Great Stuff Found on the Internet – Certified Lay Minister Criticizes Lack of Training for those Outside the One-Fold Office

Sometimes “good stuff found on the net” is right under your nose. This is a comment on a comment on a BJS article from yesterday.

Pastor Rossow posted on benefits of the catechumenate and then Martin Noland piggy-backed on that with a critique of the licensed deacon program in the LCMS. That led a reader named Jason to post the following.


I am a certified Lay Minster in my district, and I totally agree with you. I was priviledged to grow up under Dr. Ernest Bartels, who sent us through 4 years of confirmation, 5th grade Book of Acts, 6th grade Luther and Reformation, 7th grade catechism with the vicar, 8th with pastor doing everything in the catechism again, both times with memory work. In the mid 80’s I knew about LC-MS, ALC, LCA, WELS, Lutheran Brethren, plus a couple more. Later, I eventually enrolled in the DCE program at CSP. (didn’t finish)

So when I got out east, I eventually had the opportunity to enroll in this program. I have always wanted to learn, and help others, particularly youth, understand that there are bigger things out there. Yes, it would help me with a sense of completion to my DCE studies. And anything I could do to help counter the abysmal catechetical work I had seen all over. (I am so blessed with the work I had to go through)

I take a critical eye towards these programs. The leaders running them tend to brag about quality that is just not there…

I have had a couple of my pastor instructors suggest I go off to seminary, and I have thought hard about that. So that is understandable Pr. Noland’s comment about SMP. But really SMP is so light weight pastorally. I think it should be more Specific Ministry DEACON, and the LC-MS should think long and hard about the Diaconate, or flat out dump the SMP in light of the ONE (fold) Office of Holy Ministry.

So my experience is about the same. These people are sometimes even being promoted by others to play pastor, and far too many are not even remotely gifted to do so. (or even called…) As for me, if I am to play pastor, I have been consulting people and pastors, and I would choose residential seminary. I respect the Office way too much to mess around with anything less and substandard. I also have long thought of basic catechism stuff during Sunday school, the younger grades, when kids WANT to learn.

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 Internet – Certified Lay Minister Criticizes Lack of Training for those Outside the One-Fold Office — 20 Comments

  1. Alright so fine; dump SMP because residential training is allegedly so much better…because the education is so much better even though I hear reports that the Confessions are hardly given a glance in the Confessions course, and this at a time when there seems to be a revivalism of the “confessional” aspect of Lutheranism here in the States.

    The problem still lies with what to do about small parishes who cannot afford a full-time pastor. It is not that there is no want or desire; the budget just cannot support a shepherd in the 21st century because the attendance is not there–maybe it never will be, but God has still kept for Himself a number of sheep there who desire to be fed from His table of plenty. I’m not talking about a fifth congregation in one of the LCMS bastion states. I’m talking about places like where I am–here in Maine where there are three churches in the whole state, and my particular one is considered a “mission church” so maybe 2.5 is more accurate; we’re about 15 years old.

    I am convinced that this small church of ours would have a real chance to feed many folks in central Maine over time with pure doctrine and the Sacrament, and grow by the grace of holy God, but we do not have a pastor in the office five days a week, on-call 24/7, teaching during the week–not even one day week. We are blessed to be served for the last four years by a wonderful Pastor Emeritus in his mid-70s, who lives over an hour away, but who must (unfortunately, but completely understandably) cancel service whenever there is treacherous ice or snow. (Do you know how long winter lasts in Maine?)

    How can we be given a fair shot to grow and serve our hungering community? Especially when I hear other pastors–within the context of uber-critical remarks on the SMP program and related programs–say that churches such as mine should just be allowed to die, that there’s no shame in this.

    What kind of remark is that? (And I read that from a pastor either here on BSJ or at Gottesdienst Online, can’t remember which.) I thought that was utterly shameful to hear that from a pastor on two blogs I highly value for their content. It hurt deeply to read that on a site that prides itself on being Scriptural and Confessional; it’s been a couple months at least since I read that and it still hurts that an LCMS pastor, who possibly/likely has enjoyed a steady income from Lutheran parishes over his years, would say that about another LCMS parish: “Tough beans; fold it up; God’s peace on you for trying; feed yourselves on social media, or move.” Thanks.

