John 3:21

John 3:21
"It is the nature of all hypocrites and false prophets to create a conscience where there is none, and to cause conscience to disappear where it does exist." Martin Luther

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Thank You God for Clergy Leaders

As the ELCA has left widely held Lutheran doctrine and a consistent understanding of God's Word in the dust, people have needed to stand up for Jesus in bolder ways and encourage the faithful to continue to follow the historical confessional truth that we have held onto for generations. I praise clergy who stand up against their synod and reach to a future filled with hope away from the ELCA. As a clergy person myself I am not trying to pat myself on the back, I am simply sharing that clergy are in a unique place as they take a position and say themselves, "Here I stand."
Clergy most certainly will have the synod staff and Bishops against them, some will have neighboring clergy against them who say painful things to hear or are turned away from gatherings, and some congregational members may find it compelling to attack their Pastor. And during this time the clergy may wonder if he of she will still have a Call if the congregation sadly decides to remain in the ELCA. The clergy person makes a vow to uphold the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and many of us find it incongruent to continue to be able to do so within the fallen ELCA. There is tremendous pressure theologically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally as one goes through the process of staying Biblically true even at the cost of all attacks. It is a burden to bear.
A comfort is found in Matthew 5:10, "God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,  for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs." This is a good thing to know, believe and trust for all of us. But I ask you, if you are in the process of leaving the ELCA, make sure that the clergy in your congregation is comforted by you too as you affirm them, care for them, treat with great kindness, and genuinely listen to their life story. They are reflecting, leading, and taking shots at them all at the same time. And even though they are wearing the full armor of God, make sure that they are protected by prayers wrapped all around them. Yes we are all in this together, but clergy are often under extreme stresses that few truly understand unless you have walked the same road. As one who has walked the road, please minister to your ministers.
Lastly, I want to lift up and praise my friend Pastor Mark Gehrke of Faith Lutheran Church in Moline, IL. He is an example of determination in the face of injustice being done to him. He has held tightly onto Scripture as his guide and has led others to follow him deeper into God's Word through the ordeal at Faith. The faith at Faith Lutheran Church is stronger because he has shown what it means to live by faith and do what is right. Even though he has been attacked mercilessly he has shown mercy. Even though the synod has brought him discomfort he has been pastoral and brought comfort. Even though there have been dark days of despair he has reminded people of the light of Christ. And even though this journey of leaving the ELCA has been filled with unexpected turns and curves he has announced "Make straight a royal highway to the Lord" and welcomed many into the body of Christ called Faith. It has not been an easy task, but I believe God placed Mark at Faith Lutheran for a time like this so that the light of Christ would burn even more brightly against a darkened sky. Hats off to you Mark.
Encourage your clergy,
Pastor John P. Nelson
Hosanna! Lutheran Church
St. Charles, IL 


Anonymous said...

God is blessing us through this storm. I have never felt so alive spiritually and so convicted in my walk with Christ as I have these past 8 months. I truly thank God for Pastors who stand firm in our Lord's word, they are a living testimony to the rest of the flock. I have watched Pastor Mark endure Satan's wrath & I marvel at his strength, perseverance and conviction. God is using him in a mighty way and because of his leadership we are stronger, more faithful and unified.

Anonymous said...

As the wife of a pastor who is in the process of exiting the ELCA I can't thank enough the LAYPEOPLE who have been so supportive from several area congregations, while the other pastors in the cluster have been viscious, slanderous, and accusatory. In spite of the turning of long time "friends" against us, our consciences are clear as we move forward.

Anonymous said...

The pressure is tremendous. The pain is at times overwhelming. There are many questions and times of analyzing if guilt should be honored. We turn to the Lord in silent prayer, put on a good face, and go through the motions hoping for a better day. We trust that we are doing the Lord's work and that we are pulling our weight and doing exactly what is needed. We Pastor in unchartered water, and can't wait till our second vote when freedom from the pain will be announced and LCMC wecomes us into their peace. Care for your clergy. There is more stress in them than they may tell you.

Anonymous said...

I hope that every church that has a Pastor leading an ELCA church to become a LCMC church gives their Pastor a gift after the second vote. Something beyond any gift previously given. Something that will bless the whole family, as the Pastor's whole household feels the stress too. Be generous. Help your Pastor feel loved and appreciated. After all she or he has been through, make sure they know that they are are saint in the life of the church. A hero. One who deserves a special gift.

Pr. Chuck Sampson said...

We withdrew in 1989 and I now serve an AFLC congregation in north central Illinois. I can testify to the provision and sustaining power of our God--and I can honestly say I have NO regrets in having left.

To those of you who have been called to a role similar to that of Jeremiah but now sensing that the Lord is opening the door to withdrawal take heart--the Lord is faithful! There will be many wonderful testimonies of how our Lord has opened and closed, closed and opened. Christus victor!