Author Topic: Pastor compensation  (Read 7899 times)

Timotheus Verinus

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #30 on: December 01, 2010, 11:25:57 AM »
My husband and I both got through the seminary from 2002-2006 with one student loan of $6,000 (and that was because of my studies).  He also was supporting a family of six at this same time.  Tuition was covered by grant-in-aid then.  We got into trouble, by our own choice, on vicarage, because we were not willing to move twice and force our children to uproot schools twice in two years.  We took on a mortgage that year on a vicar's salary ($6.15 an hour I think at that time).  We had a little more credit card debt that year than we would have liked in order to make ends meet, but we managed to get out from under it through some personal family sacrifices (i.e. mom went to work full-time in a secular job that paid more than the church).  I'm looking forward to very soon transitioning back to part-time hours if and when my boss finally gives me the go-ahead.

My prayer is that the Synod will make it possible for other men to study without the burden of debt.  Adding another LCMS seminary in a more helpful location to further reduce the burden is something I would totally approve of if funding was available.  On-line courses are certainly an option in my mind as long as opportunities for mutual fellowship (and consolation ;D) among students and faculty were offered in 1-2 week intensives on campus.

A couple of notes. The second career status (ie. a home to mortgage, credit cards) and wife working should be counted as a student debt. It has the same impact. Certainly grants and support from districts and congregations play a part in LCMS, but that is often borrowing from Peter to pay Paul.  This continues to be a issue that brick and mortar must deal with. It is often subtle. If someone gives a grant of $10,000,000 or so for a new library, or other overhead costs, that reflects the question, ... might the $10M have paid ofr tution and room and board for how many students? Is the wonderful granite arch way or statue, or whatever worth that cost? In the end it is currently on the back of the student or often cash strapped small congregation's (to be served) back end, or in process expenses. Do we want a pre-screening of candidates to be, at least in part, the "bishop who can buy it?" We have a young kid in RM's program, who plans to go in residence to the Seminary. He is totally, personal or family, unable to afford it. The only reason he isn't there now is to gather support from friends and churches. I know he will make a great pastor, and am saddened he isn't in the sem now, as he works "7-11, Walmart, pizza delivery etc." to get funds.

The second thing is concerning " mutual fellowship (and consolation ;D) among students and faculty " found in alternate path remote approaches. When I was taking DELTO I/Deacon classes, with the additional post deacon classes, I had more classroom hours, (hundreds in 36-40 hour blocks) than a typical three year in residence student. That is apart from practicum, study with the professors, and out of class activities. The classes had at least 6 students on the low end (Greek) and up to 15 (for basic Doctrine/Confessions etc.) We fellowshiped (had beers) together. Three of us worshiped together each week, and we also went to other churches with classmates. As one who knows what a cloistered intensive education environment is like (overload semesters at USAF Academy) there was as much mutual consolation and growth as the sem, off campus environments would provide. DELTO II lacked much of this with the professors at the Sem, but there was still mentor, classmate interaction. ALTS classes had excellent interaction via video net conferencing, and retreats provided gatherings of students and professors.

All that is missing in the remote training is for the Sem professors to get to know the students better, but that can be done. It is by ALTS and CU Irvine teachers. (and I pray, also for SMP now?) That the profs might not get to know them is not without some responsibility on the profs part. I feel I know Bob Smith at Ft Wayne pretty good, had good conversations with Dr. MacKenzie, Others were not for the lack of the student's desire to converse and willngness to engage. The mechanisms for video chats, boards like this were there... the profs just didn't always show up. (sometimes for great reasons, as in they were in Haiti) Then Bob Smith was there. The sems did know who the students were, and their thoughts, trials, and positions.

Mutual fellowship exists in depth, in the remote methods. It is not an introvert in his basement.

TV
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 11:54:13 AM by TVerinus »
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kls

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #31 on: December 01, 2010, 12:18:38 PM »
I'm throwing around a lot of personal information today, so what's a little more (especially for someone who was going to quit posting here altogether just a few short days ago--the conversations this week have been so refreshing, though)?  Here goes . . .