    Where did Christ say that churches should be allowed to die if they cannot maintain a budget for a shepherd, or that if a nearby called shepherd cannot serve a mission congregation due to other commitments to their called church over an hour away? Where is this premise in the Confessions? Yes, the Gospel can be taken away from a church that tempts God or consistently rejects His call to penitent and fruitful faith, as Luther pointed out. However this isn’t a question at our little church here in Bangor, and probably many other churches like ours. I see where it says that a pastor has a right to make a living wage, but where is it that it says a church’s life or death depends solely on their being able to provide one? (This is not a question of wanting to.)

    Now about 3+ hours north of us in Canada. In Nova Scotia I have been told of a small community of citizens that crave a Lutheran parish so much that they will not attend any other church. They have been waiting for decades for a Lutheran church to be planted. Pastor Milette visits them sporadically when he can since, as I understand it, it is a very far drive for him (we’re talking multiple hours); these folks need Word & Sacrament regularly and crave this. Maybe they will never get a confessional/Sacramental/liturgical Lutheran in their town, but such a church (if it existed) in Presque Isle ME would certainly help Pr. Milette to serve those folks. Or should this community be allowed to wither on the vine just because they don’t have a budget for a Word & Sacrament pastor? Tough luck I guess, huh?

    The SMP program was intended to help these situations. I fully grant the program has flaws and abuses but what other options are there? Rotating vicars has never worked long-term–not with Bangor and not with the last church I was in in CT. Rotating vicars don’t provide any stability and is dependent on a sister church having the budget to maintain a vicar year after year–in no way a given in such a state as Maine.

    Combine churches I read. True, Waterville is only an hour away, but this will mean very little I am afraid since of the twenty or so regular members, half live an hour or more east of Bangor (in one case one older couple drives 2.5 hours–one-way–to get to Bangor once a month; they cannot come at all during the winter months).

    I don’t maintain that the SMP program is the best option. But we need full-time shepherds in Maine–yesterday and last year already; other communities in the States and Canada do to. This is a ripe mission field in Maine–dozens upon dozens of communities that likely don’t even know what a Lutheran is because the culture here tends to be Roman Catholic (who refuse to teach their laity anything) or liberal and deeply cynical; you won’t get a mega-Lutheran church here, but 50-100 regular attendees, yes I believe this is possible. Our church in Bangor had nearly fifty when it started until folks left the state (and thus the church) due to the economy.

    How do we get a fair shot to have a long-term church family when a full-time pastor has significant student loan debt for years and/or possibly a family to provide for as well? By default a seminarian with such consideration just cannot consider a parish like ours.

    I’d be happy to suck it up and serve this church and area–but the SMP program has been scandalized to the point that I don’t think I could show my face at a convention without receiving condescending looks and glares–“Oh, he’s one of *those*…”

    It’s like I belong in Gen. Savage’s ‘Leper Colony’ despite that I entered the SMP program out of a desire to help and serve a congregation full-time while receiving my education (and I’d be happy to take more AND thrilled to finally learn the Greek!); despite that no one can agree that SMP violates the Confessions other than the part keeping the peace through good order and tradition–but of course traditional seminary students are making that charge (who else is?); despite that I cannot attend Seminary because of a terrible credit rating, debt from taking care of my grandfather a decade ago (which required me to quit my job for over a year in a bad job market), no college degree, and a firm belief (after much and continued prayer) that greater Bangor is where God wants me and my family to be.

    It’s been twenty years since my confirmation pastor “tapped” me for Seminary. The time may not have been right after high school, but he was 100% dead-on right about my being a candidate. When I should be working on my other vocation instead I spend hours reading books and blogs (like this one, Gottesdienst, Pr. Harrison’s, Pr. Weedon’s, Issues Etc., Worldview Everlasting et al.); I can’t help myself–the time just flies and the result is that I crave to learn more so I can be as prepared as possible to (in the spirit of St. Basil) be educated and teach and preach and comfort souls with the Gospel and fight against our spiritual foes on the front lines should God ever accept my offer to serve the Church and calls my name (and He may well since clearly the back-up vocation–fiction writing with a Lutheran flavour–is not working after over ten years).

