Resolution 3-10

Started by sirrahbed, July 20, 2013, 09:53:24 PM

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D. Engebretson

Quote from: Johannes Andreas Quenstedt on July 26, 2013, 01:42:18 PM
Stream lining the system for matching calling congregations and clergy that are open to a call is a good idea. But I believe a more rigorous online system like E-Harmony dating should be set up for D.P.'s to work with.

I still think the biggest problem is that there is a hugh "glut" of clergy in the LCMS and an ever diminishing number of congregations that can financially support a full time pastor. Pastors that once thought of retiring can't do so because the economy tanked. As a nation, we are in a second round of the recession and folks don't realize it.

We reap what we sow. For years we've put out glossy "recruitment oriented" magazines warning of the crisis to come in which congregations would not have pastors. And congregations responded. They both encouraged men to go Seminary, but they also responded by raising up Lay Ministers, SMP's, etc. for special situations where full time clergy could not be supported.

And now we face a crisis in the LCMS. There are not enough congregations that can support a a full time pastor. And the situation only appears to be getting worse.

So, I have an idea that might help us out of this mess. Perhaps the Synod should set up some sort of financial incentive plan for older pastors in their late 40's or 50's to be entrepreneurs and start a new business on the side. The end goal of that new business, as it grows, would be for clergy to have a full time exit plan from parish ministry - especially when times are tough. By the Synod stepping in and helping this cause, it would go a long ways towards enabling younger pastors and CRM's to get calls to parishes that can afford them doing full time ministry in the area.

Your assumptions may be right, but I'd still like to see some actual documentation of this.  Whether all these parishes can't support a full-time pastor is debatable.  Some parishes get used to an interim pastor, which is a cheaper option, and drag their feet about calling a full-time one.  Seen it happen.  Part of what we may have to take a more serious look at is the demographic placement of some of these churches.  Currently I'm out in the country, 7 miles from the next real "city."  We're doing o.k., but many are not.  They were planted in the days when folks lived and worked within a five mile radius of their church.  They planted them like they did rural schools, which long ago shifted to more regional choices, and now have moved on to consolidated school districts.  Harrison talked about church planting, and I wonder if in some cases we need to 'replant.' 

As for the idea of having "older pastors in their late 40's or 50's to be entrepreneurs and start a new business on the side," I'm not sure how realistic this is, or whether it would be in the best interest of the Synod.  I'm all for having younger men step up and assume calls, but the Church also needs experience.  It would be a loss to the Church to cull out this age group which, in some cases, has gained a quarter century of experience.  We need a balance.  I'm also concerned about how realistic it is to expect a bunch of middle-aged men like me (I'm 52), whose entire careers have been spent in ministry, to successfully transition into entrepeneurial start-ups.  I know a man who is quite gifted in this area and realize that not everyone is.  I'd rather explore more of the worker-priest/bi-vocational model as a first step here.  Lutherans have been quite slow to really do any study of this. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

John_Hannah

One of the rural congregations my father-in-law served as pastor now has a pastor who works nights at Wall Mart. That's the best they can do. Apparently pastor and congregation are happy with the arrangement. As a former Army chaplain I cannot help but recall that "walking in the shoes" of lay people can make a better pastor.

Peace, JOHN
Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

JMK

#62
QuoteI'm all for having younger men step up and assume calls, but the Church also needs experience.  It would be a loss to the Church to cull out this age group which, in some cases, has gained a quarter century of experience.  We need a balance.  I'm also concerned about how realistic it is to expect a bunch of middle-aged men like me (I'm 52), whose entire careers have been spent in ministry, to successfully transition into entrepeneurial start-ups.  I know a man who is quite gifted in this area and realize that not everyone is.  I'd rather explore more of the worker-priest/bi-vocational model as a first step here.  Lutherans have been quite slow to really do any study of this. 

Well, the new guys can still be mentored by the middle-aged guys. It happens all the time already in an informal manner. The older generation needs to support CRM type younger guys that are in crisis. They can best do that by bowing out of full time ministry, when they get a chance. Younger guys are often very attractive to younger families that a typical church is trying to reach. And working with a District pay scale for younger guys is more affordable for a typical congregation.