If I have somewhere caused offense or in some way belittled men who choose an alternate route to the ministry, please point out where I have done so and I will correct my error.  What I think you're hearing from me is the expression of gratitude and great joy, actually, for the hard lessons God sent my way during those years leading up to, during, and even after, the seminary experience.  I wouldn't trade it for the world, not even the time I had to spend dealing with some of those grouchy men coming out of Ft. Wayne.   ;)

I am a first generation college student in my family.  My decision to join the Army was made solely as a way to finance my education (and to go to the school of my choice --which, if I might digress, currently holds the #6 spot in the BCS rankings . . . Go Buckeyes!).  I was the first to actually graduate from college in my family . . . I wouldn't say education was emphasized all that much in my family.  The same value placed on education that is traditional within Lutheranism I now hold myself, but it wasn't from being raised Lutheran.  I've spent most of my career working in higher education, and I now also teach at the college level.  Certainly this experience makes me biased towards brick and mortar institutions; that I can admit.

Let me share with you my own vocational dilemma that I am currently facing.  I have come to accept that I really enjoy teaching.  My masterís is not in my field, so my opportunities are somewhat limited.  Iím faced with the same scenario that some complain of with respect to studying for the ministry . . . academia simply is not completely on board with online or distance education yet.  The private sector colleges are growing by leaps and bounds and public institutions are taking notice.  However, in speaking to various department chairs in the area that I would like to teach (Business/Accounting), they will not accept candidates without PhDs from brick and mortar institutions.  Some community colleges are beginning to hire those with doctorates from online institutions, so perhaps this trend will eventually make its way to other schools.  Given how slow higher education is to adapt to change, this is possibly a long way out yet.

I am unable to enroll in the only local PhD program at the University of Cincinnati because they only accept full-time students.  Iím not in a position to make the sacrifice that is needed to pursue this route, so Iím accepting that as God telling me ďnoĒ right now about further study.  The university I work for has only one doctoral program, itís an EdD, and it will not allow staff tuition remission to be used for the program . . . another ďnoĒ from God.  I can accept that it is simply not my time to pursue an advanced degree right now.  My only alternative is to enroll in an online program with exorbitant costs that may not be recognized down the line as valid towards the field I would like to teach in.  These are practical decisions any person contemplating a different vocation has to make.  Studying to become a pastor is no different than any other vocation, in my opinion.  

Currently the LCMS offers the programs it does towards ordination.  Some will find them all worthy and to be of the same caliber, others wonít.  Thatís how it goes in any field.  I happen to have a very high view of the pastoral office and all of the difficulties and challenges it presents, so the more training that can be offered, the better.  Iím also one who would be very happy to see continuing education requirements put in place for pastors as other secular vocations require, mine as a CPA included.

Simply put, I value education . . . the more one can get, the better.  I am content with the requirement of an MDiv for a man to hold the office of pastor.  Now in situations where deacons and lay ministers are needed because a pastor isnít available, Iím ok with that when they are under the authority of a pastor.  I mean to cause no offense, this is simply what I believe to be appropriate.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 12:21:53 PM by Kim Schave »

kls

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #32 on: December 01, 2010, 12:30:45 PM »
I continue to encourage that more funding be made available to the seminaries for reducing tuition costs and the debt they can build up for seminarians.

A seminarian might be much more comfortable in his call to a small parish if he does not have a mountain of debt to pay off while dealing with parishioners who think that a pastor fresh from seminary doesn't deserve much money.

I completely, whole-heartedly, 200% agree with this, and this is where I would like to see the focus be placed.  My family was blessed to get through sem. without the debt that others do, but quite honestly, some of the guys thought their future church would pay off their loans if they kept racking up the debt.  Churches simply aren't in a position to do that these days.  Let's put our money where our mouths are and work towards seeing this happen.  I will go so far as to say that Lutheran teachers and other church workers deserve the same.  Call the seminary or CUS school of your choice and offer to adopt a student.  What a blessing you'll be to that student (and they'll be the same to you as you correspond.)

racin_jason

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #33 on: December 01, 2010, 01:11:33 PM »
Members of the Church of Latter Day Saints often express disapproval of paid clergy. I've even heard them call it "blasphemous". Have they not read the Old Testament beyond that of Eli's wicked sons?
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Matt

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #34 on: December 03, 2010, 01:55:51 AM »
Somehow, whenever anyone upholds the value of a residential seminary education around here, it is interpreted as an attack on alternate-route ministers. Some of you guys are way too sensitive about this issue.

Here's my take as a layman on the call committee: we want to call a man who has been thoroughly trained as a professional theologian. A guy who has been mentored by our brightest professors. A guy who has gone to chapel day in and day out to pray and worship with his brothers. A man who has built deep relationships with other pastors who can support him, pray for him, correct him and call him to repentance when needed. A guy who believes what he teaches without reservation. A guy who has had time to read deeply in the scriptures, confessions, and church fathers and really understands what Lutherans believe, teach and confess.

