Megadeth Bassist to be an LCMS pastor thanks to SMP

Started by JoshOsbun, January 19, 2012, 04:43:29 PM

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Quote from: Dave Benke on January 20, 2012, 08:57:22 AM
I don't know why Mr. Mustaine is considered to be headed toward non-completion of the SMP program, Don.  Nothing in the article gave me that impression. 

Dave Benke

Perhaps because you never read the article prior to posting about Mustaine? For nothing in the article would have led you to mention him. The article is all about Ellefson. Only a prioir post mentioned Mustaine.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

George Erdner

Quote from: Josh Osbun on January 20, 2012, 11:29:23 AM
Quote from: George H. Erdner on January 20, 2012, 11:22:39 AM
According to what I've read and been told about SMP, and equivalent ELCA program, TEEM, the benefits you listed are among the intentions of the programs. However, they are not the only benefits and purposes of the programs.

SMP is not supposed to supplant the seminaries.  But that's exactly what this congregation is doing.  They are bypassing the seminaries.  They are getting a cheap pastor.  They are arranging their own call (which is frowned upon if students and congregations make such arrangements when they go to seminary) and taking a call away from a candidate who went through the formal, long-standing, proven seminary program and giving it to someone who doesn't feel like putting in the effort that it takes to become a skilled theologian and pastor.

If being a pastor is a professional job, like being a doctor, lawyer, dentist, or engineer, then your take on this issue is probably correct.

If being a pastor is answering a call from God to serve Him and His people in a given time and place of God's choosing, then your take on this issue is probably incorrect.

BTW, what seminary did the second generation of priests graduate from? I'm referring to those who followed the original 12 Apostles?

Matt Staneck

Rigorous?  One course per quarter, four quarters per year, four years in the program.  That's 16 courses over the course of four years.  That's not rigorous.

Several of my friends were not only full-time students, husbands, and fathers, but they also held down jobs to support their families.  I saw one guy complete three years of coursework in two years because he didn't want to move his family down to Fort Wayne from Detroit.  He spend four days in Fort Wayne completing his rigorous coursework so that he didn't have to be bogged down by it when he returned to his family for three days.

It is rigorous.  It may not fit your tightly wound definition of rigorous, but it is.  I know from first hand experience.  What you malign as "It's only this," and "It's only that," is actually much more.  The course work they have for their "only" classes is a lot.  And on top of that they are in more or less full-time supervised "on site" ministry while also balancing the other aspects of life.  So while we're smoking pipes with peers, these guys are likely bedside at a hospital.

That's awesome about your friend who did 3 in 2 though while commuting from Detroit.  May God bless him, his family, and his parish!

QuoteI'm not sure who called it a lack of "real preparation."  That doesn't appear in this discussion.

I would be willing to call it sub-par and inadequate preparation, though.  Can one distance homiletics course really be considered sufficient when three homiletics courses are required of M.Div. candidates?  And where's the study of the languages?  One course on Paul's epistles?  Seriously?  This is adequately forming pastors?  Not a chance -- especially since they are ordained after only eight courses and two years.  Eight courses!  That's a quarter and a half of M.Div work.

I'm sure that the participants do take it seriously.  But what they are taking seriously and embracing is inadequate preparation to be under-shepherds of Christ.

Yeah "not real preparation" was a colloquial paraphrase of the "inadequate preparation" slogan that gets thrown around.  I feel again as though it comes with a lack of understanding what these men are learning in their classes and how much experience they are getting "on site" as they are supervised.

On the languages front, I've heard that this is part of the improving of the program that students and professors are taking seriously.  But remember, our alt-route guys don't take Hebrew, and the OT is well over half of what we call "The Scriptures" (and is exactly what our NT writers refer to when they say "The Scriptures).  Are these men inadequately prepared?  What of the guys who take a crash course and then barely get by the exam and glide by the rest of their time?

QuoteLet me ask this: would you want a surgeon who only completed 1/4 of the regular academic work, doing so entirely through distance education?  Would you want him operating on you after completing only eight courses over two years?

Then why is it good enough for the man who is supposed to be your pastor?

Apples and oranges.  We're not talking about a kid who finished pre-med requirements and is now "all of the sudden" performing open heart surgery.  We're talking about men who take a strenuous course load and continue in classes and are under supervision "on site" gaining invaluable ministry experience.  Two very different things.

I keep saying "on site" because part of the calling to end the SMP is over the lack of communal living experience for these men (which let's be honest I cherish the brotherhood but we don't all live together as at least half are married).  You wouldn't know there was a lack of brotherhood when the SMP men gather together at their week long intensives.  You wouldn't know it when they're spending hours together on the phone, on Skype, or some other online medium working on homework.  You wouldn't know it when one of the brothers fall seriously ill and they pray without ceasing that God would deliver the brother while gathering together through mediums to pray and all the while doing whatever they can to help and support the brother's wife and family.

You wouldn't know because you don't.

M. Staneck
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

Dave Benke

taking a call away from a candidate who went through the formal, long-standing, proven seminary program .

