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Navigation for Luther's Sermons, Lenker Edition

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:10-13 KJV.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lutheran Seminary Fraud:
Students Are Bankrupting Themselves
To Provide an Easy Living for the Profs.
"No Call for You" Threat Stifles Dissent

"Give me $100, 000 and I can make you a pastor...maybe."

Millions for the LCMS colleges, hardly a dime for the seminaries.

"I could have gone to Yale Divinity for the same price and earned a valuable degree!"

Icha-posts dealing with seminaries are listed chronologically along with a summary (and some with added commentary) from September 9, 2010 to the present.

                     CFWCFW May 5, 2011 CFWCFW

Graphic: A seminarian gets his first student loan bill after graduation and call day. After recovering from sticker shock, he has an "I could've had a V8" moment. He bemoans the fact that for the same cost and fewer years, he could have graduated from Yale Divinity School, a more recognized, prestigious school whose degree would offer more academic possibilities and a better sheepskin effect. Though this student undoubtedly received financial aid at a LCMS Concordia, one can assume that all seminaries are as generous with financial aid, if not more so, and nineteen out of twenty seminaries are not as expensive to start with:

Seminary Graduate Face Palms, May 5, 2011, Icha-blog

Sheepskin effect:

                     CFWCFW May 3, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: Dr. Jackson laments that not many are interested in confessionalism nowadays. Thus any research into the real history of the doctrine of the synodical conference won't make a difference, certainly not enough to close a seminary. The ennui concerning confessionalism set in because people didn't have enough information, so a stalemate ensued, but once there is complete information, the ennui might lift.

Besides, even Rome fell when people no longer believed its founding myth, and one would think the same would happen to a synod that's based on a faulty founding myth, i.e., that CFW "Yoda" Walther (you’ve got to admit there’s a resemblance) passed down forgotten Lutheranism/"the ways of the Jedi" to naive 19th century Luke Skywalkers/Reformed-leaning Lutheran German immigrants at St. Louis/Planet Dagobah. Like Skywalker, President Harrison may yet find out who his true father is: Nooooooo!

Graphic: President Harrison with his doctrinal DNA paternity test kit, Icha-blog, 14 Jun 2010

“I am your father.” “Nooooo!”: You-Tube or You-Tube

Graphic: “I’m with the plagiarist” t-shirt, Icha-blog, June 8, 2010

Forgetting Luther and Christian Doctrine, Icha-blog, May 3, 2011

                     CFWCFW May 3, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: An Icha-critic alleged that the LCMS Concordia seminaries don't require nearly twice as many class hours as needed for an accredited M Div. Bruce Church establishes without a doubt the LCMS Concordia seminaries do require nearly twice as many credit hours, or two years' worth of credit hours more than is needed, not to mention all the non-credit requirements piled on the students during the entire marathon stint, e.g., four years of field education now instead of just two.

The Ichi-critic says the seminary has had the same requirements for at least the last 41 years (since the 1970s), but up through the 1970s attending seminary cost next to nothing. Legally, everything changes when someone goes from providing services for free to people paying dearly for those services. Santa Claus could never be charged with fraud, but if he started selling wares, he could be. Now students are being shortchanged a degree since they put in the work for two degrees but only receive one.

In the process of being overworked though, seminarians are amassing serious educational debt while attending seminary, thereby adding to the US national debt via Sallie Mae and other govt-backed student loan providers. So the seminary is no different than contractors selling the Pentagon $600 toilet seats and $500 hammers, except the seminary is selling sheepskins.

Just because the seminaries have been shortchanging seminary students ever since the 1970s or before doesn't mean it is right, or that their program should be grandfathered. The department of education at least ought to make the students sign a statement of informed consent saying they know they are getting ripped off but don’t care.

Other seminaries give two degrees for the same amount of study, and grant more and more credit toward the degree for distance learning. The fact that "the system" at the LCMS seminaries has largely remained essentially the same for so long, puts the lie to the seminaries’ claims online that their curriculum is under "continuous review." Besides, one criterion for that review can't be that they are giving every student a square deal.

It seems the criterion that trumps all others in these reviews is that the curriculum must generate enough money, and require enough student residency, to give a raison d'etre for a redundant seminary campus and faculty.

The situation is similar to that of the postal service today (or lighthouse keepers losing their jobs to automation during the Great Depression, or today's public schools vs. private and charter schools debate). They can't end Saturday delivery and close unprofitable post offices even though they are largely superfluous and increasingly a money loser in the age of the internet. Doing so would lead to the end of their postal monopoly since private carriers are more efficient at delivering mail five days a week while charging extra for Saturday delivery, if they offered it at all.

One can see that in the case of the postal service and synod, the debate is no longer about keeping the cost of mail delivery/instruction down, and avoiding becoming an unending taxpayer/churchgoer liability or money drain, but instead is about preserving the maximum number of redundant union postal jobs/tenured faculty positions to man unneeded post office branches/an unneeded seminary campus.

The LCMS will remain uncompetitive with other denominations and churches due to its inefficiencies. Similarly, the fact that Europe has much more efficient medical and postal delivery systems while the US systems remain antiquated means that the US will be at a disadvantage economically, and thus the US national debt will continue to soar while European national debts shrink. Ironically, Europe's postal systems are all privatized, or liberalized, as they prefer to call it.

