By Paul Koch

My arrival at her home was announced long before I rang the doorbell. Two little dogs proclaimed the approach a visitor by the time I started down the driveway. I was going to visit a dear old member of my congregation. I had been to her home many times before, and each time began the same way: with the hushing of yapping dogs and clearing off a place to sit.

By Paul Koch

Once a month I gather with a group of my local colleagues. These fellow pastors in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod come together to worship and study and discuss any pressing issues that need our attention. It is a gathering that I rarely miss. Not that it is always inspiring, but it is important to gather together to receive the gifts of our Lord and discuss contemporary issues facing the children of God. And it quite often turns out to be inspiring, or at least we manage to go out for a few beers when we’re all done, and that is inspiring.

By Paul Koch

“Will you instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine, will you forgive the sins of the those who repent, and will you promised never to divulge the sins confessed to you? Will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying, and will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel? Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living?”

By Paul Koch

Ever since my first foray into the study of theology proper, I have heard professors and pastors alike say that the church’s liturgy can operate as a sort of safety net for Gospel. After all, the liturgy contains confession and absolution, leads through the reading of the Word, and culminates in the Sacrament of the Altar. Therefore, if everything else is a complete wreck—if the hymns that are sung are weak and repetitive nonsense meant only to pull at the heart strings; if the people sitting around you are bothersome and annoying little twits; if the sermon preached misses the mark, wandering off into a pointless Bible study or self-help pep talk; you would still have the body and blood of Christ, the forgiveness of sins, the Gospel, so you would be okay.

By Paul Koch

In 1849 Wilhelm Löhe wrote an examination of the relationship between the pastoral office as it comes to us from the pages of the New Testament and the congregations that hold firm to those very Scriptures. He made note of a trend he had observed in the church, a trend that I fear has never abated, a trend that does great damage among the people of God.