Why are you such a Lutheran pastor fanboy?

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.

The Good

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.

The Bad

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.

About Nathan Redman

Nathan Redman was baptized into Christ at Bethel Lutheran Church (ELCA) Wahpeton, North Dakota on June 17th 1979. He and his wife, Bernice and their two children, Elsie and Porter are members of Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS) in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Nathan works for a family owned Pepsi distributor in St. Cloud. In his spare time he enjoys watching Doctor Who, listening to Frank Sinatra and drinking single malt Scotch. Nathan considers it a privilege to write for Steadfast Lutherans.

Comments

Why are you such a Lutheran pastor fanboy? — 9 Comments

  1. Good points, Nathan. With the recent advent of rapid and broad internet connectivity, we have the blessing of creating new relationships when desperately needed, and yet the temptation to trade gritty local life for communion with sanitized distant avatars.

    But I think you also indicated why the problems exist– the LCMS is becoming ever less marginally Lutheran, and the Lutherans within her boundaries are casting about for how to remain Lutheran when their synod has abandoned them, depending on the details of their local or regional situation. I don’t think this struggle is going to get better anytime soon.

  2. Nathan has good points. I fall in that category myself and check out a couple of sites regularly just to keep me centered in my faith. These men are a great comfort to us. Praise God for that blessing.

  3. That’s the problem here where I live. The church I was going to1993 to Feb. 2015, the pastor stopped wearing a robe for late service, which is contemporary. My family and I went to early which is a traditional type service. He used Presbyterian materials for bible class and didn’t like and said negative things about LCMS materials. Also got rid of the name Lutheran for the churches website and Facebook page. I caught it and asked about this and the elders didn’t even know he had done that. It got changed back. He felt more people would come if they didn’t see the name Lutheran. He told me that Luther didn’t go far enough and should have gotten rid of the altar. He said the only reason the Christians had altars was to please the pagans. The other LCMS church close by is more charismatic and they stopped having the old, new, and gospel readings. The one we’re going to now the pastor leans more toward the orthodox way. He gives anyone communion and even toddlers if they have been baptized. The other churches I mentioned also give communion to anyone, but I haven’t seen little children get it there. It’s very frustrating and discouraging to be stuck in these worship wars. My teenage son wants to be Lutheran and talk to other Lutherans to help his faith, because he is surrounded by baptist, Methodist, and Mormans. He doesn’t have any Lutheran friends to talk to. Everyone whether if they’re Lutheran or another denomination consider if you call yourself a Lutheran is evil . Every other denomination can call themselves by their name but Lutherans. I live in the panhandle of Florida so we are definitely a minority. I find myself so frustrated and upset by everything that at times I just think why bother going to church. I too try and find someone out there who could possibly help me with my faith that is struggling.

  4. @Eve #3

    I sympathize greatly with your dilemma, Eve. It’s one I’ve faced, as well as many of my friends in various parishes around the country (and frankly, around the world.) While the best and purest expression of the Christian faith is found around a Confessional Lutheran altar, the absence of such does not mean the Church has been destroyed. Christ promised that His Church, attacked from outside and from within, would endure to the end. And He is there, in His Word and Sacraments, just as He promised to be. If the LCMS congregations in your area have abandoned the Word and/or the Sacraments, you will have to look for them elsewhere.

    In the several centuries leading up to the Reformation, the Church in the west was pretty heavily polluted with all kinds of false teaching and practice– but the Church endured, because Christ continued to be present in His Word and Sacraments, creating faith by His Holy Spirit to live in His grace. We are likely entering a very similar time, and we may be in this pollution for centuries– but Christ is faithful, to you and your son, and to all His broken people. Find Him in His Word and Sacraments, and there cling to Him as He clings to you.

    Peace to you.

  5. @Eve #3

    Eve, I’m not precisely sure what qualifies as “panhandle” or how far you’d be willing to travel, but I’ll encourage you to check out the WELS congregations in that part of Florida — there are churches in Tallahassee, Panama City, and Navarre. From their websites, all three appear to be unabashedly liturgical. http://welslocator.locatorsearch.com

  6. Someone once called me a “fan girl” on a comment I left for a Pastor in social media. I was appalled, but have since used that to guard against gushing. A post I wrote in Sisters of Katie Luther entitled “Chicks Dig Theology” explains my appreciation for Pastors who take the time to e-shepherd lost sheep. Especially in the midst of a growing Modern Evangelical landscape. There is no argument that access to good teaching via the web is a good thing. Surely, God has gifted men to write! But as Nathan points out, it is in the Divine Service that God gives us His gift of Word and Sacrament. I truly pity those who have no home church.

    It is evident that there is much promotion and recognition for our talented Pastors. We have growing opportunities to sit at the feet of learned men. While all that is great, we should also encourage people to sit under called men who are perhaps not as winsome, or not as prolific, but yet faithful to their congregations, no matter the size. That is indeed where God has promised to be.

  7. What a great era that we live in when I can get solid theology on the web. Give me word and sacrament on Sunday morning and BJS, Issues, WE, Lutheran Satire and many others throughout the week. This fan boy says, It’s not either/or but give me more!

  8. Thank you for your words. I figure people now are like the Isalites who when things were going well they forget God and they need something bad to happen for them to turn back to him. The latest gimmick isn’t going to bring people to God only the word will.@Brad #4

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