Five things every congregation should know about their young, new pastor (and why they should be grateful to have him)

Five things you should know about your young, new pastor (And why you should be grateful to have him):

  1. He just spent the last four years sitting at the feet of learned theologians and receiving pastoral education. He is now eager to share what he has learned with others. You get to benefit from that eagerness to teach. It is to your advantage that you joyfully receive the instruction that he desires to give.
  1. He has taken a solemn oath at his ordination to be faithful in his teaching and in the carrying out of pastoral care. This means that he is ultimately responsible to Jesus for the souls that are entrusted to his care. He does not take this lightly, and you should expect him to act accordingly. So, for example, you should expect him to confront openly manifest sinners in the congregation with their sins to bring them to repentance. And, you should support him in this. You should expect your new pastor to address false belief in the congregation and/or poor practices. This is what he has been trained to do. This task is made the more difficult if his predecessor did not address these issues. You will be tempted to get angry at him for calling “foul” when he sees something that is amiss. You should resist this temptation and instead, ask him to instruct you in these matters so you will be stronger.
  1. He just spent the last four years sitting at the feet of learned theologians and receiving pastoral education. It will take time for him to learn about you, what makes you tick, to get to know the wool of his sheep. It will take time for him to grow comfortable in the shoes of being a pastor. Be patient with him as he learns to take what he has learned and communicate it to you in terms that you can understand. Be patient with him as he learns from mistakes. This is the most loving thing you can do for him is to be patient. As men are preparing for the holy ministry, they are constantly told, “Be patient with your congregations. Do not do everything at once that you wish to do.” But this can go both ways. St. Paul says that love is above all “patient and kind.”
  1. He likely misses his friends and family. You are surrounded by yours. He and his family (if he has one) have just left good friends and possibly family and moved to a completely new place with totally new people. It is easier in our day to connect with those friends and colleagues through social media and email, but this is no substitute for real, face to face interaction. It’s okay—he’s been preparing for this and so has his wife and family. He’s been taught to view his new parish as a paradise, even with all of its flaws and faults. But be understanding of his need to interact socially, to go to conferences and other events where he will be able to see classmates and acquaintances. Invite him and his family over for dinner or if not dinner then a beer. Take some time to get to know him and his background. This will show him that he does not need to be apprehensive or guarded around you. It will show him that you care about him, that you see him as a person and not just someone who baptizes, confirms, marries, and buries people for a living.
  1. He believes that you actually want to hear and learn the Word and that you care about doctrine. Try not to disappoint him! He’ll learn soon enough that this is not always the case. But you don’t want him to be jaded too soon or become burned out. That would be of no advantage to you. When a pastor is unable to conduct his ministry with joy because he constantly encounters resistance or lack of interest on the part of the people, it is the congregation that suffers. Let me repeat—it is the congregation that suffers. On the other hand, the congregation that encourages its pastor to do what he has been called to do and does not hinder his work will reap great rewards.

Saint Paul reminded Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). All too often, congregations do just that—despise their pastor because of his youth. They don’t think they are doing that. They think it is their job to teach him, to make him a better pastor. And pastors do learn a lot from their members. But remember that no matter what age your pastor is, he has a Divine Call. With that Call comes authority to preach God’s Word publicly and to exercise the Office of the Keys. He will learn many things by sheer experience. Like you in your jobs, he will learn many things by trial and error. This is normal and this is natural. All will benefit, pastor and congregation, when just a little bit of understanding, patience, forgiveness, and long-suffering is shown toward the new pastor. You expect no less from him.

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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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10 Responses to Five things every congregation should know about their young, new pastor (and why they should be grateful to have him)

  1. Frank Grant says:

    Being raised as a Seventh day Adventist, then coming to know Jesus and attending Baptist churches before finally stumbling into a solid biblical LCMS church. I got quite a laugh over inviting a PASTOR for a beer. I can just see the self-rightious —— you get the picture. What a blessing it is to rest in the rightiousness of Christ without needing to invent ways to prove our own worthless “rightiousness”

  2. Gary M says:

    Or do you not know that the unrighteous[b] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,[c] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. —I Corinthians 6:9-10

    If you are an LCMS Lutheran, how often have you heard an LCMS pastor’s sermon, or read an LCMS pastor’s blog article, on the sin of Divorce (divorce other than for infidelity), the sin of Adultery, the sin of Fornication, or the sin of being a Drunkard?

