Further review of “A Lutheran Book on Purgatory”

This is originally written on a post A Lutheran book on purgatory, pastoral purgatory (written by Pastor Scheer) that was originally written as a comment by Pastor Noland. We at BJS felt it needed wider dissemination than a comment on a post would generate.

 


Pastor Martin Noland speaking:

Lutheran Purgatory cover artI finished the book last night. I am even more enthusiastic about it now.

Church-workers who have been in the statuses of: Candidate, Non-Candidate, Restricted, Suspended, and Expelled—all need to read the book. It is easy to read and can be downloaded for free. Or support the author by purchasing it on amazon.

Why do they need to read the book? Pastor Kornacki accurately describes the “heavy, pressing emotions” (my description) that accompany these statuses. He accurately describes the inability to pray, to worship, and to otherwise participate in the life of the church. People who have “been there” need to know they are not alone; and their feelings and responses are common with others.

Members of the LCMS Council of Presidents and the Resolution 3-10a Task Force all need to buy the book and put it in their library. They have no excuse, because they can even get it for free to put on their laptops, or in PDF on their smart phone.

They need to read this book carefully and then ask, “How could this be happening to our own people? What is wrong here?” Because some of the cases cited describe improper actions by the District Presidents. Or in some cases, the actions are clearly unjust, even when the District President followed the Sohns “Divine Dismissal” document. This book will open eyes to real problems to which many are clueless.

Most members of the LCMS Council of Presidents and the 3-10a Task Force will not understand the situation of the Candidate, or related statuses. Why? Because those men have never had to suffer through the humiliation of Candidate or Restricted status. This book will help them understand; and maybe deal with the cases in their district in a more sympathetic way.

I am seeing a bigger, systemic problem here, now after reading this book.

LCMS polity assumes that congregations judge their own church-workers, and that as Christians their judgment will be just and fair. But the reality is far from this, in most congregations.

Congregations have only very basic outlines of how to handle disputes or adjudication of charges in their bylaws. They certainly have the power, this is clear, but the process is not clear. So they muddle through when they have disputes or adjudication, and the result is no due process. Very few congregations have lawyers, much less trust them for help in such matters.

Most of our congregations are “inbred,” i.e., multiple generations of families, many of which are inter-married, or best-friended, and these families control those churches. Which is fine, most of the time. But justice requires objectivity, and such congregations cannot be objective if the ruling groups are offended in any way.

Just think of the reality in the majority of our congregations. A pastor or teacher who comes to serve a congregation is always an outsider. We discourage men and women from going back to their home congregations–and that is a good practice. So the man, or woman if a teacher/DCE/deaconess, is all alone, with no real allies.

If they are accused by anyone (or offends anyone) who is part of those inter-connected, multi-generation families, it is all of them against one person, who is by himself/herself. It is “Pöbelherrschaft” (German); not justice or fairness that ends up determining the case. So one way or another, the church-worker has to leave, without a call.

Why is this more prevalent today than years ago? I know it is more prevalent, because my LCMS ancestry goes back to before the founding of the synod, with a number of pastors and teachers along the way. The problem is more prevalent, because congregations generally have little respect for Reconcilers, Circuit Counselors and District Presidents, when they come in and try to advise in adjudication or dispute cases. The congregations used to respect and listen to synod officers; now they give them “short shrift.” Synod and district officers have always had little authority over congregations; now they have even less influence than they used to.

This is partly the pastors fault, for not upholding the synod and its work. But it is also a societal thing, because as has been proven by surveys, Americans are anti-denominational today. And the LCMS tends toward that direction–as seen by so many congregations that are copying the non-denominational churches.

The result is this: Candidates and Non-Candidates are people who have been forced out for no good reason. If there was a good reason for their removal, they would have been expelled by the synod. Restriction/Suspension is a “holding tank” where the synod can determine whether or not expulsion is warranted. If it is not warranted, and Restriction/Suspension is lifted, it means there is nothing wrong with the Candidate/Non-Candidate–except that he doesn’t have a call.

So we don’t just have a problem at the synod level, with how this is all handled by synod and district officers, we also have a problem at the base level–in congregations, who either don’t know how to handle these problems fairly, or who don’t want to.

Thanks, again, to Pastor Kornacki for sharing his experiences and that of others, in a very Christian and helpful way!

Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland


Comments

Further review of “A Lutheran Book on Purgatory” — 37 Comments

  1. The more publicity this book gets the harder it will be for DPs to claim ignorance.

  2. From Page 34 “ …. It seems like part of the DP’s job would be to sit down
    with a man, find out about him, and help him pastorally as well as with getting
    him a call. It feels like, regardless of the circumstances, that when you’re on
    CRM, you really are all alone. Again, whether Candidate understands such things rightly or not, when you’re the one in
    the middle of these circumstances, it seems like you’ve got nowhere to turn and that no
    one is standing by with any help.

