Demystify Your Pastor With The Small Catechism by Pastor Ryan Loeslie
We all know pastors can be a bit mystifying sometimes. Growing up in a small congregation with fairly high pastor turnover, that’s what I thought anyway, no matter which pastor it was who was serving us at the time. They always seemed kind of mysterious and outside the mainstream. Our pastors always dressed strangely, I thought. That white tab thing? No other man in the community dressed that way. Vestments, well they kind of looked like a man wearing a dress. Preaching struck me as a very unique task. That was an impressively long speech, and sometimes the pastor would be pretty intense about it. How could he pull that off? Maybe the strangest of all, the pastor sang out more than almost every man in the congregation. What drove him to do such a thing?
I soon learned how the mystery spread beyond the walls of the church. I learned that the pastor actually had a pretty extensive and specialized education at this place called a seminary. He had to learn and know the original languages of the Bible, Greek and Hebrew. That was definitely outside the mainstream. And it seemed like our pastors were always a bit out of step with the broader community. I mean, did they really believe that confirmation class was more important than going to school and our sports practices? Did they really believe our little church was a better place to go than the other Lutheran church in town or the other churches of the community? They were a bit mysterious, and yet I found much of it intriguing. That mystery and intrigue were a big part in driving me towards the ministry myself.
As I grew older, though, I learned that not everyone was as intrigued as I was. I learned that sometimes there is a gap between the pastor and the congregation. Good pastors could even get fired for being faithful to their calling. I even learned that this happens routinely. People can complain about the pastor’s personality or supposed dryness of his sermons, or they can complain about the hymns he chooses. They may get upset if a pastor challenges the status quo of certain practices in the church. Sometimes people are shocked at the hard lines a pastor might draw. He won’t marry a couple because they are already living together? Who really cares about that anymore anyway? And some people just don’t like him, no matter what he does. The pastor can beg and plead, he can be gentle and he can be sharp, but it makes no difference to hearts hardened against him. The mystery around the pastor is too often a source of conflict and bitterness.
What if I told you there were a foolproof way to “demystify” your pastor? Yes, it can be done! And it’s not that complicated actually. All it takes is a Small Catechism. And no, not the big blue book you possibly used in confirmation class. That has all kinds of extra information and Bible verses which maybe make it seem a little overwhelming. We’re just talking about what Luther wrote. His Small Catechism is just a pamphlet. The ones you can order from Concordia Publishing House have just 23 pages. With your Small Catechism, you can “demystify” your pastor for good. You can learn what makes him tick and drives him to act as he does.
However, if you’re serious about this, just one quick read through won’t do the job. You need to learn Luther’s little masterpiece very well. I suggest a reading schedule which allows you to make the Small Catechism a part of your daily life. It looks like this:
Monday – Ten Commandments
Tuesday – Creed
Wednesday – Lord’s Prayer
Thursday – Holy Baptism
Friday – Confession and Absolution/Office of the Keys
Saturday – Sacrament of the Altar
I know I have written about this before, but I offer you this little schedule again because it is worth repeating. A little bit of time spent in the Small Catechism every day is enormously beneficial. Luther himself thought so. To read one chief part may take you no more than a minute or two, easily done at the breakfast table. Or perhaps you could leave your Small Catechism on your nightstand and do your little devotion as you are settling in to sleep. Done with consistency, you can learn the Small Catechism very well in really not that long a time.
There are enormous benefits to doing this. For one, knowing the Small Catechism better will benefit you personally. There is a lot of daily application for what the Small Catechism teaches in personal and family life, but what we really want to zero in on here is how we can use the Small Catechism to better understand our pastor.
PASTOR-ELECT MARCUS WILLIAMS (former vicar at Good Shepherd) will share with us a message from God’s Word on Wednesday, June 28th at the 6:30 pm midweek service. Refreshments will be served following the service to give everyone an opportunity to visit with Marcus & Jill and their family.
CHURCH OFFICE CONTACT: We are experiencing the results of a power outage and surge in the church office. If you have sent a prayer request or some other message to the church office email or Jan’s email since last Wednesday morning, it has not been received. For the present, you may contact Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tina at email@example.com. Thanks for your patience as we cope with this situation.
GOOD SHEPHERD CHURCH OFFICE will be closed on Tuesday, July 4th.