…But We Will Devote Ourselves to Prayer and the Ministry of the Word

holding-the-bible-162055-mThere’s a ton of confusion in the Church today surrounding the pastoral office. Do we really even need pastors? What is he supposed to do with his time? Is he supposed to be a leader, a counselor, a CEO, a visionary, or what?

The early church had a problem with the neglect of widows. As godly and important of a task as it was to provide for them, the Twelve knew other people could be recruited to do it. But not just anybody could preach the Word: “It is not right that we should give up preaching the Word of God to serve tables,” (Acts 6:2). “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the Ministry of the Word,” (Acts 6:4).

In an age where the social Gospel garners more respect than the actual gospel, it’s becoming harder and harder to find sympathy for the concern of the Twelve. Time spent in prayer and Scripture doesn’t produce any tangible result, so there’s often pressure on pastors to spend less time doing those things in favor of more “practical” tasks.

Nevertheless, God wants His pastors to be devoted to prayer and the Ministry of the Word. This is why St. Paul says those who preach the Gospel should get their living by the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:14). Likewise, when our Lord sent out the twelve among the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He instructed them to take no money, “for a laborer deserves his food.” (Matthew 10:9–10). God wants the Church to provide for the temporal needs of Her pastors so that they can give their full attention to the Word and Sacrament ministry.

Tentmaking is a noble enough profession, and there are circumstances where a worker-priest arrangement is necessary, but it is certainly not ideal. It reduces the amount of time the pastor can devote to prayer and the Ministry of the Word. The more time a pastor spends in prayer and Scripture, the better his preaching, teaching, and pastoral care will be. The best thing for a congregation is for its pastor to live and breathe Scripture as much as possible. It is impossible to be too devoted to prayer and the Ministry of the Word.

Pastors should demonstrate a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel. This will be put to the test especially in providing pastoral care to the hurting, sick, and dying. Sermons and bible classes can be prepared ahead of time. When a woman comes into the pastor’s study to tell him she just was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer or the pastor gets a call from a father saying his son was just killed in a car accident, his theology is put to the test and shown for what it really is. The best way for a pastor to demonstrate a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel is to devote himself to prayer and the ministry of the Word.

What does devotion to prayer and the Ministry of the Word look like? Just about everything a pastor is called to do by his congregation can be broken down into five categories: pastoral self-care, personal study, preparation for preaching and teaching, pastoral care, and a final catch-all category for all of the other stuff.

st_symeon_the_new_theologianPastoral self-care is essential for faithful pastoral care to take place. Before St. Paul exhorts pastors to tend to the flock, he tells them to attend to their own spiritual welfare (Acts 20:28). This is why it is important for pastors to have a father confessor, someone to whom they can go for pastoral care. The mutual conversation of the brethren is also another important source of pastoral care (SA III:IV).  But the pastor must also daily serve as his own pastor, spending time in prayer and hearing how the Word of God addresses him in his situation apart from any work he may be doing in preparation for preaching, teaching, etc. Scripture is his primary resource here, and other good devotional resources may aid him in his meditation.

Personal study is also an important part of being devoted to the ministry of the Word. This study may include working with the Greek, Hebrew, and English texts of Scripture, the Book of Concord, and reading other good theological books and journals.

Preparation for preaching and teaching occupies a significant amount of a pastor’s time during the week. Preaching is the one opportunity he has all week to speak God’s Word of Law and Gospel to the entire congregation. A great deal of time and effort go into preparing a good sermon. Ideal sermon preparation involves working with Hebrew and Greek, studying the text in light of its literary and liturgical context, doing word and doctrinal studies, and reading commentaries, journals, and other sermons, all the while considering how the text speaks to the practical concerns and daily lives of his people.

Pastors also must prepare for teaching obligations, which may include bible class, catechesis (youth, adult, pre-marital counseling, preparing parents prior to baptism, doing catechesis at meetings, etc.), preparing devotions, leading circuit studies or teaching at conferences, writing essays, journal articles, books, etc. While the writing and teaching pastors do outside of the parish can be beneficial to the Church at large, they also have practical benefits for parish ministry. No time spent in the Word or in mutual conversation with the brethren is wasted, and will often yield ideas for preaching, teaching, and pastoral care. Publications (both print and online) and presenting at conferences gives the pastor the opportunity to further reflect upon and teach the Gospel to a wider audience. We ought not be narrowly focused on our own congregations to the exclusion of the Church Catholic. A pastor’s service beyond the congregation can both edify the Body (local and corporate) and serve as a good tool for evangelism.

