Don’t Even Bother to ask Your Doctor

Since the late 1990s prescription drug use has grown exponentially.  In large part this has been due to the “ask your doctor if _____ is right for you” ad campaign.  Doctors are hard pressed when you say, “I have these symptoms, and this drug says it treats them all.”


Well Concordia Theological Seminary doesn’t think I need to ask anyone but me if their Specific Ministry Program is right for me.  Why bother asking my pastor if the Specific Ministry Program is right for me?  What does he know?  Why bother asking St. Paul about remaining in the position I was in when I was called to faith?  What does he know?  


I think the program should be called the Simplified Ministry Program because that’s what it really is.  However, since we’ve been down this road before we could title it Another Simplified Specific Ministry Program. Instead of SMP the acronym would be ASS MP.


Okay, that’s a jaundiced view of things, but we have been down this road before.  The Lay Ministry program and Distance Education Leading To Ordination were the same thing.  All were entered into with the same rational.  The times have changed.  The old way is inadequate.  When the CTCR came out with their infamous “Levels of Fellowship,” the same defense was used.  In fact, one of the supporters of it told me, if the times haven’t changed there is no need for it.  They haven’t; there isn’t.


The Lutheran Church historically has not been in favor of a quick way to ordination believing that sheep were best served by thoroughly trained shepherds.  Moreover, we have not emphasized the individual’s personal feeling of being called to the ministry. 


A drug maker wouldn’t be allowed to have a commercial with the line: “Ask yourself, Is Darvocet, Prozac, or Oxycodone right for me?” Most would realize that this is a dangerous question to ask oneself.  In a calling where pride is the ever present temptation, so much so that Paul warns about making a novice a pastor, it seems an even more dangerous question.



SMP isn’t right for me, and I think it not only dangerous but laughable that they ask.


Below is copied and pasted from the Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne web site. There are 4 spelling errors in the text; I let them be since they were in the original. Perhaps the seminary should be asking “Is spell-check right for me?”




Is SMP right for me?

Entering the ministry can be a wonderful opportunity to serve God and His people, but it’s not for everyone. How do you know if God is calling you to this particular form of ministry through the SMP program? There are many factors in making such an important decsion, but the questions below may help as you reflect and pray about the challenge and opportunity of ordained ministry.

Are you a man interested in caring for the people of God through Word and Sacrament ministry?



Wonderful! The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are indeed few. As our Synod faces the challenge of staffing exising congregations and developing new ones we will need the willingness of men such as you to serve the people of God in all times and places.

If you’re a woman interested in the care of God’s people, please consider Deaconess Ministry as an alternative for using the gifts God has given you to care for His people.


  • Are you mature in faith and understanding?

You’re a potential candidate for the SMP program. Pastoring a church while learning “on the job” is not something done lightly and a certain level of maturity and experience is essential.

Because of the nature of the SMP program’s pace and immediate vicarage, admission to the program is generally reserved for those who have shown maturity in faith and in caring for others. If you’d like the opportunity to grow in your faith while preparing for full time ministry, there are many residential paths to full time Word and Sacrament minstry which will allow you the time you need without the pressures of “on the job” training. Contact our Admissions Department to learn about the other possibilities.


  • Are you presently serving or will you be serving in a church that intends to call you as its pastor?

Good! It sounds like you’re in an SMP situation.

SMP is intended as a way of pastoring churches that might otherwise go vacant for financial reasons, for new ministry starts, and for situations where an associate or assistant pastor is desired. As such, all applicants are required to be sponsored by a church, ministry or district which intends to call them upon completion of the program.

  • Are you “above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkeness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money”? (1 Timothy 3: 2-3 NIV)

Those are high standards, but they’re the ones our Lord has set for those who seek to be pastors in His Church. Give them prayerful consideration as you seek to serve Him in this ministry

Those are definitely high standards! If you’re just a little nervous about being able to live up to them, good! All of us who enter in to the ministry do so with an awareness of the high standards expected of us. If, however, you have specific concerns or questions, feel free to contact us.

If you feel you’re a candidate for the SMP program, please see the admissions information located on our documents page


About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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One Response to Don’t Even Bother to ask Your Doctor

  1. Scott says:

    Everytime I applied for a job in high school and filled out a potential job application no matter how overqualified I might have been the one question that always continued to trip me up was “how many years of experience do you have?” If maturity and experience are essential for the job (question 3), one is left to wonder, what do they mean by experience? Experiencing the Christian life means suffering, humility, bruised consciences from the afflictions and arrows sent by the devil, with weak and sore knees from constantly falling on them begging for the Lord to have mercy on us.
    Faithful pastors are experiential theologians. I mean say you answer yes to question 4 is this the type of experience they are asking for? Christ had a program for these men who caused those weak in the faith to be scandalized, perhaps that’s it! S is for Scandalizing and M is for Millstone and P, well to go with tradition we will leave it alone.

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