Critical Pulpit Shortage

The pulpit shortage in the LCMS is now in a state of crisis.  In the last two months the number of calling vacancies has dropped almost 10%.  Since April it has decreased almost 25%.  We have a very serious problem.  We have hundreds (or is it thousands now?) of men who are qualified and certified who would love to serve a congregation.  If they are unfit for ministry, someone needs to step up and say, “You simply can no longer serve as a pastor.”  so they can stop waiting and wondering.  If not, then we need to give them priority in the call process.  The COP, seminaries and POTS need to get together ans simply say, “We have a critical shortage of pulpits, and will give highly trained men preference.  In other words, SMP men will likely not be placed at all.   We are putting a temporary hold on all admissions to the program until the pulpit shortage crisis passes, or until the 2013 convention can take permanent action.  We will also no longer license men who are not called and ordained for word and sacrament ministry.  This is effective immediately, and until the severe pulpit shortage is solved one way or another.”

If a congregation needs to close/merge, then District presidents need to make that known to the congregation.  Tell them, “You can either pony up, close, merge, or go dual parish.  But you can not longer remain on the roster of synod without a called pastor.”  Then they need to contact the men who are waiting the the purgatory of CRM and tell them : “The district will call you to be a mission pastor.  You pick any area of the district.  We will pay for the license fees for Lutheran Service Builder for three years, get you a photocopier/printer and paper.  We will also provide you with any technical help or assistance that our district executives can provide.  We can not provide you with any money or health insurance.  Hopefully, as your congregation grows, it can begin to cover these costs. ”

Local congregations & circuits can help by offering to help canvass/provide chairs, rent a building for a year for services, etc.

Back in the fifties, when we had too many men, we sent them out, said plant a congregation, here is money to do it.  Well, we don’t have the money, but we have the men.  So, offer to let them do this.  Why not?  What is the downside?  The misfits might actually succeed, proving all along it wasn’t them?  They might fail, in which case the district loses the cost of a photocopier?  What’s the problem?

I realize that if a synod official comes out and says, “surplus of pulpits” then seminary enrollment will plummet.  But denying reality is makes us seem as pathetic as Baghdad Bob.  “There is no crisis.  We do need more pastors.  There is a looming shortage, so everyone come on down, uproot your families, give up your 401K, destroy your pension, and serve the Lord.”  Except, word is going to get around that the seminaries are lying.  And if the seminaries are doing that, then the pastors probably are too.  Especially when they talk about all that forgiveness stuff.

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