The middle-aged guys can still work as volunteers or part time at churches with the young guys. And, with their long experience in church work, the middle aged guys could bring some good stability to those churches as well. In my experience, most laity tend to not know what they are doing when they lead churches. But they think they do. And clergy have suffered many adverse consequences as a result. One solution is for experienced clergy to step in and take charge of churches that have a reputation of being "clergy killers." But clergy (interim, etc.) can't do that when they are employed by those same churches.

I believe most effective pastors have a skill set that is more conducive to transitioning into entrepreneurial start-ups than to simply take a regular secular job offer. The problem is that most new business start-ups need time and money to get off the ground. The Synod can help with the start-up costs of clergy getting a new business going. It is the right thing to do. Perhaps the Seminaries could help with the idea? If so, we will need to provide funding for our Seminaries to offer boot camps for equipping clergy entrepreneurs to transition/work in the market place as ministers. It sounds like something we could do right now to solve the massive problem we face as a Synod.

Charles_Austin

#63
Let's see, JAQ, about your "idea".
A man spends 8-10 years preparing to be a pastor.
Then he spends 10-20 years as a pastor.
Then he is told he should begin preparing for work outside the ministry and that he should work part-time to get ready for the time when his ministry won't support him any more.
At this point in life, he probably has a child or two in college, maybe 10 years to go on a mortgage (if he was smart enough to buy a house), and if his wife has a profession, she has invested half a life in it.
But he is told he has to get ready to leave the pastorate in his early 50s, so that a young guy or guys who screwed up their early ministry, but got professionally refitted so they (maybe) won't screw up again can take his place.
Yeah, that's gonna work.

JMK

#64
QuoteLet's see, JAQ, about your "idea".
A man spends 8-10 years preparing to be a pastor.
Then he spends 10-20 years as a pastor.
Then he is told he should begin preparing for work outside the ministry and that he should work part-time to get ready for the time when his ministry won't support him any more.
At this point in life, he probably has a child or two in college, maybe 10 years to go on a mortgage (if he was smart enough to buy a house), and if his wife has a profession, she has invested half a life in it.
But he is told he has to get ready to leave the pastorate in his early 50s, so that a young guy or guys who screwed up their early ministry, but got professionally refitted so they (maybe) won't screw up again can take his place.
Yeah, that's gonna work.« Last Edit: Today at 05:16:54 PM by Charles_Austin

All the "church growth" technique savvy guys that I know have actually made the transition in a successful manner. They are actually making far more money in their newly initiated secular businesses than they would have made while still being a pastor in the congregations that they were serving full time in. I know one guy that makes so much money that he is able to hire several area clergy (of all denominations) who need an extra income on the side to make ends meet.

It is all about being more "open" to what God has in mind for those clergy who older in life. And, like I just wrote, the middle-aged guys can still work as volunteers or part time at churches with the young guys.

ghp

Quote from: John_Hannah on July 26, 2013, 01:17:15 PM
Discussions on CRM and SMP sometimes reveal denial of a root cause, common to both. Namely the serious decline of viable congregations able to compensate a pastor.

Peace, JOHN

Not only that, but there's also, perhaps, a root contributor to your root cause -- namely a lack of understanding re: the OHM, what it is, what it does, and why. A lack that has only been exacerbated in the years since 1989, and made worse when fiscal/economic uncertainty is mixed in (e.g., if a congregation doesn't truly understand the OHM, they might be more willing to say they "can't" afford to pay a pastor, and a synod (if it loses touch with just what is meet/right/proper re: the OHM, might be more willing to do things that muddy the waters even more for that ill-/uninformed congregation...)

