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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: PrTim15 on December 21, 2020, 11:06:00 PM

Title: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 21, 2020, 11:06:00 PM
https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=vewI68foSb5riKWHrb3G4SnAejgK9NTy
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Padre Emeritus on December 22, 2020, 01:43:53 AM
Interesting.  I pray we stop talking about COVID-19 without also sharing the love of Jesus Christ for every one of the people living on this planet.....
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 22, 2020, 08:42:28 AM
We have the catechism and doctrine nailed, we are good at that. But what is LCMS Inc about in terms of direction and  focus? We have fewer congregations, fewer clergy, less money and we have gone from being conflicted to apathetic. Confronting brutal facts and having hope is hard, but necessary. Also, if you don’t have an idea what to do, ask someone else, find a group, reach out to those you disagree with. Covid has accelerated our previous position.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 22, 2020, 09:24:47 AM
We have the catechism and doctrine nailed, we are good at that. But what is LCMS Inc about in terms of direction and  focus? We have fewer congregations, fewer clergy, less money and we have gone from being conflicted to apathetic. Confronting brutal facts and having hope is hard, but necessary. Also, if you don’t have an idea what to do, ask someone else, find a group, reach out to those you disagree with. Covid has accelerated our previous position.

Sometimes, silence during grief (as during the unsettling events of this year - in society and church-at-large ) is not apathy, but people awaiting the rise of leadership that shows the path out of the mire and back to focus on what counts, Christ and Him Crucified - and Arisen.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 22, 2020, 09:52:26 AM
It is a hard future to envision. Institutional churches are collapsing. I don't think that is for lack of faith or desire to reach out. In a way, the whole thing is simply built for a society and culture that is now in decline. University presidents, editors of publications, pastors of churches with schools, really anyone in charge of a substantial institution faces this issue.

What would be some actionable suggestions? "Get organized," or "Quit infighting and focus on the Gospel," or "Raise up servant leaders," are not actionable suggestions. I mean concrete proposals that can be said to have been completed within a certain timeline. What vote should be taken or change should be made such that five years from now we aren't in the same place only smaller?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 22, 2020, 10:24:14 AM
I don't know, Tim.  I think this is a time in which we need to grant one another a lot of grace.  It's tough for everyone, I would imagine it's no different at the IC. 

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 22, 2020, 10:32:43 AM
It is a hard future to envision. Institutional churches are collapsing. I don't think that is for lack of faith or desire to reach out. In a way, the whole thing is simply built for a society and culture that is now in decline. University presidents, editors of publications, pastors of churches with schools, really anyone in charge of a substantial institution faces this issue.

What would be some actionable suggestions? "Get organized," or "Quit infighting and focus on the Gospel," or "Raise up servant leaders," are not actionable suggestions. I mean concrete proposals that can be said to have been completed within a certain timeline. What vote should be taken or change should be made such that five years from now we aren't in the same place only smaller?

The future is very hard to envision in terms of institutions and agencies, and the farther up the food chain you go, the harder it gets.  Starting at the local level, medium-sized and larger congregations will make it through, with some pain.  The smaller ones, already vulnerable, will in some to a lot of cases fail.  The age of congregants is the other trip wire; the replacement pool is limited. I've only been referencing this for 10 years on this board, but out of 6000 churches, at least a quarter are below the line.  In the ELCA with 10000 it would be 2500.  Substantial losses, and now hastening to pass.

Moving up the line, it does start at the top, so my sincere belief is that middle management, ie districts, need to be reworked and re-staffed with maybe 15 districts in the LCMS nationwide to set courses that are less crusted over with the various traditions.  I don't see that happening because it would take too much honesty and courage.  And it would have to be led by the President/Praesidium and District Presidents and punch through the entropy.  Streamline for mission, for rebuilding.  The current program, which has to do with making lifelong disciples and is essentially about catechetics, will run out of life because the disciples' lives on earth are ending.  Looking at the attendance at the roll-out, it was basically able to be held at a senior center.  So additional options in a leaner structure would have to be explored.

Without question, what came to be called the University System is in a very precarious place; the "crown jewels" have in large part tumbled off the tiara.  The Synod's Board of Directors seems to me to have a very tough job, because it's more about cutting losses than where to put the realized gains, and that wears people out.

I liked what came out of the Concordia Plans and maybe LCEF early on in COVID time - a questionnaire and invitation to congregations to tell the story of what was happening on site, and what help might be needed.  In other words, like Moneyball, there is a need for analytics in combination with authentic conversation.  That's how you would get the ball rolling locally, and that's what would in my opinion work denomination-wide.  All of it is meant in the end as encouragement - with eternal destiny secure by God's grace, we can take an honest look at where we are, be grateful for what we have, and make decisions sub cruce that honor Lord and Church.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on December 22, 2020, 10:38:59 AM
I think the ELCA has about 1/3 of its congregations on the edge of viability. I used to run down the yearbook (when we published one) and look at stats for synods and their congregations. An absolutely amazing number of congregations with fewer than 200 members or fewer than 100 worshipping regularly. Some of these will survive, but not many. And some will survive only as donut shops for the remaining members, not places reaching out with the Gospel or acts of mercy.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 22, 2020, 10:49:10 AM
There is not much the LCMS Executives in their cubicles at Kirkwood, Missouri can do to stem the decline.
There is not much the LCMS District Presidents on their turf can do to stop the downward movement.

However, the local parish can set five year goals which meet the challenges of the current times.
Parishes which are healthy and alive  understand what is needed.  They will  be proactive and
 set goals which highlight the future rather than complain about the present.

Measurable goals:  1. A goal of at least 10 adult confirmands each year for 5 years.

This will depend on the parish members actively inviting unchurched friends,
relatives, neighbors, and co-workers to attend worship services and the
adult instruction classes.  For a time live-stream video worship services
and instruction classes may be necessary to reach the unchurched people.

2. A goal of each parish family increasing their financials gifts to the Lord
through sacrificial and first fruit giving each year by 2% for 5 years.

This will depend on parish members actively focusing on returning to the
Lord the gifts that He has given them.  They will become immersed in
a daily devotional time which includes Scripture readings and prayers.
It becomes a time for stewardship awareness in their daily lives.




 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 22, 2020, 11:42:21 AM
It is a hard future to envision. Institutional churches are collapsing. I don't think that is for lack of faith or desire to reach out. In a way, the whole thing is simply built for a society and culture that is now in decline. University presidents, editors of publications, pastors of churches with schools, really anyone in charge of a substantial institution faces this issue.

What would be some actionable suggestions? "Get organized," or "Quit infighting and focus on the Gospel," or "Raise up servant leaders," are not actionable suggestions. I mean concrete proposals that can be said to have been completed within a certain timeline. What vote should be taken or change should be made such that five years from now we aren't in the same place only smaller?

Interesting.  "...built for a society and culture that is now in decline..." follows a historical line that in Europe after the "fall of Rome", tribal/kingdom leaders identified a need for a unifying, civilizing element to lead peoples out of barbarism and chose Christianity to do that in order to establish basic civil order and make their people more governable.  Only that.
I think God had something more to do with it, as all of us here including you and me also think (I hope).  But this is an aside.  The leaders of that multi-century era may have actually thought that was its purpose.

As to what are "actionable suggestions", I understand where you are coming from, looking for concrete proposals.  As a life-long professional planner, I find that, simply, correct.  However, we have actionable suggestions and concrete proposals that we enact every day.  The concept of "immanence" (not the hackneyed SF or cultish versions) as defined by, among others, a student of "immanence" in socio-economic-cultural-ecological things, Adrian Ivakhiv (he is oftentimes a bit wacky, like me, but often has a few gems buried in his work, you have to pick through it with discernment) who found that "Philosophers of immanence, from Heraclitus and Nagarjuna to Spinoza, Whitehead, and Deleuze, find inspiration in the middle of things, the moment-to-moment movement of thought, awareness, connection, action, rather than in large, transcendent, ventriloquistic forces (such as ideologies, ultimate causes, or apocalyptic narratives)".

What's the point?  It is "finding inspiration in the middle of things, including action.  We're in the middle of things, the most important of which is that God is doing the "action" through the Gospel.  The Gospel and the accompanying actionable suggestions and concrete proposals in every book from Acts to Jude (at least) are everything we need.
I'm especially enthused by Jude v. 17+ff, "A Call to Persevere". 
Please read Jude v. 17, pray over what it says, and "just do it".
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 22, 2020, 11:43:07 AM
Quote
The times are disturbing. I do not know or understand the hidden will of God. Why does God allow the church, especially in the West, to continue to decline? Why does our world sink into ever deeper depravity, division and even mayhem? Why has the world turned so hostile to the Gospel and the Word of God? Why does the Gospel find impenetrable rocky soil in places where it once was planted and prospered? Why has church planting proved so difficult in the past decades? Why have so many turned from the Good News to nihilism, or to a “spiritual” religion of the self, void of any biblical content?

Pres. Harrison laments what we all lament. Yet hidden in that is also the realization that the answer does not lie in programs or more enthusiasm.  We will not work our way out of this.  We speak the Gospel.  We testify with love.  We welcome those who hear.  We catechize.  And these we have done and still we struggle.  I am not at all suggesting that we should resign ourselves to this and try no more or no harder to be more effective in worship, witness, intercession, and acts of mercy but I am suggesting that we are not laboring in a field we have let go fallow.  It is ripe with enemies.  Like the disciples of old, we are so tempted to suggest that the problem lies with the seed or the sower.  Could it be that despite the best efforts of the sower and the best seed of all, the fields will not produce?  Surely we are all guilty of all the things we have said, thought, and done that get in the way of the sowing but as I look around us, it is not for lack of effort that the Word falls on rocky soil or fails to grow where it is planted.  There is something more at work.  We may not wish to admit it but there is.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rob Morris on December 22, 2020, 11:56:45 AM
I think that anyone who doesn't acknowledge that this is a season of decline for Christianity in America has blinders on. Anyone who thinks some plan or program or strategy will prevent it has a greater optimism than I do. We enjoyed our season of growth throughout the late 20th century, but now comes a different season. Covid has only made the reality of the season more obvious.

But seasons are interesting things... most deciduous trees cannot survive without winter. Unchecked growth would lead to soft, mushy rot. Overladen branches would lack the structure to feed them or the strength to survive a storm. The winter is when the tree must harden, strengthen, and lose some of summer's unsustainable growth.

Barring something totally unforeseen, the church has entered a winter season in America. And winter is a relentless pruner.

But I believe, and Biblical and church history bear this out, these seasons of challenge and decline result in a more vital, more tenacious faith for those who hold faithful to it (and more importantly: are faithfully held by their faithful Savior).

Churches as resorts or activity centers may never recover. Churches as fortresses in the midst of life's wearying war: these will remain, no matter what their appearance.

Resorts and activity centers need marketing plans; fortresses don't.

Resorts and activity centers need to figure out how to get people through the doors; fortresses need to make sure that when the wounded and weary come through the doors, there are enough rations and supplies and caregivers to see them through to better days.

Resorts and activity centers compete; fortresses endure.

I believe the winter of Christianity in America has come. But that fact does not disconcert me. Not if it leads to deeper roots and a stronger core.

Besides, I have always loved winter.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 22, 2020, 12:04:36 PM
I think that anyone who doesn't acknowledge that this is a season of decline for Christianity in America has blinders on. Anyone who thinks some plan or program or strategy will prevent it has a greater optimism than I do. We enjoyed our season of growth throughout the late 20th century, but now comes a different season. Covid has only made the reality of the season more obvious.

But seasons are interesting things... most deciduous trees cannot survive without winter. Unchecked growth would lead to soft, mushy rot. Overladen branches would lack the structure to feed them or the strength to survive a storm. The winter is when the tree must harden, strengthen, and lose some of summer's unsustainable growth.

Barring something totally unforeseen, the church has entered a winter season in America. And winter is a relentless pruner.

But I believe, and Biblical and church history bear this out, these seasons of challenge and decline result in a more vital, more tenacious faith for those who hold faithful to it (and more importantly: are faithfully held by their faithful Savior).

Churches as resorts or activity centers may never recover. Churches as fortresses in the midst of life's wearying war: these will remain, no matter what their appearance.

Resorts and activity centers need marketing plans; fortresses don't.

Resorts and activity centers need to figure out how to get people through the doors; fortresses need to make sure that when the wounded and weary come through the doors, there are enough rations and supplies and caregivers to see them through to better days.

Resorts and activity centers compete; fortresses endure.

I believe the winter of Christianity in America has come. But that fact does not disconcert me. Not if it leads to deeper roots and a stronger core.

Besides, I have always loved winter.

Amen.  A liminal space.  It's Holy Saturday, but like the first disciples we don't know exactly what's coming.  Thankfully, we know its Resurrection, but exactly what that will look like remains to be seen.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 22, 2020, 12:05:19 PM
I don't know, Tim.  I think this is a time in which we need to grant one another a lot of grace.  It's tough for everyone, I would imagine it's no different at the IC. 

I get that Scott, I also get the enormous responsibility we all have to keep on moving. Our district has enacted a new coaching program, has pivoted on welcoming workers, have done an online district conference, which had a very fine response. There's ways to pivot and move gracefully.

And also I agree with churches as resorts and clubs is over. It was over the moment church couldn't meet all your "felt needs" or provide enough business leads to get people out of bed. Honestly, Lutheran Hour Ministries has pivoted too. There's perhaps more opportunity to reach out in a broken world now than there were 9 months ago.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 22, 2020, 12:39:45 PM
I think that anyone who doesn't acknowledge that this is a season of decline for Christianity in America has blinders on. Anyone who thinks some plan or program or strategy will prevent it has a greater optimism than I do. We enjoyed our season of growth throughout the late 20th century, but now comes a different season. Covid has only made the reality of the season more obvious.

But seasons are interesting things... most deciduous trees cannot survive without winter. Unchecked growth would lead to soft, mushy rot. Overladen branches would lack the structure to feed them or the strength to survive a storm. The winter is when the tree must harden, strengthen, and lose some of summer's unsustainable growth.

Barring something totally unforeseen, the church has entered a winter season in America. And winter is a relentless pruner.

But I believe, and Biblical and church history bear this out, these seasons of challenge and decline result in a more vital, more tenacious faith for those who hold faithful to it (and more importantly: are faithfully held by their faithful Savior).

Churches as resorts or activity centers may never recover. Churches as fortresses in the midst of life's wearying war: these will remain, no matter what their appearance.

Resorts and activity centers need marketing plans; fortresses don't.

Resorts and activity centers need to figure out how to get people through the doors; fortresses need to make sure that when the wounded and weary come through the doors, there are enough rations and supplies and caregivers to see them through to better days.

Resorts and activity centers compete; fortresses endure.

I believe the winter of Christianity in America has come. But that fact does not disconcert me. Not if it leads to deeper roots and a stronger core.

Besides, I have always loved winter.

Thank you, good stuff. 
As to Winter, also remember and act knowing two things that happen in deep winter country (these two from Wyoming east of the divide:
1.  With snow and ice covering the land, the number one killer of trees, especially weakened ones, is THIRST.  Many non-deciduous trees are in winter-mode but not complelety "hiberating".  But the water they need is locked up by ice and snow and not priming their roots.
2.  Wyoming is a fence-out state; that is, if you don't want your neighbors cattle on your land, you must build and maintain the fence, not your neighbor.  In a fierce blizzard, many cattle will move with the wind trying to escape the blast.  When they reach a fence, they can drown by aspirating too much snow.  A good neighbor cuts his own fence to save his neigbors' cattle.

These have some bearing in churches as well, I think, and not just in Winter.  The Summer Program Hiatus - because "school's out, everyone's on vacation" - when most at any time are in town, leaves most members adrift (I know, staff and active volunteers need respite...), really adrift.  Hurray for VBS and summer youth activities but what about adult Bible study and fellowship?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 22, 2020, 12:48:39 PM
There is not much the LCMS Executives in their cubicles at Kirkwood, Missouri can do to stem the decline.
There is not much the LCMS District Presidents on their turf can do to stop the downward movement.

However, the local parish can set five year goals which meet the challenges of the current times.
Parishes which are healthy and alive  understand what is needed.  They will  be proactive and
 set goals which highlight the future rather than complain about the present.

Measurable goals:  1. A goal of at least 10 adult confirmands each year for 5 years.

This will depend on the parish members actively inviting unchurched friends,
relatives, neighbors, and co-workers to attend worship services and the
adult instruction classes.  For a time live-stream video worship services
and instruction classes may be necessary to reach the unchurched people.

2. A goal of each parish family increasing their financials gifts to the Lord
through sacrificial and first fruit giving each year by 2% for 5 years.

This will depend on parish members actively focusing on returning to the
Lord the gifts that He has given them.  They will become immersed in
a daily devotional time which includes Scripture readings and prayers.
It becomes a time for stewardship awareness in their daily lives.

The setting of goals, particularly in outreach/invitation, is a great step, and should be encouraged across the board.  What happens in life in several types of congregations - those with conflict especially conflict with the pastor and/or leaders, and those which have dwindled down to a precious few - is that outside involvement is necessary.  And the local congregation especially as perceived and taught in the Missouri Synod, is nothing if not a closed system.  So we enter those parishes - we at the wider church level - and attempt to be honest and encouraging at the same time.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 22, 2020, 01:01:01 PM
Quote
The times are disturbing. I do not know or understand the hidden will of God. Why does God allow the church, especially in the West, to continue to decline? Why does our world sink into ever deeper depravity, division and even mayhem? Why has the world turned so hostile to the Gospel and the Word of God? Why does the Gospel find impenetrable rocky soil in places where it once was planted and prospered? Why has church planting proved so difficult in the past decades? Why have so many turned from the Good News to nihilism, or to a “spiritual” religion of the self, void of any biblical content?

Pres. Harrison laments what we all lament. Yet hidden in that is also the realization that the answer does not lie in programs or more enthusiasm.  We will not work our way out of this.  We speak the Gospel.  We testify with love.  We welcome those who hear.  We catechize.  And these we have done and still we struggle.  I am not at all suggesting that we should resign ourselves to this and try no more or no harder to be more effective in worship, witness, intercession, and acts of mercy but I am suggesting that we are not laboring in a field we have let go fallow.  It is ripe with enemies.  Like the disciples of old, we are so tempted to suggest that the problem lies with the seed or the sower.  Could it be that despite the best efforts of the sower and the best seed of all, the fields will not produce?  Surely we are all guilty of all the things we have said, thought, and done that get in the way of the sowing but as I look around us, it is not for lack of effort that the Word falls on rocky soil or fails to grow where it is planted.  There is something more at work.  We may not wish to admit it but there is.

Having just participated with your successor in New York on his doctoral thesis in the area of apologetics (along with maybe 15 other pastors), it's not difficult to pin the tail on "them," the enemies out there in ideology, culture and societal structure.  We've been doing it thusly:  They Say, Scripture Says, We Say.  It's effective and revelatory.

At the same time, the place I find the enemy more than out there is inside.  In truth, the best effort is not being put forth x 6000 in the Missouri Synod.  And that must be addressed as well as the enemies from without.  I think that's what Tim, and Dave Likeness, are driving at, and Rob Morris' analogy of the open door fortress church is right on target.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 22, 2020, 01:22:14 PM
As I understand Bishop Benke, there are too many dysfunctional parishes in LCMS.
When pastor and members are at odds, then the outreach mission of the parish is
compromised.  We need more pastors who are able to avoid the intramural battles
of the parish and who stay focused on the mission of proclaiming Christ to their
communities. Healthy pastors and healthy parishes can meet the challenges in
front of them.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 22, 2020, 01:45:04 PM
As I understand Bishop Benke, there are too many dysfunctional parishes in LCMS.
When pastor and members are at odds, then the outreach mission of the parish is
compromised.  We need more pastors who are able to avoid the intramural battles
of the parish and who stay focused on the mission of proclaiming Christ to their
communities. Healthy pastors and healthy parishes can meet the challenges in
front of them.

All true, and all too true.

I especially like the use of the term "intramural", Dave.  As you would know from the old days, the fiercest battles in sports were not at the varsity level, where the opponent came and left (with notable long-term exceptions like - for us - Northwestern the WELS folks, with whom we were bitter rivals), but at the intramural level.  I took some hits in intramural flag football from people I had thought were friends that still give me pain today.  "Hey, it's FLAG football, guys!"  Not so much.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 22, 2020, 02:14:47 PM
My assumptions drive my emotions.
My emotions drive my behavior.
No amount of spoken logic or reason, no amount of blame or finger-pointing, will ever overcome that reality for any of us.

Lesson? Check every assumption being made, meaning don't take something as fact until it's been put to the test.

In the LCMS we act a lot on the emotions flowing out of those things we sincerely believe to be true, but perhaps - if closely examined - aren't fully true.



Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 22, 2020, 02:35:00 PM
It is noteworthy that the Apostle Paul's list of qualifications for a pastor include:
"he must be above reproach, self-controlled, not violent, but gentle, not
quarrelsome" (1 Timothy 3).  Yet somehow these guidelines are ignored.
Too many pastors are battling with their members. If pastors are self-controlled
and not quarrelsome, then the mission of proclaiming Christ to the community
might gain some traction.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 22, 2020, 02:45:06 PM
Too many pastors are battling with their members.

Perhaps a first step could be shunning vagueness, such as when we use pronouns rather than proper names.  We all do it. We all hear it.  "They....them...those people...a person I know said..."  Even "this pastor I know..." or the infamous "well, the administration..."

Perhaps the thing to start doing is gently naming names.  Call out the behavior, and call out the person exhibiting it by name.

"Hi. I'm Mark. And I'm acting on the emotions caused by my untested assumptions. Thank you for calling me to account for my behavior."  I've got a name and it isn't "him" "xe" "that nutbag" "that bureaucrat in a cubicle" or <fill in the blank>.  Commend good, God-pleasing behavior. Call out the Satan-feeding behavior too, using names, since going to people (pastors or laypeople) privately doesn't seem to be helping?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 22, 2020, 02:58:19 PM
@Mark Hofman.....As a Circuit Counselor in a LCMS Midwest District, I witnessed 4 parishes
which finally closed due to battles between pastors and their members.  These were
mid-sized parishes which once flourished but finally became embroiled in power struggles
and the people voted with their feet by walking away.  I served as Circuit Counselor for
13 years and three of these parishes were in a neighboring circuit.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 22, 2020, 03:03:00 PM
The same Apostle also insisted that pastors should be husband of one wife (1 Tim 3:2)... And do we?

And that they were to rebuke sharply those who taught falsely (Titus 1:13)... And do we?

And that they must hold fast the faithful Word that they have been taught so that by sound doctrine they can exhort and convince their opponents (Titus 1:9)... And do we?

And nowhere in Paul’s lists of attributes for those who serve in the office of the holy ministry do we find the one that our Synod, sadly, has seemed to value about all else: “winsomeness” (and I wasn’t going to say it, but as a crusty old curmudgeon, why not): and that’s just a wimpy name for “popularity” that makes it sound not nearly as offensive as it should be.

P.S. And none of the above ought be read as endorsing “lording it over the flock” because St. Peter’s utterly clear on that one, as was our Lord Himself.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 22, 2020, 03:07:42 PM
Rev. Likeness,

It seems my comment was taken as an accusation. That was not my intent, so I apologize for causing offense. As the son of a now-retired LCMS pastor who also served as a circuit counselor/visitor and district v.p. back in the day, I too have seen what power/emotional/spiritual/control struggles can do to a congregation. One of those involved a Caterpillar bulldozer showing up in the middle of the night and the resulting need for the remnant to find a new location to worship.

Agreeing to step into the middle of those situations to effect a positive outcome is an act of bravery deserving of a medal.

My remark about naming names was an observation of the behavior that we as a denomination seem to accept without question, anywhere and seemingly everywhere. We use pronouns and generalities instead of names. That's all.  It's only my opinion based on a myopic observation over many years, and carries no real substantive weight anyway.  Again, I sincerely apologize for the offense I seem to have caused, and beg forgiveness for Christ's sake.

 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 22, 2020, 03:09:56 PM
The admitting to our Seminaries of men who have been divorced was a mistake.
Yet, it was allowed by Admissions Officers in the 1990's who were concerned about
getting more bodies into the Seminary.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 22, 2020, 03:59:11 PM
There are many reasons that churches and church bodies are in decline. As we examine and discuss this we need to also examine the sociological factors that have fed decline. In our eagerness to beat each other up for how we have not been faithful enough or energetic enough, our how our leadership has not been mission minded enough, there are also factors at work that are beyond our control. Much as many of us emphasize theology, both the liberal ELCA and the conservative LCMS are declining and at similar rates.


Our society is changing, has been changing for a considerable time. Some of this is technological. For example, consider how air conditioning has changed neighborhoods. During mild and especially hot months, people no longer go out on porches to escape hot houses. People no longer stroll down the sidewalks and interact with their neighbors on their porches.


A major sociological shift over the last half century has been a shift away from social/philanthropic organizations. We see this not only in the decline in membership in churches, but in lodges like the Masons, Elk, Moose, etc.; Veterans' organizations like the VFW or American Legion; and service clubs like Rotary and Lions. People have just not been as interested in joining. It would be interesting and useful to explore why that has been. People in general seem to have less of need to be a part of an organized group, and churches also fall into that category.


We see this also in youth organizations like the various forms of Scouting and church youth groups. Already when I was in high school back in the late 60s Walter league was on the decline. Time was that teens looked forward to Walther League meetings because it got them out of the house, with other teens (how many Lutheran romances leading to marriage were started in Walther League in the first half of the 20th century? How many in the last 50 years?) and with some fun activity. Early in my ministry, churches that ran extensive youth programs with plenty of activities and areas in the building or additional buildings where they could hang out were the growing churches. Not as many youth going forward, and even churched youth have plenty of other opportunities to hang out, have fun together, etc. The church as a place for young people to hang out is no longer needed, and rarely could we do that as well as the competition.




The Church used to be the major local charitable organization. Much of the social service needs and charitable giving was funneled through churches. In many ways, the early church invented social service and charity. Government has largely taken over those functions and with the ability to tax to fund that "charity" (no longer actually seen as charity) sucked up much of the money available for those social services. I'm not saying that that shift has been good or bad, nor to I want to argue that, it just is the way it is.


Whether or not people realize it, the need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ is as pressing as it ever was. Spiritual hunger is as real a need as it ever was. There is a much greater buffet available to fill that hunger. That in our understanding much of the spirituality on offer in American society today is spiritual junk food doesn't keep people from filling up on that any more than the many PSAs promoting good nutrition has dented the market for physical junk food.


I'm not saying that I have answers, but as we look for answers, this factor needs to be taken into account. Very easy to set up circular firing squads to beat up on each other and ourselves. It's not all that we have fallen down on the job of offering the Gospel. A changing society needs to be approached differently.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 22, 2020, 04:21:39 PM
It is noteworthy that the Apostle Paul's list of qualifications for a pastor include:
"he must be above reproach, self-controlled, not violent, but gentle, not
quarrelsome" (1 Timothy 3).  Yet somehow these guidelines are ignored.
Too many pastors are battling with their members. If pastors are self-controlled
and not quarrelsome, then the mission of proclaiming Christ to the community
might gain some traction.


The word translated "self-controlled," νηφάλιος, literally referred to someone who drank no wine. The image of being sober vs. being drunk became took on the figurative meaning of being in control of one's life, thoughts, and words. (See the related verb in 1 Thessalonians 5:6.)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 22, 2020, 05:01:32 PM
I don't know, Tim.  I think this is a time in which we need to grant one another a lot of grace.  It's tough for everyone, I would imagine it's no different at the IC. 

I get that Scott, I also get the enormous responsibility we all have to keep on moving. Our district has enacted a new coaching program, has pivoted on welcoming workers, have done an online district conference, which had a very fine response. There's ways to pivot and move gracefully.

And also I agree with churches as resorts and clubs is over. It was over the moment church couldn't meet all your "felt needs" or provide enough business leads to get people out of bed. Honestly, Lutheran Hour Ministries has pivoted too. There's perhaps more opportunity to reach out in a broken world now than there were 9 months ago.

I get what your saying Tim, but for me the enormous amount of responsibility prompts me to become much more localized in my focus. Maybe that makes me a bad Synodical churchman, I don't intend to be. I'm just not in that mindset right now.  It would never occur to me to look up the Synodical report and then post about it here.  I don't intend that as criticism but just to highlight where my focus is currently.  And I think Will's point about winsomeness is relevant here, I would posit that our attraction to such characteristics has cost us much more money and resources than we will ever realize.  Examples abound all around us if we have the eyes to see.  It's in the mundane, the day to day, the simple, and seemingly unattractive where the true gold is found and that seems to be lost on us time and time again.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 22, 2020, 05:05:34 PM
On that note, I’m waiting John Nunes’s new book Meant for More, which is in the mail (hopefully). The theme of the book is just what Scott just posted about holiness and purpose being found in the ordinary.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 22, 2020, 05:12:30 PM
Jesus said to the Twelve before He ascended, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me."

He said this when the number of disciples was very small, just before going to the cross, not too long before He would ascend and left them to His work.

So the glory days of growth are past. Okay. We all see it and feel it. But the Lord of Glory has not departed. His Holy Spirit is with us. He will lead us.