    So true.

  3. Spooky stuff indeed. I sense that I should send a copy to the young men we’ve sent to seminary from our congregation… and any we might consider sending in the future.

    Of course, my heart breaks for the parents of future and current seminarians, who must look at this landscape we created for their sons, and weep for the weight we’ve added to the cross they must bear.

    Lord, have mercy.

  4. I like what you all say, but there is also the “Good OLE boys Network” in the Synod. Unless a pastor is so wrong that God Himself might intervene, we (not always), but many times shuffle men around. The Roman Church is certainly being burned by it.

    There are men in CRM wrongly, yes. There are men in pulpits that should not be, and others should replace them.

  5. Brad :Spooky stuff indeed. I sense that I should send a copy to the young men we’ve sent to seminary from our congregation… and any we might consider sending in the future.
    Lord, have mercy.

    What’s spooky is that the seminarians are not warned about this kind of stuff before they become a pastor. Perhaps they could be required to view a lecture from a professor (former pastor) about “What to expect from your congregation members when you get there” or “What they didn’t teach me at the Seminary.”

    Or that rare seminarian who is a former congregation president or lay elder. I have a hunch that most seminarians were not voting members of congregations before going to the Seminary–at least not the younger ones. Maybe have him share his experience with his fellows.

  6. Brother Noland:

    Blessings in Christ. I posted the following on the original thread, and then when I saw this paragraph that I had responded to was the basis for the new thread, I felt it fair to re-post what I had written there, here. It is found beneath my signature.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

    July 12th, 2014 at 12:33 | #10 Reply | Quote
    @Martin R. Noland #5

    Thank you for an excellent summary of the problem. It is really a systemic problem that goes to all levels of church life now.

    There is one suggestion I would like to make as well. In your post, you wrote, “The problem is more prevalent, because congregations generally have little respect for Reconcilers, Circuit Counselors and District Presidents, when they come in and try to advise in adjudication or dispute cases. The congregations used to respect and listen to synod officers; now they give them “short shrift.” Synod and district officers have always had little authority over congregations; now they have even less influence than they used to.”

    May I also suggest that there are congregations with disgruntled members who assume their pastor is their hireling, and actually have a great respect for their district reconcilers, circuit counselors and district president? But the district process (which tries to solve whatever conflict there is by secular psychological models -e.g., “mediation”) actually does more harm than good, i.e., that it does not seriously intend to protect the pastor under fire, but the district from legal action?

    I have seen it happen this way, where the congregation not only trusts the district president and process, but pushes for him to come and for the district process to happen. And the district president and reconcilers come in, and publicly chastise the pastor in front of his accusers, and set up meetings for everyone with a grudge against him to meet face to face for six-plus hours so they can accuse him of everything even more. And there are also times when other members of the congregation are completely unaware this is even going on. When a supportive member asks their pastor when they get a chance to speak up in his defense, the pastor says, “There is no place in the process for you to give me support.”

    And then the next pastors’ conference waves the banners with the Synodical slogan of “Witness, Mercy and Life Together,” and the D.P. tells some jokes and gets some laughs. And if the persecuted brother comes, he sits by himself, despairs of God’s love for him, feels abandoned and hopeless, wonders if his wife will be able to make it through the next week and what things are being said to her while he’s gone, and in all this sees nothing but deeper anguish of heart.

    I don’t think the problem is that congregations are not trusting their district presidents and reconcilers. I think a big problem is that many congregations are. And to be fair, the district presidents may not be trying to do anything wrong. But they may not know the whole story, and they may think that the quicker they get this conflict off their calendar, the problem is solved and they can do some of the multitude of other responsibilities they have.

    So with all this, the end result is what Pr. Kornacki has described in his book. Kyrie Eleison!

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  7. Rev. Robert Mayes :
    ..But the district process (which tries to solve whatever conflict there is by secular psychological models -e.g., “mediation”) actually does more harm than good, i.e., that it does not seriously intend to protect the pastor under fire ..

    Might I add:
    … nor to protect the faith or the teachings of our church, nor to rescue sinners from eternal death and damnation by exposing the lies of the evil one and calling those who confess, that his lies are what they believe in, to repentance …

  8. @Rev. Robert Mayes #7
    And then the next pastors’ conference waves the banners with the Synodical slogan of “Witness, Mercy and Life Together,” and the D.P. tells some jokes and gets some laughs. And if the persecuted brother comes, he sits by himself, despairs of God’s love for him, feels abandoned and hopeless,…

    Have you seen the latest WMLT? The bureaucrats are going to get together and discuss DRP. Compliments of Thrivent (and your district mission dollars) everyone will be there. [It should be as big a party as the LCEF threw last year, which raised some comment here.]