    So yeah.. Pr. H was right, the two or three elders I befriended, a handful of pastors I have gotten to know since. Then my wife and I moved to Maine (Bangor) seven years ago to escape CT; became members in the small mission church here; the pastor was forced to leave (it was a mutual parting); there’s been a vacancy ever since; I learned about the SMP program (by accident) and thought that maybe God was nudging me; but nearly three years later, with all the good intentions/bad execution of the program, I guess not.

    Fine; so SMP et al. will be clipped from the vine (or derided to the point of neuterization) before it has a chance to contribute to the new LCMS schism on the horizon (thank you open communion, contemporary worship, church growth/missional-focused, and confessional/patristic-ignorant LCMS churches).

    So in the meantime, how do we fix this problem of churches like mine? You’d be surprised how often folks living in Bangor did not even know we existed when they learn of us; we do outreach faithfully, but how many are lost when they call the church office and there is no answer or immediate pastoral care. So death is not an option–if it was why would He draw a new young family to us about a year ago? Why would He draw travelers to us during the summer and holidays (we had visitors from 13 states this past summer!)

    Death of this congregation does not appear to be God’s will even if our size and budget and average age would indicate otherwise to some LCMS clergy–not while I have God’s ear and can ask Him in prayer “But for the sake of ten and those who have not heard yet; will you not let your Gospel raincloud remain in greater Bangor for the sake of us and those who have not yet heard that pure doctrine and the Sacrament exist in their community…”

  2. Josh,

    SMP is not a promise of cheap pastors. SMP does not address the problem you raise. There are plenty of pastors to go around.

    There are lots of other approached to consider. How a bout a circuit rider? How about bringing in a pastor once a month to conduct services? Another option is to lay off the hundreds of district staff and use those funds to provide mission pastors to support parishes like yours.

    There are lots of other ideas I am sure.

  3. Who said “cheap pastors” were wanted in this thread? Perhaps that term “cheap” is improperly defined as being solely related to $$$, especially when it would seem neither seminary is churning out good long-term confessional Lutheran pastors either. When I hear from a seminarian, who graduated in the last half-decade, that anything BUT the Confessions were taught in the Confessions class at one of the Seminaries (until the last week of the course)…

    Maybe it bears investigating that it presently doesn’t matter whether a pastoral student is in-residency OR distance-learning: theoretically they aren’t receiving the proper education regardless!

    If it even survives the upcoming convention (or the next) there are serious flaws with the SMP program that need to be addressed, but it seems that the program (and related paths of study) are becoming the default scapegoat for many of the doctrinal and theological failures in our synod. I do not believe this to be a smart/fair method of attack given it is Seminary-educated pastors who are still the FAR majority of pastors serving in spiritual war-torn LCMS and at the center of plenty of their own damaging controversies and embarrassments to Lutheranism in our post-modern world. (See the ULC controversy or the comments section of the December LW re. the October issue for recent examples).

    So “cheap” broadened to include the quality of education and level of oversight in synod in general looks a little less attractive when applied to all pastors–traditional education path or not–I imagine.

    Maybe the problem is less about education and far more about the war with our Old Adams and our spiritual foes, and our lack of being a praying church as much as our lack of being a teaching church. We need to have all our pastors, ordained ministers, vicars, seminarians, and SMPers in our prayers. Both that they would remain steadfast in the Word and the Confessions, and that they would receive regular support for their continued nourishment/learning (be it privately through books or by way of Issues Etc. or at places like Doxology).

    Anyway… when the SMP program is finally gone (as I expect it to be), and the clerical cheers that the wicked witch is dead are faded, I hope synod-folks are willing to address just as aggressively the other problems at the education and parish level for which the SMP program is currently the scapegoat (and for which the SMP program could have helped on a small level until something better could be figured out).