Arise, dust yourselves off, and dust off your brothers and sisters, too. Our calling remain sure and the opportunities are great. Make that phone call, send that email, make a visit if covid allows. And love the people to whom the Lord sends you. His love and mercy are certain to them and to you
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 22, 2020, 08:16:54 PM
I have long thought Ratzinger was quite prescient in what he spoke here in a radio broadcast from 1969(!!!):

“Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

“The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

“And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 22, 2020, 09:28:38 PM
Then isn’t now a time for courage, trust and and not capitulating to the world and outside pressures. Seems like we are the Scriptural piece of reaping what we have sown. We being the institutional church.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 22, 2020, 10:49:16 PM
This graph shows the LCMS is suffering from a phenomenon known to increase strife:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-STOQEz_1bWg/VAnr96WrkAI/AAAAAAAABOI/JNgzT9I_qBY/w958-h697-no/LCMS%2Bmembership%2Bper%2Bclergy.jpg

More about the phenomenon:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/can-history-predict-future/616993/

What to do about it?

1. Increase slots
2. Drastically reduce new ordinations
3. A purge of existing clergy

Of these, #2 is the cheapest and least painful in the short term. #1 could be achieved by missions, schisms, or a widely-applied and rather restrictive term limits policy. #3 is also known as mobbing.

#1 and #2 could be combined: Close and sell both seminaries, and use the money to pay for new projects. Or do nothing and see if the 1970s will repeat. A natural large scale schism both increases leadership slots and provides opportunities for purging.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 22, 2020, 11:06:11 PM
I have long thought Ratzinger was quite prescient in what he spoke here in a radio broadcast from 1969(!!!):

“Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes, so it will lose many of her social privileges. In contrast to an earlier age, it will be seen much more as a voluntary society, entered only by free decision. As a small society, it will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members. Undoubtedly it will discover new forms of ministry and will ordain to the priesthood approved Christians who pursue some profession. In many smaller congregations or in self-contained social groups, pastoral care will normally be provided in this fashion. Along-side this, the full-time ministry of the priesthood will be indispensable as formerly. But in all of the changes at which one might guess, the Church will find her essence afresh and with full conviction in that which was always at her center: faith in the triune God, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, in the presence of the Spirit until the end of the world. In faith and prayer she will again recognize the sacraments as the worship of God and not as a subject for liturgical scholarship.

“The Church will be a more spiritual Church, not presuming upon a political mandate, flirting as little with the Left as with the Right. It will be hard going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek. The process will be all the more arduous, for sectarian narrow-mindedness as well as pompous self-will will have to be shed. One may predict that all of this will take time. The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain — to the renewal of the nineteenth century. But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.

“And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.
Yes. There was a dispute in those days in the RCC between those who believed that the future of the Church lay with a much smaller, more committed group, and those who believed that, since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite, such a "remnant" church must be the wrong direction. The former group gathered around the journal Concilium, the latter around Communio. The 1969 talk sounds as if at that point Ratzinger was inclined toward the Concilium party.

It seems to me as if Pope Francis has cast his lot with the church of the poor.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mj4 on December 23, 2020, 01:20:13 AM
... since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite,...

Father Slusser, why was it believed that greater commitment would lead to the exclusion of the poor?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 23, 2020, 09:13:31 AM
It seems to me the poor would likely be the most inclined to be part of more rigorous church. In general, they seem ay least as willing if not even more willing to actually live by the teachings of the church than are the middle an upper classes.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 23, 2020, 09:32:58 AM
The idea of such a time of unrest is aligned with Phyllis Tickle’s book, “The Great Emergence.” She speaks of the church having a garage sale and selling some things that have become useless. It’s spiritually aligned with your article posted previously. I’m reminded that no matter what, our fight is not against flesh and blood, from Ephesians 6. Good morning
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 23, 2020, 09:37:30 AM
I have long thought Ratzinger was quite prescient in what he spoke here in a radio broadcast from 1969(!!!):

“Let us go a step farther. From the crisis of today the Church of tomorrow will emerge — a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning....<snip>
...It may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but it will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

I have long thought in similar ways over the course of my ministry.  As a pastor of a smaller congregation in a more sparely populated rural area, removed not only from high density urban centers as well as major denominational headquarters and academic institutions, the phenomena of the church's constricted size probably doesn't concern me as much or impact my future ministry. We already live on that edge. We've been here for a while. And as an emergency service chaplain I also realize that this ministry, like mission work, works in an immediate way with people, embedded in the everyday life of the community.  We seldom see evidence of large growth or what larger churches define as 'success.'  Far removed from the heavy programmatic busyness that too often defines the institutional church, ministry in my context is most clearly manifested, as it was recently, in such mundane settings as the family-crowded bedroom of the dying, where I commend another saint to their departure to be with Christ.  Or outside of a local nursing home where a staff person, seeing a woman weeping from just visiting her dying elderly father, spontaneously asks me to pause and pray.  Or moments of simple reverence as I consecrate the blessed Sacrament on a hastily erected card table in the narthex for a private communion service for those unable to attend regular worship due to a pandemic.  These manifestations of the church in the world will continue even if the edifices of great buildings fall into disuse and well organized organizations disband.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 23, 2020, 09:46:30 AM
... since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite,...

Father Slusser, why was it believed that greater commitment would lead to the exclusion of the poor?
Those who will swim against the tide, uphold a faith as individuals despite the lack of support from society around them, were thought to be unusual people, people trained to think things out for themselves. When every Christian is going to have to think things out for him or herself, we are no longer looking at a mass movement. No more Volkskirche. Without a faith that encompasses the masses and shapes society to confirm (or at least not undermine) Christian faith and morals, the educated will probably be more capable of recognizing the cognitive dissonance with the world around them and asserting the primacy of Christian faith. The scorn for the Volkskirche came from a belief that it is more easily subverted by anti-Christian values built into society. Maybe that feeling came from the experience of how easily the Third Reich was able dominate people in just a decade or two.

One of the anti-elite Catholic thinkers was Jean Daniélou, who left the Concilium group because of its apparent willingness to be content with a future church where the real Christians were just a little flock, a remnant, testifying to their faith in the midst of a world where they are ignored. He wrote a book, Prayer as a Political Problem, where he made some of his anti-elitist argument.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 23, 2020, 10:08:50 AM
This graph shows the LCMS is suffering from a phenomenon known to increase strife:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-STOQEz_1bWg/VAnr96WrkAI/AAAAAAAABOI/JNgzT9I_qBY/w958-h697-no/LCMS%2Bmembership%2Bper%2Bclergy.jpg

More about the phenomenon:
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/12/can-history-predict-future/616993/

What to do about it?

1. Increase slots
2. Drastically reduce new ordinations
3. A purge of existing clergy

Of these, #2 is the cheapest and least painful in the short term. #1 could be achieved by missions, schisms, or a widely-applied and rather restrictive term limits policy. #3 is also known as mobbing.

#1 and #2 could be combined: Close and sell both seminaries, and use the money to pay for new projects. Or do nothing and see if the 1970s will repeat. A natural large scale schism both increases leadership slots and provides opportunities for purging.
I think this is an excellent insight. I've always responded to claims of a looming clergy shortage by pointing out the real issue is a shortage of parishioners to listen to them. But it misses a crucial additional point, at least as it applies to our context. No matter how you slice it, the issue in the LCMS (and perhaps for non-state-sponsored Lutheranism) is the cost of providing something akin to a middle-class lifestyle to a professional man and his family. There would be no problem with a high clergy/laity ratio if the clergy did not need the laity in order to live.

If we had monks and nuns or certain kinds of priests who took vows of poverty and chastity, well, there would plenty of good work for them to do, and the only financial commitment would be to provide room and board into perpetuity. No retirement plan, just a guarantee of a place to live. Even a poor laity could probably sustain a vast number of full-time church workers if those church-workers were not trying to buy homes and put kids through college.

Even the problem we have in the LCMS of the dreaded CRM status-- ordained, but without a call-- is really a money problem caused by the nature of a professional class clergy. If clergy without parishes could live and work in monasteries until being reassigned, such that there was not financial benefit or liability to being assigned to serve a parish or some other role, there would be no real problem. But it doesn't work with clergy with families and the expectation of a middle class, white-collar standard of living. There simply isn't an economic model with enough free money in it to make such an arrangement practical.

The Reformation ushered in the professional, educated class, married clergy template. It had taxpayer support in Europe and has lasted without state support for a long time based on a growing population and economy that had need for pastors and means to support them. But even in such circumstances rural clergy often got paid in slave wages, eggs, and potatoes. Now the whole model may be slowly collapsing under its own weight. Pre-Reformation structures of church-work, limited to people willing to live communally until the say they die with a guaranteed bed, roof, and place at the dinner table, might actually work better in the future than they did in the past. The problem then would be finding people willing to sign up for it. The Catholics have it in place, but I don't think the line to enter convents and monasteries goes around the block.     
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 23, 2020, 11:17:24 AM
The problem with the "overproduction of elites" theory in the church is that it isn't the numerator that has been growing too much (clergy) it is the denominator that has been shrinking too much (laity).  My personal estimates would be that the number we are graduating now is roughly in line with the number of viable congregations.  Although I might be a little more pessimistic and think we are still over-producing.  Especially given how the larger LCMS-non-denoms produce people who fill slots outside the official system.

#1 (schism) only works if the resultant bodies can create a coherent institution which usually needs an immediate round of #3 for those that won't get with the program.  JAO Preus wasn't prince enough to carry that out.  So we continued in the grand game of musical chairs.

#2 is what is needed.  But the trouble here is two-fold.  First, your clergy truly have to be elite.  Which I think you could say the clergy of early 20th century in the LCMS were.  Those guys were hyper-competent.  What we have been producing since peak-church 1964? Not so much.  Second, much easier if you have a history of competent elite leadership, is that congregations/laity have to be willing to give up some of their own individual sovereignty.   You've got to get together in groups no smaller than 150 attending laity per clergy (so let's say 300 - 600 in inflated membership).

Given that our total membership is about 1.9M.  Lets say 1/3rd of that is dedicated attenders, so 627K.  The real number of clergy needed is about 4180.  Getting from here (over 6000 clergy) to there is what is necessary.  Which would probably mean things like: a) no, you can't just call the 73 year old retired guy on pulpit supply full time. b) Limiting total enrolment in the sems to say 60 per year (sorry, close one now). c) When pulpits go vacant using that as the opportunity to put together a functional parish.  d) Start preaching kids and signaling that membership in this church means something which comes after you have put together a functional parish that has people beyond the pastor of child bearing age.

And when you start laying out what actually needs to be done, you realize there is no way from here to there. Not actively where we are willing to pay the price to put things right in our own house.  So the institution will have to die first.  And even now, there is a lot of death still to come.  It is like when a 50 year old gets cancer.  The body wants to live and has lots of energy, so the suffering lasts.  Sorry, I'll stop reading Machiavelli and Moldbug/Curtis Yarvin.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 23, 2020, 11:28:11 AM
I re-read this thread this morning.  A lot of earnest, well-considered concerns, observations, options; some not so much but that help balance and focus discussion.

What stands out is an unconscious urge to turn the church into a massive version of a Procrustean Bed and congregations into mini-Procrustean Beds.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 23, 2020, 11:52:23 AM
Randy, please translate.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 23, 2020, 12:10:36 PM
Randy, please translate. 
There are several versions of the myth of Procrustes that you may have encountered.
Nassem Nicholas Taleb introduced his book of aphorisms, "The Bed of Procrustes" (ISBN 978-1-4000-6997-2) with his interpretation as a metaphor:

"We humans, facing limits of knowledge, and things we do not observe, the unseen and the unknown, resolve the tension by squeezing life and the world into crisp commoditized ideas, reductive categories, specific vocabularies, and prepackaged narratives, which, on the occasion, has explosive consequences.  Further, we seem unaware of this backward fitting, much like tailors who take great pride in delivering the perfectly fitting suit - but do so by surgically altering the limbs of their customers.  For instance, few realize that we are changing the brains of schoolchildren through medication in order to make them adjust to the curriculum, rather than the reverse."

"(Taleb's) use of the metaphor of the Procrustes bed isn't just about putting something in the wrong box; it's mostly that inverse operation of changing the wrong variable, here the person rather than the bed.  Note that every failure of what we call 'wisdom' (coupled with technical proficiency) can be reduced to a Procrustean bed situation."

For me, then, the first thought is "do no harm" when involved at any level from bottom to top in an organization or project.  That includes trying not to introduce my self-biases, pet peeves, et.al., into the equation.

Then, it is extremely important to prevent iatrogenics (medical term for the introduction of unitended consquences, collateral damage, worsening of other less visible [to you or me] conditions into the patient).  The classic meme include "We had to destroy the village in order to save it", and "The operation was a success, but the patient died", and "Our plan was perfect, the pew potatoes were mired in apathy and caused it to fail", etc. ad naseum.

Some thing to be ignored at our peril.  We're all put in an earthly Procrustean Bed one way or another.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 23, 2020, 12:12:01 PM
I'm looking at the chart about parishioners to clergy ratio and the bottom left corner. It shows the church had this circumstance before. In fact, I recall visiting with a retired seminary professor who studied in that era. He told me there was no congregation for him and others at graduation. (Unfortunately, I can't think of his name.) He dealt with the situation by pursuing a university degree in biology, I think, and ended up publishing for the LCMS on the topic of creation and evolution.

How many part-time pastors/mission planters are there in synod? Could this be an avenue of service for more men, addressing both the job issue and the parishioner shortage?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on December 23, 2020, 12:27:31 PM
I'm looking at the chart about parishioners to clergy ratio and the bottom left corner. It shows the church had this circumstance before. In fact, I recall visiting with a retired seminary professor who studied in that era. He told me there was no congregation for him and others at graduation. (Unfortunately, I can't think of his name.) He dealt with the situation by pursuing a university degree in biology, I think, and ended up publishing for the LCMS on the topic of creation and evolution.

How many part-time pastors/mission planters are there in synod? Could this be an avenue of service for more men, addressing both the job issue and the parishioner shortage?

That was John Klotz.

One of the questions we now ask in the District seminary interview is whether or not the prospective seminarian would be willing to accept a call as worker priest or other similar situation.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 23, 2020, 12:32:09 PM
Randy, thanks so much for the detailed explanation. Helpful.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 23, 2020, 12:51:58 PM
If you think #2 is what is needed, you will not have long to wait.  The seminaries are not producing very many candidates and the age of those in the field is old enough so that a goodly number will retire in the next 5 years (1/3 ??).  We will see then if it was the problem and a smaller number of pastors was the solution.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 23, 2020, 12:55:30 PM
I'm looking at the chart about parishioners to clergy ratio and the bottom left corner. It shows the church had this circumstance before. In fact, I recall visiting with a retired seminary professor who studied in that era. He told me there was no congregation for him and others at graduation. (Unfortunately, I can't think of his name.) He dealt with the situation by pursuing a university degree in biology, I think, and ended up publishing for the LCMS on the topic of creation and evolution.

How many part-time pastors/mission planters are there in synod? Could this be an avenue of service for more men, addressing both the job issue and the parishioner shortage?

That was John Klotz.

One of the questions we now ask in the District seminary interview is whether or not the prospective seminarian would be willing to accept a call as worker priest or other similar situation.

That's right. I knew it started with K but could only think of Klann, which I knew was not right.

I've told my congregation that I would be willing to take a part-time job if that ever became necessary. Fortunately, the giving has remained strong through the Covid crisis. The congregation has remained very sound.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 23, 2020, 01:00:36 PM
If you think #2 is what is needed, you will not have long to wait.  The seminaries are not producing very many candidates and the age of those in the field is old enough so that a goodly number will retire in the next 5 years (1/3 ??).  We will see then if it was the problem and a smaller number of pastors was the solution.

Another factor to consider is whether those in my age bracket, who are slotted to retire "in the next 5 years," will work beyond their retirement dates, and how many will retire but jump right back into vacancy work. One of the recent retirees in my circuit went to age 70.  Also, I wonder if the SMP track will be used more extensively if there is a significant shortfall.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 23, 2020, 01:05:40 PM
The willingness of retired guys to preach and maybe do a few other little things on a weekly basis to augment their retirement income is the only thing keeping a lot of church doors open. We have two in our circuit that will never call another pastor but that have services every week with a permanent supply preacher model.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 23, 2020, 01:13:34 PM
"Do no harm" works until the concept of doing no harm does harm, because the various competitors seize the term to ensure the status quo.  Two seminary campuses at two separate locations with two faculties training the number of ordination track students now in the pipeline hasn't made sense for a long time.  Statisticians crank out a future needs chart that excludes Commencement 2020's graphs.  As opposed to the 1920s and 30s, there is no big upswing in membership/birth rate/inreach in sight.  That graph ends in 2015 - by 2025 the dots will be far, far lower on the page. 

Noticeable in our conversations so far is the absence of contact with "the sects," the Protestants that don't "roster" toward elite, but toward inner call.  Some training is taken along the way, and lots of Bible reading is done, but the overhead is remarkably low because the leader/pastor is not compensated in the main from the congregation.  It's worth noting that another faith tradition with non-fully compensated leadership is Islam.  Both of these traditions don't have the issue of lay people needing to fork over a middle-range-income basket of offerings.  By and large, they are growing, and have younger and more diverse membership. 

And - they are among and from the poorer economic classes.  We couldn't have our Thanksgiving community outreach at church this year because the building is sealed off from any "outsiders" during school days by Department of Health decree.  Instead, there's a Pentecostal church doing weekly food distribution in the "food desert" called East New York every Thursday.  The pastor has a small construction company, and brings his truck which is then filled with boxes of food.  We brought the turkeys at Thanksgiving, donated to us.  And the pastor and his crew feed hundreds and hundreds of families every week that way - no overhead, all staff volunteers, many staff in the same position of needing food as those they're giving the food to.  What this seems like to me is more in line with New Testament and early Christianity.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 23, 2020, 01:23:15 PM
If you think #2 is what is needed, you will not have long to wait.  The seminaries are not producing very many candidates and the age of those in the field is old enough so that a goodly number will retire in the next 5 years (1/3 ??).  We will see then if it was the problem and a smaller number of pastors was the solution.

Another factor to consider is whether those in my age bracket, who are slotted to retire "in the next 5 years," will work beyond their retirement dates, and how many will retire but jump right back into vacancy work. One of the recent retirees in my circuit went to age 70.  Also, I wonder if the SMP track will be used more extensively if there is a significant shortfall.

All of that is why I included

...Especially given how the larger LCMS-non-denoms produce people who fill slots outside the official system...
a) no, you can't just call the 73 year old retired guy on pulpit supply full time...

If you want to look at the mechanism for whatever resurrection the LCMS will have look there at the SMP.  The "retired" guys will see the old synod off and many congregations will be content using their last 10 years that way.  And the SMP is the designated relief valve for not doing the hard things.  Which, it isn't much different than the historical analog of Loehe's sendlings, so it could be very good.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 23, 2020, 01:35:37 PM
"Do no harm" works until the concept of doing no harm does harm, because the various competitors seize the term to ensure the status quo. [...] Dave Benke 

Dave, absolutely!  I do read your "doing no harm does harm" as protecting status quo ... or even status quo ante- (name your bellum

If the thing is ailing a full work-up diagnosis is essential including identifying baselines.  Of course, who gets to decide what status is an actual healthy state - and even then a sustainable one.  Clearly, something is wrong, requiring more than treating symptoms.  That's your guys' purview. 

Change not?  Well, entropy is terminal and virtually gravitational, and stasis is often some declining level of moribundity (as in  1. Approaching death; about to die. 2. On the verge of becoming obsolete: moribund customs; a moribund way of life).    If not addressed, institutional death is inevitable.  Who desires that uncontrolled fall?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mj4 on December 23, 2020, 02:07:04 PM
It seems to me the poor would likely be the most inclined to be part of more rigorous church. In general, they seem ay least as willing if not even more willing to actually live by the teachings of the church than are the middle an upper classes.

I agree. I spent some of my youth working in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. The churches with which I was familiar fought tenaciously against the tide of materialism, sexual exploitation, racial enmity, lack of economic opportunity, substance abuse, government neglect, crime, lack of access to healthcare, poor housing options, unemployment, and family dissolution. They knew exactly where the world around them departed from the Christian faith.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 23, 2020, 03:03:13 PM
If you think #2 is what is needed, you will not have long to wait.  The seminaries are not producing very many candidates and the age of those in the field is old enough so that a goodly number will retire in the next 5 years (1/3 ??).  We will see then if it was the problem and a smaller number of pastors was the solution.

Another factor to consider is whether those in my age bracket, who are slotted to retire "in the next 5 years," will work beyond their retirement dates, and how many will retire but jump right back into vacancy work. One of the recent retirees in my circuit went to age 70.  Also, I wonder if the SMP track will be used more extensively if there is a significant shortfall.

All of that is why I included

...Especially given how the larger LCMS-non-denoms produce people who fill slots outside the official system...
a) no, you can't just call the 73 year old retired guy on pulpit supply full time...

If you want to look at the mechanism for whatever resurrection the LCMS will have look there at the SMP.  The "retired" guys will see the old synod off and many congregations will be content using their last 10 years that way.  And the SMP is the designated relief valve for not doing the hard things.  Which, it isn't much different than the historical analog of Loehe's sendlings, so it could be very good.

SMP, admittedly, is less extensive than the traditional routes we have become accustomed to using for most of our history.  That said (and here I must admit I teach for the SMP program), I suspect the curriculum might be more rigorous and in depth than it was for "Loehe's sendlings."  Although the program is largely online, and despite my occasional questions and misgivings about the overall delivery method, it is undoubtedly a growing trend across the board in academia in general - especially necessitated by the pandemic.  My own daughter will probably complete her entire sophomore year at CUC without ever stepping foot on the Chicago campus once this academic year.  Technology is advancing along with our ability to exploit its better parts, and I am optimistic that we can produce a much better product than we are at present.  I am encouraged by such institutions as the Institute for Lutheran Theology, which has produced a very robust and effective degree system entirely online, even up to the Ph.D level (https://www.ilt.edu/ (https://www.ilt.edu/)). I don't know if anyone in our Synod is studying any of this extensively, but if they are not, they should.  We have something Loehe did not have, and we should find a way to use it in a cost effective way for for the student and the institution. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 23, 2020, 03:57:35 PM
The seminary in Springfield, IL was quite similar to the SMP today and might have even been less rigorous academically. It was only in the late 1950s-1960s that it changed and required a Bachelor's for admission. It was by the way descended from Loehe.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 23, 2020, 05:11:07 PM
A retired man in my circuit just gave up serving one of those congregations that might have closed without him (now a dual parish with another congregation not so far away and still both congregations expect the pastor to have a chaplaincy job at least one day a week).  He is 87.  I am not at all sure that the work ethic of this man will be replicated by those who retire now or in the next 5-10 years.  People have different expectations of retirement than they once did.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 23, 2020, 05:40:00 PM
It shows the church had this circumstance before.

That was also an era of schism, first with the Ohio Synod and then the amiable separation with the English Synod and the loss of nearly the whole Norwegian Synod from the Synodical Conference. Likewise the Protes'tant Controversy fits into that era, although that was WELS, not LCMS. These splits helped handle the issue of clergy oversupply by creating new leadership slots. And even earlier, consider how the proposed joint Synodical Conference seminary in Chicago was torpedoed in favor of each synod running their own seminaries. That failure also opened up or preserved new slots for leadership roles.

What ended the earlier period of oversupply? There could be a variety of factors. Alan Graebner in "Birth Control and the Lutherans" produced an interesting graph: https://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5FuWdxYJ52Q/Rl5BSk5HLrI/AAAAAAAAACY/baRdMPnLV1s/w1200-h630-p-k-no-nu/LCMS+Clergy+Family+size.jpg (https://2.bp.blogspot.com/_5FuWdxYJ52Q/Rl5BSk5HLrI/AAAAAAAAACY/baRdMPnLV1s/w1200-h630-p-k-no-nu/LCMS+Clergy+Family+size.jpg) which shows that LCMS clergy in 1890 did not practice contraception. Then, they contracepted but the laity by and large still did not. Having the clergy contracept while laity does not limits the growth of clergy but not laity. Of course this only applies to multigenerational churchworker families. (As a stabilizing feature this is not as extreme as clerical celibacy.) But then the laity adopted contraceptive practices along with the clergy; first to a lesser degree during the Great Depression and again following the Baby Boom. So this stabilizing aspect was transient and seems unlikely to be replicated.

As for mobbing back then, from the history I've read there were a lot of short calls due to congregational political garbage in the 19th century LCMS. Yet clergy forced out of their pulpits had more recourse because synod switching was easier. Some switched repeatedly as needed. Another difference is that the men didn't have tuition debt or the capability to buy protection from mobbing. In the present day, men who come from wealthier families can buy protection from mobbing through estate gifts to the LCEF, LCMS Foundation, or their local district. So the cases of successful mobbing have the financial benefit of scaring other pastors (or their families) out there into donating, and it is not limited to the LCMS either. So mobbing is worse now because it helps keep the church infrastructure going.

Certain other denominations have picked up on the fact Lutherans practice mobbing in the hopes of getting some of their young men. There is a highly responsive and assertive drive to find young pious Lutherans and make them into good priests and nuns. This makes a lot of sense because of the huge crypto-Protestant influence in the United States. Ex-Lutherans are an excellent fit for this pre-existing need.

Why can't the LCMS play this game? It sort of does (e.g. John Wille, Rolf Preus). But the oversupply of clergy hamstrings it. If you close both seminaries and ordain no one except ethnic minorities via DELTO, the demand for colloquies would rise. The hamstringing would go away. There are plenty of men and women with theological training who were forced out of the ministry due to mobbing or other factors outside their control in denominations which don't want to develop the sort of conflict the LCMS is used to. To my understanding, ex-WELS/ELS/CLC clergy don't appear on their rosters or yearbooks like CRM clergy in the LCMS. They are basically invisible to the statisticians although with Facebook it is possible to track them down one by one. They'd probably go for having a second chance; even while in the ministry within their home synod they possessed less synod loyalty than LCMS clergy do (on average).

Mobbing in the LCMS would go away on its own; consider how Catholic priests don't have to worry about mobbing because they don't have clergy oversupply. The LCMS would be a nice place to be. The WELS/ELS/CLC are all networked around families. If the colloquies are well treated they will share with their family members back in the WELS/ELS/CLC that the LCMS is not a bad place to be. Moreover one generation down, some clergy children could be expected to back-marry into their family's original synod. These family relationships would form the basis for a restoration of the Synodical Conference.

As for fit, most ex-WELS colloquies would naturally join with LCMS moderates, while ex-ELS & CLC colloquies would be considered confessionals/conservatives. They would be at least as good of a fit culturally as a typical traditional LCMS seminary graduate coming from a parochial education background. And they might even have gratitude for a second chance and make an effort to get the "fit" right this time around.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 23, 2020, 06:01:55 PM
Commencement,

I must confess I have not the first clue what you are talking about here, especially not your reference to Prs. Wille and Preus!

Those I know who have crossed either Tiber or Bosphorus (I know those who have done either, as well as, what the Thames, into Anglicanism) did so not because of “mobbing” (still not convinced that is actually a prevalent thing among us), but because they became convinced that those alternatives were somehow more faithful to the original Lutheran vision (as given in the Confessions) but which the congregations they served and the pastors they served among no longer seemed to be even interested in upholding, let alone furthering.

From there it became a fateful step to distancing themselves from where they thought the Lutheran Symbols had come up short (thus identifying whatever they thought caused the failure of the ideal among us). Pr. Hein accurately diagnosed this years ago as comparing a Lutheran REALITY to a Roman, Eastern, Anglican IDEAL and finding the Lutherans came up short. Well, duh. But reality to reality yields a different assessment, as well as ideal to ideal.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 23, 2020, 06:20:48 PM
I know these things very well from offline, personal relationships and experience. Rev. Pres. John C. Willie is former WELS having graduated from WLS in 1979 and colloquized in 1984. Preus only re-joined the LCMS after being made to leave ELS. What I meant by mentioning their names is that these men were welcomed in. And they are not the only ones; I'd rather not name lower profile names on the public internet. One wrote a highly detailed account of his mobbing and published it in a periodical. After reading it, I called him up and he was glad to talk with me. He is grateful to be in the LCMS now and to put the mobbing in his previous denomination behind him.

Some who cross the rivers may do it entirely of their own will. Others may be recruited after mobbing. (Mobbing also occurs in the LCMS ministerial education system. Maybe not all will call it that because there is no job loss. Yet the drama, power dynamics, banal behaviors, and outcomes are similar.)

If you leave the LCMS and join another denomination due to mobbing, it is wise not to be vocal about it. There is no good in it. Much better to focus on the idealistic aspects about what you've discovered joining your new denomination.

(My earlier post at https://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=7712.msg495228#msg495228 (https://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=7712.msg495228#msg495228) gives context about how mobbing reduces intra-denominational strife by reducing the clergy oversupply issue. Any organization or nation which oversupplies candidates to the elite class risks strengthening counter-elite movements.)

As for my suggestion to close both seminaries while remaining open to colloquies, this is especially based off of a comment I have heard (in person, not online) repeated within WELS. This is a serious proposal and not rooted in anger or sarcasm and it runs along the lines of "We have so many uncalled people, we could just close down X and just issue calls from the remaining names for a while." The reservoir of uncalled theologically trained people in the other former Synodical Conference bodies is a proverbial goldmine of human resources. The LCMS should pirate it. And if you aren't interested, well, okay, but missing out on the next Willie or Preus is the opportunity cost of keeping the LCMS seminaries running.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 23, 2020, 07:09:58 PM
It seems to me the poor would likely be the most inclined to be part of more rigorous church. In general, they seem ay least as willing if not even more willing to actually live by the teachings of the church than are the middle an upper classes.

I agree. I spent some of my youth working in impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. The churches with which I was familiar fought tenaciously against the tide of materialism, sexual exploitation, racial enmity, lack of economic opportunity, substance abuse, government neglect, crime, lack of access to healthcare, poor housing options, unemployment, and family dissolution. They knew exactly where the world around them departed from the Christian faith.