    Meanwhile a CRM with a case is told he’ll be blackballed if he asks for DRP. (Which is a distinction without a difference, because he’s not being put on a call list anyway!)

    The more things change at the Purple Palace….

    What’s a pewsitter to believe!?

  9. @helen #10
    It occurs to me, that what we are to believe, is that men are twisted and evil, and the structures they build reflect them.

    But the structure Christ builds is His Church, and in so far as we live by His Word, we reflect Him in the local congregation. If Faith, Hope, and Love endure in the local congregation, then pastor and people will be living out their marriage as Christ and Bride.

    All this mess of what to do with abused pastors or abused congregations, strikes me as an allegory to what’s happening with abused spouses in marriages that disintegrate because love has vanished. While we need to tend to the abused and broken, we also need to call our congregation to return to the Word of Christ, where they will find His Spirit empowering them to love one another. Until that happens, we are treating symptoms and not the disease.

    My humble opinion, anyway.

  10. @helen #10

    Helen:

    Forgive me, but what is DRP?

    @Brad #11

    Very good insight, Brad. Only the Holy Spirit working through the Word can fix this.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  11. Dear Pastor Mayes,

    Thanks for your comment #7. I agree that there have been cases like what you describe. But I have also seen cases where district presidents and circuit visitors genuinely want to help, and do their best, but have been rebuffed by the congregation.

    Considering all the different parties involved (church-worker, church-officers, congregation voters, circuit visitor, district president), and the number of LCMS congregations (6151), any number of combinations of “bad behavior” is possible.

    My own personal experience with congregations, i.e., the ones I have served, has been excellent. Of course, we had a few problems, everyone does, but the officers and I worked through them–and they always know that I loved and cared for them.

    My own personal experience with circuit visitors is that they are some of the best men in the synod. Their position is not a political job, and has no rewards or financial compensation. They accept the position for the love of the church and its people.

    My own personal experience with district presidents goes way back to my grandparents and parents–as I have explained before–and it has been very good. I guess it helps that I understand their office, and what they have to do. I have been fortunate to have the excellent district presidents in my districts where I have served (Rocky Mountain, NID, Missouri, and Indiana). I know that some have not been so fortunate.

    We do need to remember that some district presidents have caused problems for the synod. There were the eight that ordained Seminex graduates; and then the four out of that group that refused to stop that practice, and who were censured by the synod in convention and then expelled from their office by J.A.O. Preus. We have had a few district presidents who supported open communion, contrary to the practice upheld in the Lutheran Confessions. We have had at least one district president who violated the prohibition of syncretism.

    Considering the number of district presidents in our history, the “problem district presidents” are indeed a rare bird. That is because of our representative-democratic governing system that “throws out the bums” most of the time, if they go bad. Episcopal systems go bad, because they can’t get rid of erring bishops.

    In the overtures that led up to Resolution 3-10a, was one that our congregation in Evansville submitted, Overture 4-23 (see 2013 Convention Workbook, p. 173). The main feature of that overture was to make it a standard practice that, where charges were not made that would be deserving of expulsion, congregations who cannot reconcile with their church-worker not dismiss him or her, but wait until he receives another call. I still think that is the best solution where church-workers have offended someone (or a group) in a congregation, but have not done anything else worthy of censure or punishment. This was our previous practice in the synod–why can’t we do it now?

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  12. Brad :
    Spooky stuff indeed. I sense that I should send a copy to the young men we’ve sent to seminary from our congregation… and any we might consider sending in the future.
    Of course, my heart breaks for the parents of future and current seminarians, who must look at this landscape we created for their sons, and weep for the weight we’ve added to the cross they must bear.
    Lord, have mercy.

    As a parent of a seminarian, my heart does break …I don’t know if I should send him the book or not…

  13. Martin R. Noland :
    ….In the overtures that led up to Resolution 3-10a, was one that our congregation in Evansville submitted, Overture 4-23 (see 2013 Convention Workbook, p. 173). The main feature of that overture was to make it a standard practice that, where charges were not made that would be deserving of expulsion, congregations who cannot reconcile with their church-worker not dismiss him or her, but wait until he receives another call. I still think that is the best solution where church-workers have offended someone (or a group) in a congregation, but have not done anything else worthy of censure or punishment. This was our previous practice in the synod–why can’t we do it now?

    And it is the job of the District Presidents to enforce this overture across their districts.

