Author Topic: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"  (Read 2106 times)

Jeremy Loesch

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2255
    • View Profile
MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« on: October 20, 2021, 10:43:38 AM »
Hi everyone.  The Missouri District just wrapped up its Pastors Conference and it was really excellent.  I thought I'd share a bit of it.

It was an in-person conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.  That's a good, central location.  It is comfortable with enough room and amenities.  Last year's conference was conducted via Zoom, and it was okay.  But I think the general consensus is that those kinds of conferences can only do so much.  It was so good to be in a large room with pastors, a few spouses, district workers, guests and sing together (The Church's One Foundation, Joy to the World).  It was like a breath of fresh air after collectively going through a difficult time in ministry.  The District intentionally crafted the conference to be primarily a time to just be together and reconnect. 

There were three presenters: Tom Egger and Larry Rast, presidents of St. Louis and Ft. Wayne seminaries respectively, and Michael Ziegler, present speaker of The Lutheran Hour.  Both of the presidents spoke about joy in ministry.  Tom Egger is an OT scholar and spoke about Moses' ministry revealed in Exodus.  Larry Rast is an historian and he offered some glimpses of LCMS history and ministerial practices.  Michael Ziegler offered a presentation on Bible telling, and it was very interesting and a nice way to bask in the richness of scripture. 

Tom Egger was recently elected and installed as president of Concordia, St. Louis and we had some discussion here about his election.  He began his presentation by talking about the assets of the seminary, her challenges, and her priorities.  Three of the challenges are an aging faculty, preparing pastors for a polarized church in a polarized world, and determining what is the place of residential field ed.  (In addressing the faculty, Tom noted three new faculty members- Ely Prieto, a Brazilian who is teaching in the practical department and will oversee EIIT; Kevin Golden will teach OT in the exegetical department; and Phil Penhallagon will also teach OT in the exegetical department.)

I was encouraged to hear the priorities of the seminary that Tom laid out.  They are: 1. Daily chapel as the center of sem life (Jon Vieker is the new dean of chapel and a professor in the practical department) 2. Classroom learning that is formative 3. Campus life 4. Synodical partnerships 5. Worldwide service. 

Larry Rast shared some observations of pastoral ministry and brought some data points to view and referenced a 2010 book by Philip Clayton titled "Theology and the Church after Google."  Here are some random points that Larry offered:
-Statistical decline in the LCMS began in 1971 (50 years!)
-Clergy nationwide who responded to surveys about stress and depression are about 70%; the LCMS claims about 25%.  Larry says we should split the difference and then say that about 50% of LCMS clergy are stressed and/or depressed.
-Technology has far outpaced human adaptability.  We can't keep up and we can't catch up. 

Looking to the future...what do we do as a church, what will it be like?  According to his presentation, the future church: will not be a linear continuation; will not be wholly different; will fit in with the times (and fitting in is not the same as conforming); will notice that the pattern of things will be different but the 'how' cannot be discerned right now; will need to develop spiritual, personal, and relational habits. 

Those are summaries of their presentations.  They were really good.  And it was just good to have a normal pastors conference again.  It was good to peruse the CPH table, to spend a few moments with some comfort dogs, to talk with Concordia Plans people, yada yada yada.  And I think that these last sentiments were shared by a number of other clergy.  The last 18-24 months have been, and remain, challenging.  But there is joy in the ministry because it is the Lord's ministry.  He has put His pastors where they are.  And when the Lord does the putting, there's not a whole lot that can be done about that. 

Have other pastors here had their own district conferences?  What are your reactions to them?

Peace to you all.  Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13264
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2021, 11:19:12 AM »
Hi everyone.  The Missouri District just wrapped up its Pastors Conference and it was really excellent.  I thought I'd share a bit of it.

It was an in-person conference at the Lake of the Ozarks.  That's a good, central location.  It is comfortable with enough room and amenities.  Last year's conference was conducted via Zoom, and it was okay.  But I think the general consensus is that those kinds of conferences can only do so much.  It was so good to be in a large room with pastors, a few spouses, district workers, guests and sing together (The Church's One Foundation, Joy to the World).  It was like a breath of fresh air after collectively going through a difficult time in ministry.  The District intentionally crafted the conference to be primarily a time to just be together and reconnect. 