Even if the two LCMS seminaries fortify their endowments and otherwise stay in the black, the cost of delivering instruction will be very high per student, and even if that cost is borne in large part by the student, other areas of ministry will suffer. After Concordia St. Louis' endowment reached $80 million and Ft. Wayne built a new library, I was not surprised that President Harrison had to lay off fifty-five synodical workers (and counting), and admit the synod could only afford fifty foreign missionaries. Furthermore, he was the force behind the issuance of a special issue of the Lutheran Witness focusing on the plight of the synodical budget.

Finally, if the high cost of seminary education is largely borne by the seminarian, their starting pay must be higher to pay off student loans, and hence hundreds of LCMS "non-calling" churches will continue to never be able to afford a pastor who not nearly retired. It might be advisable for those churches to break off and form another synod that provides them regular ministers able to work with lower starting salaries:

Bruce Church Answers ELCA Pastor (LCMS Backslider) Bruce Foster, May 3, 2011, Icha-blog.

Rev. Bruce Foster, Icha-critic, ELCA roster, pastor of a 100% lily white church in Ellison Bay, WI:

[snippet] The M.Div. curriculum of Concordia Seminary is under continuous review in order that, with suitable revisions, it can prepare men more thoroughly to serve the church of today.

Station and Branch Closures, Five-Day Delivery:
Acts of Surrender, With the Battle’s Outcome in Doubt
American Postal Workers Union Web News Article #089-09, July 31, 2009,

[snippet] Closing stations and branches and reducing mail delivery to five days per week “will unquestionably have a negative effect on the postal monopoly,” APWU President William Burrus told a House subcommittee at a hearing…

Voucher plan for other Wisconsin cities creates fears, cheers
Debate covers effect on public education, May 11, 2011,

Liberalization or privatization of European postal systems,, May 11, 2011:

[snippet] On the expense side of the ledger, the Lutheran Witness article, page 1, tells some very important stories: 1) LCMS World Mission has been a budgetary “black hole,” sucking in millions of unrestricted funds from other areas EVERY YEAR; 2) Fan into Flame, though well-intentioned, cost significantly more and raised significantly less than projected; 3) 25% of synod-national office unrestricted funds go to service historic debt of the Concordia University System! OUCH!

                     CFWCFW April 30, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: All the synodical schools string mediocre students along to keep up the student body and finances, but then don't give them calls, or give them a one-year duration call and then that's it. Moreover, when they are waiting long periods for a call that never comes, they are not told that they'll never receive a call. If they only knew that, at least they wouldn't throw away even more years, and good money after bad:

Ben Wink on Evaporative Calls (see the comments, too), Icha-blog, April 30, 2011

                     CFWCFW April 29, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: ALPB contributor George Erdner suggests that people in the ELCA ought not go out of their way to encourage people to attend seminary given how the denomination is shrinking. Bruce Church wonders why that notion never crossed the mind of any leader in the LCMS given that the LCMS is shrinking by 25,000 members, or by one percent every year. The LCMS has 2.3 million baptized members in some 6,200 congregations and more than 9,000 pastors, but many of those churches are non-calling or are dual or triple parishes (or ought to be). Moreover, why would anyone go the long and expensive pre-sem and M Div route when they know that the synod could fill any number of empty pulpits virtually overnight with alternative route pastors?!:

Largest 25 Denominations/Communions from the 2011 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches ,

[snippet] 13. The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,312,111 members, down 1.08 percent [from 2010]

No, This Approach Is Not Growing the ELCA Seminaries, Icha-blog, April 29, 2011

                     CFWCFW April 27, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: The ELCA is looking to merge its Pacific seminary
with another school. Bruce Church comments that the ELCA needs to learn some tricks from the LCMS, such as requiring more credit hours, and not telling the alternative route students that they could receive an M Div at many seminaries for about the same amount of time and effort they expend at the Concordia seminaries. Pacific seminary only requires 90 credit hours for an M Div, while the LCMS Concordias require an unheard of 47 and 49 more credit hours, in other words 137 hours at Ft. Wayne and 139 credit hours at St. Louis. If the LCMS really needs pastors with that much training, they ought to issue two degree then:

ELCA Can Learn from the LCMS System, Icha-blog, April 27, 2011

                     CFWCFW April 21, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: Just three weeks before Call Day 2011 there were only ninety LCMS congregations requesting seminarians, while 174 seminarians were eligible. There must have been a massive amount of arm-twisting the last few weeks since only a few sem graduates went without calls in 2011, compared to about 30 who went without calls for a while in 2010. They might want to modify the name of Call Day to Call/File at the Unemployment Office Day:

Half the LCMS Seminary Graduates without a Call.
Luther a Johnny One-Note? Icha-blog, April 21, 2011

From the LCMS South Wisconsin District “DP Vantage Point” e-Newsletter 4-13-11,
[snippet] Candidate placement: Talking with the placement director at one of our seminaries this past week, here’s a third hand update on the call situation for new grads. I am told that there are 174 grads eligible for placement. Between the two seminaries we have something like 90 congregations requesting candidates. For those of us who serve in the office of the Holy Ministry there is a deep sense of concern and sadness about this situation. It is certainly something to lift up to the Lord of the church, asking that he would provide places where these men could serve his church.