  14. Dear Ralph,

    The particular item that I mentioned in my comment #13 was not incorporated into the final Resolution 3-10A, so the practice of waiting until the church-worker receives a call is not official LCMS practice, although it used to be. According to the cited “Divine Dismissal-Deposal” document, the church-worker can be “dumped” for almost any reason at all. This is a “doctrinal” change in LCMS polity regarding ministers and teachers (et.al.), as the Kornacki book points out, and the authors he cites (Preus, Grother, Mayes) proves.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  15. Martin R. Noland :
    Dear Ralph,
    The particular item that I mentioned in my comment #13 was not incorporated into the final Resolution 3-10A, so the practice of waiting until the church-worker receives a call is not official LCMS practice, although it used to be. According to the cited “Divine Dismissal-Deposal” document, the church-worker can be “dumped” for almost any reason at all. This is a “doctrinal” change in LCMS polity regarding ministers and teachers (et.al.), as the Kornacki book points out, and the authors he cites (Preus, Grother, Mayes) proves.
    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

    That is quite a disappointment. Thank you, though, for the clarification Pastor Noland.

  16. Martin R. Noland :
    According to the cited “Divine Dismissal-Deposal” document, the church-worker can be “dumped” for almost any reason at all.

    Brad :
    Of course, my heart breaks for the parents of future and current seminarians, who must look at this landscape we created for their sons, and weep for the weight we’ve added to the cross they must bear.

    (worth repeating)

  17. @Martin R. Noland #13

    Pastor Noland:

    I rejoice that you have seen positive attempts by district officials to defend and support pastors who are unjustly accused and persecuted. I wish I could say I have seen the same level of support and love. Sadly, I cannot.

    The circuit visitors I have seen have tried. I agree that many of these men do a very fine job and bring needed support. Even from those who disagreed on theological issues with a pastor under unjust fire. These men have a lot to teach about understanding the Office of the Ministry as a brotherhood. Sometimes I have seen circuit visitors not be of much use, either. Either they didn’t know the whole situation, or were simply unprepared to give a defense.

    As for district presidents, well, that’s another story. I have yet to hear of a district president publicly chastise an erring congregation who unjustly removed their pastor. I also have yet to hear of a district president who has taken steps to suspend such a congregation or take action to remove an erring and unrepentant congregation from our fellowship. A district convention would be an appropriate place to report of such pastoral abuse. It could be part of his public report. If he did, the whole district might pray for that congregation and brotherly encourage them to repent of their actions. But instead of any kind of public rebuke, the district officials I have heard of are silent about such things. Instead of publicly rebuking such a congregation before the whole district, the district presidents I have heard of and have witnessed simply tell the congregation the proper procedure for encouraging their pastor to leave, and then they help the congregation call the next victim to that place.

    So what happens if a brother pastor asks the district president about why such and such brother became a candidate? The D.P. says, “He voluntarily chose to do so.” If a brother pastor asks why so many pastors are becoming candidates in his district? The answer is “There are some difficulties each person has had. But if you don’t know each situation (like I do), you really can’t speak to this. Each situation is different. If you don’t know the situation, continue to put the best construction on it.” Yes, it may be that each situation is different. But when there are more than 20 men that become candidates in a seven year span, and the congregations are never at fault, and the men despite their different circumstances always leave the pastoral ministry under pressure, it’s pretty clear that these supposedly different situations are being resolved in a pretty similar way. (A brother of mine in my district has been keeping track of the men who have “voluntarily gone on candidate status.” It’s a chilling list for those who know them. And this list only includes men who went on candidate status, not men who were pressured and almost resigned, and then received a Call elsewhere at the 11th hour).

    I hope and pray that this description of procedure and action applies to only a small minority of district presidents. From what you have said, I am encouraged that there may be more district presidents that want to defend their unjustly persecuted brother. I wish this were the case everywhere. As of right now, I find that hard to believe.

    Pastor Noland, thank you for your excellent comments on BJS. I am always instructed by what you say.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  18. Brothers and sisters in Christ:

    A brother pastor of mine made some very good reflections about fundamental flaws we have in our system about the handling of conflict and heat between pastors and congregations. He also says that this would never be acceptable in secular business or other secular institutions (medicine, education, etc.). Some of these are his thoughts, and some are mine.

    1) The pastor is not provided with a 3rd party advocate of his choosing. In one opportunity I know, supportive pastors were forbidden from entering a meeting of a congregation, a D.P., and a persecuted pastor.

    2) The D.P. meets with accusers of the pastor privately, even without the pastors’ knowledge. This undermines any attempt at reconciliation. It also is contradictory to the American justice system, in which the accused has the right to face his accuser in a public court.

