The following document outlines the expectations for Pastors in the Northwestern Ohio Synod.
Personal Spiritual Life
In order for you to grow in faith and faithfulness so you can better serve the Lord and his church, as a pastor/shepherd of this synod you are expected to make time for personal Bible reading and prayer. As St. Paul says, “Faith comes from hearing the word”. It is not enough to read the Scriptures only for sermon preparation and study. A personal devotional life is crucial for one’s faith as well as for effective ministry and outreach.
In the belief that you cannot pour from an empty cup, you are encouraged to take appropriate care of yourself – your body, your mind and your spirit. We believe that exercise is necessary not just for the health of one’s body, but also for emotional soundness. You are expected to exercise regularly, seek medical attention when necessary, and allow time for your body to rest. You are also expected to make time for spiritual retreat, meditation, and renewal. Those with spouse and/or family are encouraged to make time for them and include them in this nurturing process, for we are meant to experience God’s grace also in our homes. Through these means you can be blessed to do your best in ministry.
As a leader in Christ’s church, you are expected to continue to learn and adapt to the changing world in which we live and minister. The ELCA requires 50 hours of continuing education per year. For the sake of your ministry and your personal satisfaction you are encouraged to take courses, be involved in text study groups, and participate in cross discipline educational opportunities. Please note: First Call Theological Education (FCTE) is a three year requirement for all first call rostered leaders.
Among the many ways God makes his grace known to us is what Luther called “the mutual conversation and consolation of the saints.” This means God works through God’s people, including our peers, to make God’s love, support, hope and promises known to us. In other words, we need each other if we are going to be the kind of pastors we want to be. You are therefore expected to be involved in your conference’s various meetings, in synodical events like retreats, and in reaching out in collegiality to the rostered leaders of this and other denominations, not just for your benefit, but for the sake of those who may need the grace God has given you to share.
The word synod can be translated “walking together.” As a synod we are pastors and people, administrators and congregations, lay and rostered leaders who are working together to make God’s love and will known in our corner of the world. To help our congregations realize the importance of “walking together” as a synod, it is crucial that our pastors “walk together” in the work of the synod. You are therefore expected to attend Synod Assemblies, to file the annual Pastor’s Report to the Bishop, and to support synod programming. We encourage you to share your gifts and skills not just in the congregation you serve but also in the broader expressions of the church so that Christ might be made known among and through us.
Commitment to Mission
The Northwestern Ohio Synod Task Force on Mission in the 21st Century proposed that if we are to do God’s will and make Christ known, then each congregation must become a center for mission and outreach in the larger community. For this to happen, our pastors must also be committed to mission and outreach. As a pastor of this synod, you are expected to not let congregational maintenance take precedence over congregational mission in and to the world.
As the people of God, we acknowledge that everything we are and have comes from the Lord. In joyful thanksgiving we are intentional in the use of our time, talents and money. As a pastor of this synod you are expected to be a good steward of the financial resources God has placed under your control. As you develop a budget and move toward a tithe or beyond a tithe, your own generosity will serve as a joyful example for congregational members who are also seeking to grow in their own financial discipleship for mission.
Working for Christ and His Church
We believe that the Church is not ours, but Christ’s. Our service is not done for ourselves or for the benefits that often come with serving others. Nor are we called to serve only when it pleases us, or in places that necessarily meet all our expectations. We are called to serve as Christ Jesus did, putting God’s will and mission first, taking the concept of the Call seriously.
We believe that we cannot control the Holy Spirit, the Lord of the unexpected, who calls us to ministry and to specific ministry settings. On the other hand, we also believe it takes time to establish a working relationship with a congregation. Working within this paradox you are encouraged and expected to consider your call in longer terms. The best place to serve is not the next call you might receive, it is your present call. If you are focused on doing your best and loving God’s people in your present situation, we believe you will be both blessed and a blessing for your present congregation and the next call as well. We discourage short term (1-3 year) ministries.
Serving to Give Glory to God
We believe it is important for us not to give shame to the name of the Lord in our behavior, speech, or mentoring. As a pastor of this synod you are expected to follow the guidelines found in “Visions and Expectations.” You are also encouraged to find your joy, meaning and purpose for life in serving the Lord and those for whom he died, all the while clinging to God’s promises that will give us the ability to do just that.
Supported in Your Shepherding
Be assured that as you serve in this synod, the Bishop and Staff will be working with you, praying for you, and doing whatever we can to help you in your ministry, service, and mission. We also welcome your prayers on our behalf so that together and by God’s grace we can be the kind of church the Lord wants us to be. May you know the joy of salvation in your own life, may you be fired up to share that joy and Good News among us here in Northwestern Ohio, and may the Lord bless your ministry with much fruitfulness. And to God be the Glory.