Friday, September 7, 2018
From which the clergy come. . .
When the parish suffers and families are broken, it is reflected in the numbers of men and women who hear the call and are encouraged in their vocation to full-time church work. This could very well be one of the reasons why vocations to the ministry have fallen and the numbers of second career men has risen. I say this not at all to disparage those who come to the ministry later in life but remind the families who are right now bringing their children to church that those same children, raised in the faith, are the best pool from which all church workers come -- especially boys who will be pastors.
The pews are the pool from which pastors will come and when laity are not living the faith in the home, this avenue is closed and the sanctity of the church and her future comes under threat. We need these young men for the pastoral office and women as teachers and deaconesses. Once we had a thriving school system which provided a ready path for those who would be pastors and other church workers. The system has changed to be sure but the lack cannot be placed entirely upon the failures of that system of education. No, indeed, what worked in the past was not a grand educational structure but faithful homes nurturing the faith and bringing their children to worship and Sunday school and catechism classes. It was faithful moms and dads who by their conversation and example held up the work of the Church as good and noble and worthy. It was mothers and fathers who quietly encouraged their children to consider a religious vocation.
As true as this was for others churches, it was no less true for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. When I went to pre-sem classes at St. John's College in Winfield, I was unsure whether I was smart enough or talented enough or dedicated enough to become a pastor. Around me were 50-60 young men heading on the same path and I saw them as boys who could have done anything but chose to become a pastor. It was an honor to be in their company. This group was center of the college's identity and life. I went home with many of them and found their families and congregations holding up the high calling and encouraging them at every turn (even as my own family and parish was doing). Now I am not so sure that the vocation is esteemed as highly or parents and congregations as willing to encourage and support men in the pursuit of the pastoral office and women as teachers and deaconesses. That is a big problem. No educational institution can cover the issues in home and parish that discourage or prevent our sons and daughters from considering church work vocations and pursuing them.
So I would encourage parents to be good examples for their children of those who do not neglect the weekly gathering of God's people around Word and Table. I would challenge them to speak highly of the office of pastor and not to disparage this office before their children. I would remind them that they are the primary mentors of their children's faith and life in Christ and that they do this with the support of such things as Sunday school and catechism classes and that these cannot replace the godly role of mom and dad in the home. I would humbly ask them to encourage their children to give faithful consideration of church work vocations and not to dismiss their interest or to discourage their curiosity. The pews are the pool from which faithful church workers come, most notably young men who are encouraged to be pastors.