Australian Lutherans do Survey on "The Ministry"

Quite an unusual way of going about things, given that there is no way of authenticating the membership of the respondent or his/her status as laity or clergy. Nor, for that matter, is there anything to stop you doing the survey a hundred times.

But anyway, for those dinky-di-true-blue-ozzie-cobber-womby Australian Lutherans out there, here is the survey where you can tell your powers that be what you think the ministry is all about and how well your church (and your local pastor) is at doing it.

It is interesting to see the kinds of assumptions that lie behind the survey. Here are the qualities that are seen as relating to the ministry:

  • A strong Christian faith
  • Commitment to the teachings of the Lutheran Church
  • Commitment to the pastoral vocation
  • Confidence in your ability to lead
  • Capacity to relate well to others
  • Openness to listen and learn
  • Mission mindedness
  • Personal authenticity in the pastoral role
  • A pastoral heart (compassion, empathy, wise counselling, etc)

And here are the list of skills seen as relating to the ministry:

  • Conducting worship and performing ritual acts
  • Preaching
  • Teaching
  • Counselling
  • Team building
  • Organizational skills
  • Motivating the laity for mission
  • Training the laity for mission
  • Implementing strategies for outreach
  • Resolving conflict situation within the congregation
  • Coping with personal conflicts
  • Interpreting scripture in practical situations
  • Maintaining a balance between personal and professional life

I would be interested to know what your reaction to this is. Its generally a good list and one would be happy if most Catholic priests had even half of these qualities. Possibly the most glaring ommission is anything about the pastor’s personal moral life or beliefs. There is also a incredible weighting on the outreach/mission aspect of the pastor’s work. There is also the odd requirement that the pastor may be able to “interpret scripture in practical situations”. Is there a distinction being made here between the pastor’s right to “interpret scripture” in relation to theology (which, of course, is by implication “impractical”). One wonders what role such an interpretation would have in the life of the church?

Of course, then there is the whole question of doing this sort of thing by survey. What result are they looking for? Is the work and nature of the ordained ministry of the Lutheran Church to be determined by “majority rules”? Well, probably the answer to this is yes. Afterall, while the Lutheran Church affirms that something called “the Public Office of the Ministry” is by “divine right”, it is reserved to “human right” to determine how it is ordered and carried out.

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4 Responses to Australian Lutherans do Survey on "The Ministry"

  1. Bob Catholic says:

    Interesting post (even without a subject!).

    The background is interesting: the survey is part of the committee to look at alternative routes to ordination. (Especially interesting, me thinks, is the definition of ordination offered on the page – how Confessional is that??) As such, the survey is slanted and a little unprofessional in reflecting a particular view rather than seeking genuine input. (For example, it does not require of the pastor a faithful prayer life, nor a desire to further their theological education!)

    As Catholics, maybe we could add: Being a wise and faithful father confessor.

  2. Bob Catholic says:

    Also (major afterthought) the gender of the pastor is not considered!!!!!

  3. Schütz says:

    Thanks for that, Marco. Yes, I did omit the title. Comes from blogging early in the morning in Macca’s…

    Good point about the omission of any mention of prayer life. Probably the most undervalued aspect of all the essential aspects of a pastor’s ministry, in whatever ecclesial communion. It is also the aspect which the Holy Father highlights most whenever he addresses gatherings of priests.

    And yes, I did wonder about the “confessor” issue, but I think that is what them mean by “counselling”.

  4. Peter says:

    I’d say the opening chapter of Eugene Peterson’s “Working the Angles” would be a good place to start. His fears regarding the 4 unit seminary program would just about fit that list.

    In fairness to many Lutheran pastors I know, I am sure not all of them would be keen to sign off on such a list.

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