    “There are plenty of pastors to go around.”

    Let me know when one/any want to work full-time on $300/month and no housing provision for an indefinite amount of time. I can’t imagine that pastors awaiting a call are not already aware of parishes like ours as an option. I don’t see all these pastors spilling out into the frontier to at least offer themselves as a consideration.

    District pays our mortgage basically, and scenario that is reviewable annually so consider that our money for a “mission pastor” I suppose. Let me guess… ditch the building right? (As if that question hasn’t been debated in our congregation before in the last five years multiple times.)

    “How about bringing in a pastor once a month to conduct services?”

    We have families with their share of problems and challenges that need direct and regular pastoral care and counsel. A “pastor-a-month” will not provide an atmosphere for them to open up to and lean on when the “pastor-a-week” is not helping them. So yeah–quite a disconnect with that suggestion. Which is just one of the problems. A lack of understanding of the small country parish on the outskirts of Lutheran civilization where all the greater discussions take place.

  4. Josh,

    You said you wanted cheap pastors. You said that you could not afford a pastor and so you were upset that the SMP program is going to be shut down. I don’t know what else that means than that you saw the SMP program as a cheap solution for getting a pastor. What am I missing here?

  5. @Pastor Tim Rossow #2
    I was about to suggest “circuit rider”. It’s the traditional method for handling the problem, and has worked well in the past. With modern computer technology, the pastor could even deliver the sermon in all churches simultaneously, rotating his “physical presence” each week.

  6. Pastor Tim Rossow :Another option is to lay off the hundreds of district staff and use those funds to provide mission pastors to support parishes like yours.

    Many of those pastors are already trained and certified and could be called from the pool of those languishing on CRM…

  7. The Missouri Synod is an extremely homogeneous organization. I’ve been starting to ask this question on different speeches that I give. I was out in Nebraska and asked how many of you folks have relatives in the preaching or teaching ministry of the Missouri Synod. And over half the hands went up in the room. We are incestuous, totally interrelated. And this is both the strength of the Synod and also part of its problem. Nobody ever settles a question on the basis of the issue. They always settle it on the basis of who their relatives are. As the old Latin proverb puts it, you know, he flees far who escapes his relatives. And that is especially true in the Missouri Synod.

    J. A. O. Preus II
    “You and Your Synod”

  8. Pastor Ted Crandall :

    Pastor Tim Rossow :Another option is to lay off the hundreds of district staff and use those funds to provide mission pastors to support parishes like yours.

    Many of those pastors are already trained and certified and could be called from the pool of those languishing on CRM…

    I don’t know about other districts, but our district staff consists of about ten people, of which the district president and one other are ordained. To the best of my knowledge, the second ordained man is also serving a parish.

    Also, just out of curiosity, how many men are currently in CRM status, and available for a call? Of those on CRM status, how long does it typically take for one of them to be called?

  9. Josh Radke :
    Death of this congregation does not appear to be God’s will…

    Then what happened on Cape Cod? You had a DP that convinced a church to close its door and sell its property so it could receive over 200K for DP office expenses…oh, sorry… to use the money to fund the mission elsewhere in New England. The final attendance at their closing dinner was over 75, many who were members or past members. And why close its doors? Probably debt due to loans from LCEF. Regarding your comment about the number of churches in Maine, there has been pastors in good standing who have attended seminary and obtained MDIV’s who wanted to help spread the Gospel in Maine & the rest of New England and received a “not interested” from the DP office because the pastors were not in favor of praise bands and contemporary services. The emphasis from New England was that they were a different culture so we cannot use the LSB, etc. The existing churches in Maine need to find ways to obtain a way to fund mission pastors around the DP office and get busy spreading the gospel and stay confessional.

  10. Merry Christmas right back at ya J. Dean!

    The call is two-fold, the subjective call and the objective call. The first one gets most of the attention but is less important even unnecessary.

    The subjective call is when one wakes up one day, or slowly over time believes he is being called to be a pastor. So he goes about fulfilling all the requirements.