-ghp

Charles_Austin

JAQ still thinks men will prepare for a ministry that will 1) not sustain them and their families, 2) leave them with crushing school debt, 3) be a "dead-end" for them at about age 50, 4) require them to find another career just at the time when the financial needs of their families are the greatest, and 5) totally eviscerate any concept of "call" to life-long, fulltime ministry.
   It's as if a couple getting married figured they would have to split up in about 20 years and find other partners.
   I believe the problem of too many pastors or too few pastors will be solved without any programmatic initiative at all.
   1. Men (and for us, women) will wise up and not even enter seminary or any other kind of training for the ordained ministry.
   2. We as synods and districts will wise up and close those ridiculously inbred, closed, redundant, property-poor and aging congregations of 30-50 people who think they can sustain any kind of pastor or mission-oriented ministry.
   3. Our internal squabbles and failure to winsomely present the Gospel to the 21st century world will drive people away and make some of us even more irrelevant. Some of us will wallow in self-pity and die old and alone.
NOW THE GOOD STUFF.
There are lively, dedicated, competent pastors and lay people in viable working congregations all over our country. They are rolling with the punches, re-tooling as needed, digging deeper into their pockets for mission support, tackling new issues in new ways, serving people locally and internationally, finding new allies (even OMG! among Presbyterians and Methodists!), and rearing children who are not being taught that when it comes to "church", they must live in their great grandfather's social and cultural milieu.
They are not the LCMS of Walther or Pieper of 1935.
They are not the Augustana Lutheran Church of 1955.
They are not the LCA of 1965.
They aren't even the ELCA of 1988.
They most certainly are not the Lutherans of the 1500s (who BTW were hardly united or of one mind, either).
And, folks, that is a good thing. For they are the real One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, a living and evolving organism, that "thing" which scripture promises us will abide.

D. Engebretson

Quote from: Johannes Andreas Quenstedt on July 26, 2013, 06:12:58 PM
QuoteLet's see, JAQ, about your "idea".
A man spends 8-10 years preparing to be a pastor.
Then he spends 10-20 years as a pastor.
Then he is told he should begin preparing for work outside the ministry and that he should work part-time to get ready for the time when his ministry won't support him any more.
At this point in life, he probably has a child or two in college, maybe 10 years to go on a mortgage (if he was smart enough to buy a house), and if his wife has a profession, she has invested half a life in it.
But he is told he has to get ready to leave the pastorate in his early 50s, so that a young guy or guys who screwed up their early ministry, but got professionally refitted so they (maybe) won't screw up again can take his place.
Yeah, that's gonna work.« Last Edit: Today at 05:16:54 PM by Charles_Austin

All the "church growth" technique savvy guys that I know have actually made the transition in a successful manner. They are actually making far more money in their newly initiated secular businesses than they would have made while still being a pastor in the congregations that they were serving full time in. I know one guy that makes so much money that he is able to hire several area clergy (of all denominations) who need an extra income on the side to make ends meet.

It is all about being more "open" to what God has in mind for those clergy who older in life. And, like I just wrote, the middle-aged guys can still work as volunteers or part time at churches with the young guys.

Aside from the practicality of this idea (which I challenged upstream from my own perspective), another issue I have to wrestle with is the idea of the call itself.  We discussed it as well around here somewhere, but I believe a general understanding was that unless there was compelling reason to the contrary, one recognizes the call for life.  Actually leaving the ministry can be quite appealing. Earn more money, have less conflict, etc.  I have contemplated it off and on for years.  Why do I stay?  My call.  I came to my mid-sized rural parish from a 1,600 member city parish with a school which would certainly have offered more 'perks' in the long run.  Why?  A call.  And I will serve that call until another call comes and I am convinced that God would take me elsewhere, or that it is time for physical reasons, etc. to step away from day-to-day work in the ministry.  Stepping away in a seemingly abitrary fashion simply to allow a potential opportunity to another man to be a full-time pastor doesn't square with the idea of the call.  At least not to me.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

