Great Stuff — Pastors, thank you. The cross is for you as well.

Found on Leif Halvorson’s LeifHalvorson.blogspot.com:

 

I’m just a layperson. I’m an elementary music teacher. I’m not a pastor. Take this as you will.

Seems as of late that a lot of good pastors have been under fire. Under fire from those in their congregations, under fire from those within their districts, under fire from their own synods, associations and conventions. Sure, it’s not like these guys haven’t made mistakes along the way, some of them have made some doosies. Some have been flat out wrong. However, the condemnation seems to be consistently boiled into into this single phrase, “It’s all your fault.”

“It’s your fault the church isn’t growing.” “It’s your fault that there’s dissension.” “It’s your fault the youth aren’t coming anymore.” “It’s your fault that people are leaving.” “It’s your fault that things are in financial upheaval.” “It’s all your fault.”

Here’s the flipside to those coins of accusations: “It’s your fault the church isn’t growing because you refuse to buy into a trendy program to attract people.” “It’s your fault that there’s dissension in the church because you spend too much time preaching about sin and not enough time about things we can do to feel better about our walk with God.” “It’s your fault that people are leaving because you think sound theology is more important than being loving to everyone.” “It’s your fault that things are in financial upheaval because your sermons don’t make people feel good about themselves, saying they’re helpless without Christ.” “It’s all your fault, pastor, because it’s not the way I think it should be.”

Cross-FSIn many cases, this is what happens when a pastor faithfully preaches and teaches this: Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins. (And as well within different contexts, emphasizing the sacraments.) That’s right pastors, if this is what you’ve been doing, it is your fault. It’s your fault that you did you job. It’s your fault that by God’s grace you were true to your calling. Shame on you for holding to scripture more than the feelings of man. Shame on you for speaking against false doctrine that’s been creeping into your church. Shame on you for being “un-loving” and putting your foot down and saying “No, this is contrary to the Word of God.”

To all the unloving pastors, who have been proclaiming Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins, and rightly administering the sacraments, I say this: Thank you.

Thank you for not buying into trendy programs, knowing that once that starts, our congregations will never be free of them. Thank you for bringing down the full weight of the Law, afflicting us in the security of our sin, and then rushing in with the healing salve of the Gospel, that because of Christ my sin is forgiven. Thank you for teaching us sound theology, being more concerned about us than about how we may lash out against you. Thank you for speaking out against false doctrines that have been creeping into our churches, protecting us from the wolves. Thank you for showing us our helplessness without Christ, point to the cross that we may rely on Him. Thank you for risking it all each week. The friendships, security and your reputations, that we might know Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins.

Like children we will often get mad and not understand in the tough moments why it is that you refuse to compromise. However for many of us, we usually do understand in the end. So thank you, faithful pastors, who endure more trials than many of us, for simply doing what you were called to do. And while it’s our fault many times that you are over-worked, over-stressed, disenheartened and barely breathing at the end of the day, know this: Pastors, thank you. That same comfort of the Cross that you bring to us diligently when things come crashing down around us, that same comfort of the Cross is for you as well.

Jesu Juva,
Soli Deo Gloria

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 — Pastors, thank you. The cross is for you as well. — 12 Comments

  1. When I read the title, I thought that the post was going to make the point, also true, that the cross (well described in the post) that befalls the faithful pastor was the cross that was for him, too. We are to expect that cross, but thank you to the layman who recognizes that now and again a faithful pastor is not the whole problem in a troubled congregation.

    Good post.

  2. Lief –

    Even in the midst of turmoil and tribulation, there are always those members who just flat-out get it, and remind us backward-collared types of John 16:33 yet again.

    There are a precious faithful in every flock, and I thank the Lord every day for them.

    I have brothers I know who have, it seems, seen the shattered hinges on the gates of hell, yet they would not trade what they do for anything in the world. But I have members who have done the same, and they understand.

    Thank you for your very precious words of encouragement.

    Pray for us as we pray for all of you . . .

    Pax Domini –

    jb

  3. Thanks, Leif Halvorson, for saying what I think, better than I ever have done!

    Thanks to Norm Fisher for bringing Leif’s blog to our attention.

    Thanks to all faithful Pastors. Rejoice in a blessed Holy Week and Easter!

  4. While I appreciate the idea that the cross of Christ (and the gifts of grace, forgiveness, and God’s love) are for everybody– pastors included, I do take issue with the idea that pastors shouldn’t “buy into trendy programs” and the like. If it’s gospel, it’s gospel. Doesn’t matter the package.

    Martin Luther himself was a social media maven, using the most modern technology of the time to spread God’s word in a “trendy” way. In fact, the earliest Lutheran hymns were set to beer-drinking tavern songs. Luther was a hipster before it was cool to be a hipster… which makes him perhaps the most hipster hipster of all?!

    Blessings to you, yours, and the LCMS from a brother of the ELCA.

  5. @Ian #4
    Hey Ian, thanks for you comment. A couple things with the beer-drinking tavern songs that you might not have been aware of:

    1. Many people misunderstand that some of the music Luther wrote was in “bar form” as opposed to “bar music”. “Bar form” is how the music is put together, not where the tune derived from.

    2. “Of the melodies to Luther’s 37 chorales, 15 were composed by Luther himself, 13 came from Latin hymns of Latin service music, 4 were derived from German religious folk songs, 2 had originally been religious pilgrims’ songs, 2 are of unknown origin, and one came directly from a secular folk song.” (Data compiled from Squire, pp. 446-447; Leupold, ed., Liturgy and Hymns; and Strodach, ed., Works of Martin Luther, VI)

    3. “It seems obvious to this writer that using Luther’s music as an historical precedent for using rock and other worldly music in our churches today is completely incongruous with the facts of history.

    Luther did not use the barroom songs of his day, nor did he use even the worldly music of his day. In fact, he was extremely cautious in protecting the Word of God from any admixture of worldly elements. This can be seen in his words: ‘I wish to compose sacred hymns so that the Word of God may dwell among the people also by means of songs.’”
    (Robert D. Harrell, Martin Luther, His Music, His Message, p. 36)

    4. Here’s is also an interesting article from the ELCA:

    http://www.elca.org/Growing-In-Faith/Worship/Learning-Center/FAQs/Tavern-Tunes.aspx

    Thanks for comment Ian!
    Grace and Peace

    Leif Halvorson

  6. Very interesting– thanks for the articles!

    I maintain, however, that Luther made the gospel (good news) available for the masses using technologies and music previously untouched by the church.

    This isn’t to say that I’m a proponent of the so-called “Christian Genre” of rock (it just doesn’t fit my tastes), but that if the same good news from ancient hymns can be delivered in a different package to people who may relate to it differently than me, I don’t see any problem with that.

    Such a fascinating topic– relevant then, and now!

    Blessings.

  7. @Ian #4
    If it’s gospel, it’s gospel. Doesn’t matter the package.

    If the gaudy wrappings distract from the content, it does matter!
    If the fancy box is in fact empty of gospel, it matters even more.

    “Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up”, Ian? 😉

  8. @helen #8

    Haha, not at all! I’m suggesting that the gospel can be delivered in many forms. If the good news of God’s grace and love for his people is being shared, I say it’s a good thing.

    I do agree, though, that there are SO many churches that present gaudy wrappings without much content, but I see the Lutheran church (in its many denominations around the world) as having a wonderful, rich message of good news.

  9. why do leaders join alligators in a church-and destroy the faithful with letters and meetings and sinful tolerance?

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