                     CFWCFW April 14, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: Seminaries overcharge their students so they must take out large student loans to hand over to the seminaries, especially for doctorates. Dr. Jackson observes that many professors at Lutheran seminaries are hardly Lutheran at heart:

Fraud and Peculation in Modern Theology. Future Book Reviews, Icha-blog, April 14, 2011

                     CFWCFW March 30, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlight: Dr. Jackson notes that he's never seen a detailed pie chart from the synods showing precisely where income comes from and where it goes. The LCMS contribution to their seminaries would surely look more a line than a pie slice. He also notes that President Harrison is studious like Jack Preus, and none of the presidents between them were as studious. President Harrison knows how to enthrall the LCMS "bronzies" who adore CFW Walther and the leaders of that generation even though in Dr. Jackson’s estimation, Walther only had a few good points.

Pr. Harrison discusses "unity," which Bruce Church mistakenly thought may allude to recent discussions on the Icha-blog, but probably deal with the barely submerged liberal vs. conservative war in the LCMS:

Bruce Church's Posts May Be Finding Their Mark, Icha-blog, March 30, 2011

                     CFWCFW March 29, 2011 CFWCFW

Only half of the seminary student bodies nowadays are traditional M Div single students. The rest are married before coming to the seminary. The M Div process is so tedious and expensive it makes sense for the student to marry at some point so the wife can help put him through school. It’s a two-person job now. Besides, being a single student around so many married students with their wives and families around makes one feel like the odd man out.

Now the unused dorm rooms at St. Louis seminary are being converted into office space and a food pantry for all the families to enjoy. Due to tuition and book expenses, they really do need a robust and free food pantry, and students and their families probably are disqualified from receiving federal food stamps.

Ironically, the seminary just laid off professors due to the recession, but now they have ample money for big renovations.

Commenters note that the synod barely gives any money to the seminaries, but the synodical bureaucrats make sure they receive their paycheck on time. Priorities! Unfortunately, no synodical president will move to close one of the two seminaries or streamline the Concordia U system since bureaucrats know that if they gore someone else's ox, what goes around comes around.

The comments on this post include excerpts and links to articles about the recent discussion about closing a seminary, and how mission creep led both seminaries to end up catering to married and alternative route students, especially now that the pre-sem pool of students is drying up.

Ironically, the just described mission creep may have led the seminaries to become the opposite of what they were, especially after the pool of pre-sem candidates (i.e., the more academic students) shrank, and Ft. Wayne expanded its Walther library:

Wikipedia: Concordia_Theological_Seminary, Ft. Wayne
[snippet] Concordia Theological Seminary was at one time considered the practical seminary of the LCMS while Concordia Seminary in St. Louis was considered the academic seminary. Some say those distinctions have now reversed.

Re-Gentrifying Our Lady of Sorrows (Concordia, St. Louis), Icha-blog, March 29, 2011

                     CFWCFW March 28, 2011 CFWCFW

Graphic: Walther's seminary in Antebellum St. Louis is reminiscent of Babylon which relied on the river for its wealth by trade, especially the slave trade, and the dominance that brought. Walther's churches and seminary were only four miles from the largest slave auction in Missouri--on the steps of what now is called the Old Courthouse. St. Louis was one of those peripheral cities that benefited from the Southern slave economy but escaped destruction during the Civil War.

Like Babylon, St. Louis became a fortress for false doctrine. Calvinists had always called Lutherans synergists for teaching justification by faith, using the same arguments against Lutherans as they did against Armenians. Because of the state-backed merger of the Reformed and Lutheran churches, Calvinists were able to use these arguments against true Lutherans from within their own church. Walther just carried on this tradition in America, recruiting immigrants from Germany schooled in the same Reformed-Lutheran doctrine. Even now the EKD church in Germany is a mix of Lutheran, Union (Lutheran-Reformed) and Reformed Churches.

Now, however, with the increase in information available to the masses, the doctrinal controversies of the late 19th C are coming to the fore, but ironically, the LCMS is entirely focused on the lack of monies coming in to the districts, synods and seminaries, exactly what one would expect from Babylon:

The Evangelische Kirche in Deutschland (EKD)

Google: walther missouri synod "defense of slavery":

Walther Did Not Teach Justification by Faith from Luther,
But Justification without Faith from Halle University, Icha-blog, March 28, 2011

Graphic: Walther Did Not Teach Justification by Faith from Luther,
But Justification without Faith from Halle University, Icha-blog, March 28, 2011

                     CFWCFW March 26, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlight: The two LCMS seminaries are determined to last even past judgment day, somewhat reminiscent of the determination of the Tower of Babel builders. However, they seem oblivious to their Sword of Damocles situation. All that would need happen to put them both in an existential crisis would be for the US Dept of Education to rule that they will no longer back student loans to cover instruction beyond what is required for a degree. Right now a Master of Divinity should only takes 72 credit hours, but the Concordia seminaries delay handing over the diploma until the student has passed 137 or 139 credit hours.