It's hard to get to a substantial conversation, because of the emotional content in the posts that oppose SMP.  The above quote contains an actual practical concern for the denomination.  So the first task is to re-word.  Eliminate the more freighted "formal, long-standing, proven" and substitute "residential." 

The fear that I think can be substantiated has to do with SMP and other alternate route students who are connected to larger parishes.  First, it's a great thing for a larger parish and for any parish to raise up one of its own toward the pastoral office.  And it's viewed as even a greater blessing if that man remains with them for training and service.  This is not un-natural.  It is very natural.  Secondly, larger parishes that could utilize a second or third pastor and have members and leaders who sense the call into the ministry are going to be attracted to the SMP program because the leadership and spiritual/pastoral formation continues in situ, and is not dependent on a process that brings someone in based on an interview or on no interview into a team setting.  That seems more paramount to me than the derogatory claim of "cheap."  Thirdly, that SMP pastor could more readily be seen as stepping up in the pastoral order over time than someone who has to be (re)trained into the modus operandi of that parish. 

Fourthly and more controversially, if the majority to great majority of the larger multi-staff parishes have blended and/or contemporary worship, and the majority/great majority of the residential seminarians are trained only in traditional worship forms and/or away from contact with contemporary/blended worship forms, then the mismatch leads the multi-staff large parishes to select away from residential students toward non-residential in advance even of having someone in the non-residential program.  The seminary has selected away from them in advance. 

Dave Benke

It's OK to Pray

Matt Staneck

Quote from: Josh Osbun on January 20, 2012, 12:34:29 PM

I'm not sure that it is just for you to accuse me of having a tightly wound definition of rigorous when you choose to call one course per quarter "strenuous."  Your definition of strenuous is far more loose than my definition of rigorous is tightly wound.

It's easier for you to fall back on what someone else told you than to look into it yourself.  Fair enough.

And perhaps it's because you're too busy to do so. That's completely legitimate.  You're a pastor.  Your workload is strenuous.  I would then only advise that you hold back from interjecting "matter of fact" opinions into topics which you are inadequately prepared to discuss. 

M. Staneck
Matt Staneck, Pastor
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Queens, NY

George Erdner

Please bear in mind that while a seminary education is a good thing, and not to be dismissed out of hand, it is not a perfect preparation for being a pastor, nor always guaranteed to produce perfect results. Remember, most of the pastors who were part of Seminex or who left to form the AELC were graduates of LCMS seminaries.


SMP was sold to the LCMS delegates by pointing to the poor congregations, to the ethnic minorities that need pastors, to the small congregations that could not lose a leader and continue.  That is what we were told of as being the SMP candidates.  Now, to be fair, we were not told that SMP students would be exclusively such men.  But then we were not really told about any others than these.  And you can be sure that we were never told that the majority of SMP students would not be from these types of situations (which I believe is currently the case).

Daniel L. Gard

Quote from: George H. Erdner on January 20, 2012, 01:13:01 PM
Please bear in mind that while a seminary education is a good thing, and not to be dismissed out of hand, it is not a perfect preparation for being a pastor, nor always guaranteed to produce perfect results. Remember, most of the pastors who were part of Seminex or who left to form the AELC were graduates of LCMS seminaries.

That is very true. But both LCMS seminaries, including St. Louis, are today solidly confessional and conservative.


Quote from: Dave Benke on January 20, 2012, 08:57:22 AM

Interesting sub-unit with regard to the SMP, which is viewed so favorably in the article referenced, and very favorably by any number of folks in the LC-MS, on the one hand.  On the other hand, there's a Steadfast article indicating from the author's hearing/perspective at the Symposium this week that Larry Rast, new sem president, is not favorable to SMP at Ft. Wayne. 

So are we going to have the two seminaries duking it out over SMP, with sides being taken on the convention floor?  My answer is a tentative "yes," although I am not at all sure about the Larry Rast commentary, having spoken with him about SMP recently myself.  I say "yes" because we need something to fight about, to claim turf about, to take enormous bundles of our time and energy.  We are Missouri and this is what we do.

Dave Benke

Reverend President,

Your summary of Pr. Rossow's post over at the site identified with the steadfast Elector John doesn't quite capture what Pr. Rossow wrote or what Dr. Rast said.  Dr. Rast gave a two-part answer to the question about the future of SMP.  (Some of Pr. Rossow's personal reflections went beyond what Dr. Rast said.)

The context of the question was Dr. Rast's presentation on theological training in the Lutheran Church from the time of Luther to the present including contemporary challenges.  He noted the extraordinary routes to the pastoral ministry which existed for a time both in Luther's day and in Walther's day.  The operative phrase here being, "for a time".  In neither of those historical instances did the extraordinary route become the rule.  When the specific circumstances that called for the extraordinary route were past, the church returned to the full academic training.  (To a degree this is an oversimplification of Dr. Rast's paper.  I imagine you could request a copy from him if you'd like the details.)

The question posed by the pastor, then, had to do with whether Dr. Rast felt it likely that that would be the pattern with the SMP or not.  Dr. Rast's two point answer was immediate and brief.  First, he said that the future of the SMP program is up to the synod.  My take on his answer was that he was reflecting the reality of our polity.  Simply put, the synod is the one with the authority to make decisions on how her pastors will be trained.  His second point was that he believes the best way to prepare well-qualified pastors is residential theological education.  As a faithful servant of the synod, the CTS president would seek to make that case as the future direction of the SMP program is discussed.