Recently the LCMS has recognized the value of what we do here at BJS and has even offered to help get pastors started with online writing:

LCMS Blog

Posted on Facebook by the LCMS on April 16, 2015

Pastoral care includes the regular duties of preaching, teaching, and conducting services (Sunday, midweek, weddings, funerals, etc.), or what might be called ordinary pastoral care. But there’s also a good amount of extraordinary pastoral care that pastors provide during the week: visiting members, the sick, and shut-in, answering and returning phone calls and emails (people will often want to talk with pastors about various concerns via email, making it a good tool for pastoral care), chatting with people who stop by the church, and attending to any other number of pastoral care needs that may arise during the week.

Meetings, administrative, and other responsibilities: In addition to the above, there are a variety of other things a pastor does during the week that belong to the Ministry of the Word. He may attend any number of conferences, study groups, or meetings, whether they are of the congregation (business or social), circuit, district, or synod. One of the most significant (but overlooked) duties of a pastor is to “manage his own household well” (1 Timothy 3:4). According to St. Paul, part of the pastor’s vocation is to look to the needs of his wife and children (if he has them). Even that should be considered time on the clock. A pastor must conduct himself in a manner that is becoming of his office at all times. He must set an example of Christian speech, behavior, and stewardship, show mercy to those in need, and be ready to share the Gospel as opportunities arise.


Comments

…But We Will Devote Ourselves to Prayer and the Ministry of the Word — 53 Comments

  1. Pr. Andersen,

    I cannot help but think that this post is springboarded from another string of commentary in another recent post. While I do not think your analysis is in substantive error, it does fail to take serious consideration of what worker-priests have historically and do currently contribute to the Body of Christ. I might suggest a charitable dialogue on this subject, so as to flesh out how these different approaches to exercising the Office of the Holy Ministry can be appropriately appreciated.

    Setting aside the situation in which a pastor is forced to take other work because of the sinful lack of support provided by his congregation, the intentional “tent-making” worker-priest and the traditional parish priest both have gifts to offer the Body of Christ.

    Peace to you.

  2. To all,
    It does seem that Steadfast and many of the brothers within have a back-handed attack at us worker-priests, and especially ones that have come through alternate routes…the dreaded alternate routes.

    Well, in the end, ordination is ordination, and a pastor is a ‘bona fide’ worker for the Lord.

    In the end, the Church we serve still is a place where the ‘bona fide’ Sacraments are administered, the Word is preached.

    In the end, we do have a ‘bona fide’ understanding that this is less than ideal, but we continue on because we are called and we serve an outpost of the Gospel where a full time man cannot serve, or should not.

    You know what, over the last few days, it seems from within Steadfast, the attacks and back handed language has ramped up a bit.

    Oh wait?? What about the fact that many of us worker-priests have been very generous to fellow men in the pastoral office, down and out, offering work and monies as we are able??? Oh, I have some accounts I could share.

    We have become a bunch of people that cannot work together, just find fault, where truly from a Biblical stance, no fault should be found.

    And when it comes to attending to our self and family too, prayer has increased greatly, and our people see that their pastor is a man toiling in the field, best he can. And when trouble hits, he drops all to tends to the flock.

    What you are doing and have done, you are splitting pastors into classes…well, I myself am glad I can still talk with my Lord in prayer, be fed by His Body and Blood, minister to my flock, chat with the community about Christ when able.

    It is sad the tone many of you use. Dressing down fellow brothers, not lifting up.

    Have you forgotten about the most important part of being a pastor, a man of God, a person who “fears the Lord”?

    It is to be obliged to love one another as YHWH has loved you. Time to go back to Torah and learn it a bit. I am in the process of it, among all the other things I am doing (or should not).

  3. To all,
    You have touched on one thing, you used the word ‘devotion’ many times. I read this as saying, men like us ‘are not devoted’ to the Word, because we cannot spend full-time doing so. Do you not think this a thorn in our side?

    Maybe not all, but some of us do feel that ‘not being full-time’ is a terrible thing, we are not heeding the Lord’s call to ministry and devoting every waking second.

    You know what, and this is historical fact, I was seconds away from being full-time to devote all the time able to the ministry, but chose to offer a spot to a man to lead full-time ministry. I still worked, no pay; eventually I sit now with one small parish, devoted to trying to keep a beacon lighted for the Gospel in my community, filled with Churches that are less than the ideal.

    I guess at the resurrection of the body, I may get a chance to ask the Lord, “did I do enough?”

    I know the answer, NO, ‘NO ONE DID”, but I died, I loved you, I rose, you may live too. And I will share that with whomever comes in my doors at Faith, or with whomever I talk to.