Absolutely.  I'm in that neighborhood for four decades.  And the pastor, although a teacher, is mostly a learner, understanding faith and the struggle with new inner eyes.  The lines between working class and working poor and just flat out poor are not the finely drawn; they blend together and when it comes to church bring folks who understand utter dependence on God and utter interdependence in the Body as givens.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 23, 2020, 08:28:53 PM
Where does "Church of the poor" come from?

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Iglesia+de+los+pobres&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=32&smoothing=0&case_insensitive=true

and

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Church+of+the+poor&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=0&case_insensitive=true

A good explanation in Spanish:
https://www.google.com/books/edition/La_Iglesia_de_los_pobres_en_el_Concilio/0gOIDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Iglesia+de+los+pobres%22&pg=PT8&printsec=frontcover

A good explanation in English:
https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Emergence_of_Liberation_Theology/I_XnJF4aYOgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Church+of+the+poor%22&pg=PA44&printsec=frontcover

and in case you are wondering why the phrase was unused by 19th century Spanish writers, it is because they were not Anglican. (It was an Anglican and Scottish slogan back then, see https://books.google.com/books?id=umYQAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=%22A+prominent+characteristic+of+the+English+Church+is+that+it+is+emphatically+the+Church+of+the+poor%22&source=bl&ots=FayCY1cCqx&sig=ACfU3U1Qf9anoGQwpP9CSpGpYq2uISW2HA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi94or1vOXtAhXXHM0KHZEtCScQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=%22A%20prominent%20characteristic%20of%20the%20English%20Church%20is%20that%20it%20is%20emphatically%20the%20Church%20of%20the%20poor%22&f=false (https://books.google.com/books?id=umYQAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=%22A+prominent+characteristic+of+the+English+Church+is+that+it+is+emphatically+the+Church+of+the+poor%22&source=bl&ots=FayCY1cCqx&sig=ACfU3U1Qf9anoGQwpP9CSpGpYq2uISW2HA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi94or1vOXtAhXXHM0KHZEtCScQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=%22A%20prominent%20characteristic%20of%20the%20English%20Church%20is%20that%20it%20is%20emphatically%20the%20Church%20of%20the%20poor%22&f=false) .)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 24, 2020, 01:16:16 AM
Where does "Church of the poor" come from?

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Iglesia+de+los+pobres&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=32&smoothing=0&case_insensitive=true (https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Iglesia+de+los+pobres&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=32&smoothing=0&case_insensitive=true)

and

https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Church+of+the+poor&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=0&case_insensitive=true (https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=Church+of+the+poor&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=26&smoothing=0&case_insensitive=true)

A good explanation in Spanish:
https://www.google.com/books/edition/La_Iglesia_de_los_pobres_en_el_Concilio/0gOIDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Iglesia+de+los+pobres%22&pg=PT8&printsec=frontcover (https://www.google.com/books/edition/La_Iglesia_de_los_pobres_en_el_Concilio/0gOIDwAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Iglesia+de+los+pobres%22&pg=PT8&printsec=frontcover)

A good explanation in English:
https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Emergence_of_Liberation_Theology/I_XnJF4aYOgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Church+of+the+poor%22&pg=PA44&printsec=frontcover (https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Emergence_of_Liberation_Theology/I_XnJF4aYOgC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=%22Church+of+the+poor%22&pg=PA44&printsec=frontcover)

and in case you are wondering why the phrase was unused by 19th century Spanish writers, it is because they were not Anglican. (It was an Anglican and Scottish slogan back then, see https://books.google.com/books?id=umYQAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=%22A+prominent+characteristic+of+the+English+Church+is+that+it+is+emphatically+the+Church+of+the+poor%22&source=bl&ots=FayCY1cCqx&sig=ACfU3U1Qf9anoGQwpP9CSpGpYq2uISW2HA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi94or1vOXtAhXXHM0KHZEtCScQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=%22A%20prominent%20characteristic%20of%20the%20English%20Church%20is%20that%20it%20is%20emphatically%20the%20Church%20of%20the%20poor%22&f=false (https://books.google.com/books?id=umYQAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=%22A+prominent+characteristic+of+the+English+Church+is+that+it+is+emphatically+the+Church+of+the+poor%22&source=bl&ots=FayCY1cCqx&sig=ACfU3U1Qf9anoGQwpP9CSpGpYq2uISW2HA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi94or1vOXtAhXXHM0KHZEtCScQ6AEwAHoECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=%22A%20prominent%20characteristic%20of%20the%20English%20Church%20is%20that%20it%20is%20emphatically%20the%20Church%20of%20the%20poor%22&f=false) .)


Perhaps back to biblical times.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites#:~:text=Ebionites%20(Greek%3A%20%E1%BC%98%CE%B2%CE%B9%CF%89%CE%BD%CE%B1%E1%BF%96%CE%BF%CE%B9%2C%20Ebionaioi,centuries%20of%20the%20Common%20Era.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on December 24, 2020, 06:03:13 AM
I have known personally seven ordained men who left the LCA or ELCA for another non-Lutheran part of the church, and I have personally known a few who have left the Church completely. None left because of any assaults by a “mob” that drove them out.
But maybe you could consider the hostility to gays back in the 60s or 70s “mobbing.”
Or maybe those who fled the ELCA after 2009 were “mobbed”.
No one I knew of or knew about would have been a likely recruit for the LC-MS.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 24, 2020, 09:00:15 AM
I don't think mobbing has much to do with clergy leaving one denomination for another. I would say much of the time it is genuine theological conviction, and among those who aren't particularly inclined to take a strong doctrinal stand it is more likely convenience for the sake of a job or congregation they love.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 24, 2020, 09:19:53 AM
I'm thinking through how to do the Statistical Report coming toward all congregations in 2021 for the past year, which will be more or less mirrored in the year to come.  This two year period will and should form the basis for doctoral theses for decades to come in church work based on statistical analysis. 

So my own realization is that 2020 was a year of great recapitulation.  As soon as the virus hit, and since we had live-streaming services, people from all over the country and other countries who had been with us as parishioners or neighbors made the long trek back to Brooklyn - which took one punch of a button - to be connected virtually.  In addition, our outreach to people we'd never seen before multiplied, so we recapitulated our heart/soul desire to spread the Good News.  The advice of the national information-gatherers is not to list those live-stream participants, not to count them.  I'm not taking that advice.  Those were and are real people, up to and including their Paypal virtual but definitely countable remissions to our bank.

What remains is hope - new day, new ways, same message of comfort and joy.  Churchly institutions and their buildings and workers at all levels right to the upper boardrooms are going to be pressed hard, but hope will prevail, differently and maybe more simply viewed amidst the wreckage because the message will not be mixed.  Tidings of comfort and joy!

Dave Benke



Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 24, 2020, 09:31:44 AM
Pr. Clint Schneckloth, who moderates the ELCA clergy facebook page and other online places, wrote his thesis (D.Min or Ph.D, not sure which) at Fuller Theological Seminary more than a decade ago about the topic you mention, Dave. It is (as I recall) all about church community in an online world. He's a militantly progressive guy, but I was in an in-person clergy group with him years ago and we got along fine back then. But he vies to be among the wokest of the woke on facebook, but I'm not on social media anymore so I haven't been in contact with him in years. I've never read his thesis, but it might be worth looking up if Dave or anyone else is interested in the topic.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 24, 2020, 09:37:37 AM
Here's a little feedback from "America's Pastor," Rick Warren, who - with a mega-sized virtual ministry popping - pushes from his SoCal locale against the concept that churches are being discriminated against and should have mass gatherings:  https://www.aol.com/news/popular-evangelical-pastor-coronavirus-rules-024453901.html.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 24, 2020, 09:41:38 AM
Pr. Clint Schneckloth, who moderates the ELCA clergy facebook page and other online places, wrote his thesis (D.Min or Ph.D, not sure which) at Fuller Theological Seminary more than a decade ago about the topic you mention, Dave. It is (as I recall) all about church community in an online world. He's a militantly progressive guy, but I was in an in-person clergy group with him years ago and we got along fine back then. But he vies to be among the wokest of the woke on facebook, but I'm not on social media anymore so I haven't been in contact with him in years. I've never read his thesis, but it might be worth looking up if Dave or anyone else is interested in the topic.

I'll have to check that out.  I'm totally an in-person, lots of personal touch, twenty minute sharing of the peace, Eucharist in person guy - the effects of virtuality on church as community, however, seem more comprehensive than my past awareness allowed, and I have seen doors opened, up to and including a recent Facetime cross country house blessing.  Who'd a thunk it?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 24, 2020, 09:54:21 AM
Pr. Clint Schneckloth, who moderates the ELCA clergy facebook page and other online places, wrote his thesis (D.Min or Ph.D, not sure which) at Fuller Theological Seminary more than a decade ago about the topic you mention, Dave. It is (as I recall) all about church community in an online world. He's a militantly progressive guy, but I was in an in-person clergy group with him years ago and we got along fine back then. But he vies to be among the wokest of the woke on facebook, but I'm not on social media anymore so I haven't been in contact with him in years. I've never read his thesis, but it might be worth looking up if Dave or anyone else is interested in the topic.

I'll have to check that out.  I'm totally an in-person, lots of personal touch, twenty minute sharing of the peace, Eucharist in person guy - the effects of virtuality on church as community, however, seem more comprehensive than my past awareness allowed, and I have seen doors opened, up to and including a recent Facetime cross country house blessing.  Who'd a thunk it?

Dave Benke

The wonders of human omnipresence!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 24, 2020, 09:58:55 AM
Pastor Clint Schnecloth is a native Iowan who grew up in metro Davenport, Iowa.
He graduated from Luther College, Luther Seminary, and has a Doctor of Ministry
from Fuller Seminary.  He has taken on a number of causes which seek to lift up
those who need the most help in our society. Let me hear an Amen for Iowa
Lutheranism.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 24, 2020, 10:03:56 AM
Pastor Clint Schnecloth is a native Iowan who grew up in metro Davenport, Iowa.
He graduated from Luther College, Luther Seminary, and has a Doctor of Ministry
from Fuller Seminary.  He has taken on a number of causes which seek to lift up
those who need the most help in our society. Let me hear an Amen for Iowa
Lutheranism.

AMEN! JOHN (born & raised in Hampton)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on December 24, 2020, 10:12:09 AM
Amen again. Born and reared in Sioux City. First parish in Dubuque.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 24, 2020, 11:04:04 AM
Stumbled across this in my socials feed this morning. https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund). It seems like an interesting effect of what we are talking about.  I know nothing of the total situation, so yes, it could be another example of the un-official-official way of getting rid of a pastor you don't want, vote his salary to zero. But that is not the appeal as written.

The appeal as written also kindly leaves out the church, although it does give its location.  So it is this congregation. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496).  Supposedly 263 members on the rolls.

This place is within 3 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749) 756 members
This place is within 4 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568) 229 members
This place is within 6 miles https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917) 511 members

It's gallows humor that I sometimes use that "we can barely afford to keep ourselves evangelized", but that isn't right.  Really, looking at those numbers.  Four congregations within a six mile radius. Can anyone explain to me, without just defaulting to "well, we are congregational" which is a leadership cop-out, why someone who was willing to be a leader couldn't address this?  Because this is what happens when you don't.  You eat your young.  You make the youngest and those least able to pay for it pay for it.  Any when you bring it up, you get told to shut up, you don't know what you are talking about. Fine, every situation has its extremities.  But part of the job of leadership in the church is being willing to say when something stinks and we need to correct it. 

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 24, 2020, 11:11:43 AM
Stumbled across this in my socials feed this morning. https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund). It seems like an interesting effect of what we are talking about.  I know nothing of the total situation, so yes, it could be another example of the un-official-official way of getting rid of a pastor you don't want, vote his salary to zero. But that is not the appeal as written.

The appeal as written also kindly leaves out the church, although it does give its location.  So it is this congregation. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496).  Supposedly 263 members on the rolls.

This place is within 3 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749) 756 members
This place is within 4 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568) 229 members
This place is within 6 miles https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917) 511 members

It's gallows humor that I sometimes use that "we can barely afford to keep ourselves evangelized", but that isn't right.  Really, looking at those numbers.  Four congregations within a six mile radius. Can anyone explain to me, without just defaulting to "well, we are congregational" which is a leadership cop-out, why someone who was willing to be a leader couldn't address this?  Because this is what happens when you don't.  You eat your young.  You make the youngest and those least able to pay for it pay for it.  Any when you bring it up, you get told to shut up, you don't know what you are talking about. Fine, every situation has its extremities.  But part of the job of leadership in the church is being willing to say when something stinks and we need to correct it.
What would you do if you were a circuit visitor or DP? As circuit counselor (back when they were called that) I managed to get two very old rural congregations to become a dual parish, but it took a lot of doing. Everybody can see the problem. What is the solution?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 24, 2020, 11:51:18 AM
It's gallows humor that I sometimes use that "we can barely afford to keep ourselves evangelized", but that isn't right.  Really, looking at those numbers.  Four congregations within a six mile radius. Can anyone explain to me, without just defaulting to "well, we are congregational" which is a leadership cop-out, why someone who was willing to be a leader couldn't address this?  Because this is what happens when you don't.  You eat your young.  You make the youngest and those least able to pay for it pay for it.  Any when you bring it up, you get told to shut up, you don't know what you are talking about. Fine, every situation has its extremities.  But part of the job of leadership in the church is being willing to say when something stinks and we need to correct it.

My 24 year spidey sense is that there's more to this story, because the buildings seem to be paid off long ago, and there are still 80-90 people showing up on Sunday - or were pre-covid.  And they can do live-streaming, so that option was taken.  Don't know about the annual budget, because Those In Charge no longer give average bears the ability to get that detail at the synodical website.  I think it's more than barely possible that the wider district is aware of this, advised the pastor to stick it out, and is figuring out how to make something work at least in the short run.  I hasten to add that I have no insider knowledge on that.

If you did that mileage thing in a city and operated on it, there would be a different level of carnage, due to the concept of the neighborhood parish.  Even though the neighborhood parish went out the window with parkways and expressways, even though the neighborhood persists as a neighborhood.  Just with different neighbors for the church to be neighborly with.  If you said, "Let's draw a ten mile circle and have one congregation inside that circle, there would be one congregation in all of Queens, for example.  I think we need at least four, although we have over 20 at this time.

Anyway, my assessment is something stinks and we need to correct it.

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 24, 2020, 12:01:37 PM
... since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite,...

Father Slusser, why was it believed that greater commitment would lead to the exclusion of the poor?
Those who will swim against the tide, uphold a faith as individuals despite the lack of support from society around them, were thought to be unusual people, people trained to think things out for themselves. When every Christian is going to have to think things out for him or herself, we are no longer looking at a mass movement. No more Volkskirche. Without a faith that encompasses the masses and shapes society to confirm (or at least not undermine) Christian faith and morals, the educated will probably be more capable of recognizing the cognitive dissonance with the world around them and asserting the primacy of Christian faith. The scorn for the Volkskirche came from a belief that it is more easily subverted by anti-Christian values built into society. Maybe that feeling came from the experience of how easily the Third Reich was able dominate people in just a decade or two.

One of the anti-elite Catholic thinkers was Jean Daniélou, who left the Concilium group because of its apparent willingness to be content with a future church where the real Christians were just a little flock, a remnant, testifying to their faith in the midst of a world where they are ignored. He wrote a book, Prayer as a Political Problem, where he made some of his anti-elitist argument.

Peace,
Michael

Father,

This is very helpful.  I am currently immersed in researching the writings of Paulo Freire, Gustav Gutierrez, and Pope Francis.  I am enjoying his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. These men were/are certainly writing out of a very specific context and history, just like Ratzinger.  It’s fascinating to me how our personal histories and experiences really do effect how we do theology.  To me it’s just a reminder to remain open to what is being offered, there’s often something there for us to learn.  In other words, we need one another.

I know Tim began this thread with a concern for what was communicated by our leadership.  I must confess that reading through this recent encyclical I wish we in the LCMS could communicate in such a manner.  But, I suspect, I may be on my own or in the minority with that opinion.

Merry Christmas!

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 24, 2020, 12:09:48 PM
Stumbled across this in my socials feed this morning. https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund). It seems like an interesting effect of what we are talking about.  I know nothing of the total situation, so yes, it could be another example of the un-official-official way of getting rid of a pastor you don't want, vote his salary to zero. But that is not the appeal as written.

The appeal as written also kindly leaves out the church, although it does give its location.  So it is this congregation. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496).  Supposedly 263 members on the rolls.

This place is within 3 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749) 756 members
This place is within 4 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568) 229 members
This place is within 6 miles https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917) 511 members

It's gallows humor that I sometimes use that "we can barely afford to keep ourselves evangelized", but that isn't right.  Really, looking at those numbers.  Four congregations within a six mile radius. Can anyone explain to me, without just defaulting to "well, we are congregational" which is a leadership cop-out, why someone who was willing to be a leader couldn't address this?  Because this is what happens when you don't.  You eat your young.  You make the youngest and those least able to pay for it pay for it.  Any when you bring it up, you get told to shut up, you don't know what you are talking about. Fine, every situation has its extremities.  But part of the job of leadership in the church is being willing to say when something stinks and we need to correct it.
What would you do if you were a circuit visitor or DP? As circuit counselor (back when they were called that) I managed to get two very old rural congregations to become a dual parish, but it took a lot of doing. Everybody can see the problem. What is the solution?

Honestly, it starts with having the conversations.  Instead of just saying "they are a fine congregation, all they need is a good pastor" or "mergers never work" or some other variant of "we are not having any meaningful conversations on this, so shut up" before even including the laity, have the conversations.

Have the conversations in front of everyone you are going to talk to or about, I'd say the Congregational presidents.  And be brutally honest.  When you do that one on one, denial is always a possibility.  When you speak the truth and someone sees it reflected in other faces, denial is much tougher.  The first step is admitting.  We admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable. If you are a church that is removing the salary of your pastor as Christmas, you qualify.  If you are a church supposedly walking together that sees this and does nothing, you qualify.  It is a weak form of recognition of sin.

Assuming that people eventually recognize their sin.  Not guaranteed, but I have hope.  Part of that brutal honesty is not "we are going to save you and fix all your ills".  You have that already in your LORD and savior Jesus Christ.  But that doesn't happen completely until the eschaton.  Until then we have to do something. You could say make a fearless moral inventory, or on to amends, but you are moving down the 12 steps.   And "forming a dual parish" is not the goal.  A dual parish is a form of big-rock candy mountain thinking where the "streams of alcohol come tricklin' down the rocks".  The goal is forming one working parish that has a chance.  That parish might have multiple points; it might not.  But there is one leadership board.  And that leadership board takes responsibility not for a sectional congregation, but a reasonable parish area.  Now, that could be negative, but it should be a positive clean sheet discussion.  Released of the things that cling too closely to us, if we were starting a new parish, how would we do it? What would it look like.  That is the vision that needs to unite.  You are working steps 11 and 12 here.

Every carrot has a stick as well.  The stick is simply being willing to tell a congregation that would do something like this, "fine, we are congregational, and you can tell me to take a hike.  I can also tell you what I intend to say.  To every pastor you might approach for pulpit supply, I will tell them you don't want to do that.  You will not be getting a call list until you are willing to confront what has been done.  Anyone you might call, I will personally call them and give them the entire story and my view."  In other words, what DPs have no trouble doing to pastors they don't like, do to congregations.  Apply the law.  If they walk away that is sad.  If they repent, we have gained our brother.

And please don't think that I think that is something that is easy.  Most alcoholics remain alcoholics.  We remain sinners.  But there is a gospel chance if that is followed.  There is hope and not just our wan substitute.  And that might take a long time.  Nobody has a magic wand.  But for gosh sakes I am so tired of not even trying.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 24, 2020, 12:22:56 PM
... since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite,...

Father Slusser, why was it believed that greater commitment would lead to the exclusion of the poor?
Those who will swim against the tide, uphold a faith as individuals despite the lack of support from society around them, were thought to be unusual people, people trained to think things out for themselves. When every Christian is going to have to think things out for him or herself, we are no longer looking at a mass movement. No more Volkskirche. Without a faith that encompasses the masses and shapes society to confirm (or at least not undermine) Christian faith and morals, the educated will probably be more capable of recognizing the cognitive dissonance with the world around them and asserting the primacy of Christian faith. The scorn for the Volkskirche came from a belief that it is more easily subverted by anti-Christian values built into society. Maybe that feeling came from the experience of how easily the Third Reich was able dominate people in just a decade or two.

One of the anti-elite Catholic thinkers was Jean Daniélou, who left the Concilium group because of its apparent willingness to be content with a future church where the real Christians were just a little flock, a remnant, testifying to their faith in the midst of a world where they are ignored. He wrote a book, Prayer as a Political Problem, where he made some of his anti-elitist argument.

Father,

This is very helpful.  I am currently immersed in researching the writings of Paulo Freire, Gustav Gutierrez, and Pope Francis.  I am enjoying his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. These men were/are certainly writing out of a very specific context and history, just like Ratzinger.  It’s fascinating to me how our personal histories and experiences really do effect how we do theology.  To me it’s just a reminder to remain open to what is being offered, there’s often something there for us to learn.  In other words, we need one another.

I know Tim began this thread with a concern for what was communicated by our leadership.  I must confess that reading through this recent encyclical I wish we in the LCMS could communicate in such a manner.  But, I suspect, I may be on my own or in the minority with that opinion.

Merry Christmas!

Peace,
Scott+
Thank you, Pr. Geminn, and a Merry Christmas to you as well!

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 24, 2020, 12:57:06 PM
Stumbled across this in my socials feed this morning. https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund). It seems like an interesting effect of what we are talking about.  I know nothing of the total situation, so yes, it could be another example of the un-official-official way of getting rid of a pastor you don't want, vote his salary to zero. But that is not the appeal as written.

The appeal as written also kindly leaves out the church, although it does give its location.  So it is this congregation. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496).  Supposedly 263 members on the rolls.

This place is within 3 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749) 756 members
This place is within 4 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568) 229 members
This place is within 6 miles https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917) 511 members

It's gallows humor that I sometimes use that "we can barely afford to keep ourselves evangelized", but that isn't right.  Really, looking at those numbers.  Four congregations within a six mile radius. Can anyone explain to me, without just defaulting to "well, we are congregational" which is a leadership cop-out, why someone who was willing to be a leader couldn't address this?  Because this is what happens when you don't.  You eat your young.  You make the youngest and those least able to pay for it pay for it.  Any when you bring it up, you get told to shut up, you don't know what you are talking about. Fine, every situation has its extremities.  But part of the job of leadership in the church is being willing to say when something stinks and we need to correct it.
What would you do if you were a circuit visitor or DP? As circuit counselor (back when they were called that) I managed to get two very old rural congregations to become a dual parish, but it took a lot of doing. Everybody can see the problem. What is the solution?

Honestly, it starts with having the conversations.  Instead of just saying "they are a fine congregation, all they need is a good pastor" or "mergers never work" or some other variant of "we are not having any meaningful conversations on this, so shut up" before even including the laity, have the conversations.

Have the conversations in front of everyone you are going to talk to or about, I'd say the Congregational presidents.  And be brutally honest.  When you do that one on one, denial is always a possibility.  When you speak the truth and someone sees it reflected in other faces, denial is much tougher.  The first step is admitting.  We admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable. If you are a church that is removing the salary of your pastor as Christmas, you qualify.  If you are a church supposedly walking together that sees this and does nothing, you qualify.  It is a weak form of recognition of sin.

Assuming that people eventually recognize their sin.  Not guaranteed, but I have hope.  Part of that brutal honesty is not "we are going to save you and fix all your ills".  You have that already in your LORD and savior Jesus Christ.  But that doesn't happen completely until the eschaton.  Until then we have to do something. You could say make a fearless moral inventory, or on to amends, but you are moving down the 12 steps.   And "forming a dual parish" is not the goal.  A dual parish is a form of big-rock candy mountain thinking where the "streams of alcohol come tricklin' down the rocks".  The goal is forming one working parish that has a chance.  That parish might have multiple points; it might not.  But there is one leadership board.  And that leadership board takes responsibility not for a sectional congregation, but a reasonable parish area.  Now, that could be negative, but it should be a positive clean sheet discussion.  Released of the things that cling too closely to us, if we were starting a new parish, how would we do it? What would it look like.  That is the vision that needs to unite.  You are working steps 11 and 12 here.

Every carrot has a stick as well.  The stick is simply being willing to tell a congregation that would do something like this, "fine, we are congregational, and you can tell me to take a hike.  I can also tell you what I intend to say.  To every pastor you might approach for pulpit supply, I will tell them you don't want to do that.  You will not be getting a call list until you are willing to confront what has been done.  Anyone you might call, I will personally call them and give them the entire story and my view."  In other words, what DPs have no trouble doing to pastors they don't like, do to congregations.  Apply the law.  If they walk away that is sad.  If they repent, we have gained our brother.

And please don't think that I think that is something that is easy.  Most alcoholics remain alcoholics.  We remain sinners.  But there is a gospel chance if that is followed.  There is hope and not just our wan substitute.  And that might take a long time.  Nobody has a magic wand.  But for gosh sakes I am so tired of not even trying.
I think those conversations do go on all the time. And sometimes they bear fruit. More often they are just conversations that go on and on and on. And on. And on.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 24, 2020, 02:20:34 PM
Stumbled across this in my socials feed this morning. https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund (https://www.gofundme.com/f/pastor-steve-support-fund). It seems like an interesting effect of what we are talking about.  I know nothing of the total situation, so yes, it could be another example of the un-official-official way of getting rid of a pastor you don't want, vote his salary to zero. But that is not the appeal as written.

The appeal as written also kindly leaves out the church, although it does give its location.  So it is this congregation. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/495496).  Supposedly 263 members on the rolls.

This place is within 3 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/136749) 756 members
This place is within 4 miles. https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/1000568) 229 members
This place is within 6 miles https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917 (https://locator.lcms.org/church/C/917) 511 members

It's gallows humor that I sometimes use that "we can barely afford to keep ourselves evangelized", but that isn't right.  Really, looking at those numbers.  Four congregations within a six mile radius. Can anyone explain to me, without just defaulting to "well, we are congregational" which is a leadership cop-out, why someone who was willing to be a leader couldn't address this?  Because this is what happens when you don't.  You eat your young.  You make the youngest and those least able to pay for it pay for it.  Any when you bring it up, you get told to shut up, you don't know what you are talking about. Fine, every situation has its extremities.  But part of the job of leadership in the church is being willing to say when something stinks and we need to correct it.
What would you do if you were a circuit visitor or DP? As circuit counselor (back when they were called that) I managed to get two very old rural congregations to become a dual parish, but it took a lot of doing. Everybody can see the problem. What is the solution?

Honestly, it starts with having the conversations.  Instead of just saying "they are a fine congregation, all they need is a good pastor" or "mergers never work" or some other variant of "we are not having any meaningful conversations on this, so shut up" before even including the laity, have the conversations.

Have the conversations in front of everyone you are going to talk to or about, I'd say the Congregational presidents.  And be brutally honest.  When you do that one on one, denial is always a possibility.  When you speak the truth and someone sees it reflected in other faces, denial is much tougher.  The first step is admitting.  We admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable. If you are a church that is removing the salary of your pastor as Christmas, you qualify.  If you are a church supposedly walking together that sees this and does nothing, you qualify.  It is a weak form of recognition of sin.

Assuming that people eventually recognize their sin.  Not guaranteed, but I have hope.  Part of that brutal honesty is not "we are going to save you and fix all your ills".  You have that already in your LORD and savior Jesus Christ.  But that doesn't happen completely until the eschaton.  Until then we have to do something. You could say make a fearless moral inventory, or on to amends, but you are moving down the 12 steps.   And "forming a dual parish" is not the goal.  A dual parish is a form of big-rock candy mountain thinking where the "streams of alcohol come tricklin' down the rocks".  The goal is forming one working parish that has a chance.  That parish might have multiple points; it might not.  But there is one leadership board.  And that leadership board takes responsibility not for a sectional congregation, but a reasonable parish area.  Now, that could be negative, but it should be a positive clean sheet discussion.  Released of the things that cling too closely to us, if we were starting a new parish, how would we do it? What would it look like.  That is the vision that needs to unite.  You are working steps 11 and 12 here.

Every carrot has a stick as well.  The stick is simply being willing to tell a congregation that would do something like this, "fine, we are congregational, and you can tell me to take a hike.  I can also tell you what I intend to say.  To every pastor you might approach for pulpit supply, I will tell them you don't want to do that.  You will not be getting a call list until you are willing to confront what has been done.  Anyone you might call, I will personally call them and give them the entire story and my view."  In other words, what DPs have no trouble doing to pastors they don't like, do to congregations.  Apply the law.  If they walk away that is sad.  If they repent, we have gained our brother.

And please don't think that I think that is something that is easy.  Most alcoholics remain alcoholics.  We remain sinners.  But there is a gospel chance if that is followed.  There is hope and not just our wan substitute.  And that might take a long time.  Nobody has a magic wand.  But for gosh sakes I am so tired of not even trying.
I think those conversations do go on all the time. And sometimes they bear fruit. More often they are just conversations that go on and on and on. And on. And on.

