The Dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston School of Theology in a sermon last year made the most pointed attack on local pastors I’ve read in a while. (I added paragraph breaks to make it a bit easier to read.)
Unwilling to invest in elders, the superintendents are driven to hire non-elders, people who are not trained, not educated, not ordained, not in covenant, not traveling elders. In our yet to be fully born conference, this means that 540 of 931 pulpits are occupied, occupied by good hearted people, but people who have not studied the Bible in depth, do not know the history or teaching of the church, have had no preparation in counseling, in sacramental understanding, in worship and preaching, in administration, in pastoral care.
It is one thing to have laity Sunday once a year. But every Sunday? Do you go to laity Wednesday when the emergency room lets people who would like to be doctors administer drugs, set bones, and use ct scanners? Do you go to laity Friday when people who would like to be bankers get to open and close the vault, establish accounts, and make investments of your savings? How about housing? Do you sign up aspiring carpenters, who think they might have some talent in digging foundations and setting roof lines to build your house? Is it OK with you if the principal of your daughter’s junior high school never graduated from high school himself? Granted: education alone is not enough. Heart and head we need together in the influential, delicate, personal, salvific work of pastoral care and preaching.
Not 540, but 40 non-elders is all we should accommodate. Have the elders preach multiple times: better one good sermon preached 7 times, than 7 bad ones once each. Our annual conference provides everything but the one thing needful—a chance to confer. Our annual conference attends to everything except its job—providing excellent clergy.