The “priesthood of all believers”

Publicado: octubre 30, 2012 en Iglesia, Luteranismo, LUTHERAN CORE

Steve Shipman


The need for Lutheran CORE was impressed upon me again. As I write this, I have just returned home from the General Retreat of the Society of the Holy Trinity—a magnificent time of prayer and reflection with a group that for 15 years has been helping pastors serve faithfully in a challenging environment.

When we began, our Society was almost completely composed of pastors from the ELCA (about two thirds) and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. This week in our prayers we mentioned the bishop or president of every Lutheran group represented. The list included about a dozen names, two of whom were among the 200 of us at the retreat.

In this time of fragmentation, we confessing Lutherans need each other more than we ever have. We need to work together in reaching out to this vast North American mission field.

We need to create and connect one another with resources that we once expected our denominations or publishing houses to provide. And this is a blessing, not a problem!

“The Priesthood of All Believers” simply means that every Christian has been claimed by God and called to use his or her gifts to help fulfill the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. Pastors have a unique and necessary role given by God, but clergy are not the Church any more than a coach is a football team.

God has poured out many gifts through the Holy Spirit. I experienced some of God’s pastoral gifts this week in the outstanding preaching and teaching and the caring fellowship.

But since most Christians are not called to be pastors, far more gifts of the Spirit have been distributed to the laity than to us who are ordained. A key role of pastors is to help the other baptized priests to discover, develop, and use their gifts in service to Christ and to the neighbor.

I also heard many pastors speak of a deep loneliness and of exhaustion from decades of parish ministry.

Pastors need to pray and speak together to support each other, and they need for their members to hear from lay folk in other congregations what is working for them in their outreach. It’s easy to complain and not hard to find things to complain about, but negativity saps the spirit (and therefore Spirit) of any group including a congregation.

Lutheran CORE exists to provide positive interactions and resources.

We can no longer afford to create religious “shops” competing against one another for “business” (members). The world out there needs to know Jesus, and the diversity of our Lutheran family in the twenty-first century can be a blessing and an opportunity. Each congregation and each of the thirty-some Lutheran church bodies in North America have a unique combination of gifts from the one Spirit. Lutheran CORE offers a “safe space” where Lutherans of every group can work together without giving up their unique identities. As we do so, we enrich one another by sharing God’s inexhaustible generosity to each of us.

During the period of recent church conflict, a great amount of energy was channeled into renewal groups. Since many leaders from that era have joined other Lutheran groups, much of that energy is rightly being redirected into new arenas of ministry. Just so, we need to pray for God to raise up new leaders around North America who will have the energy to rebuild regional and local groups that will help us strengthen and support one another.

We have gotten rave reviews of the regional Discipleship Events that have been held around the country. Keep checking the schedule to see if one is being held near you. If your congregation would like to host one of these events, contact Pr. Paul Borg for details. The intent is that these not be one-time events, but that regional groups will be created to continue helping each congregation carry out what they have learned.

Lutheran CORE is not and will not become a massive top-down bureaucracy. You who are Lutheran CORE locally have the primary responsibility for how effectively Lutherans connect and support one another. Lutheran CORE is a catalyst for these local and regional initiatives and offers a vehicle for confessing Lutherans to connect with one another. To a large extent, our future will depend on those who hear the call of God to connect and work together in mission across our continent.

On our part, we continue to offer our website, our Facebook group, our annual gatherings, regional Discipleship Events, and partnership with such events as the Rocky Mountain Theological Conference in

Canada. We also interface with leaders of other renewal movements in North American Christianity and share what we learn from them.

God is at work in North America. These may very well be the “good old days” future generations will remember. This is an exciting time to follow Jesus Christ, as God’s Spirit is poured out in new and wonderful ways. Lutheran CORE enjoys the privilege of working to “mobilize confessing Lutherans for evangelical renewal.”

Pastor Shipman can be reached at sshipman@lutherancore.org or 570-916-7780.

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