National Bishop Raymond Schultz

Rev Raymond Schultz, National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, writes a regular column for each issue of Canada Lutheran.

ELCIC congregations are welcome to republish this material in their church publications. Please acknowledge its original publication by including the credit line:

Canada Lutheran, January/February 2006

Further Reading

More of Bishop Ray's writing can be found in From the Bishop including texts from sermons and addresses.

National Bishop's Turn

Ministers—Shepherds and Sheep

But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" Romans 10:14–15

People learn to have faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ mainly through relationships. Every pastor knows that the most brilliant confirmation instruction will not be effective with young people who are conditioned by parents who feel indifferent about the church or its message. On the other hand, a good congregation can make a big difference in supporting the faith of its members.

Congregations become good congregations because of good leadership. For most of this church's history, those leaders have been faithful pastors who know how to preach relevant sermons and demonstrate God's grace in their relationships with members. Under good pastoral leadership, the laity learn and assume the responsibilities of leading a community into mission. Where there is vision, people develop enthusiasm. Where there is insight, people develop wisdom. Where there is grace, people develop kindness and generosity.

Today's congregations are more challenging than those of 40 years ago. People are busier and everybody is under a lot more tension. The subtle propaganda of our materialistic society threatens people with loss of self-worth if they do not excel and achieve. Building community in an increasingly individualistic society calls for a demanding skill set on the part of leadership. It is hard for clergy to maintain their own sense of self-worth in a corporate culture that expects unlimited growth. In anticipation of these factors, the curriculum at seminaries has grown over the years as more and more expertise is considered necessary.

Nevertheless, we continue to call people into leadership in this church. It's Your Call Sunday is a reminder that every member can play a part in discerning gifts of leadership in others, particularly younger members. The church seeks people of faith who have a courageous heart, a sense of loyalty, a gift for vision and the imagination to see God at work in unexpected ways. The occupation calls for intelligence and rationality; the setting calls for passion and sensitivity. A good church leader is an artist/executive, a warrior/king, a shepherd who knows that she too is one of the sheep.

A good congregation makes all the difference. Without support and participation, rostered ministers become discouraged and depressed. In communities committed to mission they become energized and renewed.

The National Church has set demanding standards for rostered ministers. Preparing for ordination or consecration takes significant time, considerable money and, sometimes, a disruptive redirection of the family's life. Those who are accepted have been academically tested, field tested, scrutinized and interviewed countless times.

Rostered ministers are a mission of the wider church to you, so that you can be In Mission for Others!

Bishop Raymond Schultz

Canada Lutheran, January/February 2006