You all know the ULC cares deeply about the pastoral shortage in the LCMS. You all know we’re running a creative test to remedy this shortage in partnership with Luther House of Study. You all know we’re praying LCMS leadership observes what we’re doing with curiosity, not condemnation.
A few weeks ago, I wrote “What Are The Numbers, Please?,” looking for numbers from the resolutions from LCMS Convention Floor Committee 6, Pastoral Formation, and Seminaries. I looked hard and did not find great clarity on the present and future pastoral needs. That was a bummer.
“The council also received the following vacancy report: 417 congregations calling for sole pastor, 40 calling for senior pastor, and 80 calling for associate or assistant pastor, for a total 537 total calling congregations. In addition, 519 congregations are being served by part-time pastors, and there have been five new congregations started and two congregations closed since the last report.”
To put that into perspective, the LCMS has close to 6,000 congregations. Almost 20 percent of them are being served sub-optimally. That is troubling to me.
Also troubling to me is that the Pastoral Search Committee and Floor Committee 6 are basically saying in their resolutions, “Let’s just keep doing the same thing (residential seminary education being the gold standard), but just tell the church to do it more loudly.”
This sort of leadership would not work in the local church. For instance, if almost 20 percent of my congregation were being sub-optimally served around their spiritual care needs, I could not with good conscience continue to do the same thing we’ve always done. I would strive to understand the need and make needed spiritual care adjustments to serve the members more effectively.
While I highly respect those serving the LCMS at the highest levels, I would love their decisions and resolutions to always keep in mind that close to 20 percent of LCMS congregations are sub-optimally served. If I were in their roles, this would lead me to explore with curiosity, rather than condemnation, those, like the ULC, who are striving to meet this need with potential pastoral leaders found within all of our LCMS congregations.
This does not even mention our need for more new congregations in the coming years. LCMS church-planting opportunities are immense!
Synod leadership exists to serve local congregations—not the other way around.
I am praying the Pastoral Formation Committee has an open mind on this topic. I truly believe if they did more future pastors would find their way to St. Louis and Fort Wayne.
If the ULC can serve the mission of your congregation, please follow us at uniteleadership.org and on social media.