Great stuff Found on the Web — Straight Schlueter on Pray for the Candidates

Found over on the Straight Schlueter blog:

 

I am not sure that this is widely known, but just as was the case a year ago, there are seminary graduates and candidates for placement who are still waiting to receive a call. I happen to have one of these men in my own charge at the moment. He was serving a convertible vicarage, the original congregation was not able to keep him, and we were blessed to have him come serve the remaining months of his vicarage here with us. He has served very, very well. He has been a much needed help while he has been here. Every member of the congregation will mourn the day that he (together with his wife) packs up to leave for his permanent placement.

There are a few things to say here. The first is that I am terribly impressed at how well prepared this man is to serve. Our seminaries do an amazing job of training these men to do the job that our LCMS congregations will ask them to do. He has a solid grip on law and gospel. He is a wonderful teacher and Bible study leader. He is a wonderful preacher. If he is any indication of the caliber of candidates our seminaries are turning out, then our synod is (and will be on into the future) blessed by him and those with him.

The second point builds from the first. From what I know there are 8 candidates still remaining, waiting to receive calls. There are approximately 200-250 congregations vacant and looking to call. Now, certainly not all of these congregations would be a suitable match for a candidate. But I am sure that many would. However, there seems to be this notion (I believe it is inherited from the business world and has crept in to the church) that a pastor needs to be tested and experienced before they will offer a call. They are afraid that calling someone “inexperienced” will be a risk. I believe that this is a false notion; one not consistent with theology; one that places institutional and administrative expertise over the authority of Christ to forgive sinners through the means of grace.

A pastor is the voice of Christ to speak His Word of consolation and forgiveness to sinners and to the suffering and grieving. He is the man Christ has appointed to exercise His keys, locking heaven for the unrepentant and unlocking heaven for the contrite. He is the one authorized by Christ to counteract the accusatory lies of Satan that burden the consciences of sinners. Certainly years in the Office will assist these men in applying the Gifts more pointedly or peacefully. But each of these candidates, once called and ordained are just as authorized, just as equipped, just as ready to serve as would be Luther, or Chemnitz, or Walther, or any of Lutheran heroes.

And so when your new, fresh from the seminary, wet behind the ears pastor stands up to absolve you, your sins are not less absolved because he lacks experience. When he presides at the Supper, Christ is not any less in with or under the bread or wine because he has only spoken the words of institution once, twice, or eight hundred fifty seven times. Your newly baptized son or daughter is not any less forgiven or sealed by the Holy Spirit because your pastor lacks administrative expertise. Remember Paul’s charge to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) Your new pastor is Christ’s man given to you to do the job he has equipped and authorized him to do. Trust Jesus. Don’t trust the man, no matter how many years he has served.

These men still anticipating placements and calls are well trained to handle the Word of God. They are well prepared to offer Christ’s gifts of forgiveness and healing. Our congregations should not let the world deceive them into a misplaced fear. Instead they should welcome these men who are and will be His gifts to His Church.

Posted by Rev Paul Schlueter

Be sure to visit his blog for some more Straight Schlueting.

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 — Straight Schlueter on Pray for the Candidates — 2 Comments

  1. Thank you for this great post and reminder.
    I will add our seminary candidates to my prayer list.
    And I ask your prayers for my son Ben who is an IT entrepreneur.
    He hopes to fund Christian philanthropies.
    A big dream, but God is able if He wills.
    No church is better positioned than LCMS to meet people’s needs.

  2. Fair or not, I think the issue for many congregations regarding experience has nothing to do with the distribution of communion, absolution, etc. The issue of experience, especially for an aging congregation, likely has to do with their perception of the type of ‘pastoral care’ (among other things) they will receive. Many of these vacant congregations are older congregations. Some of them have probably even tried a candidate before and feel they were burned. I know of a couple congregations who had that happen in my home circuit–first time pastors that had a divisive manner about them. Again, I would guess that the lack of willingness to call a candidate is not related to things associated with the divine service.

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