There were three presenters: Tom Egger and Larry Rast, presidents of St. Louis and Ft. Wayne seminaries respectively, and Michael Ziegler, present speaker of The Lutheran Hour.  Both of the presidents spoke about joy in ministry.  Tom Egger is an OT scholar and spoke about Moses' ministry revealed in Exodus.  Larry Rast is an historian and he offered some glimpses of LCMS history and ministerial practices.  Michael Ziegler offered a presentation on Bible telling, and it was very interesting and a nice way to bask in the richness of scripture. 

Tom Egger was recently elected and installed as president of Concordia, St. Louis and we had some discussion here about his election.  He began his presentation by talking about the assets of the seminary, her challenges, and her priorities.  Three of the challenges are an aging faculty, preparing pastors for a polarized church in a polarized world, and determining what is the place of residential field ed.  (In addressing the faculty, Tom noted three new faculty members- Ely Prieto, a Brazilian who is teaching in the practical department and will oversee EIIT; Kevin Golden will teach OT in the exegetical department; and Phil Penhallagon will also teach OT in the exegetical department.)

I was encouraged to hear the priorities of the seminary that Tom laid out.  They are: 1. Daily chapel as the center of sem life (Jon Vieker is the new dean of chapel and a professor in the practical department) 2. Classroom learning that is formative 3. Campus life 4. Synodical partnerships 5. Worldwide service. 

Larry Rast shared some observations of pastoral ministry and brought some data points to view and referenced a 2010 book by Philip Clayton titled "Theology and the Church after Google."  Here are some random points that Larry offered:
-Statistical decline in the LCMS began in 1971 (50 years!)
-Clergy nationwide who responded to surveys about stress and depression are about 70%; the LCMS claims about 25%.  Larry says we should split the difference and then say that about 50% of LCMS clergy are stressed and/or depressed.
-Technology has far outpaced human adaptability.  We can't keep up and we can't catch up. 

Looking to the future...what do we do as a church, what will it be like?  According to his presentation, the future church: will not be a linear continuation; will not be wholly different; will fit in with the times (and fitting in is not the same as conforming); will notice that the pattern of things will be different but the 'how' cannot be discerned right now; will need to develop spiritual, personal, and relational habits. 

Those are summaries of their presentations.  They were really good.  And it was just good to have a normal pastors conference again.  It was good to peruse the CPH table, to spend a few moments with some comfort dogs, to talk with Concordia Plans people, yada yada yada.  And I think that these last sentiments were shared by a number of other clergy.  The last 18-24 months have been, and remain, challenging.  But there is joy in the ministry because it is the Lord's ministry.  He has put His pastors where they are.  And when the Lord does the putting, there's not a whole lot that can be done about that. 

Have other pastors here had their own district conferences?  What are your reactions to them?

Peace to you all.  Jeremy

Thanks for this, Jeremy.  We haven't had an in-person pastoral conference in a long, long time.  We had tons of zoom pastoral meetings during the shut-down time, but I don't think they're planning an in-person until maybe next spring.  Thanks as well for the information from Tom and Larry, illuminating.  Larry, as an historian, offers some very helpful insights both about how we got to where we are and where we may be headed. 

Hasn't Kevin Golden been serving as the Pastor at Ladue Lutheran, where Matt Harrison is assistant pastor?  If there's a pastoral vacancy there, maybe Matt would consider a return full-time to his parish roots.  Being back "in the field" (there are very limited "fields" in Brooklyn so I stuck in the quotes) is a next step to consider for any pastor who's serving in some other capacity.  I can give positive testimony.

Dave Benke

peter_speckhard

  • ALPB Administrator
  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 19224
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2021, 12:34:05 PM »
Indiana District had our annual pastors' conference this week in the usual location, a nice hotel/conference center north of Indianapolis. The speaker was Gregory Seltz, the Executive Director of the Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty. He spoke about two kingdom theology and what Christians ought to expect and not expect from government and why first use of the Law and first article gifts are perfectly legitimate pursuits for Christians even though they are not ultimately salvific. Made some interesting points about how to discern when/where it is necessary to take a stand (less often than many people think), how to work with other denominations (especially those who are skeptical of Lutheran doctrine and want to know if you're "really" saved), how to reframe discussions winsomely when dealing with unbelievers, etc. It was all fine, but mostly things that anyone interested in the topic was already aware of, this being the internet age.

