Stand With Israel

Certainly one of the most complex, difficult, and volatile situations in the world today is the
relationship between Israel and its neighbors. The Jewish people suffered horribly during the
Holocaust. After World War II they needed a homeland – a place to live where they would be
safe. The problem is that there were people who were already living there and had been for
hundreds of years.

I do not agree with everything that the Israeli government has done over the years, just as I do
not agree with everything that the U. S. government has done over the years. There are many
ways in which the Palestinian people have been suffering and we need to be deeply concerned for our fellow Palestinian Christians. But the Israeli government needs to be able to protect its people, just like every government needs to be able to protect its people. The Israeli government and the Israeli people need our prayers and support as they fight off the most violent and deadly incursion in decades.

I believe that the promises of God were fulfilled in Jesus, not in the creation of the modern state
of Israel in 1948. I do not agree with those who believe that the Kingdom of God would be
advanced if the Dome of the Rock were to be torn down and a Temple were to be built in its
place. But still, as I read the Bible, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
played a major role in God’s plan for our salvation. The Lord said to Abraham, “I will bless
those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the
earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12: 3). And the apostle Paul wrote about his people, the Hebrew
people, “To them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the
worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh,
comes the Messiah” (Romans 9: 4-5).

The best article I have found regarding how we American Christians should view and why we
should stand with Israel under attack was written by Russell Moore, editor in chief of
“Christianity Today” magazine. Here is a link.

I urge you to join with me in praying for Israel under attack – for its government, its people, the
wounded, the dying, those who have lost loved ones, those who live in fear and constant great

Resources for Congregations – Sermons, Clergy Connect, and Congregations in Transition

Lutheran CORE wants to be of support and assistance to orthodox, confessional congregations in every way that we can.  Three of the ways in which we are seeking to do that are through a catalog of sermon resources, Clergy Connect, and Congregations in Transition.

I have spoken with lay leaders of congregations that are either too small or too remote to be able to find and call a pastor.  Other congregations are in the process of calling a pastor, and at this point do not have an interim.  Some of these congregations have a pastor who is available to come, preach, and preside at communion once or twice a month.  Many times it is a retired pastor, or a chaplain in a nearby care facility, who is able to help out.  I have spoken with some pastors who travel a great distance in order to provide care for the people of God.  Because of the distance, some of these pastors will preach and lead worship one Sunday a month, and then write and send sermons which a lay leader in the congregation can deliver on the other Sundays of the month.  There are many different kinds of situations, and many different kinds of arrangements that have been made.  We want to thank all of the lay leaders of congregations who “step up to the plate” and all the pastors, including retired pastors, who help meet the need.

We are also very grateful to Cathy Ammlung, NALC pastor and former secretary of the board of Lutheran CORE.  Cathy has a special passion and heart for smaller and/or more remote congregations and congregations that do not have a pastor.  She has begun the process of compiling a resource bank of sermons that lay leaders could use on the Sundays when their congregation does not have a pastor.  She describes her concept and vision in an article in the March issue of CORE Voice.  A link to that article can be found here.

Many thanks to all those who have already responded and sent Cathy one or more of their sermons.  If you have not already done so, please consider sending her one or more of your sermons which can be added to this resource bank.  Sermons will be organized by topic, Scripture passage, and Sunday of the church year.   Please email her your “best sermons” at

Another resource I want to lift up is Clergy Connect.  A link to this page on our website can be found here.

Many congregations have reported how difficult it is to find an orthodox, confessional, Great Commission minded pastor.   An anticipated increase in the number of retirements of pastors post-COVID, and the decrease in the number of seminary enrollees, will make and have made this situation even more severe.

We invite you to post your position on our website.  If you check out the page you will see the kind of information that other congregations have provided.  Congregational search committees are asked to submit church name, location, description of the position and the congregation, and contact information.  Vacancies can be emailed to   

Third, if you have a pastoral vacancy, please also consider our Congregations in Transition ministry initiative.  We have a group of (mostly) retired Lutheran pastors who have been trained to be transition coaches.  They are able and available to help congregations whose pastors have retired or resigned, or soon will be retiring or resigning, maintain stability and momentum in regards to the congregation’s vital ministries during the transition process.  For more information check out our Transitions page or contact

March 2021 Newsletter

Is My Pastor About to Quit?

