Most long-time members of a church probably know what it’s like to be without a pastor to lead and serve alongside them for a time. Large or small, many congregations experience pastoral vacancies, even for short periods.

It can be a testing time, as lay people take on extra volunteer roles in the provision of worship services and pastoral care, and any staff often have extra duties added to their workload.

Church attendances often decline during a vacancy, too, as can the morale of the faith community, so the pool of willing helpers may seem to run dry. It can even be a cause for grief or despair for those congregations whose calls to prospective pastors are declined again and again, and for those whose financial situation means they can’t afford an ordained minister.

And with an ageing pastorate reflecting the demographics of our LCANZ membership, the level of pastoral vacancies in our churches, schools and aged-care services is on the rise.

But, as the stories we are privileged to share in these pages suggest and, as my own experience of times without a pastor has confirmed, this shift in church worker supply levels is no reason to throw in the towel. I believe that, with Jesus as our chief shepherd and guide, we can be a creative and resilient lot. The LCANZ, its districts and parishes are working together to find different and complementary ways of ‘doing’ ministry.

I am often heartened to hear how God’s people are using their gifts to further his kingdom, whether they are lay or ordained. And I’ve witnessed the way some people can blossom in their service once given the encouragement, opportunity and responsibility.

The expressions we carry as we face this changing landscape come back to trusting God’s core promises. As The Living Bible translates Matthew 28:20: ‘“And be sure of this – that I am with you always, even to the end of the world”.’ And in Psalm 34:10b, we’re reminded that ‘those who seek the Lord lack no good thing’.

God will give us what – and who – we need. Assisted by resources, training and support from our wider church family, he will equip us for his co-mission. Then, when we do have the gift of an ordained pastor serving with us, we can avoid the danger of reverting to sitting back and letting him do everything.

Besides our themed content, as always, your churchwide magazine also includes faith-life resources and news of what’s been happening around the church.

And, as a further bonus for our print subscribers, you’ll find inside Australian Lutheran College’s annual Saints Alive publication. Digital subscribers can access the same content on ALC’s website at

May God bless your reading,

Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full