Another existential crisis would be if the Concordia U's handled more seminary classes as they do the pre-sem classes. Moreover, the Concordia U’s could teach classes satisfying the alternative routes to ordination requirements. (A December 28, 2010 Icha-post comment says they are already itching to do just that.)

The situation is similar to how community and junior colleges teach more and more classes, and colleges and universities teach fewer and fewer, and merely transfer and apply the credits toward higher degrees. This would allow many students to live at home and commute to Concordia U’s, which is often cheaper than residency at a university or seminary campus. It would also allow for a more leisurely part-time pace, taking one or two classes at a time.

The seminaries may only need to teach, say, 35 credit hours, or at most 72 credit hours, in house, and all the rest of the classes could be transferred and applied toward the M Div. That means the Concordia U's could teach 102 or 104 credit hours worth of seminary classes for the currently configured $500 hammer M Divs (i.e., the 137/139 credit hour M Divs).

Obviously, only one seminary would then be required under any such arrangement, and perhaps that one remaining seminary could be moved to a Concordia U campus. So many seminaries around the world are located on university campuses and share a library, professors, and other resources, and many are just departments or colleges of a university, so I don’t know why the LCMS needs a standalone seminary, let alone two:

Bruce Church on Using Government Funds To Create Seminary Sinecures, Icha-blog, March 26, 2011

                     CFWCFW March 23, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: Dr. Jackson writes that if the synods got rid of their misfits and alcoholic pastors, they'd have plenty of slots open. But nepotism and cultivation of bloodlines are the rule when it comes to handing out sinecures and franchises. If anyone writes a letter about some abuse or a certain abusive person, it is just used as evidence against the writer, i.e., shoot the messenger, or the Joseph treatment (Gen 37:02):

Bloated Hours, Bloated Costs at Lutheran Seminaries,
Revealed by Bruce Church, Icha-blog, March 23, 2011

More on the Bloat, Icha-blog, March 23, 2011

                     CFWCFW March 21, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: A Methodist seminary professor writes on the dire state of Methodist seminaries. But alas, the situation he describes pales in comparison to the situation in Lutheran seminaries. He describes the escalating tuition, bloated class requirements, the undermining of the M Div route to the ministry by the introduction of alternative routes to ordination, the lowering of academic standards, and the distortion of ministerial training to make pastors into counselors, social justice activists, CEOs, and lately ecologists. All that can be found in the LCMS seminaries, even the ecology part:

Essay Backs Bruce Church's Arguments about Seminary Education, Icha-blog, March 22, 2011:

Is It Time to Write the Eulogy?: The Future of Seminary Education,
by Frederick Schmidt,, March 21, 2011:

[snippet] Our seminaries are dying and the Master of Divinity degree has been discredited.

                     CFWCFW March 5, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: LCMS seminarians need more financial aid, but synodical monies go to pay six-figure salaries to pencil pushers, to overseas missions with a lot of overhead costs imposed on them by the synod HQ, and so synodical leaders can play Santa Claus to troubled parts of the world with Thrivent money and designated offerings. Charity to, say, earthquake and tsunami survivors is definitely something that the synod could, without apology, outsource to highly rated charities that specialize in that sort of thing, and know how to stretch every dollar:

Seminarians Plea for Mercy from Harrison, Icha-blog, March 5, 2011

                     CFWCFW February 28, 2011 CFWCFW

Graphic: While the LCMS has a $1.16 billion budget, only $150,000 goes to each seminary. The seminarians can see all the money being spent right around them, but can't tap into any of it. It's as though the seminarians were in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean and thirst mightily due to a lack of drinking water. Sure, the seminaries say that they give a lot of financial aid, but after a student receives the bill, the financial aid seems more like some sort of accounting trick. Dr. Jackson's solution is to recommend St. Catharines seminary and no other:

Flow of Funds to the Seminaries, Icha-blog, February 28, 2011:

                     CFWCFW February 18, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlight: A LCMS pastor addresses the broken M Div business model of the LCMS seminaries. His solution is to end the alternative routes to ordination:

Economics in One Lesson -or- My Plan to Save the Seminaries, February 15, 2011, by Rev. Fr. Heath R. Curtis, M.Div., M.A., Dept Editor of the Gottesdienst Online journal. Rev. Curtis is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Worden, Illinois, and Zion Lutheran Church, Edwardsville, Illinois, gottesdienstonline, February 15, 2011

See also:

Don't go to the seminary, gottesdienstonline, 30 Apr 2010

Challenging Article on Seminary Enrollment by Rev. Heath Curtis
February 18th, 2011, by Pastor Tim Rossow,

About Gottesdienst Online

Will Anyone Address the Swindle at the Seminaries? Icha-blog, February 18, 2011

                     CFWCFW February 18, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: The alternative routes to the ministry are hurting the seminary M Div programs. If more students were M Div students, the price would come down per student. As it is, having different routes to the ministry involves hiring more professors, and each professor teaches fewer students, driving overall costs up. Besides that, fewer people take the M Div route because there is no shortage of pastors, and if a shortage ever did develop, it would be quickly plugged with alternative route pastors. Also, there's the largely untapped pool of CRM pastors, many with M Divs, who could fill any shortage of pastors.

