Pastor Asks, “What Do You Think?”
This may be a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Those of us in the clergy are often more ready to speak to others from our “wealth of experience” than we are to actually sit and listen. But from now on, you are invited to help in setting the pastor’s agenda — and read the results in the newspaper, to boot!
Actually, what the News-Boy hopes for is a two-way street. People will be amused, confused, encouraged, or challenged by what they read here. Then, they’ll write in with their own questions. This leads to a ripple effect: Once you write, you wait to see if your question appears in the paper. If it does, maybe you tell the people you know, so they’ll see your thoughts in the pages of the Sunday News-Boy.
Of course, if you don’t want anyone to know you asked that question, you skip the telling others and just write and wait.
What this column will be depends largely on two things. First, it needs questions from readers. Hence “Ask.” Second, it needs someone to receive and answer. That’s “the Pastor.” If these two criteria are met, we hope to meet success.
Before going any deeper into today’s article, shall we proceed with introductions? I am Pastor Walter Snyder. I am a member of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. We are a conservative, confessional body.
What does all this mean? Write in and “ask the pastor.”
Want to know the differences between church bodies? “Ask the Pastor.” Like to find out what all those fancy robes and things that some ministers wear are called? “Ask the Pastor.” Want to pick a nasty fight with someone? Don’t ask here!
Actually, there are many things we could discuss in the coming weeks and months. The basic ground rules are simple:
1) Ask good, clear questions on matters concerning churches, ministers, personal faith, the Scriptures, and such.
2) Be specific. Don’t be so specific that everyone knows who you are talking about and thinks that you’re out to get someone else.
3) Give us your name, address, and phone number. Even if you remain anonymous, we can check to make sure that “you” are “really you,” and not an imposter. We won’t print any names unless specifically asked to.
Questions will be answered based upon available space, interest to the reading public, interest to this writer, and general suitability.
I’d rather not play “stump the Pastor.” It will be more enjoyable for me (and probably for you) if we use this as a time to learn and grow together, rather than playing Obscure Bible Trivia. Since no one has had opportunity to write in, I’ll set the tone by asking a question or two of myself this week. Note that these were not actually invented. I’ve heard variations on both of them more than once.
Q: You are called “Pastor.” Others are called Minister, Brother, Father, or such. What gives with using this title?
A: “Pastor” comes from the Latin word for shepherd. Pastors are shepherds of God’s flock. In both the Old and New Testaments, God asks those He calls to take care of His “sheep.” Often, ministers are called “under-shepherds of the Good Shepherd.” A great Biblical example is Christ’s command to Peter: “Feed my sheep.”
Q: Do I need to go to church to be saved?
A: Do you need to stay near sea level to live? Air is necessary for human life, and there’s a lot more of it down here than on the tops of the highest mountains. It’s difficult to breathe easily and live life fully when you’re away from where most of the air is. God’s Word is necessary for spiritual life. Its effect is also maximized at its greatest concentration — which should most definitely include public worship at church. If you go to church and still don’t notice yourself “breathing easier” and living better, examine what you receive from the church and how you process what you get. If you are being slowly “smothered,” go where the “air” is pure and flows freely. If the problem is internal, ask the Lord to remove the blockage.
That’s it for this week. I pray that as you read this, you’ve either already attended worship services or are preparing to go.
NB: When I began, I never imagined Ask the Pastor as a web site, an e-list through Confess and Teach for Unity, or a blog.
The Jasper News-Boy, our weekly paper decided to add a Sunday edition and I approached the publisher about doing some sort of religion column, mainly to convince the folks in the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas that Lutherans weren’t members of some bizarre cult.
Even though he’d had previous rotating columns done by local ministers fall through, Mr. Webb took a chance that I might just stick around for a few months. Several years down the road, it took a call to Emma, Missouri to end ATP’s run in the Newsboy.
Send email to Ask the Pastor.
Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.
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Newspaper column #1