thing within a 6-month period. Something that disappointed me was that it seemed that there was no “hue and cry” raised for such an atrocity. It almost seemed, from my perspective, that to the average Joe Pewsitter it was “business as usual.” It saddened me. Where was the respect for the Office of the Public Ministry? Where was the concept that God called these men to these parishes?

    Of those 4 … two of them received calls within approximately 1 year … the other two (myself and one other) remain on the CRM list.

    It’s not easy to be on “that list.” I’m struggling to pay my mortgage and other regular bills each month. I pray for relief from this burden. And I know it will happen … in God’s time, and in God’s way.

    I also understand that the economy is not very conducive for churches to call men with years on their resume. (“Can’t afford him.”) Still, it is incumbent for us to raise these men who are waiting for a call and suffering in the process. Two ways people can help out that come to my mind are:

    http://www.confessionalpastors.org/ — a list of pastors (a number of the CRM) whose names can be shared with congregations who are looking for confessional, liturgical men to fill their pulpits.
    http://www.augustanaministerium.org/ — an organzation who lists one of their objectives to support those pastors who are struggling to make their ends meet in the situations they find themselves in, either called or on the CRM list.

  6. Just some ideas to throw out. Is there a limiting of what a pastor can do to supplement his income while still fulfilling a call? In other words, can a pastor hold another job while on call? We have some rural churches that don’t have pastors because they can’t afford one full time. Other churches that are close in adjacent areas share a single pastor. Why can’t the vacant churches have a pastor that works on the side to supplement his income? There are many denominations in rural ares that have a working minister.

    Also considering how top heavy our synod is, have they hired too many “laid off” pastors just to keep them working? Is that why our synod budget is abysmal and why the synod’s employees have increased exponentially in the last 20 years?

    The economy is bad. What makes us think that this won’t affect our synod also. Why aren’t there programs that address this problem? Maybe like the secular Peace Corps. Send our new young graduates into the mission field and give them first hand knowledge of what is takes to really get the gospel out effectively. The mission field is lacking since a lot of the allocations don’t come from synod anymore but synod still funnels assets back into Ablaze. Now the churches have to take up the slack. Maybe we can did a little deeper and sponsor some of our recent graduates and give them an evangelical experience they will never forget. After all wasn’t our name at one time the “Evangelical Lutheran Church”? It’s better than the “bean counter” idea we now have and wouldn’t cost as much. Coupled with the failed Ablaze program assets and contributions I think we could support a mission field fairly easily. Why not start in the US first where the mission field is the largest and the fastest growing

  7. @John E #6
    One of the major challenges I see with a pastor working a “side job” to supplement the salary from a congregation–funerals and weddings. SUppose that a young couple has two particular dates in mind and the pastor cannot be off from the secular job; or suppose a member dies and the pastor has already had his congregational work days for that week and must stay at his secular job? Course, I also know of several men who are “worker priests” [I guess without the secular job they would be non-working priests?? :-)] and they do at times find it hard to be in a secular job while at the same time serving a congregation. I know of one congregation who simply finds it easer on them to have a part time pastor and so they have become one of those permanent vacancies of our Synod.

    Lastly–President Cripe’s comments are really interesting in that just last week I received a mailing requesting names of men who would like to study for the ministry as we are “short of pastors in our Synod.” For years I have felt that we are being fed from both sides of the mouth about the need for pastors–we have too many [a district president] and we need more [from the seminaries. Would be nice to know the full truth.

  8. …just last week I received a mailing requesting names of men who would like to study for the ministry as we are “short of pastors in our Synod.”

    Because they are financed by tuition payments, if the seminaries are not full of students, then the seminaries may need to consider “worker-professors” (aka adjunct professors).

  9. Rev. Cripe’s blog throws in the old Paul-tentmaking motif. While Paul is showing an example to the Church and being humble about it, it really is an indirect insult to the Church that they aren’t stepping up. I mean really. Do you want Paul splitting his time making tents, or do you want him working full time preaching, teaching, writing, administering the Sacraments. You would be ashamed, embarassed if you were there! To say “let me provide for you Paul, let me make tents- you as an Apostle need to preach and teach.” Pastors may work part-time out of necessity, but the Office of Christ is a full time vocation by nature of the Scriptural Office. Isn’t the part-time pastor shtick a Reformed notion of the Office?