Many CRM pastors report that they are more or less in permanent exile though they are ready and willing to take a call. BTW, CRM stands for "Candidate for the Reverend Ministry." CRM also has three statuses: those ready to receive a call, those who don't want a call but want to stay on the synodical clergy roster and preach occasionally, and restricted status--until they work out personal and family issues.

The alternative routes to the ministry in the synods were inspired by church growth gurus such as C. Peter Wagner, some of them teaching at Fuller Seminary. They are Baptists and Evangelicals, and don't have the same doctrine of the ministry and of the church as Lutherans. The alternative routes (e.g., Staff Minister, Seminary Certification Program, SMP) became popular in the synods since the 1980s, due to the introduction of church growth-ism. Unsurprisingly, ever since then the seminaries have become more pricey, and seminaries have sought to justify the price hikes by saying they have all these new church growth/pastor as CEO etc. elixirs to sell, what I call “the gnostic premium”:

Wichita 1989, in Resolution 3-05B allowing laymen to permanently act as ordained ministers in the LCMS, in "emergency" situations that never end (see pp 21-23 of this PDF:

Fuller Seminary's Imprint Can Be Found in "Lay Ministry," SMPs, Etc., Icha-blog, February 18, 2011.

                     CFWCFW February 15, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: Lutherans should support St. Catharines seminary because the tuition is low enough that even traditional M Div students can attend there without going into serious debt--traditional as in their early twenties, just out of college pre-sem. The students who can best afford the LCMS $500 hammer M Divs are second career students who can sell a house and have a wife with a career, and thus the LCMS seminary student body and ministerium are understandably getting grayer.

Ironically, LCMS leaders lament the statistic that 62% of pastors are over the age of 50, and say this shows we need more seminary students. However, they have an aging student body so the average seminary graduate is headed toward 35 years of age, especially since the number of pre-sem students took a dive shortly after the start of the new millennium, and more retiring boomers are attending seminary. If the average student graduates when he’s 35, that only gives him 15 years of service before he's 50, and most pastors are on the active clergy roster until they are 70-something. Thus, "the 62% of pastors are over 50 years old" statistic won't ever die. No matter how many people they run through the seminaries, it won’t make a difference, and they'll be using that 62% over 50 stat from now until judgment day!

The 70,000 member LCC provides 25% of St. Catharine sem's financial support. The 2.5-million member LCMS, with a budget of a billion smackers, provides each of their sems a mere $150,000. Shocking!

Many home congregations don't support their seminarians during vicarage thinking they are getting paid adequately and getting free housing at their vicarage congregation, but that's often when seminarians and their families run up credit card debts since the pay is so low:

"Holy Enrollers: Why Boomers Are Going to Divinity School"
By Melba Newsome,, Feb 06, 2011

Another Post for St. Catharine's in Ontario, Eh? Icha-blog, February 15, 2011

                     CFWCFW February 14, 2011 CFWCFW

Graphic: To become a well-educated, conservative Lutheran pastor with an accredited M Div and without incurring a lot of debt, one ought to consider St. Catharines Lutheran seminary. There are few other choices, if any, which meet all the aforementioned criteria. If you have a wife, you can rest assured you won't be putting her in debt along with yourself. However, one commenter did note that all the conservative seminaries in N America teach UOJ. This first graphic touches on the UOJ issue and the synods:

Graphic: Icha-Air-Rescue, Icha-blog, February 10, 2011:

Graphic: A Modest Proposal, Icha-blog, February 14, 2011

                     CFWCFW February 4, 2011 CFWCFW

Studies commissioned by various synod entities always suggest there is a looming pastor shortage that never comes close to materializing, but in fact the opposite occurs and there is a glut of seminary graduates and people in the pre-sem pipeline, gridlock in the call system, and a backlog of CRMs. For instance, while the number of people in the pews diminishes each year by about one percent, between 1989 and 2007 the number of LCMS pastors rose by 701, or by eight percent.

One 2000 study (quoted below) said that by 2017, the number of active LCMS pastors would be cut in half. However, here we are in the year 2011 and no one would make that prediction about 2017 today! Nevertheless, these "studies" are taken seriously and endlessly repeated for purposes of seminary recruitment, and the conventions are led to believe they have no choice but to approve alternative routes to the ministry--or else face a shortage.

Historically, I don’t think any church body has lowered its academic standards for the ministry based on projections, except the ELS, WELS and LCMS. Perhaps when churches were in the thick of a shortage they did, however, I bet they put in a sunset clause, thereby not creating an open-ended two track route to the ministry as the synods have now:

Mythbusters at work again; The Pastor Shortage, by Pr Loren Zell,, May 17th, 2010:

[snippets] The 2009 LCMS Lutheran annual reports that in 1987 there were 6,269 congregations. As of 2007 that number dropped by 111 to 6,158. The membership of the synod has dropped from 2,707,134 to 2,383,084 a drop of about 13.5%. At the same time, the number of pastors on the clergy roster has increased from 8,463 to 9,164, an increase of over 8% [by 701 pastors]. Considering these trends, it’s pretty hard to conclude that the synod is facing a shortage of pastors.

Other factors are having a negative effect on demand for pastors. Several years ago, the Concordia Retirement Plan began to allow pastors to start collecting their pensions, but also to remain in their calls. This and other factors mean that more pastors over the age of 65 are continuing to serve congregations.

