Many (of us) church-types like to write, speak and lead. Some may even be pretty good at it (just because you do it every week, doesn’t mean you’re good at it!). A few even make a business of it with full- or part-time writing, speaking and consulting gigs. And some are even bold to say, "If you’re looking for a dynamic and insightful preacher, speaker, or writer, look no further" (an actual quote from the personal/marketing website of one such enterprising, Lutheran pastor).
There are a few ways to respond to such enterprising pastors.
- Good for you. You’ve found a way to get paid for something you love to do.
- It’s a bit much. I don’t mean to get bogged down in a faux Lake Wobegon modesty, but does self-promotion really become a pastor? C’mon, let your reputation – not your stinkin’ website – speak for you.
- Are you really a pastor? This is my biggest question. If pastoral ministry is about the ministry of Word and Sacrament in a particular parish, then what does it mean for someone who is not engaged in parish, Word & Sacrament ministry to use the title of Pastor/Reverend to promote their for-profit enterprise?
- What about your day job? For those parish pastors who write/speak/consult for hire on the side, I wonder – what about your day job? Shouldn’t your entire professional energies be devoted to your church and its ministries? Do the financial interests of your part-time gig interfere with your full-time commitment and vocation as a parish pastor? (This is distinct from the service of a parish pastor on a synod council or community board – these are natural extensions of the parish ministry and are intimately connected to the ministry of the parish. Oh, and such positions are unpaid.)
I like to write, I like to speak, I like to lead. And sometimes I am pretty good at it (please excuse the self-promotion). So am I just jealous that these pastors are more enterprising than I am, or do I have a legitimate gripe? I admit to having a pretty narrow understanding of the office of ordained ministry (it’s about Word and Sacrament) and to having concerns when the title Pastor/Reverend is used by people who are not actively engaged in such ministry. Perhaps my reading of the Lutheran Confessions’ understanding of ministry is overly narrow and problematic. Perhaps I’m just jealous. Or perhaps it is a little of all of the above.
"If you’re looking for a dynamic and insightful preacher, speaker, or writer, look no further." No, on second thought, keep looking. That dynamic and insightful preacher, speaker, or writer doesn’t live here. Not yet, anyway. Check back later, when my marketing website complete with secure server and encrypted checkout is up and running. Thanx.