  4. @Pastor Prentice #2

    Dear Pastor Prentice,
    I can understand why you feel that alternative route ordained ministers are in a different class. We just returned from a lovely vacation out east. One Sunday we had a SMP minister preach because the senior pastor was on vacation. Excellent sermon and the conduct of the service was good. This past Sunday we were in Fort Wayne and went to St. Paul’s Lutheran in downtown Ft. Wayne. St. Paul’s is one of the original congregations of the LCMS. Besides worshipping in a beautiful space, the conduct of the service was exceptional. No announcements at the beginning, middle or end. The bulletin supplied all the needed information. Straight out of LSB, Divine Setting IV. The hymns that were selected were appropriate to the Gospel of the day. I think it was John 6 – I Am the Bread of Life. During Holy Communion the hymns were from the Lord’s Supper section of the hymnal. What struck us was the beautifully lead Nicene Creed. It was said slowly and reverently, rather than rushed just to get it over with. I’m sure St. Paul’s has its’ problems just like any other congregation, but I wish all LCMS congregations conducted their DS in the manner of St. Paul’s, Ft. Wayne. By the way, we heard a sermon preached by a newly ordained pastor who had just been installed. His first sermon! How intimidating to preach when the congregation is made up of a lot of seminary professors. His sermon was good, very good.

    In Christ,
    Diane

  5. @Pastor Prentice #3

    Pr. Prentice,

    I do not think Pr. Andersen would accuse his fellow brethren of being less devoted to prayer and the Word, anymore than he would accuse St. Paul of being less devoted to prayer and the Word than the other Apostles. To maintain that worker-priests are inferior to traditional parish priests, would necessarily conclude also that St. Paul was an inferior Apostle to St. Peter. I can’t imagine that Pr. Andersen intended any such slight.

  6. @Brad #5
    Dear Brad,
    You just cheered me up before lunch, blessings and thanks…so if someone has a problem with us worker-priests, “you gotta a problem with St. Paul” (and a few others too).
    You are a man of “best construction’ on this.

  7. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Thanks to Pastor Eric Andersen for an excellent review of the issue of the integrity of the pastoral office, i.e., that a pastor should be devoted full-time to his ministry and that he should, as a result, receive a living wage for that work.

    Upholding the integrity of the pastoral office does not necessarily entail criticizing the work of ministers/SMPs/Deltos/deacons/worker-priests—by whatever term you call them–who need to work other jobs in order to receive the necessities of life, much less those who continue to serve in retirement, in many cases with no remuneration at all. The criticism is not directed at the ministers, but at the congregations who err in this matter, or to some supervisory clergy (such as Circuit Counselors or District Presidents) who do not urge upon congregations the necessity of proper financial support for their pastors.

    The LC-MS has recently addressed this issue with regard to the matter of licensed-lay deacons via Task Force 4-06A. Its report to the 2016 convention can be found here: https://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=3559 with executive summary here: https://www.lcms.org/Document.fdoc?src=lcm&id=3558

    As to the Lutheran theological authorities on the matter of the remuneration and integrity of the pastoral office, see the following:

    Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 21-25, in Luther’s Works, 55 vols. (St Louis: CPH, 1964), volume 4, pages 204-205.

    Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, Chapters 38-44, in Luther’s Works, 55 vols. (St Louis: CPH, 1965), volume 7, pages 62-64.

    Martin Chemnitz, Ministry, Word, and Sacraments: An Enchiridion (St Louis: CPH, 1981), page 38 [sections 32 and 33].

    Friedrich Balduin, Commentary on All the Epistles of Paul, pages 401 and 404 [untranslated work]; quoted in C.F.W. Walther, Pastoral Theology, tr. John Drickamer (New Haven, MO: Lutherans News, 1995), pages 40-43.

    Johann Gerhard, On the Ecclesiastical Ministry, Part Two, tr. Richard Dinda, eds. Ben Mayes and Heath Curtis, Theological Commonplaces, XXVI/2 (St Louis: CPH, 2012), pages 181-189 [sections 324-329].

    C.F.W. Walther, Pastoral Theology, tr. John Drickamer (New Haven, MO: Lutherans News, 1995), pages 40-43.

    C.F.W. Walther, The Form of a Christian Congregation, 2nd edition, tr. J.T. Mueller (St Louis: CPH, 1963), pages 142-147 [section 33]; also speaks to the compensation of Lutheran school teachers, pages 146-147.

    John Fritz, Pastoral Theology (St Louis: CPH, 1932), pages 46-49.

    From that last work, I quote Fritz, who is almost quoting Balduin and Walther verbatim: It is a disgrace and a sin if a church that is able to pay its minister a living salary compels him, in order that he may make ends meet, to earn additional money at some other occupation. On the other hand, it is a disgrace and a sin if a minister whose congregation pays him an adequate salary nevertheless spends the time which he ought to give his congregation and for which his congregation is paying him, in doing other work in order that he may get more money. Such a minister is greedy of filthy lucre and unworthy of the holy office (I Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:7).