John Mundinger

Quote from: D. Engebretson on July 27, 2013, 08:11:00 AM
Quote from: Johannes Andreas Quenstedt on July 26, 2013, 06:12:58 PM
QuoteLet's see, JAQ, about your "idea".
A man spends 8-10 years preparing to be a pastor.
Then he spends 10-20 years as a pastor.
Then he is told he should begin preparing for work outside the ministry and that he should work part-time to get ready for the time when his ministry won't support him any more.
At this point in life, he probably has a child or two in college, maybe 10 years to go on a mortgage (if he was smart enough to buy a house), and if his wife has a profession, she has invested half a life in it.
But he is told he has to get ready to leave the pastorate in his early 50s, so that a young guy or guys who screwed up their early ministry, but got professionally refitted so they (maybe) won't screw up again can take his place.
Yeah, that's gonna work.« Last Edit: Today at 05:16:54 PM by Charles_Austin

All the "church growth" technique savvy guys that I know have actually made the transition in a successful manner. They are actually making far more money in their newly initiated secular businesses than they would have made while still being a pastor in the congregations that they were serving full time in. I know one guy that makes so much money that he is able to hire several area clergy (of all denominations) who need an extra income on the side to make ends meet.

It is all about being more "open" to what God has in mind for those clergy who older in life. And, like I just wrote, the middle-aged guys can still work as volunteers or part time at churches with the young guys.

Aside from the practicality of this idea (which I challenged upstream from my own perspective), another issue I have to wrestle with is the idea of the call itself.  We discussed it as well around here somewhere, but I believe a general understanding was that unless there was compelling reason to the contrary, one recognizes the call for life.  Actually leaving the ministry can be quite appealing. Earn more money, have less conflict, etc.  I have contemplated it off and on for years.  Why do I stay?  My call.  I came to my mid-sized rural parish from a 1,600 member city parish with a school which would certainly have offered more 'perks' in the long run.  Why?  A call.  And I will serve that call until another call comes and I am convinced that God would take me elsewhere, or that it is time for physical reasons, etc. to step away from day-to-day work in the ministry.  Stepping away in a seemingly abitrary fashion simply to allow a potential opportunity to another man to be a full-time pastor doesn't square with the idea of the call.  At least not to me.

Thank you, Pr. Engebretson, for sharing that and for your commitment to your call.
Lifelong Evangelical Lutheran layman

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbour, does not yet understand them as he ought.  St. Augustine

Timotheus Verinus

#69
Doh, I can't believe I hadn't followed this thread the last few days (VBS and stuff, work is such a drag  ;D )

Interesting conversation, and I always like to take an opportunity to agree with Charles even if its 80%, when I can. Ignoring the 20% ..
Quote from: Charles_Austin on July 27, 2013, 04:37:11 AM
JAQ still thinks men will prepare for a ministry that will 1) not sustain them and their families, 2) leave them with crushing school debt, 3) be a "dead-end" for them at about age 50, 4) require them to find another career just at the time when the financial needs of their families are the greatest, and 5) totally eviscerate any concept of "call" to life-long, fulltime ministry.
   It's as if a couple getting married figured they would have to split up in about 20 years and find other partners.
   I believe the problem of too many pastors or too few pastors will be solved without any programmatic initiative at all.
   1. Men (and for us, women) will wise up and not even enter seminary or any other kind of training for the ordained ministry.
   2. We as synods and districts will wise up and close those ridiculously inbred, closed, redundant, property-poor and aging congregations of 30-50 people who think they can sustain any kind of pastor or mission-oriented ministry.
   3. Our internal squabbles and failure to winsomely present the Gospel to the 21st century world will drive people away and make some of us even more irrelevant. Some of us will wallow in self-pity and die old and alone.
NOW THE GOOD STUFF.
There are lively, dedicated, competent pastors and lay people in viable working congregations all over our country. They are rolling with the punches, re-tooling as needed, digging deeper into their pockets for mission support, tackling new issues in new ways,...
Well said Charles. (ignoring the 20%  ;D )

and this
Quote from: Johannes Andreas Quenstedt on July 26, 2013, 01:42:18 PM
...

I still think the biggest problem is that there is a huge[sic] "glut" of clergy in the LCMS and an ever diminishing number of congregations that can financially support a full time pastor. Pastors that once thought of retiring can't do so because the economy tanked. As a nation, we are in a second round of the recession and folks don't realize it.