    3) The perception of a congregational member is treated as authoritative, and the pastor is presumed either guilty or problematic before the first meeting. He is guilty until proven innocent (which most times is never proven).

    4) There is no appeal process.

    5) There is no trial by jury of peers, or opportunity for cross-examination of accusers of pastors.

    6) The D.P. that rules against a pastor is then also the one responsible for circulating the pastor’s name.

    7) The D.P. likewise has exclusive rights to pass information to other districts wanting to Call a pastor. While a pastor can put his own name forward, it looks bad to a calling congregation. Other brothers can pass information on. But unless one is a circuit visitor, he has little likelihood of being able to speak to other congregations who desire a faithful pastor.

    There may be more to think of too. But I can’t see how this system would go unchallenged were it in the business world.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  19. Rev. Robert Mayes :
    Brothers and sisters in Christ:
    5) There is no trial by jury of peers, or opportunity for cross-examination of accusers of pastors.

    Also, what about the task force that is supposed to be working under the mandate of Resolution 03-10a to study the call process for…Rostered Church Workers without a Call?

    Can someone direct me to an LCMS web site that gives the makeup and progress of the task force? What has been accomplished these twelve months since the 2013 convention? It is really true (and I have no reason to doubt Rev. Kornacki) that the task force includes NO ordained pastors who have been restricted candidates? How can this be so?

    I understand some of the District Presidents use the Dr. Will Sohns’ “Divine Deposal/Dismissal of Ministers of the Word” document (and its updates) as their guide. Has this document been through a doctrinal review by the seminaries? By anyone? Has it been before any convention?

    What about the arbitrary numbers and rules imposed on Candidates, e.g., “a candidate may be continued on the roster for a period not to exceed four years…” Says who? What is the Biblical basis for this?

    God’s Blessings in Christ Jesus,
    Ginny Valleau

  20. Dear Pastor Mayes,

    Thanks for your excellent contributions in comments #19-20.

    I do know cases where congregations who mis-used their church-workers, in one way or another, were finally counseled by the District President to close, and they did–and this was by the concurrence of all the pastors in the circuit. It was like, “We’ll just have to start all over again there.” Sad, but true. Announcing this in public at a convention is not the best way to handle it, in my opinion; although the closing of the congregation must be reflected in the district workbook or proceedings.

    In other cases, the District President will strongly counsel the congregation to accept an Intentional Interim pastor, whose job is to find out the systemic (and personal) problems in the congregation, and try to rectify them. This has worked in some cases, not in others.

    It has to be said that the growth of Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) proves that there are congregations who have systemic (as opposed to occasional) problems that need resolution. I think IIM is supported by all district presidents, and it is recommended in almost all cases for congregations that have suffered conflict. Sometimes that conflict was solely the fault of the church-worker and the congregation came through with no “damage.” Most of the time the congregation either has “damage” that needs repairing or they really have systemic problems no matter what pastor is offered to them (sounds like a burnt offering on the altar–ugh!), and then IIM is a good choice.

    But the District Presidents can only advise, they cannot force IIM, or other measures, on congregations. If the congregations refuse the counsel given, the only other option is removing them from synodical membership, which is always a last resort.

    As I have said before, the vast majority of congregations are sound, healthy, and thriving places to be. In a system of 6,151 congregations, to have 200 CRMs means about 3% of our congregations have various types of systemic problems. What are we going to do about those 3%? It is a “conundrum,” with no good or easy answers to the problem.

    Even if we can’t “fix” the problems in those congregations, the synod and district CAN treat its church-workers better when they are unjustly accused, or have done nothing worthy of expulsion–which is the point of my article and Kornacki’s book.

    Thanks for all your excellent work on this subject, Pr. Mayes!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  21. Martin R. Noland :
    I think IIM is supported by all district presidents, and it is recommended in almost all cases for congregations that have suffered conflict.

    Rev. Noland, I always appreciate your comments. However, again on BJS we hear of the Intentional Interim Ministry (IIM) program. Yet, it seems very little is known about this program. Perhaps I’m just the only one in the dark. What I’ve been able to find concerns me. I’ve included two links regarding the IIM. To me, the program smells like a Transforming Churches Network (TCN) and Church Growth initiative. The fact that NALIP is a joint effort between the ELCA and LCMS also is reason for concern. I’m curious about the scriptural basis of the program and wonder if this is an initiative primarily backed by the Church Growth wing of the LCMS.

    http://www.nalip.net

    http://interimministrylcms.org

  22. @Martin R. Noland #13
    My own personal experience with district presidents goes way back to my grandparents and parents–as I have explained before–and it has been very good. I guess it helps that I understand their office, and what they have to do.

