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.