  10. Just read the previous article about Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Oakland, CA – couldn’t they call one of the “CRM” pastors on their own, without District input? (Don’t know if they could afford a full-time pastor, though.) Would effect would that have on the lawsuit?

  11. I’m probably going to get ridiculed but here goes: I have been giving part of my tithing to other
    than just my church since Ablaze came in. When I read about the billboards and the waste
    that had gone into this program, plus the raises, the borrowing from one fund to the other – I
    felt I was not being a good steward with my money. Issues Etc was let go, KFUO FM . .
    It’s not that they were let go . . it’s the way the way the situation was handled.

    We need experienced confessional ministers more than ever. But, I wanted my money to go
    to my church, no longer the Missouri Synod. I have felt the LCMS HQ has been out of
    control. .

    I’m just a little peon, but many little peons count and I know other people in my family and
    congregation feel the same way.

    Part of the problem now is that this economy has made people of my age 55+ that have gotten
    laid off take lower paying jobs etc. This is a no win situation. Only prayers can help with the guidance our Lord.

  12. @tin lizzy #12
    We need experienced confessional ministers more than ever. But, I wanted my money to go to my church, no longer the Missouri Synod. I have felt the LCMS HQ has been out of control.

    It’s experienced confessional Pastors who are out in the cold.
    Given the “official” opinion that the DP’s need not talk to the officers or Pastor of a congregation, and given the widespread practice of asking Pastors to resign [without cause, by Lutheran standards] one has to wonder how much of this was organized to get the Lutherans out of the way of the “new (transformational) order”.

    “You don’t know all the facts.” Fine! Tell me.
    [I only know that this travesty, which is now in every district, was unheard of just a few years ago.]

    I have mixed feelings about the “can’t afford a pastor” whine. For every person unemployed or living really close to the edge, there are a dozen whose “I wants” come way ahead of their “I needs”.
    (We “can’t afford a pastor” but we all came to this meeting to say so in new or nearly new vehicles and at home we’ve got the latest electronic gadgets to play with.)

    Tin Lizzie: We little peons wouldn’t even “count” if we were among the unchurched! I’ve heard a district official advising a congregation to go for double income families.
    They were looking for “growth” alright, but not souls necessarily!
    I would like to think that’s changed, but I’m afraid that would have taken an almost wholesale change in the COP.
    And there, (just like Congress), “everybody’s a crook, except our crook”!

    END OF RANT

  13. I would hate to see our Pastors working 2 jobs, taking care of a family, their church and theirselves. We have more available time supposedly, but I never seem to accomplish my daily goals everyday. I know it would be very hard for a Pastor to do it also. –

    I’ve worked 42 years and of those 42 years, I’ve had to worked two jobs for 22 years 7 days a week and after my layoff from my first job – I’ve taking the time to smell the roses. I have raised 2 sons. Believe me, it was very hard. I had a wonderful support system, but there were a lot of “pits in those cherries”. I am back to work but with severe cost of living to go with it.
    And yes, I had to work those 2 jobs to survive.

    I’ve seen a Wesleyan minister loose his job, wife, children, home and his church — it’s like trying to serve 2 masters. Having 2 jobs is very, very, very hard.

    I have a suggestion: Why not reevaluate everybody’s job /salary in HQ’S and if necessary retire the ones ready to retire. Reduce salaries where they could be reduced. Maybe some of this money could help the CRM or is there anyway to reevaulate this Ablaze Program which to me has not been a great success. I’ve watched the web site, but as much as I have ablazed at the grocery store, giving people rides, helping neighbors, helping others get jobs or get on SS or Disability. I would never tell – too me this bragging and we ought not to do – this was our main frame in Sunday School from little on, “letting your light shine”. This is our everyday job. The most important everyday job.

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