You might say we are beginning to witness the proverbial straw that is about to break the camel’s back.  The camel, in this case, is the Protestant ordained ministry.  (Including, of course, Lutheran pastors.)  The straw is the current pandemic, and all the ways it is contributing to the work-related stress of pastors in this already infamous year of our Lord, 2020.

And yet the “straw” metaphor doesn’t do Covid-19 justice.  This pandemic and its consequences would have been hard to even imagine just ten months ago.  Yet here we are.

 I retired from parish ministry less than two years ago.  Apparently just in time.  And while I am currently coaching numerous not-yet-retired Lutheran pastors, I have been personally insulated from the “new normal” full-time pastors are dealing with in this pandemic era.  So I was surprised to come across Pastor Thom Rainer’s latest article just posted on August 31st.  The title alone gained my complete attention: “Six Reasons Your Pastor Is About to Quit”.

Who is Thom Rainer?  He is the former CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, and currently leads the coaching ministry Church Answers.  And while Thom is Southern Baptist background, I’m convinced his insights apply to mainline Protestant pastors in general—including Lutheran clergy.

 Early in his article Thom writes this: “The vast majority of pastors with whom our (coaching) team communicates are saying they are considering quitting their churches.  It’s a trend I have not seen in my lifetime.”  (Keep in mind Pastor Rainer has been in ministry for almost forty years.)  Here are the six reasons, as described by Thom Rainer, why many pastors are “about to quit.”

  1. “Pastors are weary from the pandemic just like everyone else.”  No surprise here.
  2. “Pastors are greatly discouraged about the fighting taking place among church members about the post-quarantine church.  Gather in person or wait?  Masks or no masks?  Social distancing or not?”  Rainer also mentions the added stress when these conflicts have been politicized.
  3. “Pastors are discouraged about losing members and attendance.”  Pastors I have been coaching are, this summer, seeing in-person attendance that is only 30 to 50% of pre-Covid levels.  And Rainer adds this: “Pastors have already heard directly or indirectly from around one-fourth of the members that they do not plan to return at all.”
  4. “Pastors don’t know if their churches will be able to financially support congregational ministries in the future.”  And while giving might be healthy up to this point there is apparently mounting anxiety about whether this will continue to be the case in 2021.
  5. “Criticisms against pastors have increased significantly.”
  6. “The workload for pastors has increased greatly. … They are trying to serve the congregation the way they have in the past, but now they have the added responsibilities that have come with the digital world.  And as expected, pastoral care needs among members have increased during the pandemic as well.”

This pandemic has, in my view, created something of a “perfect storm” when it comes to the matter of clergy supply.  Even pre-Covid we were seeing the reality of many more pastors retiring than new pastors being ordained.  Now that trend will undoubtedly be accelerating, due in part to many pastors retiring sooner rather than later.

 Lutheran CORE’s Congregations in Transition (CiT) ministry coaches are available to help confessing Lutheran congregations who are or soon will be dealing with a pastoral vacancy in these uncertain and unnerving times.  If you are a congregational lay leader at a church that already has—or soon will have—a vacancy, or you are a pastor who will be retiring in the next one to two years, we can help.  Our coaching assistance, while at a distance, is comprehensive, and is customized to address your congregation’s unique ministry challenges.  If you want to know more, contact me, Don Brandt, either by email ( or phone (503-559-2034).

 And for every lay person reading this, do what you can to thank and encourage your pastor!

Dr. Don Brandt

Director, Congregations in Transition

Devotion for Wednesday, November 29, 2017

“For behold, they have set an ambush for my life; fierce men launch an attack against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord, for no guilt of mine, they run and set themselves against me.”  (Psalm 59:3-4)

We often pay the recompense for our own sin in this world although forgiveness is granted to us by grace.  There are times though when others will attack with no real provocation and simply accuse and malign.  In a world of wickedness, these things do happen.  The Lord knows.  Look to the Lord who knows all things and be comforted by His grace to persevere in every time of trial.

Lord, as a sinner, I want revenge when it is by no fault of mine that I am being persecuted.  Grant that I would rest in Your grace and realize that You alone are able to handle every injustice, for You alone are able to discern what is right and fitting in every circumstance, Lead my heart to turn to You at all times and know that only in You can I find true peace that surpasses all understanding.

Lord Jesus, You have experienced the rebellion of the wicked first hand and know the false accusations that were raised against You.  In Your compassion and by Your understanding, lead me through these times of trial that will come that I may keep my eyes upon You and trust in Your never-failing support through all the tribulations of this world.  Lead me through Your grace dear Jesus.  Amen.