Sex, Lies, and SMPP

Okay, so I took some liberty with the title. There is actually nothing about sex in this post, unless you want to compare the support of the Synod and both seminaries of SMPP to a fake orgasm. I’ll leave that up to the reader.

Here is a comment that I snagged from Esgetology concerning the so-called “desperate” need for the SMPP by a guy who serves on one of the district committees that interviews candidates for seminaries and also alternate routes to ordination. Read it and weep:

I serve on a district committee that interviews candidates for the respective seminaries, as well as the various alternative routes to ordination. Between the Ethnic Immigrant Institute, Hispanic Institute, DELTO, and Alternate Route, there are scores of future and current pastors who pursued ordination through the already existing channels and most, though not all, were from those types of rural or ethnic congregations which could not support a pastor. To date, however, every one of the SMP candidates we have interviewed are economically viable, middle class Caucasians from metropolitan areas who worship at large church growth congregations. They have been advised by their pastors to forgo the traditional route and come on staff with their churches as ordained pastors in one fashion or another. Pastoral shortage, I agree, is a chimera. SMP is an attempt to circumvent theological formation by those for whom theological reflection has no place in pastoral care, public worship, or private devotion.

Thanks Esgetology!


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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9 Responses to Sex, Lies, and SMPP

  1. saxoniae says:

    Don’t forget that the MO District is calling SMP vicars as so-called missionaries to supposedly restore ead or dying congregations. One such congregation (with no pastor and less than 10 members) called THREE of them, according to one of the call lists.

    When I contacted the CLS DELTO guy he replied something in the nature of (I’m paraphrasing) I’m glad you are concerned about congregations outside of your own and I’m sure you have them in your prayers. They are being called by the district to help the circuit counselor revitalize the congregation and I’m forwarding your letter to the District President. Direct all your questions to him.

    Timothy C. Schenks
    Poplar Bluff, MO

  2. Rev. James Leistico says:

    I ask you to reconsider how you describe the sem’s support of SMPP. While certainly there are some who probably approach that level, there are others who see exactly what SMPP is.
    Larry Beane in Esget’s comment section (I tried responding yesterday and today to that, but for whatever reason it won’t let me) wondered if blackmail of the sems was involved. That is not too far off from the truth a sem prof told me. If the sems opposed it, they knew that they would be falsely accused of being “ivory tower” types cut off from reality, whose saw their kingdom as being in danger. (Can’t you hear the accusation of, “This is like when the Pharisees were upset because people were going to Jesus and not them.”?) SMPP was the least bad proposal on the table – consider the proposal that pastoral education is at the LCMS mega-church in the region with one faculty professor in residence on its staff. He is responsible for the whole education program. I will agree that SMPP is playing out in the direction of the mega-church, but at least it is not that bad, yet.
    By voicing their approval, the sems get to have a hand in what SMPP looks like. Though, in agreement with Larry’s comment on Esget’s original post, I think it’s something akin to having a hand in building your own coffin. That only delays your execution as long as your executioners put up with how slow you are building it.
    btw, we aren’t the only vocation being dumbed down by chants of “shortage” – with disastrous results:

  3. Rev. Paul Beisel says:

    James, I’ll grant you that there are probably some who had to hold their noses at the sem when touting the SMP program. And I know that it is here to stay, as all programs are. Whatever happened to no compromises though? What ever happened to “calling a thing what it is” and suffering the consequences. Do we fear the forces of darkness so much that we think the Lord will not take care of us? The SMP has “danger” written all over it. It smells rotten, and I just wish that instead of swallowing it “feathers and all” people would see it for what it is. I know that many of them felt that this is better than not having them educated through the seminary. But what this means for all of us is that we are going to have to be ready to school these guys once they get into our circuits. At the very least, it would have been nice to have had an explanation from those whom we respect as to how this is a win-win situation.

  4. Rev. James Leistico says:

    yes, there is fear of sin’s darkness for certain. But if that weren’t bad enough, try this on for what actually is happening: we think we can cooperate with the darkness and manipulate it for good. Tolkein points out that you won’t be unmolested if you try to use evil – even if you mean well. However, praise the Lord, guy, because God does actually know how to use evil for good – without compromising to it… though He does get killed by it… but He’s not corrupted by it… and He doesn’t stay dead.
    I have no hope of schooling these guys once they get in our circuits. For one thing, they know they are so smart they don’t need intensive long-term training. For another, I’ll be busy enough pulling out the weeds they plant in the minds of my own members. But then, that’s been going on since before SMPP, DELTO, Witchita, etc. No matter what the program (might as well include DCE in here too), the Church has always had to deal with rotten apples trying to spoil the bunch while keeping the Great Doctor away (how’s that for mixing metaphors?)

    I’ve never heard SMPP described as a win-win situation (but then I’ve not heard it spoken of by large church growth congregation’s pastors).

  5. saxoniae says:

    At the floor committee meeting the day before the 2007 convention, Pr. Dissen called SMPP a greased pig, and that we didn’t need two greased pigs running around (the other being lay ministers). Dr. Hempleman didn’t seem too concerned, beyond saying this was a means to get men Called/Ordained (a regular Call). Pr. Dissen’s stated concerns for the lack of education and training didn’t seem to bother anyone else there.


  6. John W. Nevin says:

    Pr. Beisel,
    I would like to add a word of clarification: I do believe that the SMP program is a significant improvement over the other non-traditional routes if, and here is the proviso, it is used for the appropriate ends.

    If and only if it used as a means to legitimize the office of functioning pastors who cannot avail themselves of traditional seminary education, as I believe it was proposed, then it serves a quite useful function by keeping their education local, their theological formulation under the guidance of those qualified and responsible for such things, and their congregations under the ministry of a minister rite vocatus.

    That is why my suggestion to delegates to the last synodical convention (at which I was not present) was that the criteria for entering this program be made quite explicit, viz., only available to those serving ethnic immigrant congregations, linguistically specific congregations, or congregations whose annual budget was less than or equal to the respective district scale for beginning pastors and who were outside a given radius from another viable congregation through whom pastoral care or financial assistance might be rendered.

    Sadly, no quarter was given to such limitations.

    Johnny Nevin

  7. Anonymous says:


    In the Sept 15, 2008 edition of LCMS e-news (# 48) there is a 26 year old who is finally going SMP after 5 years of training church planters in the inner city.

    At age 26 I was a Sem 4. and that going to college and sem straight out of HS. At age 21…I was uh, studying.

    This kid is 26 and training church planters! Remember how the convention thought sem profs had to have x many of years in the ministry before being a prof? And now a 26 yr old, sans collar, gets to train church planters-and he is so full of his work (or proverbial brown stuff)that he gives the sense that SMP is jumping through hoops.


  8. revalkorn says:

    I got you beat, Pete. When I was 26 I had a whopping year of experience in the Ministry. Maybe I should have been training church planters.

    Or maybe I should have been elected Synodical president.

  9. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    The bottom line is that we should not be expecting less of our graduates but more. I did speak with Larry Rast about this at our conference last week. His point was that this is better than not having any connection to the seminary education for pastors. My only concern is that I see this becoming more and more of the norm, rather than the exception to the rule.

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