I have never seen them happen.  I have seen them discouraged from beginning.  I have never seen them guided.  Seeing as I have never seen them, this is a reflection on other analogous conversations, what I have seen is conversations where the on and on is not a call for some prodding, but a reason to just stop.  I don't doubt that conversations could go on and on.  What I doubt is that we ever really get to the first step.  Not really.  The idea that the Word comes to us from the outside is something we mumble, but when it does, we don't like it.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 24, 2020, 03:32:35 PM
I've only been in three circuits, but the first one I was an MAL for a start up that the circuit planned and got going before I got there with financial backing from the district. In Green Bay, as I said, we had two old rural congregations become a dual parish, and also started a multi-congregational school. In this circuit we've had long discussions about various possibilities for struggling congregations. We tried and ultimately failed to save St. Paul's in East Chicago by becoming a two point parish, and have talked about the same plan with a couple of other churches. I guess I've never been anywhere where these conversations don't take place. They involve a lot of emotion, tradition, glacial governance structures, and all manner of impediments. But the discussions do happen. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 24, 2020, 03:44:27 PM
... since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite,...

Father Slusser, why was it believed that greater commitment would lead to the exclusion of the poor?
Those who will swim against the tide, uphold a faith as individuals despite the lack of support from society around them, were thought to be unusual people, people trained to think things out for themselves. When every Christian is going to have to think things out for him or herself, we are no longer looking at a mass movement. No more Volkskirche. Without a faith that encompasses the masses and shapes society to confirm (or at least not undermine) Christian faith and morals, the educated will probably be more capable of recognizing the cognitive dissonance with the world around them and asserting the primacy of Christian faith. The scorn for the Volkskirche came from a belief that it is more easily subverted by anti-Christian values built into society. Maybe that feeling came from the experience of how easily the Third Reich was able dominate people in just a decade or two.

One of the anti-elite Catholic thinkers was Jean Daniélou, who left the Concilium group because of its apparent willingness to be content with a future church where the real Christians were just a little flock, a remnant, testifying to their faith in the midst of a world where they are ignored. He wrote a book, Prayer as a Political Problem, where he made some of his anti-elitist argument.

Peace,
Michael

Father,

This is very helpful.  I am currently immersed in researching the writings of Paulo Freire, Gustav Gutierrez, and Pope Francis.  I am enjoying his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. These men were/are certainly writing out of a very specific context and history, just like Ratzinger.  It’s fascinating to me how our personal histories and experiences really do effect how we do theology.  To me it’s just a reminder to remain open to what is being offered, there’s often something there for us to learn.  In other words, we need one another.

I know Tim began this thread with a concern for what was communicated by our leadership.  I must confess that reading through this recent encyclical I wish we in the LCMS could communicate in such a manner.  But, I suspect, I may be on my own or in the minority with that opinion.

Merry Christmas!

Peace,
Scott+


It’s cultural:) plus you’re good people Scott. Parish pastors hold so much more in common than we have that would divide us. I love the idea of working together as local parishes and not being so provincial. I know in our circuit one was birthed thru conflict the rest were intentionally planted by circuit. What we could do if we aligned our resources. Some of that needs some foresight from LCMS Inc, and they could lay breadcrumbs down for us to have a path to follow. Some could be organic. Merry Christmas all!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Padre Emeritus on December 25, 2020, 04:34:16 PM
I’m enjoying/struggling with this thread because I am taking it personally....so I want to stop that right here.  I found my way into the ministerium of this LCMS through an isolated Circuit of a dispersed District.  Tucson, AZ and English District.  Folks in the geographic District would ask when we were going to join the LCMS...yes, that was in the 1980’s.  So, this overworked but high energy college professor created a Deacon School, became a Deacon and was gutsy enough to follow the prodding of brother Circuit Pastors and apply for Colloquy.  No one was more surprised than me that I was Ordained, and eventually Certified for Ordination at the LCMS Inc. Level and served as a worker priest in a congregation where my Bishop said “resurrect it or bury it....your call”. After 10 years of wacky, way dysfunctional stuff, the place is still open.  I wanted to retire there....but God  had another plan.  An year long vacancy, followed by a Call to another conflicted and dying parish....I retired from my day job and moved.  I took 2 English Bible Camp teams to Poland, taught in the District Deacon/LM Program and devised a totally weird and wacky way to provide stability to another parish that should have died and a high school that was in dire straits.  I come up with this plan, sell it to school and church, and....oh, part of the deal is that I leave so a younger guy can take the Call I chopped up.....now I am retired.  I don’t want to be retired, but there are no vacancies in the area, so I teach for a few more years and do vacancies, and altar/pulpit fill and still have too much energy.....COVID hits.....Now I am higher risk but still bored to tears.  I am reading this thread and thinking I can see quite a few models that could work in the situations presented.

So, I’m in Phoenix and would love to help when this COVID stuff is done.  God bless you all and thanks for letting me hang out here.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 25, 2020, 06:03:01 PM
I admit to be being of a mixed mind on this.  On the one hand I think the congregations do best when they are neighborhood parishes and are drawn from the folks in the community around them.  On the other hand, I do understand the the typical LCMSer probably drives past other LCMS congregations to get to the one they want to attend.  I regret that we have become a church body of congregations with appeal beyond our neighborhoods but I also get that sometimes the local LCMS parish is not what they want.  Folks drive for more than an hour to attend my parish with full-time cantor, rich and varied music for the Divine Liturgy, and a myriad of programs to support our confession.  However, I think we would all be stronger if we were a church body of strong neighborhood parishes.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Padre Emeritus on December 25, 2020, 10:43:54 PM
I admit to be being of a mixed mind on this.  On the one hand I think the congregations do best when they are neighborhood parishes and are drawn from the folks in the community around them.  On the other hand, I do understand the the typical LCMSer probably drives past other LCMS congregations to get to the one they want to attend.  I regret that we have become a church body of congregations with appeal beyond our neighborhoods but I also get that sometimes the local LCMS parish is not what they want.  Folks drive for more than an hour to attend my parish with full-time cantor, rich and varied music for the Divine Liturgy, and a myriad of programs to support our confession.  However, I think we would all be stronger if we were a church body of strong neighborhood parishes.

I concur.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 26, 2020, 09:16:04 AM
I don’t want to be retired, but there are no vacancies in the area,

So Padre, how about this?  You're simply in the "wrong" area.  It's vacancies you want?  Hie thee hither to New York.  I don't have an absolute count because I'm no longer in the vacancy-filling business, but last I heard, there were around 30 opportunities for service in Metro New York. 

I have to say that the absolutizing of pasture-land for pastors of "a certain age" is ageist discrimination, and/or just dumb.  Somehow the advice is given on this board that districts should mandatorily exclude pastors like you from service, to force "rightsizing."

In life, at the same time congregations are brought together for a process let's say to consolidate three into one, or make the three a multi-point parish, the time-line for those wrenching decisions has to be more than dictatorial.  Having massaged a bunch of these transitions with leaders, the more malleable have normally been those with 40-50 in worship, while those with a dozen or so have been carrying on with hardening of the arteries for so long their stubbornness is ingrained.  So it takes awhile.  All the way to the closing of some congregations in that conversation.  Other situations are borderline in the opposite direction - with honest conversation they can and should pilot toward an interdependent but still individualized congregational future with a "sole pastor" model. 

And in this mix of uncertainties, an enormously valuable presence is a veteran of the cross with energy and sand in the shoes, a shepherd who hears, listens, consoles and assists, has been around the block.

My observations like others here are a blend of skepticism and honest evaluation that about 1/3 of existing Lutheran congregations (across the Lutheran denominational divides) are going to exist no longer within a decade, combined with hope for models and interventions that would lead to geographically regional opportunity for both outreach and discipleship.  And the "emeritus padres" are the pastoral glue that would allow those opportunities to be realizable. 

Larry presents another feature that is worth noting - I used to call it the Island of Health model.  There are congregations in an area which are islands of health in the tide of diminution and dysfunction.  So ten congregations, with two that are basically up and running, and eight that are struggling to survive.  Folks migrate to those islands of health on their own - not always because Pastor X is nicer than Pastor Y, or because the liturgy is better performed, or the traditions upheld, or any of that.  It's simply that there's more happening, it's not all about survival, and, if they're older, it reminds them more of what church was like when the pews were less empty.  In other words, basic human nature to be somewhere that's alive and well. 

The pastors who are themselves healthy on these islands don't just take in the "refugees" peremptorily; they keep conversation flowing with the pastor(s) at the strugglers, and often re-direct those folks back to where they were.  Otherwise it's nothing more or less than "sheep stealing."  Which happens more than is admitted.  But - in more and more locales around Protestant denominations (as opposed to the independent start-ups), the larger and healthy congregation is what is recognized as that denomination's actual presence, and future, in the area.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 26, 2020, 03:26:42 PM
last I heard, there were around 30 opportunities for service in Metro New York

If the metro New York is a good place to be a pastor and not get mobbed, the localized clergy shortage would explain why.

I don't think mobbing has much to do with clergy leaving one denomination for another. I would say much of the time it is genuine theological conviction, and among those who aren't particularly inclined to take a strong doctrinal stand it is more likely convenience for the sake of a job or congregation they love.

It is a major reason. Theological conviction is more socially acceptable when explaining it to other people. This is because the denominations are so very similar. If  you say you left because of mobbing it doesn't play well. That is because if denomination "A" mobs you, it follows that if denomination "B" is similar it might too. And it leaves little sympathy for the one who was mobbed if it happens twice (as can happen). Sort of like people don't feel very sorry for a woman who goes form one abusive husband to the next. So the mobbing aspect is concealed.

Aspiring churchworkers want to join churches where they will not be mobbed. Former WELS churchworkers don't join LCMS because they see that the environment is unlikely to be any more conducive to stability than WELS was. This reference supports my anecdotal understanding. Except it calls it "conflict":

Quote from: Kristin Stewart
The Lutheran report findings in Hoge and Wenger (2005) study indicated that the top involuntary motivations for leaving ministry involve conflict in the denomination or conflict with denominational leaders. When tallying the figures for pastors leaving, there is a notable assumption: it is the pastor’s responsibility

https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.454.8976&rep=rep1&type=pdf  (https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.454.8976&rep=rep1&type=pdf) (pdf page 3, paper page 117)

Quote from: Len Sperry
Needless to say turnover is high

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Len_Sperry/publication/258193133_Workplace_Mobbing_Individual_and_Family_Health_Consequences/links/568bde0808ae129fb5cb8c60/Workplace-Mobbing-Individual-and-Family-Health-Consequences.pdf (https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Len_Sperry/publication/258193133_Workplace_Mobbing_Individual_and_Family_Health_Consequences/links/568bde0808ae129fb5cb8c60/Workplace-Mobbing-Individual-and-Family-Health-Consequences.pdf) (p. 400, or p. 3 of the file)

It is impossible to maintain high turnover without having a ready supply of replacements.

This table shows that overall, turnover has been increasing in the US: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.t05.htm (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/tenure.t05.htm)

The difference is that clergy are expected to take on more commitment and education than other jobs with higher turnover. And if the quote below is accurate, LCMS turnover increased much faster than the national average:

Quote from: Roland Lovstad
the average length of service of pastors will decline by approximately five years from 2006 to 2016.

 
from https://witness.lcms.org/2007/preparing-pastors-5-2007/ (https://witness.lcms.org/2007/preparing-pastors-5-2007/)

And now in the LCMS:

Quote from: Mark A. Waldron
At present the average tenure of a church worker in any congregation is, unbelievably, only four years


https://www.cuchicago.edu/globalassets/documents/concordia-experience/student-services/synodical-placement/13-14-synodical-placement-for-professional-church-workers-booklet.pdf
 (https://www.cuchicago.edu/globalassets/documents/concordia-experience/student-services/synodical-placement/13-14-synodical-placement-for-professional-church-workers-booklet.pdf) (page 19 or electronic page 24)

Yet a lower length of service correlates with increased burnout. If you have a more novice LCMS clergy roster, you have a roster that is on the whole, more burnt out:

Quote from: Mark A. Waldron
A three-way analyses of variance confirmed the hypotheses that loneliness, years of service, and spiritual well-being effected greater levels of burnout

from https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1273&context=psyd (https://digitalcommons.georgefox.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1273&context=psyd) paper page 63, electronic page 73

Likewise, for congregations:

Quote from: Thom S. Rainer
The average tenure is between three and four years. But, as our research has shown consistently, longer tenure is needed for church health.


from https://churchanswers.com/blog/dangerous-third-year-pastoral-tenure/ (https://churchanswers.com/blog/dangerous-third-year-pastoral-tenure/)

A more cynical clergyman might take calls more frequently, saving his career at the expense of church health. But a more committed man might stay and get mobbed. Over time, natural selection favors the cynical. One LCMS pastor told me that his number one responsibility was to "not lose" his "pulpit and baptismal font". He wanted to avoid mobbing. Yet the church needs pastors willing to be martyrs even as the policies work to weed them out of the system.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 26, 2020, 06:59:24 PM
With regard to the mobbing stats, I then stand as the counterweight, being at one congregation for more than ten times four, or forty years.  I'd like to see the stats on long-termers; in other words, let's say there are 300 of us 30 plus clergy - we're actually holding the average up higher, aren't we?  So take us out of the equation and the number comes down to 3 1/2 years.

Anyway, the substantial point is that congregations, in league I guess with other church leaders and officials, are mobbing pastors out of their congregations and/or the ministry.  By mobbing, I am thinking "ganging up" from what you're saying. Reasons could be:
Financial - no mon, no fun, you're on the run
Unrealistic Expectations - we have a supply of three years of mon and 32 people in the pews, you pastor have to fix that or you'll be on the run
Bad Apples - The Schmidt Family Church determines what's good for the Schmidt Family Church (which other people call Calvary Lutheran), and no one including the pastor tells the Schmidt Family what to do or the Family will call on its minions and pastor will be on the run
Etc., etc.

An issue here from my perspective is that since the pastor is one and the group is more than one/many, the reception by the one is of being mobbed by the many.  Many (to most) times, there is another many who join with the pastor, making it a square-off contest, or what is called Level Four Conflict.

I sense from your comments also that wherever you are located, the perception is that the LCMS is more mobbed-up or mob prone than other Lutheran sectors.  That's interesting to me because it matches some of the research done about a dozen years ago, but always seemed to me more anecdotal than anything.  Why would there be a "genius" or demon in our denomination that enjoys hacking at other people more than other denominations enjoy it? 

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 26, 2020, 07:11:18 PM
I love where this is going, wow what rich commentary, from Pastors and a Bishop, we get to see the whole breadth of our tradition. I have been in Orange for a long time, since 1993, and Senior Rev since 1999. Longer stay sure helps to build trust, to provide continuity, to develop deep relationships. Always have tried to lead with a smile and an encouraging word. Whenever we do conflict well, it actually adds value and health to the culture.

I had a friend of Dave’s say to me, ‘In the LCMS, the winners gloat and the losers go back to their machinations.’  Seems to be the exact way not to run a denomination. We can sure work together, both neighborhood churches, rural churches, dual congregations...my sense is if we worked together and united around our broad commonalities, we may be able to plug the hole in the dam.  Happy New Year
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 26, 2020, 07:15:55 PM
I love where this is going, wow what rich commentary, from Pastors and a Bishop, we get to see the whole breadth of our tradition. I have been in Orange for a long time, since 1993, and Senior Rev since 1999. Longer stay sure helps to build trust, to provide continuity, to develop deep relationships. Always have tried to lead with a smile and an encouraging word. Whenever we do conflict well, it actually adds value and health to the culture.

I had a friend of Dave’s say to me, ‘In the LCMS, the winners gloat and the losers go back to their machinations.’  Seems to be the exact way not to run a denomination. We can sure work together, both neighborhood churches, rural churches, dual congregations...my sense is if we worked together and united around our broad commonalities, we may be able to plug the hole in the dam.  Happy New Year

Well-stated, Tim!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 26, 2020, 07:17:55 PM
Thinking along with Bishop Benke, I served a suburban parish in Illinois for 35 years.
It was a mission congregation when I arrived and on District subsidy. We were off
subsidy in 5 years and the Lord blessed us with spiritual growth and physical growth.
We went through a building program which included a new sanctuary and fellowship
hall.  A staff was built which included a full-time Director of Christian Education and
a Preschool Director for our Preschool as well as part-time Director of Music & Secretary.

I never felt threatened by anyone in the parish or outside the parish. We had no
Hatfields versus the McCoys.   Instead we had members who enjoyed weekly
Bible studies, marriage enrichment classes, and adult instruction classes. I retired
on my 65th birthday and was thankful to the Lord for His many blessings.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 26, 2020, 10:49:36 PM
So take us out of the equation

Median career length is less than average career length. So a pastor who stays for 10 years changes the median figure just as much as one who stays as long as you. I cited a whole lot of papers and not all of the figures are directly comparable. Maybe if you squint.

Etc., etc.

Yes, and in some areas xenophobia becomes a factor. Some communities where Lutheran congregations located are used to seeing certain categories of people as being "fair game". This is not just a problem for pastors; many professions involve either being moved every so often or relocating once further from home. On one had getting civil servants from another town reduces corruption because they won't be related; on the other hand the local population resents being colonized. Mobbing then becomes a populist tool to regain control.

the perception is that the LCMS is more mobbed-up or mob prone than other Lutheran sectors.

Some years back someone in the WELS published statistics for teachers; the median career length came out between 2 and 3 years. [Note: This figure includes MLC graduates who never took any call, so it is not perfectly comparable to the public school & LCMS statistics.] There are some public school districts which roughly match this, but they are the rough ones. LCMS may be somewhat better given the "four years' figure from CUC. But that includes clergy and DCEs so I am uncertain. Both the WELS and LCMS do considerably worse than the national figure, which is reported on the pdf page 5 (paper page 26) of this document:
https://gseacademic.harvard.edu/~willetjo/pdf%20files/Murnane_Singer_Willett_ER88.pdf (https://gseacademic.harvard.edu/~willetjo/pdf%20files/Murnane_Singer_Willett_ER88.pdf)

This makes sense given the whole "you can't fire bad public school teachers" thing. (And I've heard a similar complaint about Catholic priests.)

As for pastors, the figures published well over a decade ago indicates ELCA pastors back then enjoyed a longer median career length. This may no longer be true post schism; I don't know.

If you go through a large enough list of denominations you will get to several which are around as bad or even worse off than the LCMS and WELS. One of my relatives was mobbed while pastoring in one of them. But most of them are not as bad off.

matches some of the research done about a dozen years ago

The "Klaas and Klaas" is what I'm thinking of. It was rather pessimistic, and painted a darker picture of the LCMS than the typical study of this sort would show.

always seemed to me more anecdotal than anything.  Why would there be a "genius" or demon in our denomination that enjoys hacking at other people more than other denominations enjoy it?

These range in quality from ones I am more confident about to ones that are more speculative:


There might be some other ideas about why mobbing develops, if anyone is still reading and still has some, go ahead and list them out.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 26, 2020, 11:40:40 PM
I’ve seen many pastors go through tough times, usually so to a controversial decision or a severe personality clash. I don’t consider the resulting conflict to be mobbing. Mobbing is in danger of becoming a word like bullying, which now refers to anything that hurts anyone’s feelings.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Norman Teigen on December 27, 2020, 05:28:09 AM
This has been a most interesting discussion of the topic.  As an emigrant from the ELS,  I found the McPherson report to be of great personal interest.  Dr. McPherson's conclusion for the continuation of the denomination is stated at at the end of his report:  "Christian procreation and Christian evangelism, in fact, have a close relation, and not just because religious instruction begins in the home. More births lead to more baptisms, followed by more confirmations and more students enrolling at institutions such as Bethany Lutheran College, where they can prepare to serve their congregations in the work of evangelism."
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 27, 2020, 07:14:52 AM
Commencement2020, perhaps you would consider writing up your research on the topic of church conflict, have it reviewed, and submit it for publication. You have obviously spent some time working on this topic already. Having it published may help the church address the problems.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 27, 2020, 08:24:18 AM
More births and more evangelism are probably linked at a deeper level than numbers. Procreating and proclaiming are both acts of robust confidence in one’s own beliefs, culture, and way of life. When you know without a doubt that what you have is good, it overflows. When you are certain that a person without Christ is bereft, and that there is no chance that person’s own religion or philosophy is just as good in its own way, you just want to tell him or her the truth. And when you know, really know, that life is good and creation glorious, it outweighs anything in the con side when it comes to perpetuating the generations.

For both procreation and evangelism, doubt and equivocation are paralyzing. All these things are wrapped up in Christendom and to a lesser degree Western Civilization, which now doubts its own legitimacy.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 27, 2020, 08:48:05 AM
... since that would almost certainly exclude the poor and be restricted to an elite,...

Father Slusser, why was it believed that greater commitment would lead to the exclusion of the poor?
Those who will swim against the tide, uphold a faith as individuals despite the lack of support from society around them, were thought to be unusual people, people trained to think things out for themselves. When every Christian is going to have to think things out for him or herself, we are no longer looking at a mass movement. No more Volkskirche. Without a faith that encompasses the masses and shapes society to confirm (or at least not undermine) Christian faith and morals, the educated will probably be more capable of recognizing the cognitive dissonance with the world around them and asserting the primacy of Christian faith. The scorn for the Volkskirche came from a belief that it is more easily subverted by anti-Christian values built into society. Maybe that feeling came from the experience of how easily the Third Reich was able dominate people in just a decade or two.

One of the anti-elite Catholic thinkers was Jean Daniélou, who left the Concilium group because of its apparent willingness to be content with a future church where the real Christians were just a little flock, a remnant, testifying to their faith in the midst of a world where they are ignored. He wrote a book, Prayer as a Political Problem, where he made some of his anti-elitist argument.

Peace,
Michael

Father,

This is very helpful.  I am currently immersed in researching the writings of Paulo Freire, Gustav Gutierrez, and Pope Francis.  I am enjoying his most recent encyclical, Fratelli Tutti. These men were/are certainly writing out of a very specific context and history, just like Ratzinger.  It’s fascinating to me how our personal histories and experiences really do effect how we do theology.  To me it’s just a reminder to remain open to what is being offered, there’s often something there for us to learn.  In other words, we need one another.

I know Tim began this thread with a concern for what was communicated by our leadership.  I must confess that reading through this recent encyclical I wish we in the LCMS could communicate in such a manner.  But, I suspect, I may be on my own or in the minority with that opinion.

Merry Christmas!

Peace,
Scott+


It’s cultural:) plus you’re good people Scott. Parish pastors hold so much more in common than we have that would divide us. I love the idea of working together as local parishes and not being so provincial. I know in our circuit one was birthed thru conflict the rest were intentionally planted by circuit. What we could do if we aligned our resources. Some of that needs some foresight from LCMS Inc, and they could lay breadcrumbs down for us to have a path to follow. Some could be organic. Merry Christmas all!

Thanks Tim!  Hope you had a Merry Christmas, talking to the in-laws on Christmas Day and it seemed that we had a warmer Christmas here than you guys in Orange County. Crazy. That said, it's now super frigid again.   

Commencement2020,

Thanks for your intriguing comments.  Do you happen to have a link to the Klaus and Klaus report that you referenced?

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 27, 2020, 10:59:17 AM
Getting our rain today And tomorrow Scott, should be a nice change from all the sunshine;). I need some help w mobbing, is it true that not all conflict is mobbing, but all mobbing is rooted in conflict? We don’t deal w conflict personally very much if at all, it allows us to be somewhat differentiated when dealing w issues and keep the personal stuff on the sidelines.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 27, 2020, 12:12:41 PM
It seems to me any social pressure can be seen as bullying or mobbing, but within certain bounds social pressure to conform is a wholesome thing. A person has to be strong to stand alone. Social pressure keeps the weak safely within the herd and strengthens the strong with some resistance. But some people habitually “take a stand” as though the idea of bowing to consensus is beneath them.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on December 27, 2020, 07:39:01 PM
The “consensus” is sometimes wrong, or the matter is some trivial thing that ought not to be a dealbreaker as far as the herd is concerned.
But the herd can turn on you if it thinks you’re not chewing your cud properly Or if you prefer to eat the carrots in the bucket before you go to the oat bag.
And as far as humans are concerned, sometimes it is “standing alone“ that makes one strong.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 28, 2020, 08:10:35 AM
Here's a different matter to consider: fulfillment of generational goals. I can think of three projects within synod that to my eye appear misguided, not by malice but by lingering expectations from one generation to the next. They are:

Building the Concordia Seminary Chapel
Purchasing Christian Brothers property in St. Louis
Building the library at CTS Fort Wayne

These were all expansionist expenses that would make sense with demographic growth but that appear to be unnecessary for the future population. I'm guessing these were projects driven by the baby boom experience that extended into the future for fulfillment. They now look unnecessary as all talk has turned to consolidation.

I don't mean to be overly critical of folks who wanted these things. Just noting how we need to stay alert and modest when spending on things other than mission work.

I would raise the question: are we planning things now that won't make sense a generation from now, based on demographics?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 28, 2020, 09:03:18 AM
Here's a different matter to consider: fulfillment of generational goals. I can think of three projects within synod that to my eye appear misguided, not by malice but by lingering expectations from one generation to the next. They are:

Building the Concordia Seminary Chapel
Purchasing Christian Brothers property in St. Louis
Building the library at CTS Fort Wayne

These were all expansionist expenses that would make sense with demographic growth but that appear to be unnecessary for the future population. I'm guessing these were projects driven by the baby boom experience that extended into the future for fulfillment. They now look unnecessary as all talk has turned to consolidation.

I don't mean to be overly critical of folks who wanted these things. Just noting how we need to stay alert and modest when spending on things other than mission work.

I would raise the question: are we planning things now that won't make sense a generation from now, based on demographics?

Ed, exactly what I thought as these plans unfolded. These real estate ventures were not wise at all. (I will grant that it surely was more than a little odd that the 1926 seminary in Clayton did not include a chapel.)

In the case of these seminary expansions, I think there is another dysfunction in addition to the generational lag of one generation fulfilling the dreams of one or more  previous ones. We have placed too much responsibility on our seminaries to form, supervise, and then certify pastoral candidates. I think that role should belong to district presidents. Yes, they are involved now but they do not have final responsibility. They should with support and recommendations from the seminaries.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 28, 2020, 09:15:23 AM
Here's a different matter to consider: fulfillment of generational goals. I can think of three projects within synod that to my eye appear misguided, not by malice but by lingering expectations from one generation to the next. They are:

Building the Concordia Seminary Chapel
Purchasing Christian Brothers property in St. Louis
Building the library at CTS Fort Wayne

These were all expansionist expenses that would make sense with demographic growth but that appear to be unnecessary for the future population. I'm guessing these were projects driven by the baby boom experience that extended into the future for fulfillment. They now look unnecessary as all talk has turned to consolidation.

I don't mean to be overly critical of folks who wanted these things. Just noting how we need to stay alert and modest when spending on things other than mission work.

I would raise the question: are we planning things now that won't make sense a generation from now, based on demographics?

I'd say "bingo" on two of those three, the chapel being the outlier.  The "old" chapel was really more of an assembly hall.  CBC - Ok, it was adjacent property to the seminary, but its purpose was murky at best.  My remembrance is the resale was costly.  And the CTS library is the place to go if you like being alone - acres and acres of indoor emptiness.  The library and chapel were billed as excellent opportunities for big donors, which highlights the peril of "donor-driven" organizations, which must always activate the donor base.  So the boards and staffs embrace building projects. 

As a kid at Concordia Milwaukee, Prexy Stuenkel's annual thematic speech one year was "The Place is Too Small" based on that Bible passage (where is that in the Bible?  He found it and quoted it).  So the school built an big edifice on the north side of State Street.  It was definitely needed at the time because Concordia was cranking out all those baby boomer students headed toward the pastoral ministry (like Dave Likeness and me).  We were full up.  And the donor base of tens of thousands of Lutherans in Milwaukee alone responded.  That's a whole different ball of wax than the later down the line building programs enabling emptying institutions.

At the same time, it should be noted that the Potawatomi Tribe and Nation purchased the Campus That Was Too Small some time ago:  http://www.potawatomibdc.com/wgema-campus
Wunder Dormitory, our Center For Adolescent Development, if you will, is on the cover, now named The Bgamegan Building.  Tempora mutantur.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 28, 2020, 09:20:53 AM
We have placed too much responsibility on our seminaries to form, supervise, and then certify pastoral candidates. I think that role should belong to district presidents. Yes, they are involved now but they do not have final responsibility. They should with support and recommendations from the seminaries.

Peace, JOHN

The work of certifying and forming candidates is a process that involves those who, first of all, have worked closely with the student during the period of instruction and formation.  Normally men do not have as much close contact with their DPs during those years. I know I didn't. My DP may have known my name, but little else about me as a potential pastor.  Fieldwork supervisors and vicarage supervisors get to observe the student in the direct act of pastoral work (teaching, pastoral visitations, worship, preaching).  Professors, on the other hand, can evaluate their theological development and maturity. Our DPs, many who are dedicated men with a passion for the church-at-large, do not have the same theological expertise as the men who teach at our seminaries.  With the SMP program it is different as their education is carried out in the context of their own present and future place of service.  But not so with residential M.Div students. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 28, 2020, 09:25:19 AM
I don't know about the chapel at St. Louis, but it certainly seems reasonable for a seminary to have a nice chapel. The other two, yeah, seemed ambitious. But when things seem to hit a wall with an institution, you really only have a few options.

1. You can fold up shop suddenly at a time when it seems like it is coming out of the blue and there was a good chance for survival.
2. You can close gradually, which generally means closing more suddenly than you'd hoped because once everyone knows you're closing soon they don't join/attend/enroll/donate.
3. You can save money, spruce things up with a coat of paint and otherwise keep doing what you're doing and hope for the best.
4. You make take a high-risk growth venture in the hopes it proves to be a game-changer.