Example of a pastor shortage prediction gone bust:

The “Clergy Shortage Study,” commissioned by the Board for Higher Education (BHE), reported by LCMS News,, January 24, 2000:

[snippet] The BHE determined that during 1988-1997 there was a net loss of 1,305 clergy in the Synod.
*The LCMS Council of Presidents found in 1997 that 15 percent of congregations were vacant and calling a pastor, up 7 percent from 10 years earlier.
*The Department of Planning and Research discovered that the number of pastors reaching normal retirement age will increase in the next 20 years.
*North America Missions announced plans to increase the number of U.S. mission stations from 6,200 to 7,000 within a decade.
If the downward trend in the number of clergy continues as it did during the 1988-1997 period, the study suggests, there could be only 2,220 parish pastors in the Synod (compared with the 5,187 reported for the end of 1998) by 2017.

Worship - Part IV - Thy Strong Word, Icha-blog, February 4, 2011 (in the Thy Strong Word book or PDF, see p. 610, quote J-1034 for a pastor shortage prediction).

                     CFWCFW January 20, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlight: Bruce Church thinks that the alternative route pastors with their lesser training would be a significant factor in any synodical split, or doctrinal dispute such as a re-repristination of Lutheran theology. Since their ordination and certificate are only recognized by the synod from which they rec'd it, they'd stick with the official synodical position. Besides, they wouldn’t have the language tools necessary to come to any firm conclusions. None of them would become members of a group like the 19th Century Anti-Missourian Brotherhood:

Bruce Church on the Synods Dividing and Conquering - Themselves, Icha-blog, January 20, 2011

                     CFWCFW January 19, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlight: In 2008 Daniel Preus spoke to Texan conservative Lutherans about how the synod did not support the seminaries enough, and how his son dropped out of seminary (presumably Ft. Wayne) because it was too expensive. Now two of Rolf Preus' sons are attending St. Catharine's instead of Ft. Wayne because that seminary is much more affordable. The price differential is so great that the extra drive to St. Catharine's is not prohibitive in the slightest, plus it's not hot and muggy like St. Louis can be:

No Excuse for Everyone Being Asleep on This, Eh?, Icha-blog, January 19, 2011

                     CFWCFW January 17, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlight: The $28 million budget for the two seminaries is just 2.5% of the LCMS $1.16 billion synodical budget. 40% of the income for the seminaries comes from tuition. The synod, if it wanted to, could easily lower tuition to 1970s levels. The fact that the seminarians put years and much effort into their education shows enough commitment without their having to go into serious debt to the US govt to prove how much they love and are thankful for the LCMS. BTW, that last criterion is on the vicarage evaluation forms, i.e., does the candidate express thankfulness for the LCMS. After being nickeled and dimed to death, it’s a wonder any vicar could express thankfulness for the LCMS.

The districts apparently don't skim offerings as much as is rumored since their combined budget for the 35 or so districts is only $84 million.

The Titus & Timothy chapel in St. Louis looks Reformed rather than Lutheran. Lutheran churches look like churches, whereas Reformed churches look utilitarian, i.e., "four white walls and a sermon". I'm not sure where the A-frame type of chapel that Ft Wayne has originates. Some say Norway had steep-pitched roofs due to the snow loads, but they don't look anything like modern A-frame churches, a style I hope doesn't continue since it reminds me of worshiping in a cave:

Google: "four white walls and a sermon":

Mercy! - The LCMS Budget Is Corrupt Beyond Belief, Icha-blog, January 17, 2011

                     CFWCFW January 17, 2011 CFWCFW

Highlights: The total budget for the LCMS is $1.16 billion, yet the two seminaries only receive $300 grand in subsidies. In the 1980s the tuition started escalating in all three synods, and then there was an alleged shortage of seminarians and churches without regular pastors. Many of those churches were non-calling churches who were happier with a retired pastor whom they could afford. Rather than lower tuition to attract more students, they created the alternate routes to the ministry. Thirty years later the shortage never materialized, and never will since any hole no matter how big can be quickly plugged with alternate route and CRM pastors. There are just too many alternate route pastors for the need:

Your LCMS Benevolence Dollars - Not At Work Supporting the Seminaries, Icha-blog, January 17, 2011

                     CFWCFW December 28, 2010 CFWCFW

Highlights: The LCMS seminary tuition costs $21,000+ each year, same as Yale University Divinity School. Concordia Ft. Wayne is the 9th most expensive seminary in North America, Yale seminary is 10th, and Concordia St. Louis is 11th most expensive. The LCMS seminaries are the most expensive Lutheran seminaries in N America by several thousand dollars per year, and are two to three times as expensive as the least expensive Lutheran seminaries. For just a few thousand dollars more, LCMS students could attend any top-ranked seminary in North America--save Notre Dame.

