House for All Sinners and Saints

  • House for All Sinners and Saints
    I am the mission developer for House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, Colorado. We are an urban liturgical community with a progressive yet deeply rooted theological imagination. Check out our site for more info.

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    You can go to our Cafe Press store and buy t-shirts and other stuff with out Parchment with a nail at the top logo on the front - and "radical protestants; nailing sh*t to the church door since 1517" on the back.
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  • Chris Enstad
    The blog of a dad, husband, Lutheran pastor, emerging, failing, conversing, confessing.
  • Ian Mobsby
    Ian is the Anglican Priest at Moot in London.
  • Matt Stone
    This is a great blog from Down Under which explores Christianity and religious pluralism
  • Luther Punk
    Like Ward Cleaver with tattoos
  • Ian Adams
    Ian is the priest of the MayBe community in Oxford...I think he's pretty stinkin' cool.
  • Rachael
    cool chick...check her out
  • MayBe
    This is a great emerging church community we spent time with in Oxford. Their website is well worth a look, especially the page "the spirit of MayBe"
  • Mad Priest
    If I'm the Sarcastic Lutheran, he's certainly the Sarcastic Anglican...
  • Steve Collins
    Steve's an interesting and articulate emerging church brit.
  • The Mercy Seat
    This is a really groovey new church plant in NorthEast Minneapolis, amazing jazz liturgy. Their website is well worth checking out

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yeah your initial reaction sounds very much like my initial reaction ... and i usually feel like the world's biggest turdball whenever the initial reaction comes forth ... not that you're a turdball, but you're not alone in the reaction-type

When I have that reaction, I remind myself that my own discipline of faith and church is so far out of the mainstream of global Christianity that I might as well be placing myself out of the small-c catholic tradition, in practice.

it basically just lacks generosity.
Rubbish. You were generous in your condemnation. Although I think you should have replied to him in NT Greek.

Anyway, imagine if you could become a surgeon through the medical equivalent of a Victory Outreach Center.

What I find happening, someone learns I am a priest and suddenly they get this look in their eye and this silly grin on their face. It is at this point I know that I'm going to hear about how they "got saved." And then comes the whole "in club" thing.

I usually smile and nod and try to get away as quickly as possible.

I'm with in-laws "study" "theology" that is so far off the charts odd. Often I just want to scream at them..."Masters Degree...from a REAL seminary...Professors had DEGREES" They would never listen to me tell them how to be doctors or accountants...
But, oh yeah, then God I am reminded of grace and receive a patience level that can only come from the HS.

I don't have much love for your former reaction ... but I love you anyway ;)

I'm probably one of "those" Christians in your mind and while I understand your feeling and while I appreciate seminary I have strong feelings about attitudes that imply a "better than you" attitude because of it. I know a lot of a-holes with seminary degrees who can preach bad theology even if it's in Greek ;)

I lead a faith community that would be considered outside the catholic church institutionally but i consider us very much so part of it in all other ways.

having said that, I don't blame you for your reaction :)

oh and I'm SO GLAD *hint of sarcasm* that you all have grace and holy spirit imbued patience for us lowly "no seminary degree" missionaries/pastors

To back comments had more to do with my issues with my in-laws than pastors in any type of minsitry.

I find it trying/odd (at a loss for words) to serve in a profession where everyone's thoughts, practices, styles are considered valid (I'm really talking about the person I run into at the grocery checkout verses my colleagues in ministry) comparison to other professions where there is "truth", "the right answer" and no one questions their ability or knowledge or passion. That was my only real point...again, lots of my own stuff came out in my first knee-jerk comment. Sorry.

I tend to have the same reaction when I run into people who are *wink, wink - nudge, nudge* 'in the ministry' or 'studying for the ministry'. It's rude and dismissive, and I feel guilty for feeling superior. But at the same time, I feel like I'm justified in my reaction.

Here's the way I think about it: I'm sure there are quite a few people out there who know the law inside and out, who are articulate and thoughtful, who could argue a case and do well. However, unless they've been to law school, they don't get to be called a lawyer. And there are certainly many many people out there who think they know the law, but are vastly under-equipped to practice law.

