I am Mike Osborne, Dean of Students at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida, and author of Surviving Ministry: How to Weather the Storms of Church Leadership. I’ve been married to Suzy, my college sweetheart, since 1976. We have four children and eleven grandkids. Besides the grace of God, some of my loves are racquetball, cycling, reading, going to new places, the beach, history, music, movies, barbecue, and pecan pie. This blog is about things that have helped me find joy in being a pastor. It hasn’t always been easy (read My Story). Happy pastors are an endangered species. Be one of them.
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12, ESV)
I am reading your book ,”Surviving Minstrelsy.” I am a 30+ year pastor in the Lutheran Church [ELCA], who was asked to leave a small town church about two years ago. I have found a healthy fit of a two point parish. Your book is very comforting to me. I do find at times that there are still “ghosts” from the past of getting fired by a church council and having the denomination extract me with threats of no severance package if I do not leave quietly. Currently, I do enjoy pastoral ministry very much. Luther’s Small Catechism and Book of Concord are our church’s confessions. But they do not address mean spirited bullies in the church. Your book is very soothing to know that Jonathon Edwards got “canned” too!
David, it’s so good to hear from you. Thank you for writing. I’m glad to know you found some help in my book. I wrote it primarily for therapy for myself! I know what you mean about “mean spirited bullies.” Even though we’ve been saved by grace through faith, we’re still in process and some people’s brokenness shows more openly (and meanly) than others. May the Lord bless, strengthen, and continue to use you. I’m sure he is. (By the way, what is a “two point parish”?)
I serve two congregations within a 10 mile distance. Elgin Lutheran Church in the town of Elgin, Iowa, and Highland Lutheran Church in rural Elkader, Ohio on dirt roads and hills in the next county. I discovered that because I am age 64, the denominational staffs in the region I was in previously (OH, IN, and MI) see my “skill set as no longer needed because [I] am trained for a church which no longer exists.” But when I crossed the Mississippi River, there are plenty of clergy openings if a pastor is willing to serve more than one congregation in what is called a “parish.” My Roman Catholic Priest neighbor serves 5 congregations in his parish. I was told by a Nebraska denomination leader they have openings in 5-6 congregation parishes. On top of that, I do nursing home services some Sunday afternoons. So we all have to work ecumenically out here. You never know when the Baptist, Methodist or Pentecostal Pastor will need to switch on doing a Nursing home afternoon service.
Ah, I see. I’m 64 also. My goodness, a man with over 30 years of pastoral experience is “no longer needed”? Isn’t that ironic. I think it’s great that you get to serve two congregations. Good for you–don’t listen to the “experts,” right?!
I was raised when you were and we looked up to seasoned, veteran pastors as sources of wisdom and knowledge. Your denomination even calls your leaders, “Elders.” I now fear that younger aged and high energy clergy with new ideas are the way. I did read Calvin’s Institutes in Lutheran Seminary. Calvin was quite the intellectual! I do keep focused on God’s Word contained in Scripture. However, these days, I fear consumerism has a tighter grip on how clergy are seen as “effective” than being faithful to God’s Word and Sacraments, Pastoral visits to nursing homes etc. I am not sure getting a “Live Stream, a new electronic road sign and a Praise Band” will solve the problems of the local church who wants to compete with the area Mega Church. As you cite, Robert Putnam’s book of “Bowling Alone” is a deeper analysis as to what ails the church.
I agree with you 110%. I think we may be seeing the twilight of the mega-pastor, mega-church, etc. From fallen celebrity preachers to declining church attendance, I think we’re discovering that it’s deep rivers rather than shallow rapids that satisfy the soul. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.’ But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)