The crowd seemed a tad smaller than previous years (could just be an impression; I don't have the stats) and the retired (or still active but retirement age) guys predominated. I just turned 52 and I would say I was probably on the younger side of the crowd. A few display tables, but mostly pamphlets and pens from the usual suspects, so nothing really new.

Most conferences give me the impression that we first decided that we must have a conference, then we had to come up with something to justify why. The social side of it can be nice, but the time and money side of the equation is considerable. The best conferences are those that if someone says, "What did I miss?" you can describe it in a way that makes them sign up for the next one. Very few pass that test unless the social side of it loomed large.

Donald_Kirchner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12140
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2021, 12:45:14 PM »
Hasn't Kevin Golden been serving as the Pastor at Ladue Lutheran, where Matt Harrison is assistant pastor?  If there's a pastoral vacancy there, maybe Matt would consider a return full-time to his parish roots. 

Cute.

Village Lutheran's website states that Joel Biermann is serving as vacancy pastor and Matt Harrison as assistant pastor.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but itís not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Steven W Bohler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4330
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2021, 01:30:57 PM »
The Minnesota North Fall Pastoral Conference was held at our district's camp (as we almost always do).  The speaker was one of the district pastors.  So, you gotta figure costs were about as small as they could be.

Jeremy Loesch

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2255
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2021, 02:01:15 PM »
From thinking about the attendees, there were a large number of retirees, but also quite a few who were there less than 5 years into the ministry.  They did a "stand up and receive some thanks if you have been serving X number of years".  I'd put that number of newer guys at 8-10.  Giving thanks for the Lord's strength and provision and for the ministry of the congregations was a huge part of the conference.  But attendance did seem to be down a bit. 

And yes, Kevin was senior pastor at Village in Ladue.  Village Lutheran's endowment fund was the sponsor of the two hour long happy hour (free beer, cold cuts, cheese and crackers) so I wonder if this was a parting gift from Kevin for the district pastors.  LOL   

Jeremy
A Lutheran pastor growing into all sorts of things.

Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5271
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2021, 02:10:23 PM »
Minnesota only had one District until 1963.  That year it was divided into
Minnesota South and Minnesota North.  However, at least for the decade
that followed the division, the Spring Pastors Conference combined both
Districts and met at Madden's Resort near Brainerd.  It was a fabulous
conference of 3 days with tremendous meals, outstanding recreational
opportunities including a golf course and challenging professors from the
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.  This combined Spring Conf. was in mid-May.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2021, 02:14:54 PM by Dave Likeness »

Steven W Bohler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4330
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2021, 03:18:04 PM »
Minnesota only had one District until 1963.  That year it was divided into
Minnesota South and Minnesota North.  However, at least for the decade
that followed the division, the Spring Pastors Conference combined both
Districts and met at Madden's Resort near Brainerd.  It was a fabulous
conference of 3 days with tremendous meals, outstanding recreational
opportunities including a golf course and challenging professors from the
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.  This combined Spring Conf. was in mid-May.

We still hold the Spring Pastoral Conference together with Minnesota South at Madden's. 

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13264
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2021, 03:33:28 PM »
Hasn't Kevin Golden been serving as the Pastor at Ladue Lutheran, where Matt Harrison is assistant pastor?  If there's a pastoral vacancy there, maybe Matt would consider a return full-time to his parish roots. 

Cute.

Village Lutheran's website states that Joel Biermann is serving as vacancy pastor and Matt Harrison as assistant pastor.

Thanks.  That's interesting, right?  The pastor gets a call to the seminary and the vacancy pastor is a professor from the seminary to which the pastor was called, and left.  The net mileage, however, on that whole thing is about 3 miles.    When there was a Concordia, Bronxville, our theology faculty and associated ordained pastors were often used in vacancies.  And in the smaller congregations the vacancy was more or less permanent - the professor held the professorship and the congregational position.  In those days, however, there wasn't such a big deal made of the parish assignment being the only valid assignment, so the history prof, for instance, just served on in the parish without some kind of double call and nobody ground their teeth.

Now I believe Biermann qualifies for a vote at the district convention and can serve at the national convention, things he has never been able to do before.

Dave Benke

RDPreus

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1268
    • View Profile
    • Christ For Us
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2021, 11:15:25 PM »
The Minnesota North Fall Pastoral Conference was held at our district's camp (as we almost always do).  The speaker was one of the district pastors.  So, you gotta figure costs were about as small as they could be.

I was unable to attend, but I heard it was quite good.

Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5271
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2021, 10:15:53 AM »
Many LCMS Districts still have a Spring & Fall Pastors Conference.
It would seem the goal is to provide spiritual and physical renewal.
Maddens Resort in Minnesota supplies a relaxing atmosphere for
this to happen. Other Districts have perhaps found similar resources.

Usually, seminary professors have challenging presentations as our
 our faith is refreshed and strengthened to do pastoral ministry.
The opportunity for fellowship with fellow pastors is indeed a vital
part of the conference whether in worship or recreation.

Bottom Line:  For active parish pastors these District Pastors
Conferences are worth a line item in the congregational  budget   

Steven W Bohler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4330
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2021, 11:31:08 AM »
Many LCMS Districts still have a Spring & Fall Pastors Conference.
It would seem the goal is to provide spiritual and physical renewal.
Maddens Resort in Minnesota supplies a relaxing atmosphere for
this to happen. Other Districts have perhaps found similar resources.

Usually, seminary professors have challenging presentations as our
 our faith is refreshed and strengthened to do pastoral ministry.
The opportunity for fellowship with fellow pastors is indeed a vital
part of the conference whether in worship or recreation.

Bottom Line:  For active parish pastors these District Pastors
Conferences are worth a line item in the congregational  budget

Attendance, at least here in the Minnesota North, is considered mandatory for active pastors.  One is supposed to furnish a valid/legitimate excuse to the district president if one cannot attend. 

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13264
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2021, 12:12:50 PM »
Many LCMS Districts still have a Spring & Fall Pastors Conference.
It would seem the goal is to provide spiritual and physical renewal.
Maddens Resort in Minnesota supplies a relaxing atmosphere for
this to happen. Other Districts have perhaps found similar resources.

Usually, seminary professors have challenging presentations as our
 our faith is refreshed and strengthened to do pastoral ministry.
The opportunity for fellowship with fellow pastors is indeed a vital
part of the conference whether in worship or recreation.

Bottom Line:  For active parish pastors these District Pastors
Conferences are worth a line item in the congregational  budget

Attendance, at least here in the Minnesota North, is considered mandatory for active pastors.  One is supposed to furnish a valid/legitimate excuse to the district president if one cannot attend.

Does that actually happen, to the best of your knowledge?

Dave Benke

Donald_Kirchner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12140
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #13 on: October 21, 2021, 12:39:05 PM »
Many LCMS Districts still have a Spring & Fall Pastors Conference.
It would seem the goal is to provide spiritual and physical renewal.
Maddens Resort in Minnesota supplies a relaxing atmosphere for
this to happen. Other Districts have perhaps found similar resources.

Usually, seminary professors have challenging presentations as our
 our faith is refreshed and strengthened to do pastoral ministry.
The opportunity for fellowship with fellow pastors is indeed a vital
part of the conference whether in worship or recreation.

Bottom Line:  For active parish pastors these District Pastors
Conferences are worth a line item in the congregational  budget

Attendance, at least here in the Minnesota North, is considered mandatory for active pastors.  One is supposed to furnish a valid/legitimate excuse to the district president if one cannot attend.

Does that actually happen, to the best of your knowledge?

Dave Benke

Oh, they bill you even if you do not attend, and I even got calls from the District VP. I responded with two words: Darwin Schauer.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but itís not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Steven W Bohler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 4330
    • View Profile
Re: MO District Pastors Conference "Joy in Ministry"
« Reply #14 on: October 21, 2021, 12:50:43 PM »
Many LCMS Districts still have a Spring & Fall Pastors Conference.
It would seem the goal is to provide spiritual and physical renewal.
Maddens Resort in Minnesota supplies a relaxing atmosphere for
this to happen. Other Districts have perhaps found similar resources.

Usually, seminary professors have challenging presentations as our
 our faith is refreshed and strengthened to do pastoral ministry.
The opportunity for fellowship with fellow pastors is indeed a vital
part of the conference whether in worship or recreation.

Bottom Line:  For active parish pastors these District Pastors
Conferences are worth a line item in the congregational  budget

Attendance, at least here in the Minnesota North, is considered mandatory for active pastors.  One is supposed to furnish a valid/legitimate excuse to the district president if one cannot attend.

Does that actually happen, to the best of your knowledge?

Dave Benke

Which part?  The attendance?  Or the excuse?  Certainly not everyone attends.  And I doubt if they all present an excuse.