The same is true for pastors. In my tradition (ELCA Lutheran), our process is certainly not perfect. There are some people who ought to be pastors who don't make it through, and there are numerous pastors who've made it through but shouldn't have. It's not perfect, but earning a bachelor's degree, and then working through a process of three interviews, a psychological evaluation, a three-year (plus one year of internship) masters degree program, prepares us well to serve as leaders in the church, and unless you go through that process, you don't get to call yourself 'pastor' in the Lutheran church.

I say this not to put down anyone who hasn't gone through the same or a similar process - just to say that it's not the same thing.

My $0.02 worth.

alright, well, since we're all putting in our $.02 I'll add more of mine (would that be $.04 then?)

I completely disagree with the notion that pastor/missionary/etc. can be compared to attorney or doctor. There's no scriptural or even historical evidence that this would or should be the case.

There is a place for knowledge and education and I don't have a problem with denominations requiring it of their pastors.

should "leaders" be informed? yeah sure, that's should we all. Does a pastor need to know greek to be a good pastor? ummm...sorry but no. Greek is cool and all (although I chose Hebrew myself) but it's really honestly not necessary.

I really do appreciate those who put the work into seminary and I turn to seminary grads on a regular basis for information but the comparisons being made here and the accompanying insinuations are very telling.

I'm not offended but it is quite off putting.

I also wanted to comment on this

"earning a bachelor's degree, and then working through a process of three interviews, a psychological evaluation, a three-year (plus one year of internship) masters degree program, prepares us well to serve as leaders in the church"

This prepares you to lead in the ELCA, the preparation you receive through this process is important for your institution - and that's fine. But it is not required to prepare one to be a pastor in general.

wow -- this started and interesting discussion...I wonder if I can come from a different angle and spark more conversation...often, I run into a dynamic in my parish of a bit of deference for my opinion simply because I have been to seminary. In the extreme it comes out as you are holier then me and you know everything. I should emphasize here the extreme irony of the situation because if I learned anything in seminary it was how few real answers I have about anything. Consequently, it drives my altar guild nuts when I ask them their opinions and thoughts on matters instead of delivering decrees from on high. I believe too much in the importance of the ministry of the baptized to not take there views into account, but they to readily differ to my oh so limited judgment simply because I took Greek. Anybody else run into this problem?

Jason: I've run into similar reactions even in lay ministry positions. It always makes me feel very funny. It's one of the reasons I don't expect to seek ordination--I don't want to go further down that path. (And I'm not in a denomination that requires ordination to preside over sacraments).

Mak: You might like the book "Brothers, We Are Not Professionals: A Plea to Pastors for Radical Ministry." (Link at amazon:

On the other hand, I do want to be considered a professional. I work very hard and put a lot of hours both into my job and in my development as a priest. Also, I do have a lot of training/education that I am paying for that was required of me to become a priest. Therefore, to some degree, I want to be considered in the same genre as a doctor, lawyer, professor, executive, etc., etc. But there is another side to this coin.

Nadia deserves an award for not slapping the sucker with her belt buckle. I threw away my Yale Divinity sweatshirt because, I lost track of the number of times an evangelist would come up to me pester the crap out of me because I didn't go to a "real" bible school. It was the self-righteous nature of these folks that they knew the way and I was an atheistic a-hole that really got my goat. Love thy neighbor my ass.

However, I do agree one does need some type of training besides simply slapping a green logo and a couple of cool missional banners on your blog and calling yourself a pastor. But that's another rant entirely.

becky - training comes in many different forms - bible school, seminary, theology at a major university, hands on, church, mission field....

I think it's arrogant to the core to presume that someone who is going to classes at a local church's "bible school" is less equipped to "ministry" than you because you have several degrees.

I understand that we all have our insecurities and defenses and issues and obviously not having a degree has made me a little prickly about this issue but the attitudes I've seen displayed here are surprisingly modernistic and smack of post enlightenment attitudes toward spiritual formation.

