For Congregational Discussion: Pastoral Ethics

[1] Each issue, the editorial staff at JLE create questions to spark conversation for adult education and to inspire thoughtful contemplation and reflection for individual readers.  Because of the topic of this edition, many of these questions might be especially fruitful for conversation in the congregational setting as members consider constructive approaches to challenges in the church for pastors and laity who strive to work and serve together well.


1. In what ways are pastoral ethics special in the field of practical ethics? What unique aspects of church life need to be considered in creating contracts and documents concerning the fair treatment of church leaders and the just habits of those leaders?

2.  How do we economically support pastors and church staff in a way that is kind and just?

  • In what ways do our current economic models prevent a priesthood of all believers?
  • Who is missing at the table of church leadership because they cannot afford higher education?
  • Who is unable to sustain the life of a pastor or church leader because it does not provide a livable wage for someone entering with debt.
  • Who is missing at the table of church service because they are juggling multiple jobs?

Eg. Who are we missing on our church council? In our Sunday School staff? At adult education?


  • What systems need to be constructed to improve this situation? What new values need to be affirmed? What small practical tools can be used right now?


3. How do we acknowledge the intimate connection between the pastor and the laity and also leave room for both to grow?

  • Consider: What is the mission of your particular church?


4. How do we use social media in a prophetic way without losing the call to kindness?

  • Consider: How do you use social media as a tool of communication? How do you use it to proclaim your faith?  How do you use it to demonstrate your values?
  • What are the benefits and the dangers of social media as it is currently being used? How does the framework of moral habits proposed by Larson “sit” with your understanding of the proper use of social media?









Jennifer Hockenbery

Jennifer Hockenbery serves as Editor of the Journal of Lutheran Ethics .  She is Professor of Philosophy and Dean of Humanities at St Norbert College. She attends Grace Lutheran Church in Green Bay, WI.