My wife commented on what I had known for months, “You have a lot of pastors on your Facebook”. They have been added over the years during my journey into the world of Confessional Lutheranism and because of my writing for Steadfast Lutherans. Most of those pastors I requested to be friends with. I have only met a handful of them in person but would still consider them friends. Being friends with pastors on Facebook may seem harmless and would even seem beneficial but I hope to explain why being a Lutheran pastor fanboy isn’t always a good thing.
To be sure there is plenty of good things about being friends with pastors on Facebook. Generally speaking most pastors are good guys with more in common with the laity then we realize. You will be exposed to all kinds of content from their own pastoral life and work. I have joined many groups, learned of many blogs, websites, and listened to sermons & podcasts just because of my friendships on Facebook. It is also very beneficial to learn about the pastors themselves. Their parishes, family life and interests outside of their calling as pastors. The best thing about being friends with pastors on Facebook is being able to offer your support to them. Whether it is prayers, supporting their ministries, giving them encouragement on their sermons, blogs or even chatting with them about things unrelated to church – Pastors need our support and prayers.
Pastors do need our support. That being said, I don’t think they always need an ego boost. They don’t always need a “like” on Facebook or a “share” of their blog post. We should be supportive when it is warranted. I have to say – In my opinion pastoral success is determined at the congregational level and not in Facebook “likes and shares”, books sales or radio interviews. Don’t get me wrong, pastors should be able to promote and share their sermons and the other ways they are getting the Gospel message out. Along with our prayers we should be watchful of pride in pastors. The devil certainly is watchful of this. He will use it against them. Making their non-congregational activities as a judge of their faithfulness over their true faithfulness to the Word and their congregational call. The devil may pull a pastor away from the call they received at their parish to go work on another project. A project that may get them more exposure or celebrity status among fellow pastors but take away time from his flock. The line is very thin and the sin of pride can very easily cause a pastor to want more and more.
The laity must also fight the devil and our sinfulness in a number of ways when it comes to our pastoral friendships. In my opinion the biggest threat to us is putting any of our online pastor friends above the called servant God has sent us in our own pastor. Even worse is putting more stock in our online friends, pastors of other church bodies or pastors who are no longer pastors all the while pushing our own pastors to the back burner. Our home pastor knows our life, our family and our sin. He has been called by God to preach us the Law and deliver us the Gospel. He has been called to announce the forgiveness of sins in the stead of Christ and to properly administer the sacraments. The Gospel can surely be shared through the internet but the true gifts of God are given every Sunday in your local faithful Lutheran church.
The sad reason why there are so many Lutheran pastor fanboys.
I am very lucky to attend a faithful LCMS church with a great pastor (don’t tell him I said that). I do understand that some people don’t have a faithful Lutheran church or pastor in their area. For them online pastors, groups and blogs are of great comfort and education in the faith. I have seen many comments about this on social media and it’s one of the many disappointments I have in my church body, The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Comments that faithful laity have no where to go to receive the gifts of God every week. Faithful laity that have to search for properly preached law and gospel online because their local church is too concerned about their current program or outreach. Laity that have no idea what the Lutheran Confessions are or what their church even believes because their church and pastor won’t take the time to teach it. Honestly, it makes me sick.
While this is not what drove me to befriend so many pastors online it is what drives a lot people to search for pastors online. Finding pastors who care about the confession of the Lutheran church and aren’t afraid to confess it. Instead of this we have large number of laity who cling to blogs, groups and pastors online who don’t know them personally. It’s very sad to me that often these online pastors and groups serve the laity better then their local LCMS “In Name Only” churches do.
Where are Lutheran pastor fanboys to go?
In a sense Lutheran pastor fanboys already know where to go to find what they need. They want as much Lutheranism and Jesus as they can handle. They need a Lutheran church that is not just Lutheran “In Name Only”. They are need a church that actually wants to be Lutheran and always gives them Jesus. They want an abundance of Jesus Christ and the gifts He offers. They want the Word of God preached properly. That means the Law must be preached till we are dead. The Gospel must be preached till we are alive.
Lutheran pastor fanboys really want to be Lutheran. They want to be taught what it means to be Lutheran – which includes instruction in the Lutheran Confessions. They don’t need new and hip programs, slogans or fads. If Lutheran fanboys can’t find Jesus and real Confessional Lutheranism in their local LCMS Lutheran churches then they are forced to look elsewhere. They may find it online or they may just drop Lutheran all together and find another denomination.
Being a Lutheran pastor fanboy is a problem but it is also a good problem for the LCMS to have. It is a good problem when the laity actually wants to be Lutheran. It is a good problem if our churches are faithful and want to be Lutheran too. The real problem is I’m not so sure some LCMS churches want to be Lutheran anymore.