    Where this is a problem, Walther says that the circuit counselor, or other church authorities, should address inadequate compensation by speaking to the congregation on the pastor’s behalf (C.F.W. Walther, Pastoral Theology, tr. John Drickamer (New Haven, MO: Lutherans News, 1995), pages 43.

    If a congregation is truly unable to pay a pastor a living salary, then it should share a pastor in a dual congregation-parish, or similar arrangement. This is how Lutheran congregations solve the financial issues of small congregations. In some cases, it is more responsible for a congregation to merge with another in proximity than to continue with two separate facilities.

    I hope this helps the discussion, which I am sure we will hear more of at the 2016 LCMS convention.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  8. Dr. Noland,

    A couple points of clarification. A worker-priest is not necessarily one who comes through DELTO or other similar programs. Some have full theological training with advanced post-graduate work, are regularly ordained, and/or are appropriately colloquized. A discussion of the manner by which a pastor is formed and certified should be distinct from the discussion of any such pastor in the execution of his ministry bi-vocationally.

    I also think it is important to clarify the distinction between the sins of a congregation unwilling to support their pastor, or a pastor unwilling to live on the reasonable salary provided by his congregation, versus a pastor who sacrificially embraces the cross of bi-vocational Word and Sacrament ministry for the sake of those who need him. St. Paul makes a similar voluntary sacrifice for the sake of his proclamation of the Gospel, and I assume we would not assail the Apostle with our revered Lutheran Church Fathers.

    Just hoping to keep the conversation charitably directed. Like a married versus celibate priesthood, not everyone can receive the rigors of bi-vocational ministry– only those to whom it has been given.

  9. Speaking for myself and my own situation, as one has served in both uni-vocational and bi-vocational (and some days ‘multi-vocational’!) ministry settings, I’ve found it helpful to look at the whole body of my work as “pastoral ministry.” In the congregation I presently serve, my work brings me into contact with people who are, for the most part, good Lutheran-Christian folk. In the ‘other’ vocations I serve, the interactions are a mix of Christian and non-Christian. Either way, my week is filled with opportunities to do pastoral self-care, pastoral care, administration, personal study, and prep. I do think that two of the often under-discussed challenges of being bi-vocational are: 1. balancing the time/energy boundaries between church work, secular work, and family; and 2. increasing the ways bi-vocational pastors can be affirmed and valued by a brotherhood, that is mostly uni-vocational.

  10. Lutheran theological authorities are just fine, but I thought the word “Lutheran”  meant the same as the word “Biblical.”  How can it be Biblical to call congregations “not bona fide” when they are served (via mutual consent) by worker-priests or retired pastors?

  11. @Martin R. Noland #8

    Noland: ” The criticism is not directed at the ministers, but at the congregations who err in this matter, or to some supervisory clergy (such as Circuit Counselors or District Presidents) who do not urge upon congregations the necessity of proper financial support for their pastors.”

    Well, that’s not a fair assessment of the original piece. As some here have interpreted it, a complaint WAS lodged against men (let’s throw in called laypeople, including women, too) who must earn a living by doing work outside of the church.

    Just like St. Paul.

    It is a fact, one which I am sure you will affirm, that many smaller congregations cannot afford a full-time pastor.

    Are those congregations of devoted, loyal, lifelong Lutherans “erring,” as you have it, by not paying what they cannot afford?

    I recall a certain Lutheran clergyman, whom I will not name here, who, while looking for a call, refused to consider a small, poor Lutheran parish in the inner city, and did not wish to consider its call, even though he had spoken with the church’s call committee, lest he receive a call from a larger, more prosperous parish, and, due to having accepted the former call, be unable to accept the latter.

    Or this is what he said to my face, in the presence of a witness.

  12. To all,

    Perhaps there is some thing that I did not think about (no, I have)…my Church Faith, I have taken little compensation, my choice, we are accessing the funds, making decisions.

    Perhaps what you say is this: Go for it! Perhaps Faith only has so many years left if they paid me full time, but better to burn out hot, then fade away.

    At that point, nothing left to turnover, but we “went for it.”

  13. My admiration for Pr Noland is almost unlimited. His observations have always been measured, patient, sensible and well-documented.  The fact that he is dead wrong about bona fide congregations proves that nobody is perfect. 🙂

  14. To all,
    Yes, I did have to work today, got off to rush to Church to setup a table for the Westchester National Night Out, they used my parking lot to kickoff the event. I gave out some Prayer Booklets, talked to people of the Village, smiled a lot. Then took family out for late dinner. Oh yes, wife and daughter helped me at the Church.
    This is what a ‘bona fide’ worker-priest pastor does. Not perfect, but the ‘bona fide’ Church of Christ will continue in this small village.

    Why? Because the people need a place where Word and Sacrament will continue, as long as able in the Village.

  15. Thinking of the three Pastors of my wife’s and my congregation since we’ve been members, David Warner, Mark Nicolaus, and Rolf Preus, these all have been industrious, laboring men, diligently engaged in the work of the ministry. By working, they have earned every penny that they have been paid, just as well as my diesel mechanic, blacksmith, insurance agent, agronomist, and others have earned their pay. The congregation has been mightily benefitted by their being able to be devoted full time to the work that is pastoral.

  16. To all,
    I say to Rev. Noland and Rev. Andersen, recant, recant of the idea that we bi-vocational men are less than devoted, less than ‘bona fide’, less than earnest in the work we do.

    Ordination is ordination, and we execute the office with utmost diligence and respect, and we work every ‘available’ opportunity to the Church and the people inside.

    You may talk of an ideal situation, full-time, full education, full compensation; and I feel that is great and wonderful…but it is not what is on earth for all situations and all men.

    You may speak of Walther, Luther, and others who do exhort an ideal pastoral office.

    We exist in a Biblical office, and if you have a problem with some of us in the field, toiling both at work of secular nature, and work of Word and Sacrament, then you have a problem with the Holy Spirit Himself who allows for such a “less than ideal” role of pastor at times.

    When I execute the Office of the Keys in my Church, I am no different in the eyes of God than all of you. And at the same time, under the great pressure that my work is seen fitting and good the the Lord who placed me, yes, HE placed me and many bi-vocational men in the place.

  17. Fr. Andersen-
    In highlighting the importance of the pastor being free to devote his life to the Word of God, I see you not as condemning those who are not so free, but rather giving voice to the ideal. Our Church as a whole, through its institutions, ought to give much better priority to the support of pastors whom cannot be fully supported locally. And so I thank you.

    As Sirach says, in the 38th chapter, “The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise. How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? ”

    I would add one note to your essay. You list having a confessor and enjoying mutual consolation of the brethren as two distinct things, and in doing so, you are not unusual. This seems to be the common reading of the Smalcald Articles. However valuable consolation, conversation, friendship, and brotherhood no doubt are to pastors, I would make the case that Luther is listing one thing (the fourth item in his list of manifold ways the Gospel gives us counsel and aid) by means of two expressions, joined with an “and.” In other words, I think that his “power of the keys” and his “mutual conversation and consolation of brethren” are a mere repetition of the same gift of God, viz. Holy Absolution. To be sure, then, I do not view “brethren” in this case as being all Christians, but as a traditional shorthand for brothers in the office of Christ. Luther makes a very similar argument in the Marburg Colloquy, which I think is worth considering.

  18. When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Mt. 9:36-38

  19. @Latif Haki Gaba #18

    “The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure, and he that hath little business shall become wise.”

    Rather, he that hath little business shall learn little,
    for much wisdom cometh by engaging the world
    and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
    Yea, he that gazeth upon his navel at length
    achieveth but near-sightedness, which profiteth no one.

  20. @Carl H #20
    DEAR Carl,

    And you hit it on the head…engaging the world as a worker-priest, that is becoming harder and harder, I will tell you.

    I sometimes wish and ask God, it would be nice to sink into a Church 24 x 7, then be in the midst of sinners and non-believers, and that is what is bi-vocational men do.

    Perhaps I, no, I do receive a bit of comfort in His sanctuary. Yes, He is all around, but His presence ‘seems’ all the more in His Church. And many prayers ascend alone kneeling in front of the Altar.

    OK, it is cool being a pastor and able to open the doors in the sanctuary any time of day and have a great place to pray, and hit the piano keys, or sing a hymn from the balcony, or blast my trumpet in praise (the only real instrument sanctioned by YHWH). Oh my, must be a little bit of something?

  21. To all,
    I have received a few emails on the side that steer me in the idea that some of this disdain for the small congregation and the ‘not fully bona fide’ pastor is of a sacerdotalist nature.

    I have been doing a bit of research and I know Walther and the Church is dead against this idea, but some musings are afoot that perhaps want to bring this back?

  22. met a Pastor[ WELLS ] that served two different congregations in two towns about 20 miles apart. Both were to small to support a full time Pastor. I also know of a congregation that will probably close it’s doors before long because of declining membership. That pastor had to find work to support his family. There is ideal situations and other not so ideal. worker Pastors should be saluted for their devotion to the Word. [ as long as they hold to the Law and Gospel ]

    Grace and Peace, Jack Darnell

  23. @Pastor Prentice #22

    To be sure, I have zero, absolutely zero disdain for the small congregation, and for the priest who must obtain outside work. And the only kind of ‘pastor’ who is not fully bona fide is the one who should not have the name ‘pastor’ because he usurps the office according to AC XIV. Last I read, we have perhaps hundreds of them in this synod, and the current synod proposal would reward them by granting them ordination; which seems a bit like granting the rite of marriage to couples who are living scandalously, without any word of repentance.