In any event, hindsight will almost certainly make you look shortsighted and ineffectual as a leader. #1 will cause a lot of pain, but will also certainly "work" as planned. People will simply say it was caused by a lack of bold, visionary leadership, if not faith in God's providence. They will also speculate that you're hiding a scandal. #2 is best if it works but has the about the least chance of working, so it usually gets interpreted the same as #1, i.e. it wouldn't have had to be this way if you were better at your job. #3 is commonly derided in leadership circles as circling the wagons or burying one's head in the sand. It get called non-leadership masquerading as leadership, caretaker leadership, or whatever. It at least doesn't anger most people with skin in the game, but it only works by luck/Providence. #4 gets dismissed as the "if you build it, they will come" error. It rarely works as hoped and often gets perceived as the ego of the leader wanting a legacy.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 28, 2020, 09:31:06 AM
At the heart of the discussion about campus size and buildings is the future of residential pastoral education.  The pandemic, of course, caused a major shift from residential to virtual for a time.  And that shift has undoubtedly caused some to question the future of full-time residential education as cutting edge technology was used in ways we had not yet employed to such an extent.  Many factors come into play on this issue, and I think that before the church decides our time honored system has come and gone in usefulness, we should have a serious church-wide discussion on it involving all levels.  I know that some institutions, such as ILT, have build models that are largely and predominantly remote, they are not the end all of theological education.  And even though I teach remotely and willingly see the value of it in terms of cost and convenience, I am not ready to ditch residential training as the norm.  If the pandemic taught us anything, it did demonstrate that we are not wired for remote, virtual online interaction as the sole means of communication.  If that is the case, then we'd better be thinking about how to move the entire structure - schools, churches, district offices, etc. - to an entirely remote delivery system.  In my opinion that is not the future.  Remote and virtual delivery systems need to be there.  But they are supplementary.  And if residential education still has a future, then the campuses on which such education occurs, also has a future.  We need to be good stewards of what we have, but I am not ready to simply off-load it all simply due to the fact that numbers have shifted.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 28, 2020, 09:31:41 AM
Here's a different matter to consider: fulfillment of generational goals. I can think of three projects within synod that to my eye appear misguided, not by malice but by lingering expectations from one generation to the next. They are:

Building the Concordia Seminary Chapel
Purchasing Christian Brothers property in St. Louis
Building the library at CTS Fort Wayne

These were all expansionist expenses that would make sense with demographic growth but that appear to be unnecessary for the future population. I'm guessing these were projects driven by the baby boom experience that extended into the future for fulfillment. They now look unnecessary as all talk has turned to consolidation.

I don't mean to be overly critical of folks who wanted these things. Just noting how we need to stay alert and modest when spending on things other than mission work.

I would raise the question: are we planning things now that won't make sense a generation from now, based on demographics?

I'd say "bingo" on two of those three, the chapel being the outlier.  The "old" chapel was really more of an assembly hall.  CBC - Ok, it was adjacent property to the seminary, but its purpose was murky at best.  My remembrance is the resale was costly.  And the CTS library is the place to go if you like being alone - acres and acres of indoor emptiness.  The library and chapel were billed as excellent opportunities for big donors, which highlights the peril of "donor-driven" organizations, which must always activate the donor base.  So the boards and staffs embrace building projects. 

As a kid at Concordia Milwaukee, Prexy Stuenkel's annual thematic speech one year was "The Place is Too Small" based on that Bible passage (where is that in the Bible?  He found it and quoted it).  So the school built an big edifice on the north side of State Street.  It was definitely needed at the time because Concordia was cranking out all those baby boomer students headed toward the pastoral ministry (like Dave Likeness and me).  We were full up.  And the donor base of tens of thousands of Lutherans in Milwaukee alone responded.  That's a whole different ball of wax than the later down the line building programs enabling emptying institutions.

At the same time, it should be noted that the Potawatomi Tribe and Nation purchased the Campus That Was Too Small some time ago:  http://www.potawatomibdc.com/wgema-campus
Wunder Dormitory, our Center For Adolescent Development, if you will, is on the cover, now named The Bgamegan Building.  Tempora mutantur.

Dave Benke
The things about CBC was that is was right there, a great location, all kinds of possibilities. It was one of those opportunities that is hard to pass on even if you don't have it worked out in advance. Universities buy up all the adjacent properties all the time on the theory that you don't get to choose when they go for sale and you'll regret passing on them. It had a decent chance of being the right call at the time, but also a decent chance of being the wrong call. Either way, if it goes wrong it will seem to have been an obvious miscall n hindsight. It is like a coach calling plays on 4th and goal from the 2. Nobody has an opinion it they score, but if they don't score, everyone in the stands could obviously have called a better play and the coach is an idiot.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 28, 2020, 09:41:22 AM
The St.Timothy and St. Titus Chapel at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is the crown jewel
to the Gothic architecture on that campus.  It was a needed addition to make worship
an important part of seminary life.  The former building used for chapel services was not
conducive to truly focus on the worship experience.   It was more of a lecture hall in a
dark and dreary atmosphere.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 28, 2020, 09:42:48 AM
A seminary without a chapel?  I cannot see the money to build a chapel as wasted unless that chapel is not the beating heart of the campus (the way the chapel is the center of things in Ft. Wayne).  The previous auditorium was not a chapel.

CBC campus?  It was a decision that turned out to be foolish but at the time seemed reasonable.  Still, they did not really lose all that much when they turned around to sell it.

Library at Ft. Wayne?  Really?  Foolish?  The space is fully utilized and essential if the library collection is to be utilized.  As far as it being empty, I have been on campus at many different times of the year and I have found the library to be filled with students (especially the small rooms where students work together).  Besides, of all the things mentioned, this was the most cost effective building (and fixed some other problems with the campus at the same time).
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 28, 2020, 09:44:43 AM
Come to think of it, I would add blunder another to Ed's list--Luther Tower at St. Louis, which was not quite finished at my graduation in 1965. For graduation in the Quad, someone or some group hung a large banner on top with the Hebrew words of Genesis 11:5, "The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which mortals had built." At the time, not a few thought it would have been better to build the chapel instead of the Tower. There is of course a small chapel at the base of the tower, which is no longer used as I understand it.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 28, 2020, 09:48:53 AM
The St.Timothy and St. Titus Chapel at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is the crown jewel
to the Gothic architecture on that campus.  It was a needed addition to make worship
an important part of seminary life.  The former building used for chapel services was not
conducive to truly focus on the worship experience.   It was more of a lecture hall in a
dark and dreary atmosphere.

The chapel should have been built in 1926, like the Senior College (converted to seminary) chapel. If not then,  in the 1960s instead of Luther Tower.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on December 28, 2020, 09:51:25 AM
Library at Ft. Wayne?  Really?  Foolish?  The space is fully utilized and essential if the library collection is to be utilized.  As far as it being empty, I have been on campus at many different times of the year and I have found the library to be filled with students (especially the small rooms where students work together).  Besides, of all the things mentioned, this was the most cost effective building (and fixed some other problems with the campus at the same time).

I was on campus for a week a few years ago during the Phoebe Academy my daughter was attending, and was able to spend a fair amount of time in the library.  Beautiful place, and to your point, most certainly used.  It was during summer Greek 'boot camp' and I saw students utilizing the special study rooms incorporated into the newer structure, but also studying elsewhere.  While there may be open unfilled spaces there, I would think that you would build a library with the idea of allowing room for expansion. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 28, 2020, 10:03:56 AM
There were plans to have a chapel from the beginning at the St. Louis seminary. I have seen the drawings. The gothic style chapel extended out into the park east of campus. It was not built due to financial reasons and the need to focus on classroom space first. The leadership that deferred that project were thinking practically rather than idealistically.

The library at Ft. Wayne was added in part to satisfy accreditation expectations of an adequate library space. There was also talk of moving the Ann Arbor college to Ft. Wayne, which didn't happen. Not sure why.

CBC would have been great if one of the Concordias would have been moved to St. Louis.

I think leadership had trouble turning off expansionist goals and dreams. We will now have to rethink all this property, including the IC. Congregations face the same planning decisions, too.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 28, 2020, 10:31:03 AM
Come to think of it, I would add blunder another to Ed's list--Luther Tower at St. Louis, which was not quite finished at my graduation in 1965. For graduation in the Quad, someone or some group hung a large banner on top with the Hebrew words of Genesis 11:5, "The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which mortals had built." At the time, not a few thought it would have been better to build the chapel instead of the Tower. There is of course a small chapel at the base of the tower, which is no longer used as I understand it.

Peace, JOHN

The tower is beautiful but it's not practical at all. The campus likely had other needs. Not sure why the tower rose to the fore.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Richard Johnson on December 28, 2020, 10:34:06 AM
It's an issue with congregations, too, of course. Back in the late 1980s my parish was burgeoning, trying to live in a 100-seat building when attendance at two services was totaling close to 200. There were some who thought that was just fine, others who wanted to remodel and expand the building somewhat, others who wanted to build new. The latter was the choice, and a large (250+ comfortable capacity) sanctuary was built. The first Christmas Eve we crowded more than 400 into it. Today, average attendance (pre-pandemic) has declined to somewhere in the low 100s (still spread over two services).

Was it the right choice? Yes, I think so, though at the moment one might wonder (well, at the moment, there are no in-person services at all). Thing is, we just don't know what it will look like in ten years. Changes in demographics, changes in leadership--these things are big unknowns. One has to make the best guess and, with prayer and hope, make the best plans one can. Sometimes the best one can say is, "If we build, we hope A, B, and C will happen; but if we don't, it seems pretty likely D and F will be the result."

In my current congregation, we had a somewhat similar situation. We really have no space for expansion. A building that actually shares our (small) parking lot came on the market. The congregation, after lots of discussion, decided to buy it--with no specific plan for what it might be used for immediately, but with the realization that it was really the only option for some future expansion. So it's now being utilized somewhat for some activities that probably could have been accommodated in the existing buildings with some difficulty, but there are continuing discussions about some ministry opportunities that will make better use of the acquired building. (Interestingly, the land on which the building sits at one point belonged to the congregation; they sold it decades ago because they didn't think they really needed that space and money was tight!)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 28, 2020, 10:56:31 AM
Sometimes it’s an optical illusion when something is built. People look at the new facilities and then believe the illusion that an organization is thriving. Ambassador College up in Pasadena was a great example of that. When one walks through the campus built by Garner Ted Armstrong, one can see buildings that were super expensive an opulent and also quite empty. Simply because an organization does something doesn’t mean they are doing the right thing. In Orange we say, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  The sieve for an idea or boondoggle, has to go through the questioning of “is this is the right thing do to and why?”

I helped raise money for the chapel as a student working in the then fledgling advancement office, I used to pick up Dr. Preus from STL. Raising that money was relatively simple and easy. The CBC Campus purchase could never answer the question, “to what end?” Just an aside, simply to put in women’s restrooms there was an overwhelming cost because they had almost exclusively men’s restrooms.  The libraries at both seminaries are gorgeous and the volumes they house and students they serve are mission critical.

Now let’s get moving on a fresh and vital vision for our LCMS. We have resources and money. Perhaps I’m begging the question, “What should we do?” “Or what is our preferred future?”
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 28, 2020, 10:59:08 AM
Come to think of it, I would add blunder another to Ed's list--Luther Tower at St. Louis, which was not quite finished at my graduation in 1965. For graduation in the Quad, someone or some group hung a large banner on top with the Hebrew words of Genesis 11:5, "The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which mortals had built." At the time, not a few thought it would have been better to build the chapel instead of the Tower. There is of course a small chapel at the base of the tower, which is no longer used as I understand it.

Peace, JOHN

The tower is beautiful but it's not practical at all. The campus likely had other needs. Not sure why the tower rose to the fore.
Sometimes donors call the shots. Maybe someone loved the tower idea enough to give big bucks to it, but wasn't all that interested the ideas that made less of a splash. That happens in congregations, too, if the lay-leadership lets it. Practically every capital campaign needs a really appealing visible aspect people can latch on to. It shouldn't be that way but almost always is, which is why capital campaigns are tricky.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 28, 2020, 01:00:28 PM
Sometimes it’s an optical illusion when something is built. People look at the new facilities and then believe the illusion that an organization is thriving. Ambassador College up in Pasadena was a great example of that. When one walks through the campus built by Garner Ted Armstrong, one can see buildings that were super expensive an opulent and also quite empty. Simply because an organization does something doesn’t mean they are doing the right thing. In Orange we say, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  The sieve for an idea or boondoggle, has to go through the questioning of “is this is the right thing do to and why?”

I helped raise money for the chapel as a student working in the then fledgling advancement office, I used to pick up Dr. Preus from STL. Raising that money was relatively simple and easy. The CBC Campus purchase could never answer the question, “to what end?” Just an aside, simply to put in women’s restrooms there was an overwhelming cost because they had almost exclusively men’s restrooms.  The libraries at both seminaries are gorgeous and the volumes they house and students they serve are mission critical.

Now let’s get moving on a fresh and vital vision for our LCMS. We have resources and money. Perhaps I’m begging the question, “What should we do?” “Or what is our preferred future?”

Tim,

I’m currently in the throes of researching and dissertating amid the anxious reality and prospect of institutional collapse.  I start here because I don’t know if we are in a position yet to answer this question honestly and authentically. I agree with Mark Brown’s point a few pages back that there is a lot of death ahead. I understand this in both metaphorical and literal terms. And I don’t know if we can actually make some in roads to your question until these things occur.  I'm wondering if we actually tend to get in the way more than we realize.

I was reminded just a few moments ago of Camus’ great work The Plague and its message of duty and hard work in the midst of a sober and realistic outlook.  Again, I'm not convinced we are there yet. At least I don’t get that sense presently.  Examples like FiveTwo, Dwelling 1:14, and now Red Letter Challenge all strike me as models and efforts of the past being repackaged for the present.  I’m personally at a point in which I just ignore such things.  And are our attraction to such things just representative of our own denial at work?  I’m sure there are others that can be cited that I’ve just forgotten.  I’ve cited this Karl Rahner quote before but I can’t help but ponder its wisdom, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.”  The thing is you can’t commodify authentic faith, you can’t even systematize it, we can certainly aid in its growth, but like the movement of the Spirit it is deeply mysterious.  We certainly need to remain open to the Spirit’s work, but not at the expense of the present moment’s reality, however tragic and ugly.

I hope that makes sense.

Peace,
Scott+ 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 28, 2020, 01:10:21 PM
In Architectural circles, there is a syndrome known as the "Edifice Complex", pun intended, found in leadership of many institutions, governments, and corporations.  Often hard to realize at the time, its effects can be deadly to purpose.

Another wide-spread meme is "Build it and they will come!".  Works sometimes, if people, program, budget and timing appropriate. 

Hindsight and "shoulda wouldas" are usually inappropriate, in my opinion.  Schuller's Tower of Power and later Crystal Cathedral sure drew a lot of Reformed folks to something other than, at the time(s) fairly humble churches.
Today, the Crystal Cathedral is the Cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, at a purchase cost perhaps quite a bit higher than the original cost.  Not much opportunity for new/revised programming or adaptive reuse...

St. John's Orange built a sanctuary in about 1915 (stained glass on the last ship over from Germany).
It's been told that, in 1915+, the new sanctuary could seat the entire population of the town (well, maybe "seemed to", but close enough for those coveting the church or the money).  The Pastor and the people built because they were determined to spread the Gospel in that town.  God's work continues to work pretty well there today!

I have another dozen  or hundred or so "build it" memes and stories, but that will do.
In any case the timing is critical and often a guess, the money is critical and often not there, the leadership may have been hubristic - or maybe possessed of too humble dreams.

The people and the message are absolutely critical.

The buildings are there.  Focus on the Lord's people and the work in each place, and get over it!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 28, 2020, 01:34:10 PM
I am very, very far from having either a Pollyanna or an Eyore approach to life - I'm not even in between, but out there somewhere.  A realistic appraisal of historical realities, continuing trends and contemporary conditions is sane, and we all stuck with the human conceit of projecting and predicting the future. 

The inimitable Seth Godin wrote something salient to this discussion today, worth a moment to read and digest:

"One of Woody Guthrie’s resolutions was to “Wake up and fight.”

But he wasn’t talking about being a bully. Or picking a fight at the local bar.

He was talking about changing the culture.

He was challenging himself to push back against the doubters, and even more than that, to overcome his own self-doubt.

The culture is created by all of us. It might feel as though it’s done to us, but it’s also created by us.

Wake up, stand up and fight. Make things better."

First, of course, pray that you know what is "better"...
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 28, 2020, 03:37:04 PM
I suppose my caveat would be that both seminaries effectively trained pastors without tower, new chapel, CBC, or new library for years. If these projects were necessary, how did the campuses function effectively before? I think the answer has to be, the projects were not mission critical. They were things we wanted not things we needed. Are we at the point of discerning what we actually need?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 28, 2020, 03:59:19 PM
Ed, in the 1990's Concordia Seminary, St. Louis did not get a new chapel.
Instead, they got their first chapel.   This was a major improvement to the
worship life of the seminarians.  It was not easy for one who had worshiped
in Kramer Chapel at Concordia Senior College, Ft. Wayne to come to  a dark
and dreary auditorium at St. Louis.  Worship life is a top priority for each
LCMS seminary.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 28, 2020, 04:23:17 PM
too much responsibility on our seminaries to form, supervise, and then certify pastoral candidates. I think that role should belong to district presidents.

While both seminaries and District Presidents have honor and power, the balance of the honor is more in the seminaries, and of power more in the District Presidents:

                                Honor?
                            Yes             No

Power?       Yes     Yes/Yes      Yes Power
                                            No Honor

                  No      Yes Honor  No/No
                            No Power

Yes/Yes - Honor is accompanied by power; this is a good situation; honor serves to legitimize power and also as a check on it. If power is abused, honor could be jeopardized.

No/No - This is when there is no leader or follower

Yes Power / No Honor -- Without honor, there the use of power may be challenged as legitimate; but if this is customary, then power may be abused. A good example of this is when the soldiers at Abu Ghraib who were put in power of deciding what to do to punish the prisoners of war lacked the customary rank to make such decisions. They even lacked endorsement or oversight by others of higher rank. So when it became abusive, blame rested on the lower level soldiers. (Yet the blame was also systemic.)

Yes Honor / No Power -- this is like a figurehead, a puppet king, or maybe even C.F.W Walther in his last few years. There is nothing wrong with this per se. This can go badly in that they may draw honor away from people who actually need to use it, or even worse act as an institutional shield for someone who wields power and not honor. As such they may endorse things that they shouldn't because they are afraid of risking their honor. Or they may overly risk their honor in an attempt to get power, like with elderly Linus Pauling promoting Vitamin C as a cancer therapy.

In churches, a pastor may have honor but cede power to one or more wealthy members. In nonprofit organizations, a president or CEO may take honor but cede power to a donor, whose identity may even be kept secret which is even worse. What happens in these situations is that there is probably a lack of "checks and balances" overall, with the divorcing of honor and power being just one of them.

Some district presidents increased their honor by increasing the district budget, which creates a prestige of success. And in the English District, televised messages from the DP give greater honor to the top executive than in the typical district. On the other side, the seminary real estate purchases leveraged the honor of the seminaries towards greater power--that of property development. Your plan (quoted above) would help to make these things less desirable, because seminaries would share some of the honor involved in candidate formation with the District Presidents.

Mobbing is an expression of power; their is no honor in it. Even when pastors are doing the mobbing, they do not risk their honor through the tactics used. So there is no legitimatizing factor to check it from getting out of hand. A bully may or may not have honor; for those with honor it can serve to check their vices. Standards may vary by situation and profession involved.

It seems to me any social pressure can be seen as bullying or mobbing

Balancing power and honor is one way to keep social pressure from becoming bullying or mobbing.

Another criticism that can be leveled against the one who was mobbed is that he or she was in a co-dependent relationship. This is very similar to the opinion that any devout Catholic or faithful Jew, etc. is never a whole person because that is part of living such a lifestyle (e.g. John Bradshaw). The rebuttal to these both is that modern psychology's focus on complete independence and autonomy is destructive and unsuitable for community, church, and family life. And relationships formed only after "complete" independence and autonomy have been established are likely to accomplish less, be less satisfying, and be more dispensable. This in turn leaves the supposedly independent and autonomous person seeking fulfillment elsewhere, and not in a good way.

Social pressure keeps the weak safely within the herd and strengthens the strong with some resistance.

Rev. Pres. Benke brought up conflict levels:

https://achurchforstarvingartists.blog/2018/03/23/church-world-how-to-survive-a-level-3-or-4-conflict/

The difference between level zero and level one complements your description of healthy social pressure. At level one that social pressure dynamic is allowed to work naturally. The degree of co-dependency keeping the weak within the herd is not excessive in such an environment.

So one way to evaluate the fruits of social pressure and the resultant co-dependency is "by their fruits". It isn't independence vs. co-dependency per se which is bad; it is the lack of wisdom in navigating between them.

not all conflict is mobbing, but all mobbing is rooted in conflict?

If conflict involves Eric Berne style mind games, mobbing is Berne's level 2 and level 3. Ordinary conflict would only be Berne's level 1 if it involves mind games at all.

A good overview of Eric Berne style mind games:
https://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2464&context=luc_diss (https://ecommons.luc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2464&context=luc_diss) (see pdf pagination pages 246-253, earlier than that is irrelevant)

Also good resources:
http://www.listeningactivity.com/newsletters/GC_News/GC_Vol_02/GC_V2N03.pdf (http://www.listeningactivity.com/newsletters/GC_News/GC_Vol_02/GC_V2N03.pdf)

https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/GamesTraineePowerpoint2020.pdf (https://ellesmerecentre.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/GamesTraineePowerpoint2020.pdf)

Rev. Engelbrecht's mobbing article describes an MMORPG except that it isn't online. This is supported by culture, where webforms like this one enable role-playing. Role playing can lead to useful tools like Reddit and Wikipedia, which are MMORPGs of a sort. What makes them MMORPGs? Because people play roles that they either don't have in real life; or if they do, it is separated from it. And church, if you don't believe in it too much, is also an MMORPG, though normally offline. Engelbrecht describes mobbing as being a "destructive, triumphalist game". He also describes it as reflecting neo-orthodoxy--which is another way of saying that it turns church life into a game. MMORPGs are their own little worlds; they are self-referencing and impervious to outside criticism similar to neo-orthodoxy's fideism.

In the WELS and LCMS there are different levels of understanding:

Basic newcomer language & what is taught to small children

What you learn in confirmation or Adult instruction

What you learn at some of the better Lutheran high schools, or even at a church-run college

Seminary instruction & experience

Practical pastoral knowledge during one's ministry

... but in the WELS, there is an extra level that most clergy are not in on. Some are to varying degrees. This sort of instruction can happen bit by bit starting in Prep school, or can instead come from personal research. It may also be passed from student-to-student. It is not overtly taught in seminary. This is the understanding that the doctrinal system used by the WELS derives from Hegelian philosophy. A further understanding is that the LCMS distinctives instead derive from Kantianism, and that it was the Seminexers that in some ways were more like WELS. From the perspective of a pastor understanding this, it is evident that Hegelianism is superior. (Some secular literature supports this: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Perrys-Model-of-Intellectual-Development-Adapted-from-Perry-Jr-W-G-1999-Forms-of_fig1_328064077 (https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Perrys-Model-of-Intellectual-Development-Adapted-from-Perry-Jr-W-G-1999-Forms-of_fig1_328064077) Here relativism is shown as a more developed manner of thinking; Hegelianism is a form of partial relativism; meanwhile Kantians are regressive, stuck in the two earlier columns. On the other hand, there are other frameworks (besides the one I linked to) which do not posit a lifetime development but instead attempt to guide interactions between different forms of thought.)

The downside to having a special gnosis is that it can enable narcissistic tendencies in those who are already prone to it. And it could contribute to seeing church as an MMORPG, because interacting with others who don't have the full truth necessarily involves condescension. The gamification aspect is symbolized by the gemutliches Abend tradition. Those who buy into it may treat their ministry accordingly, while others have mixed feelings about the rituals.

Instead we had members who enjoyed weekly Bible studies

A particular pastor who was active in mobbing explained how the purpose of his Bible studies was so that he and certain others would have the social license to exercise control over others attending the Bible study. He did not list any other purpose; I believe he stated this both because it was true and to express anger that I sometimes enjoyed Bible studies. Another example from this was that when we got to the rape of Dinah, we learned that Simeon and Levi did the right thing--not a standard teaching in either WELS or LCMS. The good news is that every other Bible study I've attended has been better than that.

have it reviewed, and submit it for publication
I tried this once for a system to solve and prevent conflict, but was told there was zero interest. Yet there are good people with proper credentials working on it. Your article on mobbing helped me figure out very specific details from my personal experiences that had flown over my head. It is unlikely I would have understood what I do without your article. Even if some people think your article is insufficiently collaborated, it is the faith which moves mountains, and your article was written with faith.

Do you happen to have a link to the Klaus and Klaus report that you referenced?
The link is dead, but I have a copy which I emailed you. I misspelled it. It is Klaas and Klaas. I will fix the original post.

Since you are researching this, you might find it useful to put together a case study of the two kinds of Darbyites. They split early on from the same ethnic and doctrinal group--so like with comparing Haiti and the Dominican Republic what you get is the product of their polity and subsequent history. One group is the Exclusive Brethren, also called Closed Brethren or Plymouth Brethren. The other group are the Open Brethren. Both used to be reasonably good denominations until the 1970s when the Exclusive/Closed/Plymouth Brethren went seriously downhill.

I also emailed you another pdf that especially helpful for demonstrating that the trouble isn't just just the usual trouble with church bodies getting anecdotal amplification:

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1022920528072  (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1022920528072) (abstract only)

In this randomized survey of 411 Lutheran pastors from the ELCA, LCMS, and WELS, 34% (+-4.5%) pastors scored more than one standard deviation above the established mean for the lie test. The researchers reported that the 34% "were considered to be giving answers that were meant to protect and maintain vulnerable self-esteem, contaminated by socially desirable responses, and demonstrated a need for approval and to avoid disapproval." This contrasts to only 15.9% of adults who fail the lie test (15.9% being those of one standard deviation above the means.)

I took a lie test once, and I think it was the same one these two professors used, or very close to it. It has been around since the 70s. The way the test works is that it asks you how much you care about your reputation and what other people think of you, and how much you adjust yourself to expectations. Then it whips out a bunch of personal questions--questions that you might want to lie about. I was tempted to lie as well, but I didn't.

So either there is a selection effect at seminary for pastors failing the lie test, or pastors are trained into it during their ministry. When I shared my concern about the statistic to a CLC pastor, he explained that pastors have to please all sorts of people. That is a better sort of reason to be trained into it. The alternative is that mobbing and gaslighting results in traumatic bonding, also known as Stockholm syndrome. A longtime, respected Lutheran teacher who is no longer teaching explained to me that he knew about traumatic bonding, and he thought it was okay to use on students. I asked, "Under what circumstances" to which he replied, "Whenever there is a relationship."

This is an extreme example, but overall, the way we raise children, in the home and at school often rewards students who conform to external motivation. Yet there is another type of motivation, one in which people seek to grow due to a an impulse from within, not hoping for recognition of success or fearing condemnation for failure. These people are curious and interested in doing what they can, discovering new things, challenging themselves, and finding out what they can and cannot accomplish.

Luther explained ( http://tinyurl.com/ks3w7b7 (http://tinyurl.com/ks3w7b7) ) that some think the purpose of shame is "improve, and you will have honor".

Quote
Some think it is good for young people that they be enticed by reputation and honor, and again by shame and dishonor, and so be induced to do good. For there are many who do the good and leave the evil undone out of fear and shame and love of honor, and so do what they otherwise by no means do or leave undone.

This I leave to their opinion. But at present we are seeking how true good works are to be done, and they who are inclined to do them surely do not need to be driven by the fear of shame and the love of honor

Luther warned ( http://tinyurl.com/pvoxoz2 (http://tinyurl.com/pvoxoz2) ) against using honor as a motivation:

Quote
But what devil tells you to do a good work with the expectation of meriting the honor and favor of the world, which is uncertain and can soon fall away and be changed, and not to have a better object in view, namely God, for then it cannot be lost, as he will richly repay you, both now and hereafter?

Rather, the best motivation ( http://tinyurl.com/mj9uxzq (http://tinyurl.com/mj9uxzq) ) is one that is neither about fear or hope, shame or honor.

Quote
if we believe in him, he will give us that free, undaunted spirit which fears neither death nor hell, which loves neither life nor heaven, but freely and joyfully serves God.

If we have a free spirit which motivates from within (not to be confused with what some falsely call Gospel motivation), what then is the purpose of shame ( http://tinyurl.com/q6k6dto (http://tinyurl.com/q6k6dto) ), since it is no longer motivating?

Quote
This, now, is the conclusion to which the prophet comes: Whoever believes on Him shall not be put to shame. When the Holy Spirit says, that they shall not be ashamed who believe on Christ, he gives us to understand what he has in view,—to wit, that he has already published and confirmed the sentence, that the whole world must be confounded and put to shame. Yet he would draw forth some out of the multitude, so that no one may escape the shame but he who believes on Christ. So Christ explains Himself in the last of Mark: "Whoever believes and is baptised shall be saved; but he who believes not shall be damned;" in which words, moreover, He accords with the prophets. So that Peter said well in the first chapter, that the prophets sought out the time, and diligently inquired after the salvation and concerning the future grace that was previously promised. So now Christ is to be preached, that He it is who has rescued us from this shame into which we were all plunged.