To a large degree, the question is not about whether or not to abolish the SMP program or a successor extraordinary route to the pastoral ministry.  The real issue is whether the SMP program will replace the residential theological education model, as Pr. Gemin seems to favor in his final sentence here, will become one of two "standard" routes to the ordained ministry, or will be determined to be inadequate as the primary means of training pastors for our congregations.  If the last, the program could either be revised and strengthened, limited to restrict the "special ministries" to more exceptional circumstances than is currently the case, a combination of these two, or discontinued completely (until the next time we decide we need an exceptional route). 

Given the way the program is structured--an adequate sample of Special Ministry Pastors to evaluate have only recently completed the initial program--we're just beginning to be able to take a look at the results.  I would be shocked if at least some revisions to the program aren't indicated.  Any new program, no matter how carefully planned and implemented, needs to be reviewed and at the very least tweaked once it's begun to operate.  SMP would be unique if no changes whatsoever were indicated.     


Quote from: Dave Benke on January 20, 2012, 08:03:37 AM
And another very positive and nationally presented view of the LC-MS Specialized Ministry Pastor (SMP) program. . . . 

Dave Benke

Certainly a positive piece in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Rather than a critical evaluation of the program, though, it was more a human interest story the communications department of the seminary was delighted to get a reporter to latch onto as a way to publicize the SMP program.  I doubt the paper would have run it as story on a 40-ish engineer working for Coors in Colorado enrolled with the aim of becoming a second pastor at a traditional parish.  "Megadeth Bassist Studying for Lutheran Ordination" is just a way better headline.  Eyes on the page sells ads.  Pair heavy metal with Lutheran minister and you're going to get eyes.

Rev. Matthew Uttenreither

Megadeth wishes it had a tenth Metallica's greatness. 

Sorry for the interruption, you may go back to ripping on Pr. Osbun's comments. 

Dr. Gard, a voice crying out in the wilderness, concerning the SMP program.

Daniel L. Gard

Dr. Rast is absolutely correct that the future of SMP is in the hands of the Synod. It was the 2007 Convention that established the program and only another Convention can modify or terminate it. This decision is in the hands of the elected delegates. The seminaries, as servants of the Synod, are tasked with executing the Synod's mandate and to do so in the most faithful and professional way that they can.

I suspect that both the merits and problems of the SMP program will be part of some District Convention proceedings and most likely at the 2013 Synodical Convention. And that is how it must be.


The problem for the future of seminaries is not SMP (or TEEM). The real problem is sustaining seminaries staffed for candidate student body levels of the 1950s when we have actually declined sharply in the last 60 years.

If we focus on the merits and demerits of SMP, we will avoid addressing real problem and fail to arrive at real solutions.

Peace, JOHN


Metallica wishes they could play in time.   :-*

I'm not an expert on LCMS seminaries or seminary programs.  However, I probably know more about David Ellefson's career in Megadeth than the rest of this board combined and doubled. 

First, to address Megadeth lyrics:  there were a couple of black magic-derived songs on the first two Megadeth records, although more along the lines of a horror movie for the most part.  "The Skull Beneath the Skin", which is the quoted tune, is about the origin of their mascot, Vic Rattlehead.  Much to the chagrin of some fans, these few tunes haven't been played live for decades, because the writer (Dave Mustaine) hasn't been comfortable playing them.  For the vast majority of their career, Megadeth lyrics have been more along the lines of socio-political commentary than witches and devils.  But, I guess it's fair game to judge people for something they did for 10 minutes when they were 21. 

Second, to address the question of "He could just pay the money and go to seminary" do you know this?  David Ellefson wasn't in Megadeth from about 2003 until 2010.  During that time, he played in several music projects and worked for Peavey Musical Instruments as an artist rep.  It was under these circumstances that I met him about 5 years ago.  Now, being an artist rep is a good job, but it's not going to make you a Rockefeller.  He rejoined Megadeth about 2 years ago now, recorded one album, and has toured quite a bit.  Can he afford to completely put that band on ice in order to attend a brick-and-mortar seminary?  That's hard to say, I'm not his accountant.  Platinum success doesn't necessarily equal major residual income 20 years later.   

You all can debate whether or not the SMP is a good program, or whether this fits into the scope of what it was designed for.  I don't have a dog in that fight.  But you can probably do it without hacking on Ellefson.  He gets more than enough crap about this from heavy metal fans, he probably doesn't need it from his church body. 

Daniel L. Gard

Quote from: John_Hannah on January 20, 2012, 05:18:12 PM
The problem for the future of seminaries is not SMP (or TEEM). The real problem is sustaining seminaries staffed for candidate student body levels of the 1950s when we have actually declined sharply in the last 60 years.

If we focus on the merits and demerits of SMP, we will avoid addressing real problem and fail to arrive at real solutions.

Peace, JOHN

Pastor Hannah,

Do you have any data to support your contention that the seminaries are currently staffed  for the 1950's level?

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