We reap what we sow. For years we've put out glossy "recruitment oriented" magazines warning of the crisis to come in which congregations would not have pastors. And congregations responded. ...

I don't know the current LCMS numbers. In The AALC we are looking at two things.
1. The issue of helping smaller congregations journey across the changing demographic elements has to be priority one. We are starting with the congregations struggling most and working up from that. The example I use of the 35 members strengthening to 90 plus every Sunday really does need to be repeated in a large percentage of the church.

2. I always liked the old joke about a conflicted congregation. "There's no problem a few funerals will not fix".
Whatever the current situation, look at the average age of the ministerium. If there is a lot of weight at  the >55 end. The time bomb is ticking. Take no comfort that the bomb hasn't gone off. We will need younger pastors, and in number. Now maybe LCMS has an average pastor age of 30 now, but I don't think so.

I work with Veterans and we are seeing the WWII funerals dropping off slowly and the Vietnam ones exploding rapidly. The funerals are coming!!! It is not a cry of "wolf."

TV
TAALC Pastor

JMK

#70
QuoteJAQ still thinks men will prepare for a ministry that will 1) not sustain them and their families, 2) leave them with crushing school debt, 3) be a "dead-end" for them at about age 50, 4) require them to find another career just at the time when the financial needs of their families are the greatest, and 5) totally eviscerate any concept of "call" to life-long, fulltime ministry.
It's as if a couple getting married figured they would have to split up in about 20 years and find other partners. - Charles Austin


I don't believe going into full time pastoral ministry is analogous to a "till death do you part" commitment like marriage. Where is the theological basis for that?

I think any number of guys can be called for a short "season" to be a full time pastor. The Apostle Paul was known for doing "tent making" for a short time in his ministry. Of course, I am not suggesting that one should just step away in an arbitrary fashion from a full time pastoral call. Rather, I am arguing (based upon the clergy glut crisis in the Synod) that one should be prayerfully more open than usual to that possibility of an inner call.

My point is that with lots of Synod money helping middle aged guys make the transition to being an entrepreneur, all the money concerns about "crushing school debt" and other financial concerns need not be that significant. In fact, getting Synodical financial support (e.g. grants, etc.) to start a business on the side is a good long term financial plan to be part of a retirement plan. It is an especially relevant idea for clergy who are in nominally growing parishes where their salary is way below District guidelines and/or they are in parishes that continually struggle just to pay for yearly pastoral conference expenses.

The great advantage of this idea is that it can free up more opportunities for a younger CRM man to be a full-time pastor. And that can be a good thing. The problem is that, as time goes on, older clergy tend to lose their physical attractiveness and that diminishes their effectiveness. They frequently get "pot bellied" and their hair begins to thin - often giving them an old Martin Luther look. On the hand, the younger guys come out of Seminary in prime condition - buff and full of passion and energy. And so they have great effectiveness in reaching out to younger people in a given community.  The 50+ in age clergy need to seriously consider being part-time entrepreneurs in the marketplace, so that the younger CRM clergy can get full time pastoral calls.

D. Engebretson

#71
Quote from: Johannes Andreas Quenstedt link=topic=5046.msg310555#msg310555

I don't believe going into full time pastoral ministry is analogous to a "till death do you part" commitment like marriage. Where is the theological basis for that?

I think any number of guys can be called for a short "season" to be a full time pastor. The Apostle Paul was known for doing "tent making" for a short time in his ministry. Of course, I am not suggesting that one should just step away in an arbitrary fashion from a full time pastoral call. Rather, I am arguing (based upon the clergy glut crisis in the Synod) that one should be prayerfully more open than usual to that possibility of an inner call.

My point is that with lots of Synod money helping middle aged guys make the transition to being an entrepreneur, all the money concerns about "crushing school debt" and other financial concerns need not be that significant. In fact, getting Synodical financial support (e.g. grants, etc.) to start a business on the side is a good long term financial plan to be part of a retirement plan. It is an especially relevant idea for clergy who are in nominally growing parishes where their salary is way below District guidelines and/or they are in parishes that continually struggle just to pay for yearly pastoral conference expenses.