    And if you suspect anyone here to be guilty of distaining worker-priests, then before offering hypotheses on their sacerdotalism, quote for me what they said that proves their distain.

  24. @J. Dean #25

    J.Dean: you ask “why is the word “priest” being used rather than “pastor?””

    The LCMS in several instances can be seen using the term priest in reference to our ordained ministers of the Gospel, for example the following web pages, though it does not do so normally. When it does this, it is in keeping with traditional terminology employed in the Book of Concord, even in the Augsburg Confession.

    http://www.lcms.org/page.aspx?pid=1306 “Dual and Multi-Point Parishes”

    https://calendar.lcms.org/event/worker-priest-model-webinar/

    http://southernlcms.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/2-Types-of-Pastoral-Ministry.pdf

    http://www.csl.edu/2012/02/calls-announced-for-19-delto-pastors/

  25. @Pastor Prentice #22
    I have received a few emails on the side that steer me in the idea that some of this disdain for the small congregation and the ‘not fully bona fide’ pastor is of a sacerdotalist nature.

    “Sacerdotalism” is sometime thrown at Pastors who only want to wear the proper Lutheran vestments and chant the service. [I do not think it means what the ‘throwers’ want to make it mean.]

    Directions for chanting were in the TLH, but so little observed that people forgot Lutherans did it regularly in earlier times and wore something more Lutheran than the Geneva gown, too.
    (“Too much Methodist influence”, Walther might have said.)

  26. @J. Dean #25

    Question: why is the word “priest” being used rather than “pastor?”

    In the case of “worker-priests” vs “worker-pastors”, try saying them both out loud a few times.

  27. @helen #26
    Dear Helen,
    I disagree, the reason some of this is coming up has nothing to do with vestments, chanting, etc. If you came into my Church, unless I told you, you would have no idea I am bi-vocational. Also, the practice is Lutheran liturgical and of a ‘high order’. Sure, you could assume a bit seeing the smaller amount of people in the pews.

  28. To all,

    Perhaps final post on this.

    01) The integrity of bi-vocational pastors was attacked, simply because the Holy Spirit has placed us into congregations that exist and cannot employ full time men.

    02) The congregations that exist without closing were attacked. Some like me (others too) exist to make sure Biblical and Confessional Lutheran Word and Sacrament ministry are hanging on in communities that desperately need to hear the Word of God loud and clear.

    This is un-LCMS-Lutheran like language.

    This post and some of the remarks have attacked the integrity of us pastors and congregations that chose to be bi-vocational, or congregations that stay small and working toward increase.

    I would like to hear from the BJS leadership a “mea culpa” on this. I understand what you want, but I believe my integrity and the Church I serve is just as ‘bona fide’ as, let’s say Bethany Naperville.

    YES, Pastor Rossow and his pastors are ideally able to spend more time in the service of the Lord, their Church dwarfs my Church in inward and outreach potential, etc.

    But in the end, we are in the Lord’s work together.

    Yes, deal with incorrect practice, etc. But do not marginalize hard working men and struggling congregations that are trying to be true to the Lord’s work.

    Now if you truly feel that bi-vocational men should go away…
    Now if you feel congregations that hang on with bi-vocational men…
    All this is wrong…and I am not speaking about a bad congregation that abused a pastor, shame!
    If you feel we should be ecclesiastically done away with…well, then we are of different mind with Walther and the Holy Spirit (to name a few.)

  29. To all,
    Hmmm, and at the end, what I meant to say, we are just as much Church and serving Pastors as the rest, and the Holy Spirit and Walther would agree.