    The objective call is when a congregation taps you on the shoulder and says, we want you to come preach the word to us. It is only then than one has a call from God. God calls through the local congregation.

    Hope that sketch helps.

  11. @Pastor Tim Rossow #4

    “The problem still lies with what to do about small parishes who cannot afford a full-time pastor.”

    This does not translate to “wanting a cheap pastor”, at least not for me. Won’t speak for others.

    I’m a creative: if I don’t write I will burst. There are many times–sometimes weeks and weeks–where I don’t want to write, but if I don’t do something creative I will go mad. Oh, and that is despite not yet making an income AND having a wife and child. It’s part of the vocation and I know hundreds of others who are wired the same way. It’s probably why creatives drive their families nuts and often are at poverty level for years (sometimes for their entire lifetime). I’ve seen the same thing in sports and carpentry, so I know this isn’t just a “creatives thing”.

    So I presume it’s similar with every vocation, including the ministry. This feeling that if one doesn’t preach and teach and deliver the Sacrament somewhere/somehow they will explode, because it’s their calling. The thought that a community is going spiritually hungry is unfathomable. Maybe not? Personal finances come before one’s sacred calling? Or am I not reading the full context of Paul’s words in Philippians 4:10-20 (and the commentary on those verses–individually and wholly–in the TLSB) rightly.

    I just want to know where in the Scriptures or Confessions it says (or clearly indicates) that pastors should not be considering calls based solely on finances–if that is a consideration at all. Or are prayers by available pastors going something like this: “Lord, here I am, send me; I’m ready to go anywhere you place me…so long as it’s a minimum of $30k/yr and rents are reasonable. I’ve got a student loan and two kids, don’t forget. Oh yeah, and one other thing…” Is that how the Early Church did it? the medieval Lutherans? Walther’s LCMS? Just curious. By all means enlighten my apparent ignorance on how the call process works post-graduation, where somehow it is better to not work than to make something doing what you say you love and have been called to do, OR are willing to put a vocation on hold to work a secular job until a congregation comes along that meets one’s price tag. (And I will grant that the price tag right out of seminary for many is high due to tuition costs not within the realm of their control.)

    I’m sure this isn’t the case for every available pastor; perhaps there is an info gap. Maybe there should be a synodical bulletin board in several places with a list of limited-budget churches in need of a pastor so that those pastors who desire/are in a situation able to perform their ordained duties within the context of such situation as small parishes face daily. Likewise maybe there should be a list of pastors available to limited budget churches who understand the situation and are willing/able to be called anyway.

    “Regarding your comment about the number of churches in Maine, there has been pastors in good standing who have attended seminary and obtained MDIV’s who wanted to help spread the Gospel in Maine & the rest of New England and received a “not interested” from the DP office because the pastors were not in favor of praise bands and contemporary services. The emphasis from New England was that they were a different culture so we cannot use the LSB, etc.”

    Need documentation or its pure hear-say. I’ve lived my entire life in New England (central CT and now central Maine) and I have yet to be a member of (or visited) a church where contemporary worship even exists. (I do know of some churches where that style of worship offered as an alternative to the traditional service, although I have never visited these churches.) Furthermore, the question was never even considered in my prior home church in Terryville; probably because the “old guard” would NEVER have stood for it (ditto at Bristol). There is no contemporary worship in Waterville ME, greater Portland ME (to my latest knowledge), or Immanuel in Manchester NH; the current DPs former church has three Divine Services every week (two on Sunday, one on Wednesday) and a contemporary/praise style between services on Sundays.

    Sure–there are churches in New England that may (and probably do) say what I have quoted of your chrage about themselves when searching for a pastor, but an accusation that only contemporary worship pastors are welcome for (mission) work in Maine/New England as a standing NED policy sounds pretty outrageous. Especially since 1) none of my pastor friends in NED have mentioned any such thing to me in our conversations and 2) I don’t know of any general push to force NED congregations to at least offer a contemporary style service as an option let alone the dominant form.

  12. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I see that the Lutheran Clarion has now posted its January 2013 issue online here:

    Check the first page of the January 2013 issue, with reference to Resolution 5-03A at the 2010 convention.