Post-graduate academic training in preparation for ministry in no way ensures that the one obtaining the academic credentials will also have the pastoral chops.

But I am part of a tradition that has always held that ordained ministers should have a high level of academic training in order to be called pastor. The process of seminary involves a great deal of personal processing as well, there was no way for me to know the value of what I have learned both academically and about myself prior to seminary, but now I see it as priceless - in the ways in which the experience has formed me for ministry.

Other traditions have different histories. The free church/ evangelical movement became more oriented toward the heart than the head and tended to emphasize holiness as the criteria for clergy. So they may look at Lutherans who basically do not believe in holiness as "not qualified" to be pastors. And Lutherans may look at evangelicals without graduate theological education as "not qualified" to be pastors.

I do not have any "We are the World, so let's join hands" bit of platitude to offer. Mak, you are right. The difference is theological. The Body of Christ is a mixed economy of church, whether we like it or not. As down with my tribe as I am, if the entire Church catholic were Lutheran (or_____fill in blank) it'd be whack.

I don't want to argue, but I feel like I ought to retract my previous comments in order to be politically correct, and maybe a little post-modern ... but I don't want to retract my previous comments, because I do think there's a difference. And maybe it boils down to what our respective educational experiences are geared and expected to prepare us for.

Example: my seminary education was designed to prepare me to study scripture in the original language; to read, write, and critique theology and theological positions; to preach; to lead worship throughout the church year, in a variety of settings, and for a variety of types of worship (eucharist, service of the word, funeral, wedding, morning and evening prayer, etc.); to teach a variety of types of classes (bible, theology, church history, confirmation instruction, sunday school, etc.); to provide pastoral care to the living and the dying; to lead congregational stewardship. As a point of contrast, a friend told me about the church she attended growing up. The preacher at her church, who went to bible college, was trained to, and expected to preach and be the staff administrator.

I don't have a problem with respecting the practices of another tradition - I'm happy to call someone 'pastor' if that's appropriate to their own church tradition. However, I have a problem when bible college is equated with seminary (which, I think, was part of the original point of the post ... nadia?). And here, I confess the sin of arrogance.

I should clarify my points too - I never said that my way was the only way to ministry but that simply by wearing a YDS sweatshirt, I was attacked by some rapid religious folks because in their eyes, I lacked "the right training." (And trust me, I've seen my share of Ivy League priests that I don't want near me if I'm in a crisis.)

My other comment was directed at people who set up blogs and say they are planting a church but nothing happens - I know of a few websites that are fronts for a non-existent ministry.

To pipe back in, as I have thought this thread over, I wonder how much of my ego is bruised by thinking about a time when pastors of any stripe were thought of with the same respect and honor as other professions. (or maybe I am hearkening back to a time when *any* profession was held up as a model of a life well lived, verses fame and glory that is held up today.)

When I meet people who want to discredit my experience because they don't agree with what I was taught (label me: liberal, radical, non-Biblical, whatever...)that's when I want to scream..."But obviously I care a great deal..." I'm passionate enough to put four years of my life in to systematically studying and learning all the things Elliot talked about. Along with being put through the psychological grist mill so my broken self wouldn't do more harm than good to others.

I care. You care. We don't agree. Let's call it good and let me buy my &**%*& groceries...or shoes, as the case was.

And yes, I also must confess arrogance. Upon reflection some of it must be chalked up to pure arrogance. It's true.


You are completely right to want to have your commitment and efforts and achievements be valued. I guess I see an important distinction, though, between being recognized as professionally competent and being acknowledged as having a particular credential.

My views on this are pretty strongly shaped from spending the entirety of my working life in the library world, where the "professional vs. paraprofessional" debate is perennial and occasionally heated. The two camps roughly break down into librarian-as-credentialed-professional vs. librarian-as-skilled-craftsperson, with a lot of argument over what an MLS education actually accomplishes in any necessary and distinctive way. I fall more in the latter camp, because I believe skills and knowledge and experience are more important than how one manages to acquire them.

