The best thing you can do if you want to see what someone can accomplish, is to make them angry. The joke is, if you ever hear a country girl say, “Aw, he!!, no!”, you’re in big trouble. Well, someone pulled out the stop for me. Actually, its been brewing for a while, it’s just this someone put it in words, and well, this rant is for them.
In the LCMS, CRM status is a black mark on a pastor’s career. Kiss that career goodbye, because if you congregation decides that they can’t afford you, you’re not a good fit for them, if you decided to be Confessional instead of church-growth, or if they decide to harass you and your family until they leave, and you are forced out, it’s all your fault, your not a good pastor, and your done. That’s how it’s seen with many, too many, pastors who are good and faithful servants of God’s Word.
My husband was forced out of a call. He was on CRM. Now he’s part time. Did he make mistakes? Sure, everyone does. Everyone is a sinner. Everyone has a point where they don’t handle a situation well. Everyone has a place where they are vulnerable to make a mess. But should that be a career ender? Let’s put this into perspective. A person who is struggling in a job can actively look for another job. They can put their resume out there. They can interview and hope to get a better match for them in the same career in the secular world. Especially in a world where company loyalty is at an all time low and people are always out looking for the better fit instead of working through the issue presented, the reason for looking for a new job might be the location, the co-workers, the boss, the work assigned, the clients or customers doing business with the company, and the like. Who, in the secular world, could cast the first stone and state that they have never gotten so frustrated with their job that they have actively hunted for or gotten a new job when they felt they couldn’t take anymore? Now, what is it that a pastor can do? Give their file to a DP, who the pastor hopes will give the information to the calling congregations in each district, and pray for a new location. This process can take months or even years at times. That doesn’t work if a congregation is running out of money and telling the pastor to seek employment elsewhere. That doesn’t work for the pastor who has a minority of his congregation threatening to make life unbearable until he finds a new call. That doesn’t help the pastor who is all but fired from his call for not scratching itching ears. So what is a pastor to do? For his health, for his family, for his own congregation sometimes, he will resign.
So then what? Because he did the best he could with the sinful situation at hand we will judge him, play Monday morning quarterback, and bar him from serving any congregation ever because he did what he thought best? We aren’t talking about gross outward sins such as adultery, slothfulness, or other Biblical reasons for a pastor to be removed from his call. We are talking about sinful situations where the pastor did what was best in a lessor of two evils choice. We shouldn’t be telling them that their careers are over, lives are shattered. We should do what we can to both heal and uplift these pastors and put them back out to serve Christ Jesus and the Church He has entrusted his under-shepherds with bringing Word and Sacrament. It’s time to realize that mercy, forgiveness, and understanding should abound where judgement and condemnation once stood. Most (I will not say all) on CRM don’t deserve to be there permanently. They deserve a “second chance” as it were to get back into the system of the clergy roster of the LCMS.
On a side note, help them while they are still in “limbo”. Buy a t-shirt. Raise awareness. Call your DP and admonish him to seek out the CRM pastors in his district and find them calls. See if you can find out the CRM pastors in your district and call them up and ask them how you can help.