    Now compare the number of times that you have heard or read an LCMS pastor preach from his pulpit or from his blog on the damning sins of Divorce, Adultery, Fornication, and Drunkenness with the number of times you have heard the same LCMS pastor preach about the sin of Homosexuality from his pulpit and blog. I will bet that the number of sermons condemning Homosexuality will exceed the total of all the other sins combined.

    But, not only is the sin of Homosexuality preached against (attacked) more frequently from the pulpits and blogs of LCMS pastors, but the name calling against the perpetrators of this particular sin far exceeds the name calling against divorcees, adulterers, fornicators, and drunkards. “Sodomites”, “Perverts” “Boy Sodomizers”, “Degenerates” are perfectly acceptable terms for the perpetrators of the sin of Homosexuality, but the cute, little cashier at the corner market who has shacked-up with her boyfriend for the last two years is not referred to as “that Fornicator”, nor is the drunkard standing in front of the LCMS altar, pronouncing the Words of Institution, referred to as a “vile and evil Drunk”. No. The good pastors of the LCMS have decided that just one of the sins in the above Bible verse, and the perpetrators of that one sin in the above Bible verse, deserve their greatest attention, condemnation, and vilification.

    The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod…officially…will tell you that LCMS Lutheran Christians hate Homosexuality but love the people “afflicted” by the sin of Homosexuality. In other words, the official position of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is: “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” But the reality is, that a very significant percentage of pastors in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod hate homosexuals. They really, really hate homosexuals! Homosexuals make their skin crawl and their stomachs squeemish. Yes, you read that previous sentence correctly. A significant percentage of LCMS pastors hate gays and lesbians. Don’t believe me? Look at the evidence for yourself.

    I challenge you to go onto the blogs of some of the most popular LCMS pastors’ blogs and do a topic search on “homosexuality”. Read the articles, but more importantly, read the comments below the articles. In the comment section, you will find some of the most vile, vicious, anti-gay hate speech, most often written by the pastor’s gay-bashing, gay-hating, God-fearing conservative Christian readers—such as the infamous “Carl Vehse”, otherwise known (without his white robe and hood) as Richard Strickert of Austin, Texas—all written without any censoring or rebuke from the LCMS pastor/blog owner/moderator…and… sometimes you will even catch one of these Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod “men of God” spewing this vitriolic hate speech himself. Conclusion: A significant percentage of pastors in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are gay-bashing Peddlers of Hate, and for this reason the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod must be placed on the Hate Watch lists of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and every other human rights organization in the United States—until the leadership/hierarchy of this Christian denomination finally puts an end to this hateful, un-American, disgraceful behavior.

  3. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Aside from your completely slanderous and maligned comments about LC-MS pastors, what does anything that you say have to do with the original post?

  4. Rev. Don Pobanz says:

    Wow, Gary M. I have not met any of those pastors that you describe, even though I attend LCMS Pastors conferences, spent time at our LCMS Seminary, regularly attend our local LCMS circuit meetings. Nor does what you say describe me. Where are you meeting these pastors that you describe? Or are they similar to unicorns in that they exist but are never seen?

  5. Dennis Peskey says:

    Patience is a good virtue, especially with a new pastor but praying for him and his ministry will accomplish much more. Our Father in heaven will hear our prayer with joy.

  6. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Dennis–I hear what you’re saying, I didn’t intend to say that patience was the best thing a congregation could have, and on another version I changed it to say: “One of the best things a congregation can do is be patient…” But you’re right, prayer does help immensely. It’s hard to be mad at someone when you are praying for him.

  7. Shirley says:

    Actually the statements are applicable for ANYONE coming out of seminary not just the young. My husband was a ripe 45 years old as a second career student.

  8. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    True enough Shirley.

  9. Gerry Thorson says:

    What do you do when a Pastor doesn’t follow Jesus word. But his own belief?

  10. Rev. Paul L. Beisel says:

    Then the pastor should be confronted about it and called to repentance. But my post was not talking about erring pastors, but rather faithful pastors. Congregations are not commanded to obey pastors who are teaching falsely, but to avoid them (Romans 16).

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