  30. @Pastor Prentice #30

    With all due respect, Pastor Prentice, you owe some folks an apology. The criticism was aimed *at the congregations* who *could/can* support a full-time pastor, not at the *pastors*, per se. The *regular* way of dealing with the situation is, as Dr. Noland has shown, multi-parish arrangements (like my own–and there are 2 such situations in my circuit). What I have *seen* happen is that a congregation has become too “settled” in itself, forgetting what the church actually is, and how it is Constituted (the Body of Christ, by the Word of Christ), such that they are not willing to “share” a pastor, preferring a retired guy to come and take care of Sunday morning–*to fit their compartmentalized view of their own Christianity*–Sunday morning only. Besides, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper.
    To be sure, a full-time pastor *ain’t cheap*. My own two congregations do well, if you ask me. Could we do more? Well, if any of my own folks are reading this, so be it: Yes. As “good” as the giving is, and as well as they take car
    e of me and my family, we could be giving more for the sake of missions and such. There is a lack of understanding amongst the people in the pews–and I daresay, in all too many pulpits–that we give not because God needs it, but because *we* need it–it’s simply what we do–and we are thrilled when we see that we *can* give a larger offering, etc.
    I *also* know of bi-vocational pastorate/congregation situations where a dual/triple parish simply can’t happen–there is no 2nd congregation to share a pastor with, practically speaking. Neither the pastor nor the congregation is happy about it, but there ain’t no choice. *No one* has suggested that such a situation (and I have no reason to believe that *yours* is *not* one–but every reason to trust that you and your people are working hard to be faithful) is less than “bona fide” Lutheran. It is the congregation that *can* but *won’t*– and is allowed by synod/district/etc. to “won’t”– that is less than “bona fide” Lutheran.
    Re-read what the original post said, carefully, with your 8th Commandment glasses on. You have taken offense where none was given.

  31. *No one* has suggested that such a situation (and I have no reason to believe that *yours* is *not* one–but every reason to trust that you and your people are working hard to be faithful) is less than “bona fide” Lutheran.

    Huh??

    If a group of people want to be a bona fide Lutheran congregation, they must call a pastor who is a full-time and adequately-compensated worker.

    Please see this

  32. @Pastor Prentice #29

    I have received a few emails on the side that steer me in the idea that some of this disdain for the small congregation and the ‘not fully bona fide’ pastor is of a sacerdotalist nature.

    Let me try again.
    You have received e-mail, as I understood it, suggesting that the comments critical of “bi-vocational” ministry came from a “sacerdotalist”. (Not that you were one.) I was only trying to suggest that the charge of sacerdotalism is misused fairly often (and is way off topic here). IMHO, of course!

    Perhaps ‘politically correct’ now should be ‘bi-vocational pastor’.
    PC, perhaps, but Gene Edward Veith will argue that every one of us is “multi vocational”. 🙂

  33. @Pastor Prentice #29
    Mr. Prentice,
    I want to hope that your day is a good and peaceful one. I have not had time to read every post, as I was only glancing over and had noticed that you used the words, ‘my Church’ four different times… It’s not the Church of Prentice, nor the Church of Johnathan but only the Church of Christ for Christ is the Head of the Church.

    Let us look at Acts 20:28 – “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

    Would you agree with me that the ‘Church’ is God’s redeemed people? That the Church belongs to God/Christ and Him only? We are to help shepherd God’s Church. Smile, I know you want to. 🙂

    Now let’s take a look in James 3:1 – My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. the responsibility we have as teachers.

    You wrote, “I am no different in the eyes of God than all of you.” – Should we be able to agree that those who teach the Gospel are held to higher standards since those will be judged more strictly? That what you said may not be the right way to say it?

    Understand that I am not looking for fault, I found it by glance. I am in no way perfect (Romans 3:23 – …for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,…; 1 John 1:8 says – If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.), only Christ/God is perfect. I expect that when I am in error, someone will come to me of good spirit and help correct my sin (James 5:20 – Let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.) in thought I may not have seen it or myself had been misguided. I cannot allow a man who is teaching the Gospel to go on in error or I would be responsible, held accountable for it.

    Galatians 6:1 – Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

    With respect, I am going to finish reading all of the comments/posts – I wanted to get this part typed up though or it would not have come out the way I intended it to. God Bless you, sir.

  34. @Johnathan Gabel #37

    Pr Prentice was only using the term “my church” to talk about the situation in the local congregation where he serves.  He was certainly not taking ownership nor claiming to be the object of worship.  Nobody believes that.  

    I always refer to my local congregation as “my church”.  I guess I could say “the local congregation where I am a member” but that’s a lot of words.

  35. @John Rixe #38
    Yes,
    Whether correct saying or not, I refer to the place I am called and installed as ‘my Church’.
    BUT, I know it is ‘my Church’ only in that the Lord has by the greater Church made me in charge of and caring for this congregation.
    And, I think it is also OK to say this, since when error or problems occur, me, only me truly as pastor will be called on the carpet, whether by the Lord in a problem with Word and Sacrament administration, or by the District / Synod etc. for any error.
    Finally, Rev. Walter Otten has used this term, and if he said its OK, “back off” please…he knows what he is talking about! He is a man and pastor I look up to!