    If I’m repeating myself, excuse me, but nobody should go to seminary in the LCMS without a dynasty like Reverend Noland’s, or marrying into one like it, or having a powerful Pastor to recommend him and continue to watch his back!

    Pr. Kornacki,
    Did it occur to you to ask how many of the CRM’s you discussed were “first in their families” to become a Pastor? I think it would be revealing.

  23. Dear Randy,

    Thanks for your comments on IIM and for linking to the LCMS site for that subject.

    As far as I know, IIM is not related in any way to TCN or church-growth movements.

    As to “church-growth” organizations and movements, many of the more moderate LCMS pastors are now admitting that it is passe. After all “movements” have a shelf-life. Only congregations and churches are durable. 🙂

    I have not been through the IIM program myself, or been related to it in any way, so cannot say much beyond what I have been told by guys who have served in IIM.

    As far as I know, the NALIP people know that LCMS is different from ELCA, and that their work in this area would be jeapordized if one group tried to influence the other theologically, etc.

    As far as I know, every IIM pastor I have known was trained under the auspices of his own original district, and served in that original district–under the supervision of his original district president or his representative.

    I think that is a good thing, because when the district president recommends IIM to a particular congregation, his own reputation is on the line, and he wants to know personally the guy he is sending in there.

    IIM is a tough job, and I would not recommend anyone to volunteer for it. If a pastor’s district president calls him up and says, “I want you to train for IIM,” then “Uncle Sam wants you,” and maybe it is time to think about serving that way.

    I am sure that it is not perfect–nothing is. But it is better than throwing an inexperienced pastor into a congregation that is going to take out its frustrations about the last guy on the new guy; or give it to a “vacancy pastor” who has no experience with conflicts, or conflict-training, and who is too busy to give it much effort.

    So I consider IIM a workable solution to the problems it aims to work at, and that is good enough for now, in my opinion.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  24. @Randy #23
    To me, the program smells like a Transforming Churches Network (TCN) and Church Growth initiative.

    For good reason; its reputation in Texas is to soften up traditional churches to “accept a praise ministry”.

  25. Dear Helen (comment #24),

    My “dynastic connections” (your term) have nothing to do with my experiences in my congregations. My last direct LCMS ancestor who was a church-worker died in the 1930s. There are only a few of those second-plus-cousins left in the LCMS now anyway. None of them had anything to do with the calls I received. None of them had anything to do with the experiences I had at those places. None of them tried to “bail me out” when I was terminated from CHI—I didn’t ask them to either. Compared to the average multi-generational church-worker, I have an indistinguished ancestry. I have had no preferential treatment from anyone–that is for sure!

    My mentioning of my family connections was only to explain that my mom’s side of the family has been in the LCMS for a long time. Stories about congregations, about pastors, about teachers, were part of the regular conversations at gatherings among relatives when I was growing up. And most of her relatives were faithful Lutherans with good relationships to their pastors, and a few district officials here or there. This is a matter of handed-down experience from one generation to the next.

    This is why I have been so opposed to the SMP program. The residential seminary is a place where you can gain word-of-mouth experience from classmates who have been members of other congregations, some of whom are pastors and teachers kids. Even more important, you get the generational handing-down of wisdom from the professors that happens in the classroom, the hallways, the chapel, and at the cafeteria. It is experiential-knowledge (not book knowledge) that sticks with you for a lifetime in the ministry. It is, in the good sense of the term, our “Lutheran traditioning.”

    Thanks for letting me clarify that.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  26. @Martin R. Noland #27
    Thanks for letting me clarify that.
    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

    Thanks for clarifying that!

    My mother’s people were farmers and I heard a lot about farming when I was growing up. But to be a farmer requires land, and the boys inherit that. [Girls marry it, if they don’t go off to school and get that unnecessary education. I quote my old uncles here] What I know about farming is pretty outdated now that I’ve spent more than half my life on city pavements. I know it’s not what it used to be.

    [I wonder sometimes if your outlook on Missouri isn’t just a little rose colored. Mom’s stories, perhaps….]

  27. @helen #26
    Helen, Thanks for the insight. I sense that the same is the case elsewhere. In my corner of the world I’ve seen the IIM bring congregational covenants into play, as well as CG ideas, concepts, and theologies. It sounds like the IIM program is used differently in each District. Therefore, once again, it’s a program that can be manipulated to further a DPs theological views.

  28. @Martin R. Noland #25
    Rev. Noland,
    I thank you for the perspective and insight into IIM. I have been exposed to the concept and done some research into the use, but I greatly appreciate your information. Again, my perspective is based only on my local exposure and I thank you for your response.

    It appears that this program is far from “standardized” across the synod. As such, I fear that this program can, and is, being used like the SMP program. By that I mean, it can be manipulated in just about any way that a DP wishes.