Bruce Church noted that SMP students perhaps get less psychologizing than M Div students. Narrow-minded Lutheran says that the Concordia U's want to teach pre-sem and SMP classes, and doing so would mean the Concordia U’s could replace one of the two seminaries. That way there's much less reduplication of programs if one campus has just the SMP program and the other has just the M Div program:

Scribd: All-ATS-Seminaries-Cost-Rank

LCMS Seminary Costs, Icha-blog, December 28, 2010

                     CFWCFW December 11, 2010 CFWCFW

Highlight: The synods killed the seminary M Div business model by introducing the alternative routes to the ministry, and by making the M Div route so fraught with peril (for explanation of that, see the Nov 27, 2010 post):

Church Growth Seminaries Use Failing Business Model, Icha-blog, December 11, 2010

                     CFWCFW 27 November 2010 CFWCFW

Highlights: The seminary swindle involves first getting students to seminary. Since the 1980s recruiters have said that there are over 600 pastoral vacancies. However, at any one time, even when the field is considered "locked up," statistically there are still hundreds of vacancies. Many of those 600 vacancies were at non-calling churches, meaning they only want a part-time pastor or they have some other arrangements.

The swindle also involves keeping mediocre students in the program, stringing them along until graduation when the seminary can no longer collect any more federal student loan monies. Then the seminaries deny them calls, perhaps just by not recommending them, or by not allowing them to repeat a failed vicarage, or make up for some alleged deficiency. Suspicion of contact with, or sympathy with, Rev. Otten of CN fame will sink one's clerical career before it even starts:

Someone Thanked Ichabod - Really Bruce Church - For the Coverage on Seminary Tuition Swindles, Icha-blog, November 27, 2010

                     CFWCFW October 2, 2010 CFWCFW

Graphic: In the first frame a student is shown with heavy educational debt hoping for a decent paying call so he pay it off, and in the second frame is a student who got washed out of the system only to find his M Div is next to useless in the business world, and finds the debt to be crushing because he can only get a so-so job with so-so pay. Also, he can’t get more training because he’s already used up his federal student loan monies.

Spreadsheet screen shots: One shows the LCMS seminaries are the 9th and 11th most expensive in N America out of 200+ seminaries. The ELS (48th) and WELS (96th) seminaries are quite expensive considering how they are unaccredited. The other Lutheran seminaries are also listed along with total cost.

If an LCMS seminarian had attended an average priced seminary for four years, he would have saved nearly $38,000 dollars. If an ELS person did the same, he would have saved nearly $15,000. If a WELS person did the same, he would save nearly $4,000.

The post has screen shots of the spreadsheet graphs, but the original spreadsheet and data can be found at:
The documents at Scribd may not display correctly in your browser, so download them and view the original files in their native program.

The attendance at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis has dropped a lot lately, while Ft. Wayne's attendance apparently has dropped less, but never was as large to start with. St. Louis dropped from 812 in 2003-4 school year to 509 in 2009-10. The 1100-seat cavernous Saints Titus & Timothy chapel must seem rather empty, and maybe it has developed an echo. Now they are using it for small group sessions instead of chapel one day per week.

The LCMS synod has killed the seminary M.Div. business model by instituting the alternate routes to the ministry. Who will study all those years and pay through the nose when he knows the same pulpits he seeks to fill will be occupied by men with less training and debts:

The Boomers Got Their Cheap Seminary Education, Only To Stick the Next Generations with Harvard Costs and Mudville Quality, Icha-blog, October 2, 2010

                     CFWCFW September 9, 2010 CFWCFW

Highlights: The number of M Div students in each seminary is surprisingly low, and getting lower each year, with no signs of recovery. Half the matriculating class is enrolled in alternative routes to the ministry, and the deaconess and cross-cultural programs. In Fall 2010 only 62 of a 130 freshmen at Concordia St. Louis were M Div students. The pre-sem student body at the ten Concordia U's shrunk by 42% between 2005 and 2008.

Rev. Daniel Preus of the Luther Academy relates that his son quit seminary, presumably Ft. Wayne, due to the high tuition cost. He said the LCMS was not supporting the seminaries enough.

Besides the fact that the alternative route to the ministry is shorter and cheaper route to the ministry than the M Div route (and hence a safer bet), what's not well known is the LCMS seminaries make all the students run through a psychology gauntlet. When students go through pre-sem, they are not informed that at some point, their mind will be vetted because the LCMS only wants perfect human specimens for pastors.

It's cold comfort to know that the seminary will still give an academic degree to those deemed to have quirks if they continue with the program. A "theological degree" and a call are reserved only for those who are unreservedly recommended by the faculty and staff psychologist, for those who are not suspected of having contact with Rev. Herman Otten, and for those who meet numerous other conditions--most of which are not written down anywhere:

Maybe Because Bruce Church Told the Truth about Sky-High Tuition and the 600 Empty Parish Lie, Icha-blog, 9 Sep 2010.


grumpy has left a new comment on your post "Lutheran Seminary Fraud: Students Are Bankrupting ...":

Martin Luther College had its call day already, but I am not sure how many did not receive a call (although I do know there were at least some)....

Meqoun's (sic) call night is tomorrow...

But, regardless of the number of preps or colleges are closing....BA-ZING-OO....


GJ - I specialize in adverbs, which modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs, creating precision in place of vagueness. No preps or colleges are closing yet. Spike not the ball when the demographics argue another case altogether.


First of all, I have a new email address. It is

Secondly, an observation regarding the WELS school system, specifically MLC. Call Day at MLC is now history for 2011.

79 (according to my count) graduates were placed in various WELS schools.

