Friday, May 18, 2012

Sad News...

I have read of a couple of more Pastors who resigned their calls in the past week.  They had been struggling and suffering for some time.  It is not simply a matter of blame.  I am sure they made mistakes -- some of them probably rather large.  I make mistakes all the time and some of them are doozies. I am sure that the parish did not treat them well.  It happens.  People tend to blame the church for everything that is wrong and that means blaming the Pastor.  Blame is not the issue.  Truth to be told there is some blame for all sides in nearly every dispute or conflict.  That is NOT my point.  My point is that this scenario happens over and over again in our church body.  Pastors wounded by the burdens of the ministry, by conflict in the congregation, and by their own sins and errors find that resignation is the only door left to them.

What follows is the deep black hole of candidate status.  We used to use the CRM designation (candidatus reverendi ministerii) as a neutral term.  Now it has become the mark of Cain.  It screams to congregations and to the Districts that this is trouble with a capital T.  Some of those men might be trouble.  But most of them were wounded, wearied, and walked away because they could not go on.  Some of those wounds were physical, some emotional, and some flowed from failed marriages or pastorates.  My point is that this has come to mean the kiss of death.  You find these guys not in parishes but working at Wal-Mart or a thousand other places -- just to pay the bills.

I wonder why we have so many congregations without hope of calling a full-time Pastor who are being served by lay deacons when we have hundreds (literally hundreds or perhaps even more) CRM guys who might be available except they have been marked as the unclean by their CRM status and now are expected to fade into oblivion.  How many of these who have learned to find other employment might be good worker priest candidates for those parishes unable to afford the cost of full compensation and benefits.  After all, we have invested thousands upon thousands in their training and they, too, have put many thousands of their own or borrowed money into training that leads to ordination.  I know that I am naive and that there are those who will insist I am being simplistic or talking about things I know nothing about... but, does it have to be this way?

I know some of these guys and they are not bad guys.  I know that each will have to be reviewed on a case by case basis but I believe it is worth the effort.  We can do better than simply warehouse those who resigned and forget about them.  If there are those who cannot ever serve again, then we need to honest and speak the truth in love.  If there are those who need assistance before serving again, we need to direct them so that they can be prepared for a future call.  If there are those who just resigned out of weariness for struggles not all their fault, then we need to support them and find a place for them to serve.

Just sayin... it is a darn shame!


Anonymous said...

We can never assume that every pastor
in the parish was meant to be a
pastor. Sometimes the Lord has a
way of removing men from a parish
in a way or manner that we do not
understand. It is not about CRM
status rather it is about the Lord's
will for His Church.

Anonymous said...

Do we have a CRM status for congregations that abuse their pastor and treat him like dirt? Congregations should be treated the same as pastors if they are members of the LCMS and they should be restricted/suspended/removed if they persist in their sin. What a joke.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Pr. Peters. Your suggestion would certainly be better stewardship of the gifts of pastors and teachers God has given his Church than our current practice.

As I hear of these resignations, I apply to myself our Lord's words in the face of tragedy, "No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). It is only by God's grace than anyone is called to the office that administers the means of grace, and only by God's grace that He serves Christians through their pastors. Left to ourselves all of us, clergy or lay, would have ruined everything long ago. Thus our prayer must always be, "Lord, have mercy!"

Pr. John Rutz

Pastor Fiene said...

We can never assume that every person
who is alive was meant to be alive. Sometimes the Lord has a way of removing men from this life in a way or manner that we do not understand. It is not about poisoning people or shooting them with a .38 special or stabbing them in the throat with a paring knife. rather it is about the Lord's will for our lives.

Anonymous said...

What about as Lutheran school teachers? Just about every school Lutheran school would benefit from having more actual Lutheran men teachers. Maybe this just reflects where I live. It might not be like that everywhere. Anyway, even if it were for only a few years, it is always easier to get a job if you already have a job. So, going from Lutheran school teacher back to pastor could be easier than going from retail back to pastor.