  29. Dear Helen,

    With regard to your comment #28, the following is not a snarky response.

    I think there is some truth to what you say. And this is the truth: I gained a love for the church, and especially the orthodox Lutheran ones, from my father and mother. And that love for the church does affect how I look at, think and talk about, and care for all of its members.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  30. With the exception of Pastor Noland and a few others, I wonder sometimes if the outlook on Missouri found on this website isn’t just a little brown colored. 🙂

  31. @Martin R. Noland #31
    I think there is some truth to what you say. And this is the truth: I gained a love for the church, and especially the orthodox Lutheran ones, from my father and mother. And that love for the church does affect how I look at, think and talk about, and care for all of its members.

    I wouldn’t consider that a bit “snarky”!

    I’m a born Lutheran and in my pilgrimage I’ve always looked for a church, sometimes before a house. (Some places there was only one Lutheran church so the only consideration was proximity.)
    Not being known for “tact and diplomacy” [no course available in my education] I am sure I come off too brittle, particularly when I’m hot about the latest “underdog” being kicked around, as this week. 🙁

    I was considered an “idealist” in college years; perhaps I’ve fallen in the other ditch!
    I want the church to be better than she is, perhaps better than she can be, given that I’m a member, too!

    God bless!

  32. @Martin R. Noland #22

    Pastor Noland:

    Thank you as well. I can see where you’re coming from about needing to keep some sensitive information private. And I can’t imagine that the church-at-large or even the faithful members of that congregation would be encouraged if a frank discussion happened about faithless actions taken against pastors. Just as I don’t think it would benefit for erring pastors to be called out publicly in front of everyone else too. At least not at first, and not without public trial. There is wisdom here in the advice you give.

    Still, I do think something public needs to be said, too. Maybe not at a convention, but at least in some other public meeting of pastors and lay people – perhaps specifically designed for addressing grievances. Without any discussion on a pastor becoming a candidate in the public meetings of the church-at-large, rumors fly and destroy. Rumors can be made against the pastor, the congregation, the district’s handling of the situation, etc. Such rumors make it less likely for a pastor to trust the district officials who come to help him when his congregation insists they come. Are the district officials there to help him? Or is the situation more like a new Nazi Germany and the Gestapo are everywhere? Publicly addressing unrepentant sin would help to quench this.

    Secondly, if there were some public rebuke of abusive congregations, it would also serve as a warning for other congregations who are also getting tired of their pastor and would like to see him gone, too. This summer, I spoke with a pastor from another district who informed me that his circuit had seen two men unjustly removed. One of the sad side-effects is now that other congregations of the circuit have told their pastor that if he doesn’t do what they tell him to do, they’ll do what their sister congregations did. If the situation were publicly rebuked, however, they would not be so quick to want to sin. Some public rebuke has to happen, whether it’s at a convention or elsewhere. Right now, there is nothing. And it gives other conflicted congregations license to follow in the same footsteps as their abusive neighbors.

    I appreciate your wisdom and discussion on these matters, brother in Christ. In no way am I trying to speak against your good points or undermine what you are saying. It gives me much encouragement that there have been many positive examples of pastoral care in your personal knowledge and experience. It also gives me encouragement that we are discussing this sensitive topic at all, and trying to come up with fair and Biblical ways of addressing the issue.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  33. Rev. Robert Mayes :
    Still, I do think something public needs to be said, too. Maybe not at a convention, but at least in some other public meeting of pastors and lay people – perhaps specifically designed for addressing grievances. Without any discussion on a pastor becoming a candidate in the public meetings of the church-at-large, rumors fly and destroy. Rumors can be made against the pastor, the congregation, the district’s handling of the situation, etc. Such rumors make it less likely for a pastor to trust the district officials who come to help him when his congregation insists they come. Are the district officials there to help him? Or is the situation more like a new Nazi Germany and the Gestapo are everywhere? Publicly addressing unrepentant sin would help to quench this.
    Secondly, if there were some public rebuke of abusive congregations, it would also serve as a warning for other congregations who are also getting tired of their pastor and would like to see him gone, too.

    Fundamental in my mind is that the truth be upheld; and this must happen publicly, if falsehood has been allowed to stand publicly.

    In other words, that it be held before Christians, Pastors and laity, what is Biblical truth.

    When false teachings are being upheld, by Pastors or laity, they must be renounced as false teachings.

    If a Pastor preaches or practices contrary to Biblical truth, he must repent or be removed.

    If some members in the congregation call for the removal of a Pastor because he has offended them by preaching and practicing in accordance with Biblical truth, or demand that he (re-)introduce different preaching and practices, they should be confronted with their error and called to repentance.

