Where have all the pulpits gone? By Rev. Joshua V. Scheer

No, this is not a commentary on modern church architecture. It’s about the pulpit shortage and its effects in the LCMS and the many things to watch out for.

One of the worst effects is that there are pastors with legitimate reasons for needing another call who have not been able to be moved. We understand in our theology of the call that this is by God’s design, but it doesn’t stop men from suffering temptations of unbelief.

Men in these situations are going to be tempted to doubt the divine nature of the call which they serve. They will see the “process” as purely human, and that view will rub off on their beliefs about the divine call. This is dangerous as pastors need the assurance of the divine call to conduct a ministry in good conscience.

Another temptation- a pastor may begin to view their own call as a Nineveh where they don’t want to serve anymore. This poor view of the place they serve will most likely not be caused by the congregation but by the situation.

Another temptation, a pastor may begin itching the ears of his parishioners. This means that in a pulpit shortage, Satan will no doubt be hard at work tempting men to just get along at any cost, even that of a good conscience or sound teaching and practice which flows from it.

Another temptation is that a pastor may get angry at the authorities. District Presidents are trying to deal with the shortage but even their hard work cannot change the fact that there is a shortage. Seminaries may also be the target of anger. Brothers in the faith will be needed to correct such anger and encourage prayer for those in authority.

Others will suffer in this shortage as well. District Presidents and those who help our congregations to call will also struggle in this. They will undoubtedly struggle with the powerlessness of their situation. Brothers and sisters in the faith will be needed to encourage them in their hard work and pray for them. Seminary recruitment efforts will suffer as they can no longer lift up their placement record. Seminaries will be attacked on various levels for their recruitment policies. Attendance may drop as men will not come in such uncertain times. Those undergoing training at seminary will be tempted in many of the same ways pastors are. Those considering seminary will struggle too. Both those at seminary and those who are considering it will need brothers in the faith to remind them that aspiring to the office of pastor is desiring a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1).

Brothers in the faith are needed to speak words of correction and encouragement to men in such times of temptation. They are needed to offer gentle correction for error and encouragement in sound teaching and practice. Brothers in the faith should remind these men (and their families) that the place in which they serve is still an Eden (see Walther in Law and Gospel), and that the souls in their Eden need them. Brothers and sisters in the faith will be needed to support our seminaries in every way.

With this challenge comes opportunity for faith as well. It’s time to restore mutual conversation and consolation among pastors. It’s time to encourage them and their families in their struggle. It’s time to pray God for strong faith in the face of such temptations. It’s time to enlarge our support of District Presidents, seminaries, and those who desire to be pastors. It’s time to engage in “Life Together” during this challenge of pulpit shortage.

Pastor Joshua Scheer
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Bagley, MN

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