Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not Ready to Be Bishops

One of the things that is wonderful about the Missouri Synod is the high number of bishops we have. Every head pastor is a bishop in the full, biblical sense of the word. What is a bishop? The overseer put in place to oversee a flock of Christians, to be responsible for the preaching and teaching, the administration of the Sacraments, the spiritual oversight.

Talking to friends of other denominations, speaking to the Bishop (to say nothing of merely seeing the bishop) is a rare event. He will show up on a visit and then be gone from the particular parish, normally off to some distant city (or city so large that being on the other side of it is distant as well). We don't have that problem - the men who are given the call and duty to speak the Word of God, to make decisions are there on the spot, readily available. We have siphoned the burecractic aspects of the modern "bishopric" into an office removed from the parish - and that is generally fine (if sometime accompanied by annoying disconnects).

However, we have a different problem. We are too hasty to make people bishops. We are too hasty to send men to congregations where they are on their own - where they hold the highest office within the Church.

Generally we only have 1 year of lower-orders - the year of vicarage, which is a messed up almost deacon sort of thing. We think classroom training with a dash of parish is enough to fully prepare. While one doesn't necessarily need to have had a long time in the parish assisting a bishop before he is ready to be a bishop - many do. Many should.

We need to change this. Now, the problem would be how could we as we are organized along congregational lines, things like that. If I could make a simple change, it would be this.

If a congregation already has a pastor and wishes to call a second, they cannot fill this second position from the field. They must call from the Seminary.

What would this do? More spots where young pastors wouldn't be "bishops" yet - they would get to serve as full clergy who assist the bishop.

I think this one, simple change would do much, over the years, to improve the quality of our pastors. I think too many guys get sent off on their own and they drift off into weird ways. Let's have folks under someone for a longer time to maybe work that out - to help build up some of the emotional maturity required.

Just because a man graduates from the sem doesn't mean he's ready to be a bishop - but all too often, we expect them to be. This is rough. Support your local bishop, especially if he is young.

No comments: