Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Renewing our Church. . .
My perspective has changed over the years. I do not expect a national leader to be our savior or a convention or several of them to affect dramatically the future of our church body for the better. We have, for example, had resolutions adnauseum about the boilerplate things of more frequent communions, the riches of hymnal and liturgy, the worth of Lutheran schools, etc... but these have not succeeded in changing the landscape. We have had program after program, from the official ones with a St. Louis imprimatur to parachurch offerings and still we find ourselves under the same gun, facing the same problems, and looking for new or better programs that will succeed where the old ones failed.
If we are to change our church, I firmly believe it will come through the men we raise up, train up, and hold up to the church as pastors. When we send the brightest and best to be formed as pastors and equipped with the knowledge and trained in the skills of the pastoral office, we are making for a lifetime of change as these faithful individuals work on the ground preaching, teaching, presiding, praying, and leading God's people. When we send forth those who are convinced of our doctrine, who are well versed in Scripture, who have confidence that God acts through the means He has promised, we put into place those who have the best opportunity to shape us now and in the future for the kind of success God wills and we yearn for in our congregations and the ministries that extend from them and are supported through them.
We may not yet be at a place where we face a shortage of pastors and are in crisis mode because of it, but we are certainly already at that place where it is easy to see the difference when good and faithful pastors enter the church ready, willing, and able to be unashamedly Christian and unapologetically Lutheran in their words and works. I have seen it at work in congregations around me and I have seen it at work across the landscape of our church body. If you want to renew our church and revitalize our work for God's kingdom, it cannot begin without attention to the best and brightest in the seminary who are set apart by Word and prayer for the holy office of the ministry. Programs have a limited lifespan and influence and pastors have a longer period of service and a greater influence. I vote to put our revitalization monies and energies more fully into more and better candidates for the ministry and use the funds that would go toward other things to support the cost of their education at the seminary and make sure they earn a living wage in the parish so that they are fully free to focus on God's work.