The telling number to note is that 19 MLC graduates elected international service. That means, in effect, there were no classroom or other positions at the elementary, ALHS (area Lutheran high school), or prep school level for them.

That's a 20% non-placement rate.

Ba-ZING-oo to Grumpy on that!

Kansas LCMS Pastor Writes:

When when you talk about the expense of LCMS seminaries (no experience with the rest) you are surely correct. But you don't mention the real reason they get by with the outrageous cost - the monopoly they exert upon certification in LCMS. You cannot serve a parish in the LCMS without being certified by the LCMS seminaries, therefore if you don't get your degree from them, practically speaking you won't be a pastor for Lutherans. Yes, there are formal ways through the certification system, but they somehow don't let many through. The proof is that you can't transfer from WELS to LCMS, etc without extensive re-brainwashing.

You might check on the AFLC ( seminary to compare their price and effort. I suspect that they are better all the way around. Their doctrinal differences can't be all that great.

Thanks for the articles.


GJ - Kansas, Dan Kelm, divorced and remarried WELS pastor, but Church Growth, was told he had to do nothing to get into Missouri. He was even told just to drop by some classes. He was defended in CN by a WELS DP and by a Missouri DP or pastor.


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "Lutheran Seminary Fraud: Students Are Bankrupting ...":

Evidently based on Kelm's experience, if a pastor is WELS, a short stint at Fuller Sem fulfills the colloquy requirements for the LCMS. Look at Rev. Jeske. Just being CG without going to Fuller can get you RSO certification in the LCMS--not quite colloquy, tho.

I disagree that a seminary's monopoly on certification leads to higher costs. It certainly can be abused in that way, but it is not automatic, as the experience of other synods would attest. Would someone from The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations naturally argue that point since perhaps they distrust centralized authority? Is that fear why they are just an association of free congregations in the first place? Recall that most pietists have always had a bad relationship with organized religion, especially state churches.

The Association of Free Lutheran Congregations has a pan-Scandinavian pietist background, and is fond of Rosenius, Hauge, etc. They published and pushed Rosinius' Romans commentary in English a few years ago. Unlike the WELS, ELS and LCMS, they readily admit to their pietist background and its influence. The campus chapel is even named Hauge Memorial Chapel.

The Association's seminary is not accredited so it is like the WELS and ELS in that regard. Otherwise, it would be listed on the chart of accredited seminaries. I'm not sure whether the WELS, ELS or LCMS recognize that seminary at all. How much would it take to transfer from that seminary into the WELS or LCMS, for example.

Cost, minus housing, at the Assocation's seminary is around $5,000 per year including books--very low.

The Association has a bible college on the same Plymouth, MN, campus, with dormitories for men and women. I suppose single seminary students stay in those dorms, unless the seminary has separate dorms for single men:

There is housing on campus that is half cost compared to comparable apartments off campus, and it is meant for seminary students with families:

"The seminary has a limited number of apartments available to married students and their families. These units (2- and 3- bedrooms) are made available at a monthly rate which is almost half the cost of renting comparable apartment space in the Twin Cities area."
Association Free Lutheran Theological Seminary (AFLTS)

Bible College and Seminary: 

Go to Canada - Now! Student loan disaster. 

Judgment Day Approaches

More on Seminary Fraud

LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Support Posh Professor Salaries 

LCMS and ELCA Compared - 
Tuition and Salaries. 

Ichabod Had the Scoop on the Seminary Tuition Scandal

bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "Walther Became a Pastor After a Four-Year Rational...": 

Here are some of the more memorable LCMS seminary cost posts, which sketch excludes many minor posts and comics:

Fake Pastoral Shortage in the LCMS, Friday, August 8, 2008

Maybe Because Bruce Church Told the Truth about Sky-High Tuition and the 600 Empty Parish Lie, 9 Sep 2010:

The Seminary Question, 14 Sep 2010

The Boomers Got Their Cheap Seminary Education, Only To Stick the Next Generations with Harvard Costs and Mudville Quality, Saturday, October 2, 2010:

LCMS Seminary Costs, 28 Dec 2010

Lutheran Seminary Fraud: Students Are Bankrupting Themselves To Provide an Easy Living for the Profs. "No Call for You" Threat Stifles Dissent, 16 May 2011

LCMS Seminary Cost Scandal: Fabulous Costs To Support Posh Professor Salaries, September 17, 2011

LCMS Seminaries - Where the Money Is. Ultra High Tuition and Salaries, December 8, 2011

Walther Became a Pastor After a Four-Year Rationalistic Degree from Leipzig and Cell Group Revelations. Now It Takes Eight Years, Feb 13, 2012: 


bruce-church ( has left a new comment on your post "Walther Became a Pastor After a Four-Year Rational...": 

Understanding The Costs Of Pastoral Education: Do We Pay Pastors Too Much? April 18th, 2012, by 
a Lutheran Brethren Church pastor:

Church of the Lutheran Brethren of America (CLBA):

The Church of the Lutheran Brethren has 123 congregations with about 8,860 baptized members[2] in the United States (114) and Canada (9),

MDiv program at Lutheran Brethren Seminary:

Credit hour cost of $340 on page 22:

Fergus Falls, pop. 13,000:,_Minnesota