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"Come out of the closet"

by Pastor John Beem (WordAlone board member)

June 7, 2005

A pastor friend of mine phoned me not too long ago and said, "I am convinced that we have a huge number of pastors in our synod who are "closet conservatives."

By that term, he meant that they were committed to Scripture as the norm for faith and life and that the Lutheran Confessions must be followed. This pastor and a few colleagues are seeking to create a support system for these pastors so that they will have confidence to come "out of the closet."

The stakes are high! In many respects our ELCA seems to be adrift. It appears that all too often "church unity" becomes our norm rather than the Word. Voices need to be heard, prayers need to be constantly on our lips and the people of God need to be about renewal and reform where necessary for the sake of the ELCA and the work of the Kingdom.

By daring to speak and lead:

  1. Will pastors risk losing their pensions? Absolutely not! Their pension funds are theirs. There are also other available pension funds to which one can subscribe.
  2. Will pastors be able to get calls when a move seems appropriate? Of course they will. Congregations are looking for traditional Biblical and confessional pastors. "Clergy Connect" of WordAlone is one source among many that is working well in assisting the call process.
  3. Will they divide their parishes? On the one hand, not speaking out can be divisive. Keeping people uninformed has not been well received. On the other hand, cannot the people of God reasonably discuss concerns about which they differ?

Most importantly, if loyalty to something less than the authority of the Word is not challenged, then the congregation falls short of its task in the kingdom of God. In some places it might boil down to some internal division or to simply becoming ineffective.

This is an “invite” for pastors and lay leaders to "come out of the closet."