So the purpose of shame is to drive us to Christ, that we might not hope in our own honor, but rather in Christ to rescue us from sin. If pastors learn the purpose of shame, then they don't need to fail the lie test. They can give truthful answers instead.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 28, 2020, 04:25:45 PM
Ed, in the 1990's Concordia Seminary, St. Louis did not get a new chapel.
Instead, they got their first chapel.   This was a major improvement to the
worship life of the seminarians.  It was not easy for one who had worshiped
in Kramer Chapel at Concordia Senior College, Ft. Wayne to come to  a dark
and dreary auditorium at St. Louis.  Worship life is a top priority for each
LCMS seminary.

Dave, when I was a student there it was called a chapel. It had an altar, pulpit, and organ. God heard our prayers there and we received the Sacrament.

To thrive again as a church, we have to survive consolidation while sustaining what is mission critical. Consolidation is going to tear us up emotionally. This will be very hard as our discussion here attests. Lord, grant wisdom.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 28, 2020, 05:23:42 PM
To get to the question of the future I suggest the following:

Get rid of districts entirely and simply divide up about 60 congregations or so to be served by a part-time bishop (or whatever you want to call him) to do the ONLY essential duty of a bishop -- supervision of doctrine and practice.  Do all the rest through a small regional presence of deployed people serving part-time and have a national structure about like we have.  To make the IC cost-effective, make LCEF, LCMS Foundation, Concordia Plans, and LWML/LLL move their offices to the IC to share the cost of the facility.  They are probably paring down staff so it could fit.  Or, if you want to make it more cost effective, you could probably move them all into unused space at CPH (not sure about that but seems reasonable).  Give the congregations the primary responsibility for starting new congregations.  Build a missions endowment to partner with local resources to finance these starts.  Put the money into quality worship, put the resources into excellent preaching, and put it to the people in our churches to invite friends and family to these renewed gatherings on Sunday morning.  Stop talking about the nebulous ministries and give the focus to starting and renewing actual congregations, gathered around altar, font, and pulpit for Word and Sacrament.  I don't know how it is elsewhere but where I am the day care model leading to congregation starting fizzled and the places where the focus was on small groups meant the congregation ended up a small group.  Stop reading what the evangelicals are doing and do what Lutherans do.  So there's my 2 cents.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 28, 2020, 07:17:54 PM
I've not carefully studied the polity of the LCMS. I've always been content to let others handle that. I'm going to write an analogy that helps me think about it and others can correct me or add nuance. Analogy:

President/vice presidents are like American executive branch.

District presidents are like the senate (or more like governors?).

Pastoral/lay delegates are sort of a house of representatives, though they don't meet so often.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 28, 2020, 07:24:43 PM
To get to the question of the future I suggest the following:

Get rid of districts entirely and simply divide up about 60 congregations or so to be served by a part-time bishop (or whatever you want to call him) to do the ONLY essential duty of a bishop -- supervision of doctrine and practice.  Do all the rest through a small regional presence of deployed people serving part-time and have a national structure about like we have.  To make the IC cost-effective, make LCEF, LCMS Foundation, Concordia Plans, and LWML/LLL move their offices to the IC to share the cost of the facility.  They are probably paring down staff so it could fit.  Or, if you want to make it more cost effective, you could probably move them all into unused space at CPH (not sure about that but seems reasonable).  Give the congregations the primary responsibility for starting new congregations.  Build a missions endowment to partner with local resources to finance these starts.  Put the money into quality worship, put the resources into excellent preaching, and put it to the people in our churches to invite friends and family to these renewed gatherings on Sunday morning.  Stop talking about the nebulous ministries and give the focus to starting and renewing actual congregations, gathered around altar, font, and pulpit for Word and Sacrament.  I don't know how it is elsewhere but where I am the day care model leading to congregation starting fizzled and the places where the focus was on small groups meant the congregation ended up a small group.  Stop reading what the evangelicals are doing and do what Lutherans do.  So there's my 2 cents.

Something like this that is ground breaking and challenges all our little kingdoms with some sort of shared pain and a shared upside could start a much bigger/better conversation. I’m not going to have to ride it out, I’ll be retired before it all collapses. Anybody younger than 40 probably won’t, maybe even 45, but the reality is we have a ton of resources that are kingdom resources, we only view them as “ours” because we typically think provincially. What would we do if we weren’t so fearful?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 28, 2020, 08:09:38 PM
Here's a different matter to consider: fulfillment of generational goals. I can think of three projects within synod that to my eye appear misguided, not by malice but by lingering expectations from one generation to the next. They are:

Building the Concordia Seminary Chapel
Purchasing Christian Brothers property in St. Louis
Building the library at CTS Fort Wayne

These were all expansionist expenses that would make sense with demographic growth but that appear to be unnecessary for the future population. I'm guessing these were projects driven by the baby boom experience that extended into the future for fulfillment. They now look unnecessary as all talk has turned to consolidation.

I don't mean to be overly critical of folks who wanted these things. Just noting how we need to stay alert and modest when spending on things other than mission work.

I would raise the question: are we planning things now that won't make sense a generation from now, based on demographics?

I'd say "bingo" on two of those three, the chapel being the outlier.  The "old" chapel was really more of an assembly hall.  CBC - Ok, it was adjacent property to the seminary, but its purpose was murky at best.  My remembrance is the resale was costly.  And the CTS library is the place to go if you like being alone - acres and acres of indoor emptiness.  The library and chapel were billed as excellent opportunities for big donors, which highlights the peril of "donor-driven" organizations, which must always activate the donor base.  So the boards and staffs embrace building projects. 

As a kid at Concordia Milwaukee, Prexy Stuenkel's annual thematic speech one year was "The Place is Too Small" based on that Bible passage (where is that in the Bible?  He found it and quoted it).  So the school built an big edifice on the north side of State Street.  It was definitely needed at the time because Concordia was cranking out all those baby boomer students headed toward the pastoral ministry (like Dave Likeness and me).  We were full up.  And the donor base of tens of thousands of Lutherans in Milwaukee alone responded.  That's a whole different ball of wax than the later down the line building programs enabling emptying institutions.

At the same time, it should be noted that the Potawatomi Tribe and Nation purchased the Campus That Was Too Small some time ago:  http://www.potawatomibdc.com/wgema-campus
Wunder Dormitory, our Center For Adolescent Development, if you will, is on the cover, now named The Bgamegan Building.  Tempora mutantur.

Dave Benke
The things about CBC was that is was right there, a great location, all kinds of possibilities. It was one of those opportunities that is hard to pass on even if you don't have it worked out in advance. Universities buy up all the adjacent properties all the time on the theory that you don't get to choose when they go for sale and you'll regret passing on them. It had a decent chance of being the right call at the time, but also a decent chance of being the wrong call. Either way, if it goes wrong it will seem to have been an obvious miscall n hindsight. It is like a coach calling plays on 4th and goal from the 2. Nobody has an opinion it they score, but if they don't score, everyone in the stands could obviously have called a better play and the coach is an idiot.

I was there at the time it was bought, and by the time I was leaving it was gone and had cost a lot of money to dump.  And no Peter, it was not one of those types of plays.  It was stupid from the first mention.  Genius Jack had already spent any endowment on pumping up enrollment.  He bought it purely on borrowed funds.  And more or less immediately after he bought it he announced a tuition hike and a decrease to student aid, the total of which just happened to equal the interest payment.  They moved a couple of classes into the buildings to justify.  Which always meant a longer walk, a worse building and no internet.  And when you asked "what was the plan?" the no-kidding smart answer was that the Synod was going to split at the next convention and a bunch of people in the purple palace were going to move out and needed a place to land.  That was "the plan".  Of course the actual plan that the back accepted for the loan was we'll just charge the students.  More eating the young.  But when you realize that you are the main course you tend to go elsewhere.  Enrollment started its nosedive with that purchase and the tuition decisions that followed.  It may yet turn into one of those fantastically stupid moves that God yet brings good out of.  The good in this case being less ordinations in a shrinking body that refuses to address problems.

I remember bringing it up in passing with my field work pastor.  His response was "what are you going to do, transfer?"   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 28, 2020, 08:38:54 PM
Here's a different matter to consider: fulfillment of generational goals. I can think of three projects within synod that to my eye appear misguided, not by malice but by lingering expectations from one generation to the next. They are:

Building the Concordia Seminary Chapel
Purchasing Christian Brothers property in St. Louis
Building the library at CTS Fort Wayne

These were all expansionist expenses that would make sense with demographic growth but that appear to be unnecessary for the future population. I'm guessing these were projects driven by the baby boom experience that extended into the future for fulfillment. They now look unnecessary as all talk has turned to consolidation.

I don't mean to be overly critical of folks who wanted these things. Just noting how we need to stay alert and modest when spending on things other than mission work.

I would raise the question: are we planning things now that won't make sense a generation from now, based on demographics?

I'd say "bingo" on two of those three, the chapel being the outlier.  The "old" chapel was really more of an assembly hall.  CBC - Ok, it was adjacent property to the seminary, but its purpose was murky at best.  My remembrance is the resale was costly.  And the CTS library is the place to go if you like being alone - acres and acres of indoor emptiness.  The library and chapel were billed as excellent opportunities for big donors, which highlights the peril of "donor-driven" organizations, which must always activate the donor base.  So the boards and staffs embrace building projects. 

As a kid at Concordia Milwaukee, Prexy Stuenkel's annual thematic speech one year was "The Place is Too Small" based on that Bible passage (where is that in the Bible?  He found it and quoted it).  So the school built an big edifice on the north side of State Street.  It was definitely needed at the time because Concordia was cranking out all those baby boomer students headed toward the pastoral ministry (like Dave Likeness and me).  We were full up.  And the donor base of tens of thousands of Lutherans in Milwaukee alone responded.  That's a whole different ball of wax than the later down the line building programs enabling emptying institutions.

At the same time, it should be noted that the Potawatomi Tribe and Nation purchased the Campus That Was Too Small some time ago:  http://www.potawatomibdc.com/wgema-campus
Wunder Dormitory, our Center For Adolescent Development, if you will, is on the cover, now named The Bgamegan Building.  Tempora mutantur.

Dave Benke
The things about CBC was that is was right there, a great location, all kinds of possibilities. It was one of those opportunities that is hard to pass on even if you don't have it worked out in advance. Universities buy up all the adjacent properties all the time on the theory that you don't get to choose when they go for sale and you'll regret passing on them. It had a decent chance of being the right call at the time, but also a decent chance of being the wrong call. Either way, if it goes wrong it will seem to have been an obvious miscall n hindsight. It is like a coach calling plays on 4th and goal from the 2. Nobody has an opinion it they score, but if they don't score, everyone in the stands could obviously have called a better play and the coach is an idiot.

I was there at the time it was bought, and by the time I was leaving it was gone and had cost a lot of money to dump.  And no Peter, it was not one of those types of plays.  It was stupid from the first mention.  Genius Jack had already spent any endowment on pumping up enrollment.  He bought it purely on borrowed funds.  And more or less immediately after he bought it he announced a tuition hike and a decrease to student aid, the total of which just happened to equal the interest payment.  They moved a couple of classes into the buildings to justify.  Which always meant a longer walk, a worse building and no internet.  And when you asked "what was the plan?" the no-kidding smart answer was that the Synod was going to split at the next convention and a bunch of people in the purple palace were going to move out and needed a place to land.  That was "the plan".  Of course the actual plan that the back accepted for the loan was we'll just charge the students.  More eating the young.  But when you realize that you are the main course you tend to go elsewhere.  Enrollment started its nosedive with that purchase and the tuition decisions that followed.  It may yet turn into one of those fantastically stupid moves that God yet brings good out of.  The good in this case being less ordinations in a shrinking body that refuses to address problems.

I remember bringing it up in passing with my field work pastor.  His response was "what are you going to do, transfer?"   

Well, Mark, I did get to take two classes there.  History 100 and Hermeneutics.  Oh and we used the gym for intramurals.  So I guess it was worth it.  ;)

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 28, 2020, 08:40:03 PM
Sometimes it’s an optical illusion when something is built. People look at the new facilities and then believe the illusion that an organization is thriving. Ambassador College up in Pasadena was a great example of that. When one walks through the campus built by Garner Ted Armstrong, one can see buildings that were super expensive an opulent and also quite empty. Simply because an organization does something doesn’t mean they are doing the right thing. In Orange we say, “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  The sieve for an idea or boondoggle, has to go through the questioning of “is this is the right thing do to and why?”

I helped raise money for the chapel as a student working in the then fledgling advancement office, I used to pick up Dr. Preus from STL. Raising that money was relatively simple and easy. The CBC Campus purchase could never answer the question, “to what end?” Just an aside, simply to put in women’s restrooms there was an overwhelming cost because they had almost exclusively men’s restrooms.  The libraries at both seminaries are gorgeous and the volumes they house and students they serve are mission critical.

Now let’s get moving on a fresh and vital vision for our LCMS. We have resources and money. Perhaps I’m begging the question, “What should we do?” “Or what is our preferred future?”

Tim,

I’m currently in the throes of researching and dissertating amid the anxious reality and prospect of institutional collapse.  I start here because I don’t know if we are in a position yet to answer this question honestly and authentically. I agree with Mark Brown’s point a few pages back that there is a lot of death ahead. I understand this in both metaphorical and literal terms. And I don’t know if we can actually make some in roads to your question until these things occur.  I'm wondering if we actually tend to get in the way more than we realize.

I was reminded just a few moments ago of Camus’ great work The Plague and its message of duty and hard work in the midst of a sober and realistic outlook.  Again, I'm not convinced we are there yet. At least I don’t get that sense presently.  Examples like FiveTwo, Dwelling 1:14, and now Red Letter Challenge all strike me as models and efforts of the past being repackaged for the present.  I’m personally at a point in which I just ignore such things.  And are our attraction to such things just representative of our own denial at work?  I’m sure there are others that can be cited that I’ve just forgotten.  I’ve cited this Karl Rahner quote before but I can’t help but ponder its wisdom, “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.”  The thing is you can’t commodify authentic faith, you can’t even systematize it, we can certainly aid in its growth, but like the movement of the Spirit it is deeply mysterious.  We certainly need to remain open to the Spirit’s work, but not at the expense of the present moment’s reality, however tragic and ugly.

I hope that makes sense.

Peace,
Scott+

I'm right with Scott on most of what he says.  Amos is basically my patron saint. Most of what I see as prepackaged solutions if I'm a little less cranky is something to do while you wait for the consolation of Israel, if I'm crankier just the outworking of our deep denial.  For some reason God hasn't let us go out of business yet.  I'm beginning to believe we live in Philadelphia.  And the goal is just to hold onto what we have so that no one takes our crown.  And what we have is a gorgeous paid off small New England chapel where the light streams in gold through the glass and its beauty occasionally snags people, a group of believers that are kind (much kinder than I tend to be), the faith handed down, and a willingness to occasionally live it.  And I have to believe that the consolation will not be long in coming, while planning for 84 years.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 28, 2020, 08:40:42 PM
Larry,

You know that I hugely resonate with your dream there, but given our current structure how would it even be possible to begin to implement? Another convention with BRG^&*&^% whatever it was? I mean, I don’t think there will be much to salvage if we go on at the current levels and devise the usual feasibility study authorized to next convention to bring recommendations to the following convention (which may well need another cycle before they’re really ready), etc., etc. etc. Still, it all begins from this (which was Sasse’s great insight) that the renewal of the Church starts with the inner renewal of the preaching office as the office that literally provides that without which the Church cannot live: the saving Gospel proclaimed (not merely discussed!), and THAT, despite its great apparent weakness, is actually stronger than the gates of hell. I’ve often thought in recent years: renewal of congregation, read Von Schenk’s Kingdom Plan; renewal of pastoral office, read Sasse, or even better, devote a year to studying Luther’s postils!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 28, 2020, 08:41:18 PM
My point is that most decisions, the ones that turn out to be good and the ones that turn out to be bad, have people saying it is colossally stupid and people saying it is the obviously right move. In hindsight, one group is always justified. I don’t think “Genius Jack” is simply stupid and made a decision that any seminarian could see was stupid. He might not merit the title Genius, but he was smarter and better informed than the average seminarian. If the CBC purchase had saved the seminary in retrospect, your disdain of the decision would have no consequences and would never come up. But it didn’t. Genius Jack was like a coach calling the play on 4th and goal. It didn’t work. Sports talk radio is abuzz with how idiotic the call was.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 28, 2020, 08:43:01 PM
Jack??? I am confused. I thought it was purchased under Dr. Johnson’s administration.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 28, 2020, 08:43:07 PM


Well, Mark, I did get to take two classes there.  History 100 and Hermeneutics.  Oh and we used the gym for intramurals.  So I guess it was worth it.  ;)

Peace,
Scott+

Oh man, you got to use the gym?  I had two classes there.  Don't remember what they were. But no gym use.  Fond memories.  I'm getting verklempt.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 28, 2020, 08:49:42 PM
Jack??? I am confused. I thought it was purchased under Dr. Johnson’s administration.
Yeah, I wasn’t sure who was being referenced, so I just quoted the term. I assumed the reference was to President Johnson and didn’t know if he went by Jack to those in the know.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 28, 2020, 08:54:07 PM
I was at CSL on staff during the CBC campus purchase - and sale. I was at the Board of Regents meeting when they made the decision to sell. It was not as simple as some appear to be making it out to be, and some of the facts are being placed into a context that doesn't hold water.  But it's always simple to take a few pieces of any story and weave a tale that suits a desired narrative. Especially from a hundred miles away.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 28, 2020, 08:58:40 PM
Mark, of course, a salutary reminder. We are seldom privy to half the story. I remember thinking at the time how great it would be to actually have a seminary PRESENCE on one of the main thoroughfares as opposed to being buried deep off DeMun. My friend, Dr. Lee Maxwell, was actually hopeful that maybe the seminary’s archeology program could be housed in the new facilities and expanded; that turned out to be a pipe dream, however.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 28, 2020, 08:59:58 PM
My point is that most decisions, the ones that turn out to be good and the ones that turn out to be bad, have people saying it is colossally stupid and people saying it is the obviously right move. In hindsight, one group is always justified. I don’t think “Genius Jack” is simply stupid and made a decision that any seminarian could see was stupid. He might not merit the title Genius, but he was smarter and better informed than the average seminarian. If the CBC purchase had saved the seminary in retrospect, your disdain of the decision would have no consequences and would never come up. But it didn’t. Genius Jack was like a coach calling the play on 4th and goal. It didn’t work. Sports talk radio is abuzz with how idiotic the call was.

No, this is part of what we have to stop.  We have to be willing to say when people made really bad decisions. And this was a really bad decision.  Everybody knew it, except the group that pushed it.  I used to guide the investment process for a multi-billion dollar unit of a fortune 10 company.  And it didn't take that background to know it was a terrible decision. (And if we had made decisions that terrible we'd have been fired, not just moved laterally.)  The average seminarian could know it was a terrible decision.  Better informed people should certainly have been able to see it.  When your only way to pay for it is: a) raise tuition on seminarians and b) hope that we can increase giving, it is a really stupid decision.  That should have stopped it right there.  But in the LCMS never does, we never actually question the decisions of those that are in "your tribe."  And anybody who might have said, "you know Jack, this is stupid, here are the reasons" would have just been labeled as not part of the tribe.

The entire thing fell apart in less than three years.  The guy who replaced Jack (Johnson, they called him Jack Johnson when I was there) knew it was so bad that he wrapped it up almost walking into the office.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 28, 2020, 09:09:04 PM
Mark, of course, a salutary reminder. We are seldom privy to half the story. I remember thinking at the time how great it would be to actually have a seminary PRESENCE on one of the main thoroughfares as opposed to being buried deep off DeMun. My friend, Dr. Lee Maxwell, was actually hopeful that maybe the seminary’s archeology program could be housed in the new facilities and expanded; that turned out to be a pipe dream, however.

Yes, there was no shortage of dreams that were placed on the purchase of this building.  A new synod out of the purple palace, a place on the main drag, an archeology program, the moving of a Concordia College to the Seminary, the expansion of the seminary beyond a parochial pastor school, and plenty of other dreams.  And dreams are fine, maybe even necessary.  The problem with all of those is that none of them paid the $10M note.  The people that paid the note were seminarians who are still paying for it years later.

Even Jesus in the scripture says check if you have the funds to build before you start.  That was not done.  And for that reason alone, that was visible to everyone, including the average seminarian, it shouldn't have been done.  And we should be able to admit that.  And know the next time we are pitched dreams ask for a solid business plan first.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 28, 2020, 09:17:00 PM
There is a whole lot of untested assumptions in the most recent two post, Rev. Brown.  You may have been on campus at the time, but seem to be tying facts together in a way that a historian could rip apart when that day comes.

For example, tuition didn't go up because of CBC. Tuition rates went up because the Synod in Convention passed a resolution - pushed by some at the seminaries - that tuition should truthfully reflect the real cost per student of the education was, and that the members of the Synod should rally to provide the funds needed to cover that tuition. That was easy to do at a place where enrollment was low enough for existing endowment and financial aid gifts were pretty much doing that already, but no one thought about what would happen if and when enrollment would balloon under a "free tuition" message. (Side rant: it was never FREE.)  There should have been a RESOLVED or a caveat that capped enrollment when the financial aid ran out. But no one thought of that. And when enrollment ballooned, the specter of running out of space made an appearance.

When the "free tuition" bubble burst - the FIRST time - it was because the Synod got the first half of that resolution; It didn't rally to uphold the second at the same rate. The bubble bursting pointed out the ludicrousness of a financial model based primarily on tuition and financial aid as the source of operating revenue. That led to the push to diversify revenue streams, and one of those streams was/is endowment. The CBC property held the spectre of rental revenue as well.  Mixed into all this was the demographic shift away from single students living in dormitories and eating in dining halls, and the perceived need to build married student apartments back in the early 1990s.

Is the solution to sell the St. Louis semianry because it's worth a gazillion dollars? No. It's not worth a gazillion dollars. Washington Universtiy has zero interest in it. Just building the chapel required dynamite to bust through the layers of rock that lie below all that green grass.

The problem of professors, presidents, boards and bureaucrats (like me) can be solved very easily and inexpensively.  Take us all out to a wall and shoot us for all the incompetence we apparently put to work. Let seminarians run the LCMS.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 28, 2020, 09:28:24 PM
Mark H,

No one would ever agree to shooting such a reasonable man. You have been so faithful through such turmoil. Thank you for your steadfastness. Keep calling us to be honest and faithful. It’s a good thing. God bless your service among us!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 28, 2020, 09:38:34 PM
No, Rev. Weedon. Those of us who are called or appointed into these kinds of roles are (as they say in St. Louis) pond scum. For our "service" to the Church we pay a price no less than any pastor, teacher, deaconess or DCE/DCO bears. Our price paid is often more public, and more publicly judged. That's the only difference.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 28, 2020, 10:00:04 PM
Larry,

You know that I hugely resonate with your dream there, but given our current structure how would it even be possible to begin to implement? Another convention with BRG^&*&^% whatever it was? I mean, I don’t think there will be much to salvage if we go on at the current levels and devise the usual feasibility study authorized to next convention to bring recommendations to the following convention (which may well need another cycle before they’re really ready), etc., etc. etc. Still, it all begins from this (which was Sasse’s great insight) that the renewal of the Church starts with the inner renewal of the preaching office as the office that literally provides that without which the Church cannot live: the saving Gospel proclaimed (not merely discussed!), and THAT, despite its great apparent weakness, is actually stronger than the gates of hell. I’ve often thought in recent years: renewal of congregation, read Von Schenk’s Kingdom Plan; renewal of pastoral office, read Sasse, or even better, devote a year to studying Luther’s postils!

So different strokes for different folks and are a part of the body of Christ, clearly Pastor Weedon is a heart with a great heart for people, the Confessions, and the Scriptures. He clearly has gifts of teaching and preaching. Some have gifts of organization, other of compassion...etc...but we are one. We don’t really need a convention to bring us together, a tipping point in any organization is about 20% sometimes less. Why not gather together and have conversations that are filled with life rather than filled with death? Conventions  are dreary, political and a place where idea go to die. Why not have a more organic conversation?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 28, 2020, 10:07:04 PM
Mark, we are all great visionaries in hindsight but looking through the fog called the future is seldom easy or accurate.  If things turned out only slightly different, it could have been that the purchase was quite the steal of a deal.  I harbor no ill will and neither should others.

FWIW I am tired of the IC being called the purple palace. It is really not all that purple and it is not that much of a palace either.  For a while it seemed a great idea.  Everything does.  But no one could have foreseen the shape of things now.  I am especially tired of the charge against the falsely labelled bureaucrats who work there.  There are fewer there than ever before, they work harder than anyone gives them credit, and without them we would be in dire straights.  I know first hand the labor of love poured out on behalf of the Lord, the work of the Church, and the cause of the Kingdom by the folks so many love to malign.

Will,  The BRTF##$$&&** whatever was the fruit not only of a desire to streamline but to control things from the office that the authors never dreamed would be occupied by somebody else.  It is like the Carver governance model that posits authority in a CEO model.  We have excellent people to manage affairs.  We need not a CEO but a man of the Church as President.  Perhaps the authors were well meaning but the result has not been without conflict.

I still think that the Synod has a possible course of action to see a 60 parish model take place -- if for no other reason than we cannot afford districts, full-time staff, and everything that goes with them.  But we cannot afford to be without bishops who hold us accountable and make sure we are Lutheran in practice and not just in theory.  Perhaps it may take awhile but it could happen.  Younger pastors have less patience for all of this stuff than those who have lived their lives around these institutions.  Apathy toward the Synod can best be countered by bringing the Synod to the smaller level of association where bonds of trust and loyalty can be born which just might extend beyond that dimension.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 28, 2020, 10:40:03 PM
As I recall soon after the Kirkwood facility was built some took to calling it the Synodial Office Building or S O B for short.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 28, 2020, 10:49:35 PM
After the events, people can readily see the mistakes that were made and how stupid and foolish were those in charge. It should have been obvious to Lincoln and his advisors that it was unseemly and impious for the president to go to the theater on Good Friday. Nothing good could come from theater going on such a solemn and holy day.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 28, 2020, 11:04:46 PM
I wholeheartedly agree with you regarding the people working at the IC. My wife worked there in the erstwhile Communications department logging video tapes and working to produce videos for the various departments. It was a close knit group that loved what they were doing. And under appreciated is right...can never go back, but sure can track a new course.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 28, 2020, 11:07:36 PM
Mark, of course, a salutary reminder. We are seldom privy to half the story. I remember thinking at the time how great it would be to actually have a seminary PRESENCE on one of the main thoroughfares as opposed to being buried deep off DeMun. My friend, Dr. Lee Maxwell, was actually hopeful that maybe the seminary’s archeology program could be housed in the new facilities and expanded; that turned out to be a pipe dream, however.

Yes, there was no shortage of dreams that were placed on the purchase of this building.  A new synod out of the purple palace, a place on the main drag, an archeology program, the moving of a Concordia College to the Seminary, the expansion of the seminary beyond a parochial pastor school, and plenty of other dreams.  And dreams are fine, maybe even necessary.  The problem with all of those is that none of them paid the $10M note.  The people that paid the note were seminarians who are still paying for it years later.

Even Jesus in the scripture says check if you have the funds to build before you start.  That was not done.  And for that reason alone, that was visible to everyone, including the average seminarian, it shouldn't have been done.  And we should be able to admit that.  And know the next time we are pitched dreams ask for a solid business plan first.

Just some additions to Mark Brown’s points here with the caveat that I understand that hindsight is 20/20.  Also, Mark Hofman, my intention is not to come across as harsh or unappreciative of all you have done.  Let me begin by stating that 12 years of ordained ministry has afforded me the experience of working with multi-million dollar school budgets.  In light of that, here’s what I have never understood about the CBC purchase:

Why purchase such a space for a seminary whose church body was in decline since the early 1970s?  An LCMS seminary is somewhat different than an LCMS college in that its potential for expansion is limited and directly connected to its congregations.  The idea of it serving as a rental property also strikes me as strange, given all the trends that pointed not to expansion but constriction across the board.  Add to this the enrollment bubble created by the guarantee of free tuition that depleted the endowment.  These indicators would suggest that this was not the best or wisest choice at the purchase time.  I may be off on my timeline, but the purchase has always baffled me for these reasons.  When Mark and I were students, it genuinely seemed like the sem couldn’t figure out what to do with the space.  One would think they would’ve had that figured out before the purchase.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Robert Johnson on December 29, 2020, 12:09:28 AM
"One of Woody Guthrie’s resolutions was to “Wake up and fight.”

But he wasn’t talking about being a bully. Or picking a fight at the local bar.

He was talking about changing the culture.

Well, sort of. He was mostly interested in doing whatever Stalin wanted.

For example, www.laweekly.com/little-known-fact-woody-guthrie-was-a-big-ol-racist/ (http://www.laweekly.com/little-known-fact-woody-guthrie-was-a-big-ol-racist/)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 29, 2020, 12:17:10 AM
My skin is thick enough - and my ego sinfully strong enough - to get over the hurt that drove the earlier sarcastic rant.

After all, Jesus looked at the miles-long list of things I've done (or should have done but didn't) capable of driving my self-esteem into the ground, especially those that were glaringly public. And He dropped the charges. Like my dad told me one time, "Jesus already died on the cross. Get off of it; someone else needs the wood."

Sinful human beings make bad choices based on incomplete information and the blindness of a broken world. It's not my place to write the history of the CBC purchase and sale, or to correct every misunderstanding or misperception. I forget that sometimes, and apologize.

But it sure seems that in some corners of the LCMS, forgiveness - let alone the desire to understand more deeply - is a lie.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 29, 2020, 07:01:37 AM
The point in listing the property expansions was to remind ourselves we are facing something new in recent American Lutheranism: consolidation. We have to identify what is actually mission critical and hold onto that while letting other things go.

