Saturday, May 10, 2008

Placement Whining

It’s the middle of placement season. LCMS seminaries have made their spring placements and the WELS is not far behind with teacher/staff minister placement coming next week and pastoral candidates the following week. There was a shortage of calls for the LCMS seminary graduates this spring which has been the cause of some online whining, which in our view, is stupid. The complaints we’ve heard and seen run along these lines: “the students put in eight years of school”, “the students went into debt”, “there are congregations who plan to stay vacant instead of calling which means there are calls available”. Yes, all three complaints are entirely accurate. However, so what?

Did you think you were joining the Army when you entered the seminary? Did anyone promise you a job for signing up? We doubt it very much. If your church body has more pastor-students than congregations willing to take them, then not all of the graduates are placed. This isn’t new. Would those of you complaining be doing the same kind of whining for graduates in an accounting program, clown college, or dental school? We doubt it. Yet, the situation is somewhat similar. Most of those students went through several years pursuing an education in their chosen field. Many of them went into debt. Though these men at the seminary are planning to go into church work, there is still a role for the kingdom of the left in the process. If 42 vacant congregations are looking for candidates and there are 53 graduates, some of the graduates will not be placed. Life’s not fair, even in the church. The truly admirable part of all this is the work done by the placement directors who have high hopes of placing everyone by later in the summer. They should be commended, not crapped on.

There will still be LCMS congregations who are vacant while graduates twiddle their thumbs waiting for a placement. Sometimes, the responsibility for this lies partially with the graduates. If you told the placement director you would only accept a TLH congregation with no women voters within a 40-mile radius of Tampa, FL, you may be waiting a while to be placed. Some vacant congregations are ornery, cantankerous groups that don’t want some pastor telling them what to do and will be vacant until Christ returns (and even then won’t appreciate the New Guy telling them what to do in their church). Would you want to be assigned to such a place? It might be better to take the plumber’s exam instead.

Missourians should be dancing in the streets for joy over how much control they do have as students in their first placement. Come to the WELS where there are no interviews and no advance warning, with the exception of international mission placements. You get what you get. You don’t find out until they announce your name in the call service. Teacher/pastor/staff ministers are all in the same boat. You may be assigned to the educational specialty for which you had been studying the past five years. You may not. You may be assigned as a staff minister, you may be assigned to run a preschool. You may be assigned to be the second pastor in charge of chancel dramas and the praise team even though you were the one pushing for installing a tabernacle in the new-fangled portable chapel. We don’t wish to hear of any weeping or gnashing of teeth in St. Louis or Fort Wayne, but we won’t be surprised if the number of prescriptions for Cymbalta goes through the roof in New Ulm and Mequon in the next two weeks.


Dali said...

I think most of the whining comes not from the shortage of calls, but from hearing the synodical oligarchs say we *NEED* Lay ministers because there is a shortage of the real called, ordained and trained.
The Dali Lutheran

Angry Lutherans said...


THAT whining is legitimate and we will gleefully join our nasally high-pitched voices with all those engaged in such a whine.

Anyone who believes there is a shortage of pastors making it necessary to create lay ministers is a moron.

Anonymous said...

Part of the "whining" of these men and their families is justifiable. You're right that in this life, there are no guarantees. Nobody is "owed" a call.

However, there has been the drumbeat of "clergy shortage" sounding for many years now, almost to a fevered pitch. A lot of second career guys left everything to come to the seminary. Their wives and children sacrificed for three or four years as well.

And then they find out that the "clergy shortage" is a bunch of crap. I think the guys who didn't get calls should get one free punch to the recruiter or synodical/seminary bureaucrat of their choice. These people knowingly pushed a lie. And now the chickens are coming home.

Furthermore, we now have others competing for fewer slots that used to go to pastors and male seminarians, namely: deaconesses, lay ministers, and now SiMPs. We don't have a clergy shortage, but rather a surplus. The seminaries should scale back and give more financial aid to fewer men. And "men" in this case is not gender neutral. It's a "seminary" not a "feminary."

I think these guys have gotten screwed, and I don't think it's accurate to call it "whining" when they've been lied to by "churchmen." I think these folks need to start telling the truth.

Like an old friend of mine used to say: "You can't beat the truth out of 'em, 'cause the truth ain't in 'em."