The great advantage of this idea is that it can to allow a potential opportunity for a younger CRM man to be a full-time pastor. The problem is that, as time goes on, older clergy tend to lose their physical attractiveness and that diminishes their effectiveness. They frequently get "pot bellied" and their hair begins to thin - often giving them an old Martin Luther look. On the hand, the younger guys come out of Seminary in prime condition - buff and full of passion and energy. And so they have great effectiveness in reaching out to younger people in a given community.

I wasn't sure if I should simply smile at your last comment as a 'tongue-in-cheek' remark or remark "Are you serious?"  I'm just curious - given your pseudonym - whether you are a pastor or a layman.  I'd be surprised if you were a pastor given your comments on the ministry here.  While you challenge the lifetime nature of the Call, I'd ask in return what the theological justification is for the kind of Call you describe.  It is true that Paul worked as a tent maker, but that was in addition to his apostolic work.  As far as I know he never ceased one to do the other, he simply did not want to burden the new church with the economic challenge of supporting his ministry.  As long as I have a Call from my congregation, I am obligated by God to fulfill it.  It is true that men retire from active ministry, but many I have known remain quite engaged in church work preaching, leading worship, etc., some even taking on vacancies. Where in the New Testament is there any indication that men should lay aside their Calls simply to solve a perceived issue of Call availability in the Church? 

The model you describe is based entirely on the pragmatic theory that there are too many pastors for too few churches (for which I'd still like some solid documentation and study to explain this), and if we simply move out the older, higher paid ones, there would be room for the younger ones to get a job.  Then you resort to denigrating older pastors for their lack of physical attractiveness and conclude that this "diminishes their effectiveness."  As one who is an older middle aged pastor and who has depended on the able and willing service of retired men for years to deal with vacancies in my circuit, I have to say that you really don't have a true picture of how God works through his called servants.  To invoke Paul again, you might remember that he was quite candid about his lack of physical beauty and his many ailments, not to mention other perceived human faults. Yet he was an effective minister in spite of them.  Since when is physical attractiveness a measure of a pastor's effectiveness in the sight of God?  The selection of King David also comes to mind - 1 Samuel 16:7. 

I understand your desire to solve a perceived problem of Call availability, but I really think you took a wrong turn here.  The problem is a bit more complex and nuanced than simply moving out one group to make room for another.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

LutherMan

Thanks Pr. Engebretson.  I have been waiting for a pastor to respond to him...

JMK

QuoteTo invoke Paul again, you might remember that he was quite candid about his lack of physical beauty and his many ailments, not to mention other perceived human faults. Yet he was an effective minister in spite of them.  Since when is physical attractiveness a measure of a pastor's effectiveness in the sight of God?  The selection of King David also comes to mind - 1 Samuel 16:7. 

Well, Paul did not really stay at one congregation for very long. And, he usually traveled with a team of other leaders. And the various statues of King David that I've seen make him look pretty buff!

D. Engebretson

Quote from: Johannes Andreas Quenstedt on July 27, 2013, 09:01:13 PM
QuoteTo invoke Paul again, you might remember that he was quite candid about his lack of physical beauty and his many ailments, not to mention other perceived human faults. Yet he was an effective minister in spite of them.  Since when is physical attractiveness a measure of a pastor's effectiveness in the sight of God?  The selection of King David also comes to mind - 1 Samuel 16:7. 

Well, Paul did not really stay at one congregation for very long. And, he usually traveled with a team of other leaders. And the various statues of King David that I've seen make him look pretty buff!

Paul was an apostle, whose ministry was to the whole church. He was not a resident pastor.  He planted churches, thus the travels and frequent moving about, although he did spend longer stretches of time in some places. 

Did you want to address the other questions and observations I raised, or am I correct in suspecting that you are, at most, only partly serious about this topic (esp. given the remarks about David)?
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

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