We want the best guy we can get. Obviously, education isn't the only thing that makes a good pastor; attitude, a loving and compassionate demeanor and personality are huge as well. But I'm a big believer in the formation process that happens at our seminaries and I want a pastor who is a product of that whenever possible. Even when it means that we need to dig deep, as a small congregation, to pay his salary.

If you want to interpret this as a personal attack, that is up to you.

Dave Benke

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #35 on: December 03, 2010, 09:29:17 AM »
I was happy with your reply #35, Kim, but less so with #38.  Mike's response is appropriate - to place an educational credential requirement for ordination into  the Office of the Holy Ministry is neither advisable nor possible.  To encourage the educational endeavor prior to and subsequent to ordination is both appropriate and necessary.  Lutheran pastors are among the finest students and Ph.D/Th.D candidates at Fordham University these days as well as other local universities in the Metroplex with advanced degrees, and as well as among our diaconate for undergraduate degree-seeking and continuing education-seeking.  Yes to education - no to an educational degree credential requirement for ordination. 

Dave Benke

swbohler

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #36 on: December 03, 2010, 09:38:25 AM »
Dr. Benke,

If the LCMS can throw out the Large Catechism's explanation of the 8th Commandment (now requiring face-to-face, Matthew 18 style efforts even for public sins, which the LC expressly says is NOT necessary) and bind ourselves to a more restrictive policy voluntarily (as that LCMS change has been described) than why can we not also do the same with requiring some sort of educational degree (or its equivalent)?

ptmccain

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #37 on: December 03, 2010, 09:38:46 AM »
I do not want to see Augustana XIV held hostage and ignored due to a particular educational program, agenda, or institutional self-interest.

swbohler

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #38 on: December 03, 2010, 09:43:33 AM »
Rev. McCain,

Who does?

ptmccain

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #39 on: December 03, 2010, 09:58:32 AM »
Who does?

Though they may not intend to, I have first-hand experience with seminary faculties derailing plans to correct our error re. ordination and AC XIV because the training model did not reflect their interest in keeping resident seminary education alive and flourishing, thus, they effectively scuttled resolutions to this longstanding problem for the sake of the seminary program they are heavily invested in.


kls

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #40 on: December 03, 2010, 10:54:36 AM »
Though they may not intend to, I have first-hand experience with seminary faculties derailing plans to correct our error re. ordination and AC XIV because the training model did not reflect their interest in keeping resident seminary education alive and flourishing, thus, they effectively scuttled resolutions to this longstanding problem for the sake of the seminary program they are heavily invested in.

Kind Pastor McCain (or others), could you take this opportunity to provide a teaching moment for those of us who admit to not being so enlightened on AC XIV and the history of this article with respect to the Office of the Holy Ministry within the LCMS? 

For those who might need a refresher:

Article XIV: Of Ecclesiastical Order.
Of Ecclesiastical Order they teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church or administer the Sacraments unless he be regularly called.


I would like to write something more pleasing to Dr. Benke, but admit I could use a good dose of instruction before so doing.  ;D

Dave Benke

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #41 on: December 03, 2010, 11:12:13 AM »
Your comment is different, Mike, because it applies to post-ordination/placement education.  So the pastor could be dismissed from his congregation and his denominational roster for failure to participate in continuing education.  Although they're not on the same page, PLI is in the same book, because it strongly exhorts toward and provides continuing education after ordination and placement for the sake of excellence in ministry.  Your endorsement is noted, although dumping a man out of his parish would be a toughy - we DPs could then be the enforcers, demanding certification/ceu credit checks.  No problema.  We're the law anyway.  Just gimme more ammo.  Paul, my understanding is that your home and/or garage is an ammunitions depository.

Dave Benke

Matt

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #42 on: December 03, 2010, 11:23:54 AM »
Though they may not intend to, I have first-hand experience with seminary faculties derailing plans to correct our error re. ordination and AC XIV because the training model did not reflect their interest in keeping resident seminary education alive and flourishing, thus, they effectively scuttled resolutions to this longstanding problem for the sake of the seminary program they are heavily invested in.

I would argue that all of us in the LCMS are heavily invested in our ownership of two seminaries. Personally, I think it would be wise to merge them, but such a suggestion runs into a firestorm of institutional self-interest like Pr. McCain describes. Having not attended, or even visited, either seminary, I don't feel a personal attachment to either one.