For example, I'm not sure the synod could stand the loss of either seminary property. At the same time, the current student population does not need all that property. The seminaries might be combined on one campus and the other property could become the IC, or etc. if there is room for other entities. The current IC, etc. could be sold (guessing the market is currently poor under Covid-19, so timing matters) and there would be a possible consolidation. The chapel of the IC campus could serve an actual congregation as well as being the IC chapel. That would make better use of both properties while letting go of ones with less emotional attachment.

Last I knew, there was also space at CPH and at the properties nearby (though the latter may require restoration).

The other thing proposed here appears to do away with district offices, creating about a hundred regional leaders (6,000 congregations divided into groups of 60). I'm not sure if that is a healthy consolidation and would like to see further comment. What happens to the liquidated assets?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 08:31:40 AM
"One of Woody Guthrie’s resolutions was to “Wake up and fight.”

But he wasn’t talking about being a bully. Or picking a fight at the local bar.

He was talking about changing the culture.

Well, sort of. He was mostly interested in doing whatever Stalin wanted.

For example, www.laweekly.com/little-known-fact-woody-guthrie-was-a-big-ol-racist/ (http://www.laweekly.com/little-known-fact-woody-guthrie-was-a-big-ol-racist/)

Wow!  I'll delete every reference to him I have ever run across (that's the only one)!  Nothing good must have ever come from him (well, son Arlo wrote some good songs, so there's that)!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 08:34:57 AM
For those demanding reparations or admissions of culpability for decisions made decades or even hundreds of years ago, here is a more positive new mission for you:

https://friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk/

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 09:01:27 AM

But it sure seems that in some corners of the LCMS, forgiveness - let alone the desire to understand more deeply - is a lie.

This would take a new thread, cloaked in asbestos.  Call it "The Blame Game" (sarcasm off...)
What drives such a demand for ripping off old scabs - even off of those now and long sainted??  The syndrome isn't  unique to the LCMS, all church organizations seem to be cursed with it, God help us all.

Wouldn't it be nice if this thread addressed moving forward together to the best of the abilities possessed in the church, the disparate gifts that together make the Body of Christ, designed by Him to carry out His purpose on this sorry oblate spheroid?

"Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but . . . against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 6:12
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 29, 2020, 09:14:09 AM
Yes;) forgiveness isn’t merely a theological construct;)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on December 29, 2020, 09:25:24 AM
I think many people need to have an ogre in their life, a bugbear that becomes the focus for everything they think is wrong with whatever their favorite thing is whether it be church, school, or government.
Sometimes the ogre is a real being.
But sometimes, when things are calmer, or actually going the way one prefers, it’s oddly “comforting” to invoke the image of a long past object of loathing. Some people are inclined to settle scores tallied decades ago, or see every small alleged misdeed as a sign that the ogre is returning.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 29, 2020, 09:27:20 AM
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

Had we passed on CBC with the explanation that trends pointed toward long term decline, and now was a time for consolidation rather than expansion, that too could in hindsight be called a failure of leadership, with today’s problems being the fulfillment of yesterday’s self-fulfilling prophesy that decline was coming, a prophesy that took the form of hiding the talent, playing it safe, and planning for decline.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 09:29:18 AM
I think many people need to have an ogre in their life, a bugbear that becomes the focus for everything they think is wrong with whatever their favorite thing is whether it be church, school, or government.
Sometimes the ogre is a real being.
But sometimes, when things are calmer, or actually going the way one prefers, it’s oddly “comforting” to invoke the image of a long past object of loathing. Some people are inclined to settle scores tallied decades ago, or see every small alleged misdeed as a sign that the ogre is returning.

I think you're correct about people's ogres.  Sometimes, they bring comfort via Sun Tze"s "The best defense is a good offense", to avoid taking personal responsibility for doing something constructive and peacemaking.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 09:35:33 AM
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

Had we passed on CBC with the explanation that trends pointed toward long term decline, and now was a time for consolidation rather than expansion, that too could in hindsight be called a failure of leadership, with today’s problems being the fulfillment of yesterday’s self-fulfilling prophesy that decline was coming, a prophesy that took the form of hiding the talent, playing it safe, and planning for decline.

This is an important insight.
It recalled for me (and maybe only for me...) the problems with a "Theology of Glory" in churchdom versus the Theology of the Cross.  A "If its going to be its up to me" Schullerism that isn't really much different in outcome than a "Dare to Fail"  church masochism - not suffering enough, so invest in assuring future martyrdom. 

I think I'll stick with the Theology of the Cross in this post-Christian culture.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 29, 2020, 10:38:07 AM
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

Had we passed on CBC with the explanation that trends pointed toward long term decline, and now was a time for consolidation rather than expansion, that too could in hindsight be called a failure of leadership, with today’s problems being the fulfillment of yesterday’s self-fulfilling prophesy that decline was coming, a prophesy that took the form of hiding the talent, playing it safe, and planning for decline.

This is an important insight.
It recalled for me (and maybe only for me...) the problems with a "Theology of Glory" in churchdom versus the Theology of the Cross.  A "If its going to be its up to me" Schullerism that isn't really much different in outcome than a "Dare to Fail"  church masochism - not suffering enough, so invest in assuring future martyrdom. 

I think I'll stick with the Theology of the Cross in this post-Christian culture.
I think we all will. But not all hopeful thinking is theology of glory. Part of the theology of the cross is bearing up under the unavoidable fact that leaders will make decisions that don't always work out. There still will be church planting. There still will be building projects and capital campaigns. Just fewer and fewer of them. But where they are going on, they need to hope for, and plan for, success. An interesting question to ask is what the money for any of these things should have been spent on instead that would have made things better today. What mission-critical things can be quantified in dollars?

My congregation spent a lot of money on air conditioning for our school a couple of years ago. It was part of our plan to pass down what had received. Will there be an LCMS school in Munster in 40 years? Who knows? We can't control everything. But we could reasonably anticipate the likelihood that IF our school is still functioning in 40 years, it will be air-conditioned. Changing societal standards and the move to electronics in education, longer school years and the possibility of year-round education, state air quality standards, etc. made that seem like a safe bet. Now, if our school goes belly-up in the next years, those hundreds of thousands of dollars will have been wasted. But we shouldn't just assume it will go belly-up because of the theology of the cross. If we can agree with the premise that IF the school is still there in 40 years it will be air-conditioned, that means that at some point the decision will have to be made to spend the money on that. And it will never be mission-critical in the short term. There won't be a budget year when air conditioning for a school that has been functioning without air conditioning for decades will become urgent. But every year we decide not to do it, we kick the can down the road.

Now let's say that the decision proves to be bad, a mere building of bigger barns when the institution's life is about to be demanded of it. Okay. What should we have spent the money on? 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 11:11:20 AM
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

Had we passed on CBC with the explanation that trends pointed toward long term decline, and now was a time for consolidation rather than expansion, that too could in hindsight be called a failure of leadership, with today’s problems being the fulfillment of yesterday’s self-fulfilling prophesy that decline was coming, a prophesy that took the form of hiding the talent, playing it safe, and planning for decline.

This is an important insight.
It recalled for me (and maybe only for me...) the problems with a "Theology of Glory" in churchdom versus the Theology of the Cross.  A "If its going to be its up to me" Schullerism that isn't really much different in outcome than a "Dare to Fail"  church masochism - not suffering enough, so invest in assuring future martyrdom. 

I think I'll stick with the Theology of the Cross in this post-Christian culture.
I think we all will. But not all hopeful thinking is theology of glory. Part of the theology of the cross is bearing up under the unavoidable fact that leaders will make decisions that don't always work out. There still will be church planting. There still will be building projects and capital campaigns. Just fewer and fewer of them. But where they are going on, they need to hope for, and plan for, success. An interesting question to ask is what the money for any of these things should have been spent on instead that would have made things better today. What mission-critical things can be quantified in dollars?

My congregation spent a lot of money on air conditioning for our school a couple of years ago. It was part of our plan to pass down what had received. Will there be an LCMS school in Munster in 40 years? Who knows? We can't control everything. But we could reasonably anticipate the likelihood that IF our school is still functioning in 40 years, it will be air-conditioned. Changing societal standards and the move to electronics in education, longer school years and the possibility of year-round education, state air quality standards, etc. made that seem like a safe bet. Now, if our school goes belly-up in the next years, those hundreds of thousands of dollars will have been wasted. But we shouldn't just assume it will go belly-up because of the theology of the cross. If we can agree with the premise that IF the school is still there in 40 years it will be air-conditioned, that means that at some point the decision will have to be made to spend the money on that. And it will never be mission-critical in the short term. There won't be a budget year when air conditioning for a school that has been functioning without air conditioning for decades will become urgent. But every year we decide not to do it, we kick the can down the road.

Now let's say that the decision proves to be bad, a mere building of bigger barns when the institution's life is about to be demanded of it. Okay. What should we have spent the money on? 

It's hard to get an "opportunity cost" analysis from the future, isn't it?  "The myth of inevitability covers a multitude of sins" (L. M. Secacas).  However...

Somewhere, "Give us this day our daily bread" entered into the equation, and a prayerful decision was made.
Looking back, it was still a prayerful decision.  Rest easy.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on December 29, 2020, 11:24:46 AM
Peter makes some good points that raise other questions.
He writes:
My congregation spent a lot of money on air conditioning for our school a couple of years ago. It was part of our plan to pass down what had received. Will there be an LCMS school in Munster in 40 years? Who knows? We can't control everything. But we could reasonably anticipate the likelihood that IF our school is still functioning in 40 years, it will be air-conditioned.
I muse:
Well, maybe, if the equipment lasts that long, which it probably won't. Or it will be too demanding of power for the time 40 years from now, or inadequate to cool the air because the climate has changed. OTOH if everything stays the way it is now, you're good.

Peter writes:
Changing societal standards and the move to electronics in education, longer school years and the possibility of year-round education, state air quality standards, etc. made that seem like a safe bet. Now, if our school goes belly-up in the next years, those hundreds of thousands of dollars will have been wasted.
I comment:
Well, not "wasted." You just didn't get as much out of your investment as you expected.

Peter:
But we shouldn't just assume it will go belly-up because of the theology of the cross. If we can agree with the premise that IF the school is still there in 40 years it will be air-conditioned, that means that at some point the decision will have to be made to spend the money on that. And it will never be mission-critical in the short term. There won't be a budget year when air conditioning for a school that has been functioning without air conditioning for decades will become urgent. But every year we decide not to do it, we kick the can down the road.
Me:
One of the problems "left behind" by some pastors I know of, and in one interim I served, was "deferred maintenance," that is, not getting things fixed that should have been fixed. You avoid spending a thousand dollars one year, then the next year, and then you get hit with a $40,000 emergency need a year later.

Peter writes:
Now let's say that the decision proves to be bad, a mere building of bigger barns when the institution's life is about to be demanded of it. Okay. What should we have spent the money on?
I comment:
Another good point, because in the long-term, that is, the very long term perspective (or maybe short term, who knows these days?) we haven't a credible clue about when an institution's "life is about to be demanded of it."
We we hang loose and not get ourselves trapped into paralysis by analysis. We take our best shots based on our best thinking even in the midst of uncertainty.
I  liked the ending of "Great Balls of Fire" the bio-pic about Jerry Lee Lewis. His cousin, the preacher Jimmy Swaggert, thinks rock 'n roll and the way Jerry Lee plays the piano is completely "of the Devil." Obviously, the rocker disagrees - or doubts the Devil - and says to his cousin: "Well, if I'm goin' to Hell, I'm goin' there playin' the piano."
Rock on.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on December 29, 2020, 11:54:28 AM
Jerry Lee Lewis celebrated his 85th birthday this year.  Many consider him The
King of RocknRoll. As a youngster his mother enrolled him in the Southwest
Bible Institute in Texas.  He was expelled for his renditions of traditional gospel
songs.  Raised in an Assembly of God church he was always conflicted between
the Devil's music and God's music.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 29, 2020, 11:56:03 AM
My skin is thick enough - and my ego sinfully strong enough - to get over the hurt that drove the earlier sarcastic rant.

After all, Jesus looked at the miles-long list of things I've done (or should have done but didn't) capable of driving my self-esteem into the ground, especially those that were glaringly public. And He dropped the charges. Like my dad told me one time, "Jesus already died on the cross. Get off of it; someone else needs the wood."

Sinful human beings make bad choices based on incomplete information and the blindness of a broken world. It's not my place to write the history of the CBC purchase and sale, or to correct every misunderstanding or misperception. I forget that sometimes, and apologize.

But it sure seems that in some corners of the LCMS, forgiveness - let alone the desire to understand more deeply - is a lie.

You know, I have no beef with you.  Most of the time you have posted here, I've tended to agree with you.  You usually have clearer eyes than most. But on this, I'm sorry.  Playing the victim, oh look at me, some pastor of a tiny church in an inconsequential part of the country is casting aspersions, how will I ever soldier on, it is a good thing I have a thick skin.

I have no problem with forgiveness.  But forgiveness starts with confession.  In this case, exactly what I've been saying, admitting that it was foolish, that we had no actual plan that made sense, that it was all Field of Dreams.  Confession is not rehashing the CYA of past years, or going for the mutual assured destruction of passing along blame to the largest entity ("the synod didn't get the message", "its a broken world").  All of those things may be mostly true.  But none of them are the decisions made by the decision makers here.

And once people admit the foolishness of the endeavor, and the people who bore the real cost (surprise, it wasn't those who made the decisions), then you can actually learn from it.  As long as people are still negotiating the political score, no learning can actually take place.

But this is just what we do.  Overlook and paper over the poor decisions of the elders while we eat the young and castigate them being the ones present when the music stopped.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 29, 2020, 12:02:04 PM
My skin is thick enough - and my ego sinfully strong enough - to get over the hurt that drove the earlier sarcastic rant.

After all, Jesus looked at the miles-long list of things I've done (or should have done but didn't) capable of driving my self-esteem into the ground, especially those that were glaringly public. And He dropped the charges. Like my dad told me one time, "Jesus already died on the cross. Get off of it; someone else needs the wood."

Sinful human beings make bad choices based on incomplete information and the blindness of a broken world. It's not my place to write the history of the CBC purchase and sale, or to correct every misunderstanding or misperception. I forget that sometimes, and apologize.

But it sure seems that in some corners of the LCMS, forgiveness - let alone the desire to understand more deeply - is a lie.

You know, I have no beef with you.  Most of the time you have posted here, I've tended to agree with you.  You usually have clearer eyes than most. But on this, I'm sorry.  Playing the victim, oh look at me, some pastor of a tiny church in an inconsequential part of the country is casting aspersions, how will I ever soldier on, it is a good thing I have a thick skin.

I have no problem with forgiveness.  But forgiveness starts with confession.  In this case, exactly what I've been saying, admitting that it was foolish, that we had no actual plan that made sense, that it was all Field of Dreams.  Confession is not rehashing the CYA of past years, or going for the mutual assured destruction of passing along blame to the largest entity ("the synod didn't get the message", "its a broken world").  All of those things may be mostly true.  But none of them are the decisions made by the decision makers here.

And once people admit the foolishness of the endeavor, and the people who bore the real cost (surprise, it wasn't those who made the decisions), then you can actually learn from it.  As long as people are still negotiating the political score, no learning can actually take place.

But this is just what we do.  Overlook and paper over the poor decisions of the elders while we eat the young and castigate them being the ones present when the music stopped.
Confession and forgiveness is a matter of sin, not bad decision decision-making. Are you saying the leadership sinned by purchasing CBC? That they need to confess and receive absolution? That doesn't seem right to me. We can learn from past missteps without thinking of them in terms of spiritual weakness or the works of the sinful nature. They tried something that some people thought was smart, but that many seminarians thought was dumb. And it didn't work. Okay. Is that something in need of a Confessor?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 29, 2020, 12:13:18 PM
Mark, of course, a salutary reminder. We are seldom privy to half the story. I remember thinking at the time how great it would be to actually have a seminary PRESENCE on one of the main thoroughfares as opposed to being buried deep off DeMun. My friend, Dr. Lee Maxwell, was actually hopeful that maybe the seminary’s archeology program could be housed in the new facilities and expanded; that turned out to be a pipe dream, however.

Yes, there was no shortage of dreams that were placed on the purchase of this building.  A new synod out of the purple palace, a place on the main drag, an archeology program, the moving of a Concordia College to the Seminary, the expansion of the seminary beyond a parochial pastor school, and plenty of other dreams.  And dreams are fine, maybe even necessary.  The problem with all of those is that none of them paid the $10M note.  The people that paid the note were seminarians who are still paying for it years later.

Even Jesus in the scripture says check if you have the funds to build before you start.  That was not done.  And for that reason alone, that was visible to everyone, including the average seminarian, it shouldn't have been done.  And we should be able to admit that.  And know the next time we are pitched dreams ask for a solid business plan first.


And yet, seldom do congregations ask for solid business plans when creating and approving a budget. The most common process I've seen has been: "This is what we budgeted last year. We need to raise it a little for inflation." When I came to my last parish, they had a budget that was $70,000 over their income. They knew that there were budget items that wouldn't get paid. Within a couple of years we had pretty much a balanced budget. We started with our anticipated income (based on the income of the previous 12 months and whether or not it had been rising or declining from previous years). Then we tried to match anticipated expenses with the income.


I have run into opposition to this process of seeking a balanced budget. "What about faith?" is asked. "We trust that God will provide." One of my responses: "God hasn't provided enough income to cover the budget for the past five years, what makes you think this year will be different?"


I've seen that "faith" issue come up not only in congregations but in camp boards, at the Bible School I attended. Sometimes it seems that faith-based businesses means we don't have to trust good business-sense because we trust God.


Perhaps like the earlier posts about Jerry Lee Lewis and thinking only dichotomy: there's God's way of doing business (by faith) and the Devil's way (by secular wisdom). Mark Hanson would call the ELCA "the church of the AND" (or something like that): sinner AND saint, Jesus is human AND divine, it is bread AND Christ's body, etc. We can also say that churches need business wisdom AND faith. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 29, 2020, 12:23:09 PM
My skin is thick enough - and my ego sinfully strong enough - to get over the hurt that drove the earlier sarcastic rant.

After all, Jesus looked at the miles-long list of things I've done (or should have done but didn't) capable of driving my self-esteem into the ground, especially those that were glaringly public. And He dropped the charges. Like my dad told me one time, "Jesus already died on the cross. Get off of it; someone else needs the wood."

Sinful human beings make bad choices based on incomplete information and the blindness of a broken world. It's not my place to write the history of the CBC purchase and sale, or to correct every misunderstanding or misperception. I forget that sometimes, and apologize.

But it sure seems that in some corners of the LCMS, forgiveness - let alone the desire to understand more deeply - is a lie.

You know, I have no beef with you.  Most of the time you have posted here, I've tended to agree with you.  You usually have clearer eyes than most. But on this, I'm sorry.  Playing the victim, oh look at me, some pastor of a tiny church in an inconsequential part of the country is casting aspersions, how will I ever soldier on, it is a good thing I have a thick skin.

I have no problem with forgiveness.  But forgiveness starts with confession.  In this case, exactly what I've been saying, admitting that it was foolish, that we had no actual plan that made sense, that it was all Field of Dreams.  Confession is not rehashing the CYA of past years, or going for the mutual assured destruction of passing along blame to the largest entity ("the synod didn't get the message", "its a broken world").  All of those things may be mostly true.  But none of them are the decisions made by the decision makers here.

And once people admit the foolishness of the endeavor, and the people who bore the real cost (surprise, it wasn't those who made the decisions), then you can actually learn from it.  As long as people are still negotiating the political score, no learning can actually take place.

But this is just what we do.  Overlook and paper over the poor decisions of the elders while we eat the young and castigate them being the ones present when the music stopped.

You've got to get past that thing about elder blame and elder removal, Mark.  Or not; up to you , but it makes your 20/20 hindsight screen grumpy, almost bitter, as you obviate against the old decisions, and for the oldster retired pastors to step off from taking vacancies or small parishes so that some tbd team of younger wiser folks can redistribute congregations and their assets. 

It gets in the way of the actual dialog about decision process.  For instance in the case of the CBC property, it was illuminating to me to refresh that time-frame and see that this was also when the "free tuition" game was played.  So that magical thinking concerning financing combined with unrealistic plans regarding a growth pattern for training.  That it wasn't sustainable fits in a more complete picture.  The underlying reality, of older and older lay membership with less and less kids/grandkids coming into the picture, which was the case 20 years ago, and is now playing out, has always been the prime factor even as it's less able to be included as a factor at upper levels in Protestant denominational futures.  The virus, in my opinion, has actually assisted in putting that major deficit on the full screen not only in our denomination, but around the horn in Protestantism and in many ways in Christianity in this country and Europe.  The process has been failing because the underlying reality has primarily been faced at the local level. 

My recent favorite is calling some friends and finding they were on their way to the Christmas Eve Midnight Candlelight Service.  I asked how slowly they were driving, given the time.  They responded that the midnight service was now being held at 2 PM so the members could go home to dinner.  Which is at 4.  No need for candles.  Plenty of sunlight at 2PM.  Entirely senior citizen congregation.  Anyway.

The senior-aged pastors caring for senior-aged smaller congregations also has a shelf life.  The process of determination is not going to be best approached by head-butting, in my opinion.  Some of the oldsters might also possess a little wisdom, might actually help move things along, might actually be (uh-oh) in wider church leadership.  Even from your point of view, you should at least be able to say "with God all things are possible."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 29, 2020, 12:27:39 PM
My skin is thick enough - and my ego sinfully strong enough - to get over the hurt that drove the earlier sarcastic rant.

After all, Jesus looked at the miles-long list of things I've done (or should have done but didn't) capable of driving my self-esteem into the ground, especially those that were glaringly public. And He dropped the charges. Like my dad told me one time, "Jesus already died on the cross. Get off of it; someone else needs the wood."

Sinful human beings make bad choices based on incomplete information and the blindness of a broken world. It's not my place to write the history of the CBC purchase and sale, or to correct every misunderstanding or misperception. I forget that sometimes, and apologize.

But it sure seems that in some corners of the LCMS, forgiveness - let alone the desire to understand more deeply - is a lie.

You know, I have no beef with you.  Most of the time you have posted here, I've tended to agree with you.  You usually have clearer eyes than most. But on this, I'm sorry.  Playing the victim, oh look at me, some pastor of a tiny church in an inconsequential part of the country is casting aspersions, how will I ever soldier on, it is a good thing I have a thick skin.

I have no problem with forgiveness.  But forgiveness starts with confession.  In this case, exactly what I've been saying, admitting that it was foolish, that we had no actual plan that made sense, that it was all Field of Dreams.  Confession is not rehashing the CYA of past years, or going for the mutual assured destruction of passing along blame to the largest entity ("the synod didn't get the message", "its a broken world").  All of those things may be mostly true.  But none of them are the decisions made by the decision makers here.

And once people admit the foolishness of the endeavor, and the people who bore the real cost (surprise, it wasn't those who made the decisions), then you can actually learn from it.  As long as people are still negotiating the political score, no learning can actually take place.

But this is just what we do.  Overlook and paper over the poor decisions of the elders while we eat the young and castigate them being the ones present when the music stopped.
Confession and forgiveness is a matter of sin, not bad decision decision-making. Are you saying the leadership sinned by purchasing CBC? That they need to confess and receive absolution? That doesn't seem right to me. We can learn from past missteps without thinking of them in terms of spiritual weakness or the works of the sinful nature. They tried something that some people thought was smart, but that many seminarians thought was dumb. And it didn't work. Okay. Is that something in need of a Confessor?

I was not the one that put it in the forgiveness category.  That comes from Mark Hofman. I just picked up his language.

But the pattern of confession and absolution is still a good one, even if this is not (and it isn't) a matter of sin.  If you can't admit really bad decisions, you will never learn what lead you to make them.  And we collectively never admit really bad decisions.  We bury them.  And then blame those who have to labor under them for not being able to turn the 5 crumbs left into a meal for 5000.  This is all part of the larger pattern of denial.  Actually addressing consolidation would mean coming to terms with how we got here.  Which the best analogy might be from the finance world.  Beta is just how the market at large moves.  Any individual entity is effected by the Beta water level.  Alpha is individual decisions made by individual entities. The return is the sum of alpha and beta.  Yes, there is a whole bunch of beta in where we are now.  But our alpha has not been great either.  We need to make better individual decisions that are cognizant of the world we live in.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 29, 2020, 12:33:27 PM
I am reminded of a TV game show "The Chase." At some point, contestants must chose how much money they will play for. They could stay wit the amount earned so far for a moderate challenge, or they could play for more money against a more difficult and thus risky challenge, or they could settle for playing for less money but against an easier challenge. In any case, if they do not meet the challenge successfully, they lose the money they earned so far and are out of the game. Most often they decide to "play it safe" and forego the higher but riskier challenge and play for the amount earned. At which point they are usually reminded that they are still not safe, there was an even less riskier challenge and contestants have lost even against the "safest" bet.


Decisions that we make, to build or not to build, to expand or sell off resources, make improvements of stay with current facilities are all bets against the future. Only after the future comes will we know if the bet payed off or a different decision would have been the correct one. The wisest and smartest at times chooses poorly. This time last year, who would have chosen in ways that took into account the disruptions that the covid pandemic and civil unrest that 2020 brought. Would you say that the people who who invested their life savings in opening a bar or a restaurant in a good location only to see it shuttered soon after opening by the Covid shut downs and then see it burnt to the ground in civil unrest had invested foolishly?


We make the best choices that we know to make at the time. When we choose we know tat we might guess wrong and endure the humiliation of the legions who will tell us how foolish and irresponsible we were. Yet to not choose would itself be a choice that could be wrong. How would you like to be one of those people who dithered about investing in the Washington startup Microsoft and missed the opportunity?


In hindsight we can usually see the warning signs that if headed could have pointed to better choices. But life is littered with people who headed the warning signs before them only to discover that they saw the wrong warning signs or interpreted them poorly.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 29, 2020, 12:55:39 PM
You've got to get past that thing about elder blame and elder removal, Mark.  Or not; up to you , but it makes your 20/20 hindsight screen grumpy, almost bitter, as you obviate against the old decisions, and for the oldster retired pastors to step off from taking vacancies or small parishes so that some tbd team of younger wiser folks can redistribute congregations and their assets. 

It gets in the way of the actual dialog about decision process.  For instance in the case of the CBC property, it was illuminating to me to refresh that time-frame and see that this was also when the "free tuition" game was played.  So that magical thinking concerning financing combined with unrealistic plans regarding a growth pattern for training.  That it wasn't sustainable fits in a more complete picture.  The underlying reality, of older and older lay membership with less and less kids/grandkids coming into the picture, which was the case 20 years ago, and is now playing out, has always been the prime factor even as it's less able to be included as a factor at upper levels in Protestant denominational futures.  The virus, in my opinion, has actually assisted in putting that major deficit on the full screen not only in our denomination, but around the horn in Protestantism and in many ways in Christianity in this country and Europe.  The process has been failing because the underlying reality has primarily been faced at the local level. 

My recent favorite is calling some friends and finding they were on their way to the Christmas Eve Midnight Candlelight Service.  I asked how slowly they were driving, given the time.  They responded that the midnight service was now being held at 2 PM so the members could go home to dinner.  Which is at 4.  No need for candles.  Plenty of sunlight at 2PM.  Entirely senior citizen congregation.  Anyway.

The senior-aged pastors caring for senior-aged smaller congregations also has a shelf life.  The process of determination is not going to be best approached by head-butting, in my opinion.  Some of the oldsters might also possess a little wisdom, might actually help move things along, might actually be (uh-oh) in wider church leadership.  Even from your point of view, you should at least be able to say "with God all things are possible."

Dave Benke

Your second paragraph is what in various manifestations all my conversations and efforts for 15 years have been about.  Stop the magical thinking.  Look at things with clear eyes.  And make plans for where we actually are at, including everything that is already baked in but not fully exposed yet.  And make those decisions now, while you still have some of the strength of the elders.

And your first paragraph, really the first sentence, is true.  But in my 15 years of experience trying to address this, the denial is so deep, the only thing I've ever been halfway successful with is being a jerk, which lets someone like say Scott not be a jerk but be the reasonable person and move things in the right direction.

As far as "with God, all things are possible", true.  But that moves back to the mystical.  And on good days I can see it happening at a local level.  It has been a long time since anything institutional has felt hopeful.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 29, 2020, 01:06:14 PM
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. Proverbs 15:22

Some how we competed at seminary for grades, in athletics and for adulation. We also never really learned how to be anything other than sole proprietors. Seeing counsel isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. If a person is pretty much thinking they are the end all be all of any discussion be it theological, sociological, administrative etc, then they are doomed to fail and set up a dichotomy of win and loss. Our synod seems to have devolved into that nationally. Perhaps widening the conversation rather than constricting it would be helpful.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark_Hofman on December 29, 2020, 02:12:35 PM
Rev. Brown,

I confess that, as an appointed leader at Concordia Seminary and now at corporate Synod headquarters, I have made many bad decisions. That list is long. I am sorry for those that ultimately ended up with seminary graduates bearing an unfair burden, most likely in the form of student loan debt. The information to which I had access at the seminary ultimately led me to believe that it was time to leave that place and seek a venue of service to the Church somewhere else. Now, instead of seminarians, I see missionaries and programmatic directors (Youth, Black Ministry, domestic/international grants,...) bearing the load unfairly.  My wife and son often bear the burden of my sin, like many others who vocationally serve in the church. That is not a "play victim" statement. It is a confession of truth, a statement I pray you will accept as a sincere one.