    This has some of the specifics to which I referred in this or a previous blog post. I see the number is 540 licensed lay deacons, not my memory guess of 570.

    As far as I remember, one of the main “selling points” of the SMP program was that it would regularize all of the various district licensing programs and improve the doctrinal competence of those presently serving. This was not fulfilled in the final resolution when SMP was first created (I believe that was in 2007); and it was not amended by Resolution 5-03A in 2010.

    There was obviously a good bit of popular support for putting all licensed lay deacons into SMP, but it didn’t pass. Why? Because the chairman of the convention and the floor committee chairmen wanted it to die. Why? Because the chairmen are all District Presidents, and this would attack what they consider one of their vital interests.

    The same thing happened in 2007 (I think that was the year) when the “Blue Ribbon Task Force on Financing the Mission” gave its report and offered specific proposals for dealing with the fiscal stream in synod (includes the district offices). Nothing happened, again, because the chairmen, all DPs, were worried about losing their cut in the fiscal stream if the the Task Force proposals were enacted.

    So – please learn from this all you synod delegates – if you have a district president as a chairman for a floor committee, and a resolution that is contrary to his district interests, you can expect the resolution to fail, be tabled, etc. This is a problem with the way our conventions are presently administered. It is also a problem with some district presidents (not all of them, mind you) who put their district interests ahead of the synod’s interests.


    Regarding all those who presently serve–pastors, certified lay ministers, licensed lay deacons, SMPs–my opinion is that we should thank our Lord for all who serve — and we should do what we can to bring ALL persons serving in a pastoral capacity up to the competency level of M.Div. pastors. Why? For no other reason than that the laymen of the LCMS deserve competent pastors.

    How to accomplish this is a complex problem, financially, politically, resource-wise, etc. We need to be patient with each other in the matter of the “how” to do it.

    And we need to–I’ll say it again–thank our Lord for ALL those who serve and show respect to ALL those who serve, whatever their title or education.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  13. I believe many of the troubles which plague theological seminaries today lie in their poor and inadequate admissions procedures. My father* used to say, “If you want to make a gentleman, you have to start with his grandfather.” Something of this is also true of a pastor as a man. If you admit a gang of sissies, perverts, misfits, and immature babies, you are going to have trouble making men out of them. And yet this is precisely what some seminaries have done and, with the shortage of ministers and the need for candidates, this is something that all seminaries are tempted to do. We need not only to be more careful in admissions, but we need to be more careful in retention. Lack of scholarship is not the only reason for which a man ought to be dropped. We need to look over our students to see how they relate with one another, how they come through to us, how they carry out their field work, their clinical pastoral education, and their internship assignments in relationship to their fellow men. We must never forget the fact that the seminary is the last remnant of monasticism, the last hermitage, the last city of refuge in a confused and tangled world. And yet it is not monks, hermits, fugitives we are called to send out into the world. We are to send men among men. We are to send men who, like Paul, can be “all things to all men, that they may gain some.”

    Developing Students As Men Among Men
    J. A. O. Preus II
    President, Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois
    January 14, 1968

    *Minnesota Governor J. A. O. Preus (1883-1961)

  14. I would like to add a couple of comments concerning pastoral service to small congregations.
    1. The older model in use in the 60’s and 70’s was to have mission congregations where the districts would provide sliding scale subsidies to small congregations unable to afford a full time pastor. It seems that went away with large district staffs.
    2. I know a congregation who could afford a full time pastor but don’t because they don’t want to spend the money.
    3. The idea of having a licensed deacon program to replace the SMP has merit for many reasons. They could be augmented by a circuit rider style pastor who would do Sacrament ministry approximately once a month while visiting each congregation. The ELCK (Kenya) does something very similar due to a shortage of pastors in a growing environment.
    4. I recently did a compilation of all the rostered pastors in my state and was amazed at the huge number of unassigned pastors that exist. I am not talking retired in emeritus status.