Our society insists on high educational requirements for certain professionals such as doctors, lawyers and accountants because these professions require a high level of skill and trust between the professional and the clients he serves. The consequences of malpractice are high. As noted above, I want a pastor who is a well-trained professional theologian, well versed in the ethics and norms of his profession. When I go to a pastor for individual confession and absolution, the stakes are high. I must be confident that he will treat my confession with the strictest confidence and speak words of carefully chosen gospel for my healing and comfort.

Can SMP produce this kind of professionalism? Maybe so, I'm open to the idea when appropriate, but I don't think it is appropriate for every guy who wants to use it. I really don't want a doctor, lawyer or CPA trained completely by "distance education," neither do I want such a pastor.

swbohler

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #43 on: December 03, 2010, 11:24:54 AM »
So it is wrong to require it to become a pastor, but not to stay a pastor?  Why, Dr. Benke?

Timotheus Verinus

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Re: Pastor compensation
« Reply #44 on: December 03, 2010, 11:46:07 AM »
Somehow, whenever anyone upholds the value of a residential seminary education around here, it is interpreted as an attack on alternate-route ministers. ..

I think you misread the comments. For myself I simply provide posts as correction to fact. I have faced threat of attack by guns and missiles, corporate sharks from LA to Chicago, to NY, political pawns at the Pentagon and DC. My personal goals are to retire and sip martini's on a cruise ship, without fretting about whales. If any of the posts here are attacks they are yawners. The responses are not reactions, but correction of fact.

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Here's my take as a layman on the call committee: we want to call a man who has been thoroughly trained as a professional theologian. A guy who has been mentored by our brightest professors. A guy who has gone to chapel day in and day out to pray and worship with his brothers. A man who has built deep relationships with other pastors who can support him, pray for him, correct him and call him to repentance when needed. A guy who believes what he teaches without reservation. A guy who has had time to read deeply in the scriptures, confessions, and church fathers and really understands what Lutherans believe, teach and confess.

I have been on (4) call committees through several (>7) calls, counseled with committees and pastors under call (numerous), and subject to call. This has been with congregations worshipping 18 on a Sunday on the verge of closing, up to and including a congregation with 2000 members looking at an associate call. I might not know what happens, but I have seen the discussions, the tossing of SET/PIF's on the floor and on the table, the heated 50-50 split debates between factions, etc. etc. You should have the educational and ministry experience before you for discernment. I don't think blacklisting anyone, whether CRM or second career, or Seminary professor needs to be done before hand. Examine the men. It's that simple, pray and discern what God is doing.

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We want the best guy we can get. Obviously, education isn't the only thing that makes a good pastor; attitude, a loving and compassionate demeanor and personality are huge as well. But I'm a big believer in the formation process that happens at our seminaries and I want a pastor who is a product of that whenever possible. Even when it means that we need to dig deep, as a small congregation, to pay his salary. ... If you want to interpret this as a personal attack, that is up to you.

And sometimes, as I saw a couple years back, when you have 7 pastors in a row decline your call, you will want someone to walk with you, that might lead you to a different result. When I was assigned to that congregation, they were ready to just close down. The retired pastors were overworked and less and less available. I made them one promise. They would not have a call declined again, and after a year or so I was able to keep that promise. Now they are a growing church that will be able to call young sem grads for the foreseeable future. I can point to 3 congregations that were raised up by deacons in a similar way.

This is not adversarial. It is a partnership of Seminaries, Professors, Sem Grad's and programs, to have those there for you when you have that 7th declination on your call committee table. It is God saying, "I have not left you, I am not gone, walk with Me a while." And the ministerium of the area in my experience will support and pray for you if you have to take that path.

The voices here are correct. AC XIV is being abused from both directions. Sometimes you have to decide if as a church in administrative process, you wish to affirm what God is doing, or if you wish to be the "bishops who will not ordain pastors for us" to quote the Confessions, or seek to be faithful as best He equips you as a church body to follow Him.

The irony is that the alternate paths both raise up in residence students, and create calls that would fade away, for them and others. It is a source of solution to the seminaries and normal call processes.

What is needful, from a rostering and administrative perspective is simply identify, train, equip, certify, and ORDAIN them as God has already done in the Divine Calls plainly before us. Walther did it, Luther did it, the church for 2,000 years has done it. Withholding ordination in circumstance for the sake of a system, does nothing to promote respect for AC XIV or ordination. It does the opposite as Pr. McCain bluntly noted.

TV
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