Better than the chaplain I got assigned

There is often a comment that LDS leadership, being a lay leadership (even the full-time “professionals” with stipends are lay leaders in terms of pastoral or theological training) really needs to be better trained for the ministry.  “If only they were properly trained” is something I hear a lot.

I’m not discounting training.  President Monson’s initiative to provide true leadership and management training to general authorities is a great thing.  I believe in the training that gets offered (and not used enough).  I keep wondering what a good pastoral training regimine for Bishops would look like.

But.

I’ve dealt with chaplains who had doctorates.  When my oldest daughter was in the hospital, they assigned a chaplain in the graduate program who had a bachelors degree and a doctorate and experience as a pastor.  He brought up that my daughter was expected to die by asking me if he could observe how I took the news when the doctor delivered it as I seemed to be dealing with issues better than anyone else had.  He also discussed his bitterness over the lack of a good theological understanding of the problem of suffering and how lame the theodicy training he had gone through was.

File:Graz University-Library reading-room.jpg
Training

I was unable to provide him with the help he needed.

Then, when Robin was in the hospital (our first child who died and our third child who died were both at the same hospital) I got assigned a senior chaplain instead.  She was busy with preparing for some holiday services and really let me know she didn’t have time to deal with me.  Makes sense, since Robin later died at home, not at the hospital and from the chaplain’s perspective had a 60% chance of surviving the surgery that day, so why would I need any of her time when she had something important to deal with.

I’ve also done legal work for people with pastoral training and congregations and doctorates.  Some desperately reached out to me for more than legal advice, because the pastoral training they had experienced did not give them a feeling of confidence in what help they could receive (you are in desperate straits if you reach out to a lawyer over a minister).

Not to mention Dallas was one of the epicenters of the sexual abuse by clergy scandals (including a major Catholic one).

I guess what I am saying is that I’m not sure that classical “training for the ministry” offers that much in what I’ve seen in the real world.

Of course:

  • Every bishop should know the abuse hotline number and use it immediately.
  • Every bishop should be trained that any abuser who does not confess to the police and make full amends, including those required by the criminal justice system is one who has not repented.  Thereafter they should vigorously avoid temptation or infringing on their victims peace of mind.
  • I don’t doubt that the training offered by the Church should (a) be used and (b) be expanded.
  • I enjoy the way our theology develops

What do you think?

  • What training essentials that bishops are provided do you think they need to have refreshed and emphasised (perhaps on a 4×8 or 3×5 summary card)?
  • What training do you think they need that they aren’t getting?
  • What things do you like about having a lay ministry?
  • What do you see as the downsides in having a lay ministry?
  • What have I missed?

I look forward to your thoughts.


Images are courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons Project.

“Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.”