  36. @Johnathan Gabel #37
    Hello,
    See #39, what I wrote to John Rixe, perhaps this explains it. Perhaps I should say ‘my church Faith
    , ‘His Church of Christ’.
    Perhaps I overused this word, but as the leader / pastor / shepherd, Faith is in my care, my Church to care for, and in every way, I look to the Lord for the strength to care for it.
    And yes, I myself am a baptized and communicant member in good standing of His Church.
    Reverend David L. Prentice, Jr.

  37. @John Rixe #38

    There is not multiple Churches though – There is only One Church, am I correct? If there is Only One Church, no man can can say it is their Church. Church is the Unity of all Christians… No man except Jesus can claim all men/women, right?

  38. @Pastor Prentice #40

    Your congregation’s faith is in your care, correct but not Faith in general. Or else there would be no need for more than one preacher, correct? If there is more than one Church, can you lead me to the scripture where any one man claims it to be Their Church besides Christ/God… I need Book Chapter & Verse to confirm accuracy of your statement, please for I follow not the faith of one man but of the Word of God/Bible.

  39. @Johnathan Gabel #43

    Pr. Prentice’s congregation is Faith Lutheran Church. That’s why he capitalized the word “faith.”

    Are differing definitions of the word “church” being used here? As someone said above “my church” is much easier to say than “the congregation when I serve”/ or “the congregation where I am a member.”

  40. @Johnathan Gabel #42

    Depends on how your using the word church. The word itself means an assembly. “C”hurch is the assembly of all believers in Christ Jesus. “c”hurch is the assembly of the local congregation. Scripture uses the word both ways.

    “On this rock I will build my church.” Matthew 16:18

    “To the church of God that is in Corinth.” 1 Cor. 1:2

  41. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Sorry that I seem to have stirred up a hornet’s nest. That was not my intent, and is not my way of doing things.

    My intent was to address inadequate compensation of our clergy and the congregations that are unwilling to “foot the bill” for a pastor when they can afford to do that.

    “Bona fide” in my previous post was intended in the sense of “complete,” not in the sense of “authentic” if you understand the difference there.

    Certainly, Christ promises his presence where two or three are gathered in his name. That is not at debate, at least not by me.

    What is at debate, in my mind, is: What is a Lutheran congregation? Can it exist as a congregation without a pastor? Is it a congregation in any sense without a pastor but only a preacher?

    E.g., What if a congregation is served only by a preacher on Sunday morning, but he is not a pastor to those people in any real sense of the term? What if the deal is that he works his full-time job, and only does Sunday mornings, and is not available for sick calls, hospital calls, shut-in calls, catechism, and on-call at any time for emergencies and counsel by phone or otherwise? It doesn’t seem to me that he is their pastor, if he only has Sunday AM duties.

    And so if he isn’t their pastor, are they missing something, and are thus incomplete? I think they are missing something essential if they don’t have a man devoted to serving them in the pastoral duties.

    If they are not missing anything essential, then why should any congregation bother with the expense and trouble of hiring a full-time pastor?

    As to the question of “sacerdotalism,” our Lutheran fathers grant to any Lutheran layman the right of administering baptism where a congregation does not exist. In such cases the heads of the household, either in their own house or gathered together, may meet together for prayer, the reading of the Word, hymn-singing, and baptisms. Children and adult may also be catechized in the Small Catechism. This is in Luther’s Bohemian Letter, AE 40: 3-44.

    What is not allowed is, except in “cases of necessity,” is: 1) preaching per se, i.e., the writing and delivery of sermons by the uncalled, 2) the administration of the performative Absolution (Office of the Keys) by the uncalled; and 3) the administration of the Lord’s Supper by the uncalled. The uncalled may read a sermon written by an orthodox pastor, e.g., Luther’s postils, and may read the indicative Absolution, but since he is not called and ordained he cannot do this “as a called and ordained servant of the Word.”

    On the matter of the Absolution and Lord’s Supper administered by laymen, see Walther “Pastoral Theology” (New Haven, MO: Lutheran News, 1995), pages 134-139 [chapter 17, comment 4]. On the matter of laymen reading sermons prepared by clergy, see Luther’s Bohemian letter. I am not aware that I disagree with Walther’s position in these matters.

    In any event, I am encouraged by the report of the Resolution 4-06A Task Force, and it indicates to me that the LC-MS is moving back to its traditional practice in these matters.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  42. Thanks, Pr Noland, for your patience and willingness to continue discussion.  I have no personal knowledge so I’m just speculating but…

    I doubt that there are any Lutheran worker-priests who only do Sunday mornings.  I believe they choose their secular employment to be flexible as possible for sick calls, shut-in calls, catechism, emergencies, etc.  I truly admire their bona fide dedicated service in bona fide congregations under less than ideal conditions.

    I also, of course, admire your dedication and that of all church workers.

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