Beyond that, my view of the formation and preparation of pastors is pretty much what Nadia outlines above. Different traditions and different theological positions will lead to different processes.

(I'm currently a seminary student, because I find it to be valuable and I'm incredibly lucky to have financial support. But I can't say that I learn more academically in class than I did as a church librarian preparing to lead adult education programs, or that I learn more about pastoral presence in class than I did from my years of public library service. I can't say that I learn more about thinking critically and theologically in class than I do out of my own compulsion to figure stuff out. I definitely can't say that I'm learning more about what it means to minister in my denominational context than I do from being an active member of my local congregation...)


You're completely right to want to be respected and honored, too.

(Blame-the-patriarchy observation: the status of being a pastor has gone down as more women have entered the vocation...Coincidence?)

I don't want to beat a dead horse but I just wanted you all to know how you sound to someone who sees herself as a missionary with no formal training - - it's sort of hurtful

nadia - but that guy wasn't posing as a lutheran academic or something or putting you down was he? that's where I'm getting a bit miffed I guess, you honestly shared your thoughts in the moment (which is good, thanks for the honesty) but I don't see where the venom toward that guy is justified. And it seems like your commenters are saying it's justified

Mak... I think the point people are making is that this venom comes from both directions. Just look at your passion. Seeing how this thread of comments has 25 hits strikes a nerve.

You are suprised at the venom, so are those of us with seminary degrees on the receiving end of venom from evangelicals and others who feel 'holier than.' (Which isn't you from what I can tell from your thoughts and blog, so maybe taking it personally isn't helpful.)

Really, correct me but wasn't the original point of Nadia's post about insiders and outsiders?

I guess I'm not sure what the point was because I heard that she was annoyed that this guy said he was in ministry when CLEARLY he's not because he's outside the church catholic. That was what I heard.

I'm not sure what you mean about venom toward you. I know evangelicals who don't like mainliners but not because they have seminary degrees. Remember, most denominational evangelicals have to have a seminary education. The non denominational folks don't have to of course.

I'm not mainline or evangelical fwiw

I'm sorry that you all don't feel respected as professionals - that's unfortunate and unfair because clearly you are and I respect that wholeheartedly.

I have no problem with seminary education.

All I'm saying is that one does not need a seminary education to be a pastor and one is not a better pastor off the bat for having had a seminary education.

It's time to repent and change.

Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities. psa. 141

Jesus laid his life down to save and justify those who the Father has given Him.

He prayed to the Father that we would be one.

Jesus said he would build His church on the rock of the realization and confession of: "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

There is nothing else the church is built upon.

The time has come to repent and lay our lives back down at His feet.

We are not professionals and shouldn't be looked at like doctors and lawyers because we are not of this world.

God Bless you and let us continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

In Love,

ok all, so I think maybe we're approaching this issue from different angles and I'm also finding myself getting defensive so I just want to say my final words - the pastorate is important, and for you who have upper level degrees and ordinations and such, you certainly should be viewed as the trained professionals you are. I hope I haven't offended anyone with my strong statements. I still am not at ease with the views expressed and hold my views but I don't think going rounds is going to be beneficial at this point :)

My original post was in no way an attempt to defend my reactions but to confess them

Is it possible to learn everything I learned both Academically and Pastorally(whatever those words mean) outside of seminary? Yes. Indeed the majority of the stuff we read is so old its in the public domain so you wouldn't even half to pay for it. However, while people can get the information of seminary outside of seminary one can not get the formation of seminary in as short a time as a full-time seminary student does.

Seminary was basically three years of doing nothing else...reading seminary stuff, writing seminary stuff, praying, thinking, reflecting. Even when we were hanging out socially we were talking about church stuff, and priest stuff, and what we thought about this and that church/faith related thing.

You can't get the formational experience of seminary from part-time work, simply taking the occasional class at a university, or online. All these are great forms of learning, but not in the same category as Seminary.

The Barefoot Priest

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