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Messages - Mike in Pennsylvania

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I've known a few pastors who received honorary doctorates or got D.Min's, and let it go to their heads.  Afterwards they disdained being called "pastor" and insisted on being called "doctor."  I used to ask, "Aren't they pastors anymore?"  Actually, some of them got a good deal less pastoral after getting that doctorate.

Personally, I think "pastor" is a pretty good title to be honored with.

Pastor Fienen asked Charles if there was a Christian group the ELCA deemed unworthy of its fellowship?
Try the NALC.

I saw a report in Christianity Today of a study which showed that preachers consistently underestimated the actual length of their sermons, whether they were 10 minute preachers or hour long preachers.  They compared the time the preachers thought they had used versus the actual timed length.  Just saying.

Your Turn / Re: Question About ELCA Congregation Departures
« on: January 18, 2023, 03:45:47 PM »
I left the ELCA almost 13 years ago now, so things may have changed, but I doubt it.  Back then it really depended on what synod you were in and who the bishop was.  In some synods, like the one I was last in, the bishop simply submitted their preferred candidate and it was take it or leave it.  If you left it, you might wait a long time for another name.  Other synods had a more open process, but few were as open as the NALC current procedures.

Your Turn / Re: Question About ELCA Congregation Departures
« on: January 18, 2023, 08:26:21 AM »
Pastor Engelbrecht, maybe I should explain the NALC call process.  After a congregation completes its profile, the profile is posted on the website for any NALC pastor to see. The list of vacancies is updated on a roughly monthly basis and distributed to all pastors.   Any NALC pastor (or seminarian approved for ordination) can apply to any congregation.  The mission districts and the national leadership do not prevent or promote any particular candidate.  (Well, sometimes they express a preference but in my experience as an interim pastor, those preferences are widely ignored.)
If a congregation requests an interim pastor or a dean or national staff person feels one is desirable, then an interim is offered.  But the congregation doesn't have to accept a suggestion or have an interim.
The only (supposedly) restriction on this process is that a congregation must call an NALC pastor or one approved for ordination or approved by the vetting [colloquy] committee.  That's in the constitution.
There really isn't anything except that constitutional provision to keep a congregation from using a headhunter, but that would be discouraged.

Your Turn / Re: 4-H Club at Church
« on: January 13, 2023, 11:16:33 AM »
I've had congregations which sponsored and had healthy relationships with Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Future Farmers of America (they probably don't have that in New York City or Columbus  :D).
No direct experience with 4H, but I have no problem with them.

Your Turn / Re: Question About ELCA Congregation Departures
« on: January 10, 2023, 04:02:36 PM »
Trinity, Ashland is an NALC congregation.  I am not sure why they are resorting to this method.  Maybe they were not receiving what they considered decent applicants through the NALC process.

Your Turn / Re: Question About ELCA Congregation Departures
« on: January 10, 2023, 01:51:00 PM »
I believe the NALC and LCMC allow congregations to belong to both bodies. If so, could a dual rostered congregation that thinks of itself as LCMC use such an organization?

I suppose so.  I know of an LCMC congregation that resorted to to find a part-time pastor.  But they weren't dually rostered.

Your Turn / Re: Dr. James Nestingen, RIP
« on: January 09, 2023, 08:28:00 PM »
My take on it is that hopefully a few of us might get as far as 7/10 of 1% sanctified in this life.

Your Turn / Re: Question About ELCA Congregation Departures
« on: January 09, 2023, 08:25:32 PM »
[quote ]

Thanks for your notes, Mike. I was contacted via email in November by, which was seeking a pastor for an NALC congregation. The representative invited me to submit names of potential candidates. As an NALC worker, are you familiar with this organization and process? I had never seen this before.

Not familiar with that particular organization, but I have heard tell of "headhunter" companies trying to find pastors for churches.  The NALC constitution has as one its few mandatory sections [unlike the ELCA, where practically everything is mandatory] that congregations must only call NALC - approved pastors.  But I suppose they could find somebody and require him/her to go through the approval process.

Your Turn / Re: Question About ELCA Congregation Departures
« on: January 09, 2023, 10:00:54 AM »
Practically speaking, I think LCMS would have required colloquy studies for rostering clergy in the LCMS. I'm guessing LCMC and NALC had no such requirements.

Both NALC, of which I am a part, and LCMC have procedures for receiving clergy from other denominations.  LCMC is somewhat looser in their requirements.
I serve on the vetting committee of the NALC, which is what the LCMS would call the colloquy process.  We get applicants from all sorts of Lutheran groups, including ELCA, LCMC, LCMS, WELS and AFLC in my recall.  We also get Anglicans, Methodists, and some others.  We generally take these on a case by case basis, and in some cases require further studies at the NALS or ILT before approving the candidates.
My ball park is that we ultimately accept about 92% of candidates, but there are some we turn down for various reasons.

Your Turn / Re: The LORD Doing New Things in Isaiah
« on: December 22, 2022, 09:40:07 AM »
I have on occasion mused that ISIS or COVID might be signs of God's judgment on America or the world in general, but if asked, I always hasten to add that I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.  I am in fact the son of a hardware store manager.

As one of my seminary profs said, don't call yourself a prophet or call your preaching prophetic unless you can say "Thus says the Lord."  Otherwise it's just your opinion.  Which may be valid, but does not have the divine imprimatur.

Your Turn / Re: Christ's Mass?
« on: December 15, 2022, 03:06:55 PM »
Retired now, but in my ministry I always insisted on communion at Christmas and Easter services.  That caused a good bit of conflict at my last full time call (before I started doing intentional interims) from folks who though that wasn't welcoming to visitors and because THEY NEVER DID IT THAT WAY BEFORE.  They also had a conniption one year when Christmas fell on a Sunday and I insisted on a Sunday morning service because it messed up the music leadership's family plans.

I've had a couple of parishes which had Christmas day services regardless of the day of the week.  There was one congregation where that was their only service -- they didn't worship on Christmas Eve.  That was a relic of the Swedish tradition there.

Generally I'm willing to negotiate almost anything but I never budged on Christmas and Easter Eucharist.

Your Turn / Re: Interesting Letter from Eric Metaxas
« on: December 11, 2022, 08:04:52 AM »
Why is the pronoun "them" plural in Hebrews 8:8? What is the referent?
"Them" would be the people of the Exodus, as the following quote makes clear.  But you're right, there is no obvious referent in the preceding verses.

Your Turn / Re: Forum hiatus
« on: December 08, 2022, 04:06:52 PM »
I don't know about it problematic theology, except for the verse about "working side by side."  Praying that all unity may one day be restored, spreading the news that God is in our Land, and a Trinitarian doxology are all fine.  Still, it's hardly the most profound hymn that has ever been written.

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