Stood Up On "Buy A Priest (or Pastor) a Beer Day"
September 9 was “Buy A Priest (or Pastor) A Beer Day.” Pastors across the social media universe “liked” and “shared” posts regarding the day in a not-so-subtle attempt to be treated to a tall, cold one.
Before you read further, I must confess that I used the title of this blog as a bit of “clickbait,” but hear me out. It’s no secret that there are men all throughout our Synod who struggle on a daily basis with congregations that want nothing to do with them or the Scriptures they teach. As I awaited my congregation member at the famous (and home to the Great American Beer Festival Silver Medal winning) Goat Island Brewing, these brothers who have not one person in their congregation who loves them were all that was on my mind. As I sat and waited…and waited…and waited, I began to pray.
There are faithful men out there who are struggling. These men give and give and give, emptying themselves for the sake of God’s people only to be trampled on by them. This is not to say that just because a man is a Pastor he is innocent of all wrongdoing and never makes mistakes. (Please don’t hear me say what I’m not.) Often times, though, congregations get a free pass to do whatever they want and to treat pastors shamefully. When this happens, the Pastor turns to his brothers for guidance. The brothers tell him to turn to his Circuit Visitor. The Circuit Visitor hands him off to the District President. And what happens next? “Oh, that’s just the way they are. Let them be. Don’t stir the pot.” I know of plenty of faithful men who have been told one thing by individuals who could help remedy the situation (CVs/DPs) only to have them turn against the Pastor in a Voters’ Assembly, side with the abusive congregation, and encourage him to leave the church with a severance package.
After all of that happens, there are no repercussions for the congregation. They simply put out for another Pastor excusing their behavior to the DP saying, “He just wasn’t a good fit.” Not being able to get a Pastor from the field (obviously), they turn to the seminaries. For whatever reason, seminary candidates who are so full of zeal for the Gospel are placed in these volatile and unhealthy situations. The congregation says they want to do better. They claim to want to be faithful. In the end, though, they strip away every bit of passion the Pastor has for his vocation. They devour him just like they did every single predecessor before him.
Faithful men are being abused in and run out of congregations all throughout our Synod for upholding biblical truths whether it’s based on marriage/cohabitation, closed Communion, or calling out simple unrepentance. I won’t use the word “unfair,” but at some point the men who have been elected as “Pastors to the Pastors” need to start doing the right thing. (Have I already mentioned Circuit Visitors and District Presidents?) Start standing up for these men. The rest of us out here are doing the best we can to help our fellow brothers. Having never been through these trials, many of us have no clue what they’re going through. We can read books like Antagonists in the Church and Clergy Killers and say that sometimes “sheep bite” when the fact is that these have ceased to be sheep and have become wolves sent by the devil himself. They’re devouring the church from the inside out starting with the Pastor.
First of all, these congregations need our prayers. We must remember that there’s most likely a faithful remnant who remain. They’re suffering the attack, too. They’re praying for an end to the abuse. They’re praying for their current Pastor or their next Pastor that he would remain faithful in His proclamation of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments. In the end, pray for these congregations to repent.
Second, pray for pastors who are in these situations that even though they go through such a time, they would not lose their zeal for the Gospel and be run out of the pastoral ministry altogether, or even worse, forsake the faith given them in baptism.
Third, pray for the Pastor’s family who are involved. All of this greatly affects them beyond what anyone who hasn’t experienced this can know.
And finally, call upon Circuit Visitors and District Presidents (have I said that, yet?) to actually do their job faithfully instead of bargaining for severance packages and sending guys on their way. From my perspective, these who allow congregations to treat their pastors in such a way have the greater sin and need to be held accountable, and I believe any faithful CV or DP would confess the same thing.
Stood up on “Buy A Priest (or Pastor) A Beer Day.” The title was clickbait to cause you to take a serious look at pastors who are struggling. Being stood up for a beer doesn’t compare in the slightest to these men’s stories. That still doesn’t get you off the hook for standing me up, Brandon! You still owe me one!