    It would seem to me that a combination of district staff reductions (cut out bunches of travel to meetings, and the hosting of so many conferences) would provide the funds to subsidize congregations and install circuit riders. The occasion of the visit by the circuit rider could become a joyous “event” where there is fellowship (at both kinds of tables), installations, etc. I would call this real revitalization. Based on congregation circumstance, local considerations and consultations, one of these two ways would be available for small congregations, who without proper catechism instruction aren’t going to grow because the laity will not understand their unique role of evangelism within their vocations to serve their neighbors in love and invite their neighbors to come and see. The evangelism task is not complete until everyone in your commuting area is either committed to another Christian denomination, or they have firmly rejected the Gospel message.

    It is time to stop impersonating church in the synod and actually do church in the field.

  15. Some years ago a member of Congress was proposing to have a change in the law whereby theological students could be given a year’s leave of absence from their seminary in order to serve in the Armed Forces. Nothing came of this proposal, but personally I am sorry that it did not. I see a large number of students on our campus who, I think, would be eminently benefited by a hitch in the Military. Likewise with experience in church government, civil government, business, industry, agriculture, public education, welfare service, the courts, and other areas. Seminaries must make every possible effort to encourage as broad a social relationship as possible for our students. We must get them cured of the idea that they come from pious Lutheran homes in pious Lutheran communities, go to pious Lutheran colleges and seminaries and learn to become pious Lutheran ministers, to return to pious Lutheran homes and serve as pious pastors of pious Lutheran congregations. There really never was a time when this was the case, but we in our romantic looking back to the golden age often think that there was. It is very plain that such a situation does not now exist, and there is no indication that this side of eternity such a situation shall exist. And yet seemingly a good number of people think that this is what theological education aims to do.

    Developing Students As Men Among Men
    J. A. O. Preus II
    President, Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, Illinois
    January 14, 1968

  16. The question is a very good one: how shall confessional Lutheran congregations be planted, maintained, and strengthened in remote, non-traditionally-Lutheran areas.

    It seems to me this is not a situation in which we must invent a wheel. Those who have gone before us in the faith faced similar challenges. Some church plants succeeded and some failed. We can learn from their efforts.

    Currently, Lutheran church bodies in other areas of the world are also facing similar situations; we can learn from them as well.

    As Pr. Noland pointed out, it is rare when one will advocate policies that run counter to his personal interests. So, the hope that District Presidents will do a mass firing and re-allocate monies to struggling congregations in, say, Maine, seems unrealistic.

    What are the options for such a congregation? How can they be served by a well-trained, faithful, Lutheran pastor as they desire? How have other congregations in years past or in other parts of the world met similar challenges? What, if anything, can we do for the benefit of struggling church bodies in these situations?

    I think that rather than re-hashing criticisms of the SMP program (which has some troubling characteristics, to be sure), a focus on the positive might be beneficial here.

  17. Matthew Gunia :
    What are the options for such a congregation? How can they be served by a well-trained, faithful, Lutheran pastor as they desire? How have other congregations in years past or in other parts of the world met similar challenges? What, if anything, can we do for the benefit of struggling church bodies in these situations?

    One solution in the 19th century was to form a seminary which provided “basic training” for pastors. Instead of trying to train world class theologians as the St Louis Seminary was doing, the Fort Wayne(later Springfield) seminary concentrated on teaching their students the basics they required to be a parish pastor. For many years(about a hundred I think) the instruction was done “in the vernacular”, and the program was about a year long.

    They appear to have been successful. One of the things mentioned to the 4th year SMP guys on our last intensive was that over the history of the Synod, CTS has probably sent more pastors to the Church than has St Louis.

    For more information, see Dr. Noland’s paper “A tale of Two Seminaries”.

  18. I think we must remember the word, “well-formed” pastors. Whether you come from SMP, DELTO (me), classic route, alternate route, what have you; it is about being formed to be a pastor, a shepherd.

    Ordained is ordained, whatever the route. Yet, taking the duties of the office and doing them well, or not so well comes from all routes.

    And in the end, the education is part of it, the mind of the pastor and how he executes his office is the key.

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