Anonymous said...

Since none of us really knows why these men resigned -- "God's will" and all (from the responses), I would just like to say thanks to Pastor Peters for lifting this up and for a clear demonstration of a pastoral heart and compassion. Pax Christi!

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this highlights that the seminaries and districts need to do a more thorough vetting process before certification for ministry. Vetting of BOTH candidates and congregations!

Some men should not be qualified just because they have 4 years of classes, etc. And in the same vein - some congregations are noted for chewing up candidates and pastors.

Anonymous said...

There are more pastors who have
self-destructed and resigned, then
parishes who have "chewed up"
candidates and pastors. Most LCMS
parishes simply want a pastor who
will preach and teach the Good News
of Jesus Christ and administer the
Sacraments. They do not want a
pastor who is lazy and unprepared
in the classroom and pulpit.

Norman Teigen said...

I am an outsider, but may I offer a comment? This is indeed a sad state of affairs which you describe. As a layman, I would consider that these unfortunate situations might result from poor lay leadership within a congregation. We laymen/women must be ready to step forward and support our pastors . We laymen/women must be ready to admit that the vessels in which the mysteries of Christ are proclaimed are human, so that the Gospel of Christ be recognized as divine. [I think I got that right.] I don't want to be my pastor's buddy, his golfing partner or his hunting companion, I want him to be my pastor. I want him to know that he is doing a good job and I can send him signals throughout the years so that he knows that. If I have a question about something, and you know me well enough Pastor Peters to know that I frequently have such questions, then I can call my pastor and we can discuss it out in the privacy of his study. It really works. So, let's not be afraid to look at the laity for resolution of these problems. [I am 69 years old and I have only had one bad pastor. Not a bad track record. Oh, I moved.]

jb said...

(I do not like Blogspot - it's functionality is, for one outside its system. useless for the most part) Wordpress!

That having been said. Pr. Peters has said something quite important, to which I alluded on my site and to my readers (mostly memnbers).

There is, in our Synod, an almost total dysfunctional understanding of Church and Ministry. I elaborate a bit at my site, but it all leads back to two issues:

1) A desire by whichever side of the fence (there is no side theologically) to blame the other, and;

2) a distinct misunderstanding or lack of misunderstanding as to the true nature of Church and Ministry.

I can only recommend Walther's "Church and Ministry" and the Confessions. Of course, both will challenge all of us to understand our roles as the Church and the ordained Ministry in ways far different that I have read here, for the most part . . .

But, at least then, we can get it.

Anonymous said...

The LCMS Districts are not to be
unemployment offices for displaced
pastors. Someone stated above that
the Seminaries need to do a better
job of screening and evaluating
seminarians. The Sems are running
their operations like a business
and looking for warm bodies to fill
their campus. The pastoral ministry
is a calling and not a career.

Chris said...

How can you be surprised? First, it's cheaper for congregations not to have a full time pastor but have their services conducted by deacons, part-time pastors, retired pastors, or (gasp) laymen and DCEs. Second, since Lutheran churches have abandoned the sacramental nature of the priesthood and made the pastor into more of CEO than the image of Christ who serves mystically at the altar, why even bother having one?

Reap what you have sown.

Rev. Jacob Sutton said...

This "anonymous" fellow or fellowette sure has it all figured out, doesn't he or she? These three half-lined, almost poetic responses are cold, callous, indifferent, and downright sinful. None of the three responses have paid one iota of attention to the original post by Pastor Peters. I think this "anonymous" person needs to visit the Wizard of Oz and find both a heart and a brain, and then maybe he can click his or her magic shoes and go back to the local Methodist/ELCA/Non-Denom church where everyone perfectly caters to his or her needs, and he or she never has to repent of his or her sins, nor does he or she have to practice Christian forgiveness with a fellow Christian who wrongs him or her or whom he or she has wronged.

Rev. Jacob Sutton
Terre Haute, Indiana

El said...
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