Ordinary Men

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Here’s a quote about jury selection from G.K. Chesterton: “Our civilization has decided, and very justly decided, that determining the guilt or innocence of men is a thing too important to be entrusted to trained men. When it wishes for light upon that awful matter, it asks men who know no more law than I know, but who can feel the things I felt in the jury box. When it wants a library catalogued, or the solar system discovered, or any trifle of that kind, it uses up its specialists. But when it wishes anything done which is really serious, it collects twelve of the ordinary men standing around. The same thing was done, if I remember right, by the founder of Christianity.”

Interesting thought, especially the final sentence. How ironic it is, therefore, that a national church body I know and love recently voted to withdraw its previous blessing that gave permission for partially trained but carefully supervised “Licensed Lay Deacons” to conduct a ministry of word and sacrament in congregations unable to find or afford a regularly trained and ordained clergyman.

Perhaps more than ironic, I should describe this decision as regrettable. People who know the dates of birth of active clergy in our denomination have announced for more than a decade that in the next ten years at least 50% of these active clergy will reach retirement age. Some will continue to serve, whether for purely altruistic or simply financial reasons. But if that were not to happen, we would need 300 new pastors each year for the next ten years just to stay even.

Put those stats together with this year’s entering seminary student enrollment numbers of fewer than 100 at our two seminaries, combined, and the problem becomes transparently eminent and undeniably urgent. For each of the past several years only approximately 100 new pastors have entered the ministry. That leaves a shortfall of 200 pastors per year, with no sign of improvement, at least in the near future.

The 12 men selected by “the founder of Christianity” were indeed ordinary men. Yet while their affiliation with Jesus did not render them exempt from the faults and frailties of other humans, their faith became strong enough to ignite a movement that exists to this very day. Furthermore, their faith was strong enough to transform them into martyrs.

With all my heart I believe, and through my experience I know, that the same qualities of conviction and commitment that motivated those 12 men two millennia ago still exist in the hearts and lives of ordinary men called by God and set apart by the church today. No doubt some of those men are not in a position to “sell their cow and burn their plow” in order to move to our seminaries in St. Louis or Fort Wayne to become regular pastors.

Yet they have gifts and calling to do what our church recognized in 1989 would be a blessing to many. Sounds like the same thing done by the founder of Christianity many years ago.

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Two Important Opportunities

This Special Edition of Perspectives brings to your attention two important opportunities:

  1. Pastor 360 Summit in San Antonio, Texas – October 11-13, 2016
  2. Reformation Trip with Wendish Territory Option – May 2017

Pastor360 Summit in San Antonio, Texas – October 11-13, 2016

Pastors: Consider how enrolling in the Summit will enhance your life and ministry!

Lay Leaders: Consider encouraging your pastor to attend this important Summit!

Pastor360 was created several years ago by two LCMS pastors and one committed layman. Our coaching staff is comprised of seasoned veteran LCMS pastors with a combined total of more than 160 years of ministry and leadership experience! The objective of Pastor360 is to help pastors make life and ministry better and more effective.

The Summit will focus on numerous topics to accomplish that objective, including:

  • Effective ways to re-energize your ministry and inspire your congregation for mission
  • Effective ways to prepare and deliver sermons that encourage congregational action
  • How to improve physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial health and well being
  • How to avoid and overcome feelings of frustration in tackling ministry challenges
  • How to lead your church with less stress and more balance in your life
  • How to expand leadership qualities and measurable ministry impact

Presenters include Jerry Kieschnick, Bill Tucker, Steve Wagner, Bill Knippa, and Davy Tyburski. Additional presentations from medical and financial professionals, along with Concordia Lutheran Church professional staff, will add value to your life and ministry.

For further information go to Pastor360Summit.com

“In the Footsteps of Martin Luther and the Reformation 2017″– May 9-17, 2017

“Wendish Territory” Pre-Tour Option – May 5-9, 2017

This 500th Anniversary of the Reformation tour is hosted by Lutheran Foundation of Texas, which exists to build God’s kingdom by educating people about the joy of planned giving and facilitating gifts that support Christian ministries. Dr. and Mrs. Jerry Kieschnick will serve as on-site tour hosts.Historic towns on the basic Reformation tour itinerary include Berlin, Wittenberg, Halle, Eisleben, Erfurt, Eisenach, Worms, Heidelberg, and Mainz, returning home from Frankfurt.The Pre-Tour Wendish Territory option includes visits to Dresden, Bautzen, Klitten, Weigersdorf, Hoyerswerda, Schleife, Spreewitz, Raddusch, Cottbus and Lubbenau.

Those who have already visited the Reformation sites and thus are interested only in the Wendish portion of the trip may choose that available option.

For an electronic brochure click here.

If you prefer a printed brochure or have specific questions, send your request, including your name and physical mailing address, via email to GBJK@LFOT.org or via snail mail or phone call to:

Lutheran Foundation of Texas | 7900 East Highway 290 | Austin, TX 78724-2499 | 512.646.4909

Children of the Parsonage

Credit:  Milan Jurek

Credit: Milan Jurek

That’s a respectful term for people born into a pastor’s family, aka preachers’ kids or PKs. My father was not a pastor. Neither was my grandfather or great grandfather. So what I know about being a PK is purely observational and neither experiential nor hereditary. Our children know more about this topic than either Terry or I will ever know.

PKs have a sometimes well-deserved but often unfairly caricatured reputation of being misbehaved scoundrels and rebellious ne’er-do-wells. Some have been raised with unrealistic expectations of parents, parishioners or peers. Those expectations can result in overreaction from a PK who goes way out of his or her way to prove that he or she is not perfect, holy or pure.

In many other cases PKs are raised with a balanced understanding of who they are, both as children of the Heavenly Father and also as children of earthly parents. Such PKs come to understand that they have been brought into this world by parents who love them enough not to impose upon them unrealistic expectations of how they should dress or behave or live just because one of their parents happens to be a pastor.

My heart is heavy for PKs who come from homes with inordinate amounts of dysfunction or unnecessarily stringent parental expectations. My heart rejoices with PKs who have been allowed and encouraged to live life as normally as possible, in the freedom and forgiveness of God’s love and the unquestionable assurance of their parents’ love.

For all who read these words, whether a PK or not, I pray your life is blessed with unconditional love, not because of what you do but because of who you are, by God’s grace.