    But the same would hold true, if some members call for the removal of Pastor because they just don’t like him, without having any legitimate and/or truthful complaints against him. For for the truth to be upheld would also mean that Christians, Pastors and laity alike, should be held to how Christians are supposed to live together according to Holy Scripture.

    I am thinking Colossians 3:12-13, patience and forgiveness, and bearing with one another. Where unchristian attitudes such as racial or ethnic or regional prejudices, intolerance toward particular personality types or different personal style than one’s own, and the like, are expressed, they should be pointed out as being sinful, and illegitimate, and those expressing them should be called to repent and change their attitude, as well as the attitude toward the faith which made them consider such attitudes legitimate in the first place.

    I am thinking Matthew 18:15.
    And I am convinced that a purely casuistic reading of the passage is a complete misunderstanding, particularly in light of the context of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew and the clear front against a purely casuistic attitude our Lord Jesus presents there. In other words: It does not only apply when someone has actually sinned against you. The fact that somebody has not actually done you any wrong, and it is just that you don’t like him does not mean that it is legitimate to speak evil about that somebody behind his back. The practice of speaking ill of others behind their backs instead of trying to resolve your issues in Christian love (or, if there is no real issue, bearing with the fact that his personalities does not match you personal preference) should be pointed out as sinful, and illegitimate, and the gossips should be called to repent and change their behaviour, as well as the attitude toward the faith which made them consider such behaviour legitimate in the first place.

    And I am thinking the Eighth Commandment – yes, that one – the forbidden one.
    Where lies have been employed in the campaign against a Pastor, be it false claims that he has said or done things he has never said or done, or be it false claims about the reasons why he does and says what he may or not have said and done, this should be pointed out as sinful, and illegitimate, and the liars should be called to repent and change their behaviour, as well as the attitude toward the faith which made them consider such behaviour legitimate in the first place.

    I think this is what is fundamental – for the salvation of those involved.

    That those involved be protected against the human consequences of years abuse is a secondary concern, and from the consequences years of abuse might have for their future ministry. After all, Christ is Lord of the Church, and it is through sufferings that He prepares His servants for glory.

    But that does not mean that it is not a concern at all. If would be for any attitude that deserves the name of love, and particularly for any attitude that can rightfully claim the name of Christian love.

    And that, also, is a matter of faithfulness, and Biblical truth …

  34. @Jais H. Tinglund #35

    Yes, for the sake of those who have been misled by the public false teaching, public reproof is required, not merely recommended. Don’t take my word for it — here it is in the Large Catechism (in the Confessions):

    “All this has been said regarding secret sins. But where the sin is quite public so that the judge and everybody know it, you can without any sin avoid him and let him go, because he has brought himself into disgrace, and you may also publicly testify concerning him. For when a matter is public in the light of day, there can be no slandering or false judging or testifying; as, when we now reprove the Pope with his doctrine, which is publicly set forth in books and proclaimed in all the world. For where the sin is public, the reproof also must be public, that every one may learn to guard against it.”

    I hope and pray our ecclesiastical supervisors have as much concern for the precious souls of the misled congregation as they do for the precious reputation of the false-teaching pastor.

  35. Dear Pastor Mayers,

    @Rev. Robert Mayes #34

    I agree with what you are saying here about the need to protect the reputation of the church-worker who has been “damaged” by his congregation. This is really the crux of the issue with CRM, in my opinion. CRM gives the impression that something is wrong with the candidate, whereas, as I have been saying, it really says that something was wrong with his congregation/school–since he/she was not expelled by the district for cause.

    I also agree how one case can set a bad example for other congregations. Laymen talk to their relatives and friends in other congregations, and say, “Look here–this is how we got rid of the guy/gal we didn’t like–you can do the same in this way.” Of course that is “unofficial,” and not encouraged by districts or circuit visitors, but it happens–maybe a lot.

    The biggest problem that the district president/circuit visitor has in dealing with a congregation that is aggressive or hostile against its church-workers is that there are usually only a few people in that congregation who are to blame. To make a public condemnation of the entire congregation is unfair to the “innocents” in the congregation. That is why it is a “conundrum” from the standpoint of the district or circuit visitor.

    If we change the “system” to protect the church-workers, it may lead to less protection against aggressive/hostile/manipulative pastors–and I have seen or dealt with plenty of those.

    Again, as I said previously, based on the 200 CRM figure over the 6,151 congregations, we are talking about 3% of the congregations in the LCMS.

    I am hoping that the Resolution 3-10a committee has some suggestions, not to punish congregations, but to affirm the reputations of CRMs and to get them back on track into ministry positions–for the benefit of everyone.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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