Full Text for Pastoral Theology and Practice- Volume 35 - Providing Pastoral Care to School Families (Video)

ROUGHLY EDITED COPY LUTHERAN PASTORAL THEOLOGY & PRACTICE LPTP-35 Captioning Provided By: Caption First, Inc. P.O. Box 1924 Lombard, IL 60148 800-825-5234 www.captionfirst.com *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. *** >> DAVID: These questions about pastoral care to congregation members have me thinking. A great number of Lutheran churches in Ohio operate a Lutheran elementary school. In this circumstance, the pastor of the congregation which sponsors the school may find himself counseling families who participate in the school but who are not members of the congregation. What is appropriate in such a case? How is the pastor's role among school families different than or similar to his ministry among the church families? >> PROF. SENKBEIL: Great question, David. This is a situation many pastors find themselves in these days when their parish has a school. We find that nonmembers of the parish are sending their children to Lutheran schools. Of course, as Lutherans schools they're continuing to teach the faith, which we teach and confess. But, as Christians from other denominations, we're not their pastor. And, as you say, that does present a unique circumstance. How is it the same and how is it different than your ministry to members of a church who have their children in their school? Great question. I think, in order to answer that, we have to go back to fundamental things. We talked about pastoral theology being a habitus of the soul, that is, who a pastor is. A pastor does as a pastor is, you could say. Who he is determines what he does. And in a real way you can take a pastor out of the situation of the surroundings of his parish, but he still remains a pastor. So even in the community on the street or in the local restaurant, he still remains pastoral. And, certainly, he wants to be helpful to people who are in need. But one must remember, according to the standards of our profession and according to holy scripture, that you are a shepherd only of those souls that have been entrusted to you in that particular parish. To quote St.�Paul once again in his remarks to the Ephesian pastors in Acts, chapter 20, the charge is to "take heed to yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit has made you overseer." The simple fact is you're not the pastor, the called pastor of those people whose children are in your school or not members of your parish. They have their own pastors. So, while you're not going to write them off if they have spiritual needs, you're going to refer them for crucial and essential spiritual issues to their own pastors. Now, that said, certainly there are situations within your school and its daily functions that call for pastoral advice. Daily operation of the school, on the other hand, when it comes to educational matters or to school disciplinary functions really belongs to the principal of the school. That's his office or her office. But, when it comes to spiritual questions of -- which come from anyone within that school family, it might properly be addressed to you. And I think you can properly give answer to those questions as they come up. But for acute spiritual needs you'd want to refer them to their own pastors. That way we would never be accused of what's called "sheep stealing" or of abusing pastoral authority or pastoral concern. Now, of course, in the case of people who are sending their children to your school who are not members of any church at all, they're evangelism prospects, aren't they? And the school is an effective tool of outreach to such families. And so, certainly, you would want to be pastoral to them in every opportunity inviting them to be a part of your congregation in more ways than simply sending their children to your school. And avenues to do that, of course, would be within the children's instruction in the Christian faith. As they're learning the catechism, so you would properly invite those families, their parents, to partake and to participate in your adult instruction. Certainly, you want to take advantage of the opportunity as you go around the entire parish to visit such households too, those households that are not members of any church at all but send their children to your school. And there you have a terrific opportunity to sit down in a very personal way in their own living room, as the case may be. And to talk with them very candidly and personally regarding the faith and the importance of faith in Jesus Christ, a participation in the life of the church. And invite them into full membership in your church through participation in your adult instruction. So in that case it's a special circumstance. They really don't have a pastor. And you're certainly within your rights as an evangelist to address them and to care for them in that way. *** This text is being provided in a rough draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. ***