I am sorry that one of my posts came across as a "poor me".  I was (still am) angry when I read through a thread that - in places - does not bear out our Lord's command to "love one another" and forgive them as He has forgiven us. When my good friend and teammate Gary Thies signs off as "Old Missionary Gary" I return the favor by signing "Old Bureaucrat Mark".  I do not desire pity or sympathy for myself. I knew the score when I accepted an appointment to serve in a position that would put my name on public documents (like the 2020 State of the Synod report). I was prepped for that responsibility by instructors in a vigorous MBA program.

Pronouns and vague labels ("the administration") loop in a whole bunch of people who don't deserve the negative reputation labels can imply.

President John Johnson did not make the decision to purchase the CBC campus, nor did President Dale Meyer make the decision to sell that property. Neither did the CFO/COO/Comptroller or whatever label needs to be applied. If I were angry about it, I'd share my feelings directly with those who were elected by the Synod in Convention to serve on the Seminary Board of Regents at the time. Recommendations were (and are) placed in front of the Regents in matters of finance.  They set tuition rates. They set the budget for financial aid. They determine if facilities need renovation, demolition, or new/replacements are to be built. And when they make bad decisions, the Synod in Convention removes them and puts new people in place.

I happened to be with the Regents on the day when the recommendation came before them to dump the CBC campus as a bad decision. I was not with them when the recommendation came to purchase that property from a private foundation that had secured it while a decision was made - before someone else could grab it. 

Regents have, perhaps, a day or two to make those decisions. They do not live the process for weeks or months, nor are they always afforded time to push a decision off until the next quarterly meeting to dig deeper. Sitting in the room with them as they debate those issues, often without the benefit of a complete and thorough understanding of the variables, one almost feels empathy. 

Wise counsel from a broad audience is possible when there is sufficient time. It is the way to go. The best management counsel I ever received was from my first Synod "boss" who, as he left for another role, pulled me to the side and said, "You're in (temporary) charge now. Do the smart thing. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and get the hell out of their way."

As you know all too well, I'm sure, when time is of the essence the call has to be made without the luxury of seeking counsel. You've had to make those solo decisions knowing you'll deal with the fallout and get all that wonderful "counsel" downstream. I would hope that people afford you a little more grace and understanding when that happens. This year I had to make a solo call that saw 12 of my team members separated from the organization through no fault of their own. I could not seek counsel in that situation. The buck, and the blame, falls on my desk.

With CBC, under Missouri nonprofit law, the buck stops with the Board. Be angry with the individuals on the Board of Regents who, at the time, approved an action item to purchase the property, implement a full-tuition guarantee, and more. They could have said no, but didn't. If I could remember all of their names, I'd be inclined to list them; but too many years have passed. My part in all of that was failing to raise the money to fulfill all of the dreams and visions and expectations people had. Where that added to student indebtedness, I am at fault.

I regret that, and am sorry for it. I beg Christ's forgiveness, and I sincerely ask for yours.




Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 29, 2020, 02:59:18 PM
Quote
The other thing proposed here appears to do away with district offices, creating about a hundred regional leaders (6,000 congregations divided into groups of 60). I'm not sure if that is a healthy consolidation and would like to see further comment. What happens to the liquidated assets?

Part-time doing just ecclesiastical supervision -- not even close to the bevy of people and their total compensation on the district's payrolls now.  If the part-time people need help, the old model was to supply a vicar but given the numbers of congregations not quite able to pay for a full-time pastor and benefits, it would not be hard to find good people and reimburse the congregations for part of their time.  I am NOT think of a CoP type group of 100 meeting four times a year but perhaps an annual meeting just to bring everyone up to speed.  Again, ONLY ecclesiastical supervision.  No handling district staff or budgets or scouting properties or being a one man fire department to go wherever flames burn etc... 

As far as their liquid assets, they belong to the Synod and could be sold off and the money put into the endowment to help support starting new congregations.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 29, 2020, 03:26:45 PM
Quote
The other thing proposed here appears to do away with district offices, creating about a hundred regional leaders (6,000 congregations divided into groups of 60). I'm not sure if that is a healthy consolidation and would like to see further comment. What happens to the liquidated assets?

Part-time doing just ecclesiastical supervision -- not even close to the bevy of people and their total compensation on the district's payrolls now.  If the part-time people need help, the old model was to supply a vicar but given the numbers of congregations not quite able to pay for a full-time pastor and benefits, it would not be hard to find good people and reimburse the congregations for part of their time.  I am NOT think of a CoP type group of 100 meeting four times a year but perhaps an annual meeting just to bring everyone up to speed.  Again, ONLY ecclesiastical supervision.  No handling district staff or budgets or scouting properties or being a one man fire department to go wherever flames burn etc... 

As far as their liquid assets, they belong to the Synod and could be sold off and the money put into the endowment to help support starting new congregations.

I'm not in a position to discuss the basic "Devolution of Districts" proposal, simply advising that one might best count the beans/tithes/grants/et.al. that create District (of Synod) assets before doling them out in any form.

For example, last I heard, the Pacific Southwest District Offices are in a free-standing building owned by Synod that is on lands titled to Concordia University Irvine (or its previous names or perhaps a larger body), built there under the University's City approved Master Plan (as Amended) and limited to uses that are adjuncts of the University.  The rest of the "neigborhood" consists of single family residences and their very vocal owners.  No beans to count there.

How many Districts are actually housed in Synod/District owned properties and what are the limitations on use for those that are Synod/District owned?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 29, 2020, 04:07:14 PM
Rev. Brown,

I confess that, as an appointed leader at Concordia Seminary and now at corporate Synod headquarters, I have made many bad decisions. That list is long. I am sorry for those that ultimately ended up with seminary graduates bearing an unfair burden, most likely in the form of student loan debt. The information to which I had access at the seminary ultimately led me to believe that it was time to leave that place and seek a venue of service to the Church somewhere else. Now, instead of seminarians, I see missionaries and programmatic directors (Youth, Black Ministry, domestic/international grants,...) bearing the load unfairly.  My wife and son often bear the burden of my sin, like many others who vocationally serve in the church. That is not a "play victim" statement. It is a confession of truth, a statement I pray you will accept as a sincere one.

I am sorry that one of my posts came across as a "poor me".  I was (still am) angry when I read through a thread that - in places - does not bear out our Lord's command to "love one another" and forgive them as He has forgiven us. When my good friend and teammate Gary Thies signs off as "Old Missionary Gary" I return the favor by signing "Old Bureaucrat Mark".  I do not desire pity or sympathy for myself. I knew the score when I accepted an appointment to serve in a position that would put my name on public documents (like the 2020 State of the Synod report). I was prepped for that responsibility by instructors in a vigorous MBA program.

Pronouns and vague labels ("the administration") loop in a whole bunch of people who don't deserve the negative reputation labels can imply.

President John Johnson did not make the decision to purchase the CBC campus, nor did President Dale Meyer make the decision to sell that property. Neither did the CFO/COO/Comptroller or whatever label needs to be applied. If I were angry about it, I'd share my feelings directly with those who were elected by the Synod in Convention to serve on the Seminary Board of Regents at the time. Recommendations were (and are) placed in front of the Regents in matters of finance.  They set tuition rates. They set the budget for financial aid. They determine if facilities need renovation, demolition, or new/replacements are to be built. And when they make bad decisions, the Synod in Convention removes them and puts new people in place.

I happened to be with the Regents on the day when the recommendation came before them to dump the CBC campus as a bad decision. I was not with them when the recommendation came to purchase that property from a private foundation that had secured it while a decision was made - before someone else could grab it. 

Regents have, perhaps, a day or two to make those decisions. They do not live the process for weeks or months, nor are they always afforded time to push a decision off until the next quarterly meeting to dig deeper. Sitting in the room with them as they debate those issues, often without the benefit of a complete and thorough understanding of the variables, one almost feels empathy. 

Wise counsel from a broad audience is possible when there is sufficient time. It is the way to go. The best management counsel I ever received was from my first Synod "boss" who, as he left for another role, pulled me to the side and said, "You're in (temporary) charge now. Do the smart thing. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are and get the hell out of their way."

As you know all too well, I'm sure, when time is of the essence the call has to be made without the luxury of seeking counsel. You've had to make those solo decisions knowing you'll deal with the fallout and get all that wonderful "counsel" downstream. I would hope that people afford you a little more grace and understanding when that happens. This year I had to make a solo call that saw 12 of my team members separated from the organization through no fault of their own. I could not seek counsel in that situation. The buck, and the blame, falls on my desk.

With CBC, under Missouri nonprofit law, the buck stops with the Board. Be angry with the individuals on the Board of Regents who, at the time, approved an action item to purchase the property, implement a full-tuition guarantee, and more. They could have said no, but didn't. If I could remember all of their names, I'd be inclined to list them; but too many years have passed. My part in all of that was failing to raise the money to fulfill all of the dreams and visions and expectations people had. Where that added to student indebtedness, I am at fault.

I regret that, and am sorry for it. I beg Christ's forgiveness, and I sincerely ask for yours.

That right there is about as close as I have ever seen in my 36 confirmed years in the LCMS to an open admission.  Thank you.

And if we had such open conversation as that on a regular basis, we might actually be able to address decision process troubles.  The two biggest ones seeming to be:
a) we keep being put in positions where snap decision are being made (buy the CBC, fire 12 people) and
b) while a BOD/Regents might be the final approving body, those bodies' responsibility should never be to reverse a decision by the executive team (unless they are going to fire the executive), but their responsibility is to understand and evaluate the decision process that lead to the recommendation before them.  And maybe then to fire the executive team that lead a bad process.  It would seem like we need either better staffing of those boards, or we need some better training for those who do serve.  (A side part of this is of course the alignment of board and executive institutional vision. The board should get to pick its executive team. We've been waging guerrilla warfare through the elected positions which hampers all of that.)

And I would tend to say that both of those things are trouble up and down the LCMS.  As we've been discussing here, because we can't make any decisions until in absolute crisis mode, every decision comes across as a snap one.  That is how you end up with gofundme's asking for the pastor's salary. 
Part of the problem is the lack of any rigorous planning process that includes people at different levels of the institution at appropriate times.  Because we all exist on multiple levels, most of us know more.  We know things are coming down the pike.  But that information that we know seems to be unable to get folded into planning early enough.

Which really is the second problem.  An institution has to have a vision.  It can disagree internally on some practical things, but it can't on basic identity. Can we from Synod, Inc. to the lowliest circuit of the Eastern District, agree on what that identity is?  Because if we can't, guys like Mark Hofman could be admin and fundraising geniuses, and it will never work.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 29, 2020, 05:48:56 PM
You've got to get past that thing about elder blame and elder removal, Mark.  Or not; up to you , but it makes your 20/20 hindsight screen grumpy, almost bitter, as you obviate against the old decisions, and for the oldster retired pastors to step off from taking vacancies or small parishes so that some tbd team of younger wiser folks can redistribute congregations and their assets. 

It gets in the way of the actual dialog about decision process.  For instance in the case of the CBC property, it was illuminating to me to refresh that time-frame and see that this was also when the "free tuition" game was played.  So that magical thinking concerning financing combined with unrealistic plans regarding a growth pattern for training.  That it wasn't sustainable fits in a more complete picture.  The underlying reality, of older and older lay membership with less and less kids/grandkids coming into the picture, which was the case 20 years ago, and is now playing out, has always been the prime factor even as it's less able to be included as a factor at upper levels in Protestant denominational futures.  The virus, in my opinion, has actually assisted in putting that major deficit on the full screen not only in our denomination, but around the horn in Protestantism and in many ways in Christianity in this country and Europe.  The process has been failing because the underlying reality has primarily been faced at the local level. 

My recent favorite is calling some friends and finding they were on their way to the Christmas Eve Midnight Candlelight Service.  I asked how slowly they were driving, given the time.  They responded that the midnight service was now being held at 2 PM so the members could go home to dinner.  Which is at 4.  No need for candles.  Plenty of sunlight at 2PM.  Entirely senior citizen congregation.  Anyway.

The senior-aged pastors caring for senior-aged smaller congregations also has a shelf life.  The process of determination is not going to be best approached by head-butting, in my opinion.  Some of the oldsters might also possess a little wisdom, might actually help move things along, might actually be (uh-oh) in wider church leadership.  Even from your point of view, you should at least be able to say "with God all things are possible."

Dave Benke

Your second paragraph is what in various manifestations all my conversations and efforts for 15 years have been about.  Stop the magical thinking.  Look at things with clear eyes.  And make plans for where we actually are at, including everything that is already baked in but not fully exposed yet.  And make those decisions now, while you still have some of the strength of the elders.

And your first paragraph, really the first sentence, is true.  But in my 15 years of experience trying to address this, the denial is so deep, the only thing I've ever been halfway successful with is being a jerk, which lets someone like say Scott not be a jerk but be the reasonable person and move things in the right direction.

As far as "with God, all things are possible", true.  But that moves back to the mystical.  And on good days I can see it happening at a local level.  It has been a long time since anything institutional has felt hopeful.

Thanks for these words - honest and helpful.  You and Scott - one bad, one good.  It is the way of the brotherhood.  Santa knows - be good for goodness sake!

An actual conversation from the early 2000s at a national LCMS Convention.  My brother Bob was at the time shepherding a congregation very near to the congregation of one Walter Otten.  Walter Otten sees the two of us hobnobbing in the hallway, strides up and says, "Two brothers - how can one be so good and one be so bad?"  In the way of actual brothers, Bob and I at the exact same moment responded with the same exact words - "You must get that a lot!"  Of course, Bob and I broke up laughing.  Walter, to his eternal credit, had no idea what we were talking about and went on his way.  Which only made our laughter last longer.  C'mon, man.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 29, 2020, 06:02:19 PM
Confession and forgiveness is a matter of sin, not bad decision decision-making. Are you saying the leadership sinned by purchasing CBC? That they need to confess and receive absolution? That doesn't seem right to me. We can learn from past missteps without thinking of them in terms of spiritual weakness or the works of the sinful nature. They tried something that some people thought was smart, but that many seminarians thought was dumb. And it didn't work. Okay. Is that something in need of a Confessor?


Every time ἁμαρτάνω is used in Matthew and Luke, it's primarily about sins we commit against one another Mt 18:15, 21; 27:4; Lu 15:18, 21; 17:3, 4. (It doesn't occur in Mark. In John it's always related to suffering for committing sins: 5:14; 8:11; 9:2, 3.) I've suggested that "missing the mark" against one another in the congregation are seldom big moral failings or even disobeying a commandment; but "missing the mark," can simple be failing to meet expectations. Some examples: the committee chair who fails to call meetings or to adequately prepare for the meeting; the volunteer who fails to show up to usher or greet or sing in the choir, etc.; the members who don’t live up to their financial pledges; a treasurer who fails to balance the books or pay the bills on time or have a report ready for a council meeting; the members who, with nothing to stop them, haven’t worshiped with or contributed to the community for a year or more. All of these people have “missed the mark”? They have failed to live up to the expectations the church has placed on them or what they placed on themselves.


Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 29, 2020, 06:06:32 PM
Quote
The other thing proposed here appears to do away with district offices, creating about a hundred regional leaders (6,000 congregations divided into groups of 60). I'm not sure if that is a healthy consolidation and would like to see further comment. What happens to the liquidated assets?

Part-time doing just ecclesiastical supervision -- not even close to the bevy of people and their total compensation on the district's payrolls now.  If the part-time people need help, the old model was to supply a vicar but given the numbers of congregations not quite able to pay for a full-time pastor and benefits, it would not be hard to find good people and reimburse the congregations for part of their time.  I am NOT think of a CoP type group of 100 meeting four times a year but perhaps an annual meeting just to bring everyone up to speed.  Again, ONLY ecclesiastical supervision.  No handling district staff or budgets or scouting properties or being a one man fire department to go wherever flames burn etc... 

As far as their liquid assets, they belong to the Synod and could be sold off and the money put into the endowment to help support starting new congregations.

For the record, I think the old chestnut of 100 districts of 60 is a bad idea.  Very bad.  It would serve to further fragment and balkanize, it fails to take into account in its part-timiness the scope and difficulty of ecclesiastical supervision, create an even bigger mess for worker movement, push some of those 100 guys into an early grave, and it gives off a money-grab vibe in the "endowment to start new congregations" mode even though in probably half the cases there's no money to grab. 

Any and all ideas for denominational futures should be examined because we're heading down the steeper decline.  This is not one I have much use for, that's all.

I went through this once for someone or somebodies else and came up with a way to have LESS districts, not more - I think the number in the end was 15.  Regional approaches would proliferate under that model - the potential for more coherent planning and movement of workers, and types of service offered.  So the money saved in that case would go to the new districts for what were determined to be their primary needs.   In this way, the movement of the national church body subsequent to its restructuring 10 years ago could be more realizable.  The idea of that restructuring was to push out to the districts a lot more of the action.  With less districts, there COULD be less entropy and more action in both mission and ministry.

Right now, though, it's going to be more of a time for healing, coming out from hibernation maybe toward the end of 2021 and reassessing.

I did get my letter saying the next letter was coming for our congregational vote on the Stretch Year, so eventually one vote for the Stretch. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 29, 2020, 06:36:11 PM
Quote
For the record, I think the old chestnut of 100 districts of 60 is a bad idea.  Very bad.  It would serve to further fragment and balkanize, it fails to take into account in its part-timiness the scope and difficulty of ecclesiastical supervision, create an even bigger mess for worker movement, push some of those 100 guys into an early grave, and it gives off a money-grab vibe in the "endowment to start new congregations" mode even though in probably half the cases there's no money to grab. 

Interesting comment from someone who was a part-time bishop of a 100 or so congregation for how many years? 

Quote
I went through this once for someone or somebodies else and came up with a way to have LESS districts, not more - I think the number in the end was 15.  Regional approaches would proliferate under that model - the potential for more coherent planning and movement of workers, and types of service offered.  So the money saved in that case would go to the new districts for what were determined to be their primary needs.   In this way, the movement of the national church body subsequent to its restructuring 10 years ago could be more realizable.  The idea of that restructuring was to push out to the districts a lot more of the action.  With less districts, there COULD be less entropy and more action in both mission and ministry.

So making districts 1/3 larger than Michigan is now will make us more efficient and more effective?  How many staff would you need to be able to serve so many pastors and congregations?  How would you do effective supervision of doctrine and practice in such large and spread out districts (ecclesiastical supervision being the only reason for having districts in the first place). The AD would have to merge with the New England, NJ, Eastern and part of the Southeastern to come up with 400 congregations.  Where would the District Office be located and how accessible would it and its staff be spread out so far?  Or perhaps the Mid-South (1,000 miles across) could merge with the Southern, Oklahoma, and Kansas Districts and locate its office where?  We already have a couple of districts about the size I suggested. 

We can certainly disagree about such things as size but the reality is that we are congregational in our tilt and nobody can tell any congregation to close or merge or become a dual parish.  I have been involved with a couple and it is a long term process of wooing and winning over congregations to the idea of such partnership.  People talk about institutional planning and such but in a congregational body like ours the larger institution is not even called church and its members keep touting the idea that Synod is only and always advisory.  Why do we expect a national church structure to act as one when we as a Synod resist the whole idea that Synod can do anything but suggest things to us?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 29, 2020, 07:15:26 PM
Quote
For the record, I think the old chestnut of 100 districts of 60 is a bad idea.  Very bad.  It would serve to further fragment and balkanize, it fails to take into account in its part-timiness the scope and difficulty of ecclesiastical supervision, create an even bigger mess for worker movement, push some of those 100 guys into an early grave, and it gives off a money-grab vibe in the "endowment to start new congregations" mode even though in probably half the cases there's no money to grab. 

Interesting comment from someone who was a part-time bishop of a 100 or so congregation for how many years? 

Quote
I went through this once for someone or somebodies else and came up with a way to have LESS districts, not more - I think the number in the end was 15.  Regional approaches would proliferate under that model - the potential for more coherent planning and movement of workers, and types of service offered.  So the money saved in that case would go to the new districts for what were determined to be their primary needs.   In this way, the movement of the national church body subsequent to its restructuring 10 years ago could be more realizable.  The idea of that restructuring was to push out to the districts a lot more of the action.  With less districts, there COULD be less entropy and more action in both mission and ministry.

So making districts 1/3 larger than Michigan is now will make us more efficient and more effective?  How many staff would you need to be able to serve so many pastors and congregations?  How would you do effective supervision of doctrine and practice in such large and spread out districts (ecclesiastical supervision being the only reason for having districts in the first place). The AD would have to merge with the New England, NJ, Eastern and part of the Southeastern to come up with 400 congregations.  Where would the District Office be located and how accessible would it and its staff be spread out so far?  Or perhaps the Mid-South (1,000 miles across) could merge with the Southern, Oklahoma, and Kansas Districts and locate its office where?  We already have a couple of districts about the size I suggested. 

We can certainly disagree about such things as size but the reality is that we are congregational in our tilt and nobody can tell any congregation to close or merge or become a dual parish.  I have been involved with a couple and it is a long term process of wooing and winning over congregations to the idea of such partnership.  People talk about institutional planning and such but in a congregational body like ours the larger institution is not even called church and its members keep touting the idea that Synod is only and always advisory.  Why do we expect a national church structure to act as one when we as a Synod resist the whole idea that Synod can do anything but suggest things to us?

To part a - True, true.  Our whole staff was part-time throughout my tenure, and we made it work for 100 congregations.  However, to part b - economies of scope and workload were always duplicated around our quadrant of the US, which is the Northeast.  Plus, the movement of workers would have been better served with a larger swath of landscape, and a staff that was able to be customized to our circumstance. 

Just to give a way of seeing things and people in this mix - I don't necessarily like Philadelphia.  Phillies, Eagles and Flyers, for three.  But - the folks from that metropolitan area think just the way we do in New York and New Jersey - they are us, including Syracuse, Albany and Buffalo.  And in many ways it is similar in Boston, Hartford and New Haven, and even Pittsburgh.  It would have been/could be great to work with a team from those metro areas to put some spike in the mission punch on a leadership basis.  And at the same time to connect the many small town/rural settings in setting a course.  Merger and closure aren't the starting conversations - mission is the starter.

Anyway, the last part of your post is pretty exactly an area of lived and learned experience for me.  For the first couple years as a DP, I would mutter to myself "the only power I have is the power of persuasion; I'm advisory, I give advice, and that's all."  About halfway through the second term the whole thing flipped and I would say, "The only power I have is the power of persuasion; I'm advisory, I give advice, and that's more than enough."  There's a leadership category, I'm convinced, called "persuasive encouragement."  It's not really Law, it's under the heading of the "mutual consolation and conversation of the brethren," which in the Schmalkald Articles is Gospel.  You listen, you learn, you shoot the breeze, you pray, you assemble and designate the team, and let 'er rip.  That's the prism through which leaders serve, and lead.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on December 29, 2020, 07:18:09 PM
We have worked with a great relationship with another local congregation. We helped worked on planning together, called a pastor together and started funding the pastoral salary together. Their leadership is spot on and the pastor has done a great job.

My point is that we didn’t need an LCMS resolution, we didn’t need the District to sanction it, but what we did have was hearts that beat together on the two congregations. St. John’s, where I serve wasn’t weakened by this but strengthened. The District and the DP especially was gracious and open, he supervised us to a degree and helped us find a fine young pastor.

If we weren’t so provincial and risk averse we may be able to do something things like this.

We can fix our culture, not by politics, but simply by learning to get along together. Sin and grace, as many have discussed, seem to resolve in relationships and not so much in institutional arguments, debates and perceived slights.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 29, 2020, 10:50:52 PM
Thank you, Mark Hofman for your recent posts. I forgive you for your self-pitying post.

(the following is in general & not specifically to Mark)

No one wants to wait for hindsight. Less than a decade ago I read an interesting article in which a Church of England vicar described how he had an unusual and vivid dream which symbolized taking his megachurch and separating it off into small worshiping groups. Then, after they organized and prepared for this, serious electrical issues were uncovered at the facility they had been using and they were immediately without a place to worship. Of course they followed through with the multi-site strategy right away. The vicar believed this was God's will.

Recently I was struck with a three-part dream, each part was brief and appeared to be like a movie trailer sampler: 1. People on earth ascending into heaven, especially Jesus. 2. A scene from Shackleton's voyage 3. Some Lutheran church bureaucrat talking on a screen

From this I realized I needed to write on ALPB Your Turn about how to pull off a "Shackleton" to so speak. I didn't understand the first part of the dream; now I think it symbolized "Thy Kingdom Come". (Due to a possible relationship I had with a previous dream years ago when I asked an (unanswered) question of "Where should I go?", I checked to see if people are allowed to relocate to South Georgia island. Fortunately they are not so thankfully I am not expected to interpret this part literally.)

So I spent more time posting than normal and I do not regret it. People here responded more than I expected; my posts usually do not generate responses because they often don't fit the conversation in the first place.

So to make decisions, besides doing the demographics and finances and such you can search the Lord and ask Him for answers. Contemplating the demographics and finances can be part of this searching the Lord. Searching is especially good for those in leadership roles who have already imbibed the collective group spirit. To get strong dreams, it is possible to do things like tent camping, (or if this is not possible, leaving the window open at night), fasting, and praying. Not being sleep deprived, not consuming any more alcohol than what is distributed on Sunday, and having a good conscience is necessary. This may take awhile but eventually you receive an answer. Or if enough people try this, then some will receive an answer and can share it with those who don't. (If you have a habit of following your advice from dreams, in time it becomes obvious which source(s) are trustworthy. And if they aren't you tell it to go to hell so it stops.) And if you aren't sure or it is too symbolic you can keep up the search for discernment.

Once I wrote up some theological-ish stuff on this so copy-and-paste is good. If you think I am a wacky charismatic this is supposed to legitimatize me.

Theologians

Aquinas-Whether divination by dreams is unlawful?

(an argument against the interpretation of Dt. 18:10 applying to all dreams. I believe the Vulgate mistranslates it to include the interpretation of "dreams" as one of the things forbidden)

(copy and paste this into your browser if you want the entire text http://bit.ly/HqeTWN (http://bit.ly/HqeTWN) )

Quote
Now dreams are sometimes the cause of future occurrences; for instance, when a person's mind becomes anxious through what it has seen in a dream and is thereby led to do something or avoid something: while sometimes dreams are signs of future happenings, in so far as they are referable to some common cause of both dreams and future occurrences, and in this way the future is frequently known from dreams. We must, then, consider what is the cause of dreams...

The spiritual cause is sometimes referable to God, Who reveals certain things to men in their dreams by the ministry of the angels, according Num. 12:6, "If there be among you a prophet of the Lord, I will appear to him in a vision, or I will speak to him in a dream....

Accordingly we must say that there is no unlawful divination in making use of dreams for the foreknowledge of the future, so long as those dreams are due to divine revelation, or to some natural cause inward or outward, and so far as the efficacy of that cause extends. But it will be an unlawful and superstitious divination if it be caused by a revelation of the demons

Luther-LW Vol. 7 Lectures on Genesis Ch. 38-44, p. 139

Quote
Dreams sent by God are impressed on the dreamers in such a way that they are conscious of keener feelings than is the case with the common dreams of other men and also of animals. Pharaoh had the same feeling, and God moved his heart to take note of the dream, especially when it was repeated.

Luther's Commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, Volume 21
(older translation from http://bit.ly/HqeTWN (http://bit.ly/HqeTWN))

Quote
There is no man which shall do a miracle in my name that can lightly speak evil of me.

Answer: That is true, as I have said, that God does not allow miracles to be done by bad men, unless they are in public office; because God does not give miracles on account of their person, but of their office.

But if real miracles are done by a single person, that person must certainly be pious, as some are, who have special revelations, through dreams, visions, etc.; but these miracles must have the tendency to praise and further Christ and the gospel.

Thus you have two kinds of miracles that are good and honest, first, those which are done by pious persons who are Christians; then also those done by wicked persons, who yet are in office and teach correctly; but that we are always to judge according to this sure test, which is to be applied to all kinds of persons, whether pious or impious, in office or out of office, whether the miracles have the tendency to praise Christ and to strengthen your faith. But if you discover that they are pointing you in a different direction, as to go upon pilgrimages, pray to saints, deliver souls from purgatory, and in short, to rely upon your works and establish a righteousness of your own; then say: If you would perform all miracles for me, so that I could see and make sure of them, I would still not believe you; for Christ has sufficiently warned me against that.

Historical examples

Martin Luther, Table Talk, http://bit.ly/17qWV0K (http://bit.ly/17qWV0K)

Quote
The dream I had lately, will be made true; `twas that I was dead, and stood by my grave, covered with rags. Thus am I long since condemned to die, and yet I live.

Katie Luther

http://bit.ly/19LLC2R (http://bit.ly/19LLC2R) (Google Books) and http://bit.ly/190tPWb (http://bit.ly/190tPWb) (website, same text)

Quote
To George Spalatin

Four young noblemen, who blamed Luther for their sister's escape from the convent, were lying in wait to murder him.

November 11, 1525

Dear Spalatin — Gladly would I be present at your wedding to rejoice with you, but a hindrance has come in the way, which I cannot overcome, viz. the tears of my wife, who believes you would be deeply grieved were my life imperiled. She has a presentiment that my life is in danger, having dreamed last night that murderers were looking out for me on the way. I think this not unlikely, since I hear that the rescue of the Freiberg nuns has roused the wrath of the nobles in Herzog George’s lands.

Although well aware that, wherever I may be, I am under the Almighty’s protection, without whom not a hair of my head can be injured, still I am full of pity for my dear Kathie, who would be half-dead with anxiety before I returned. So do not grieve that I cannot be with you on the occasion of your wedding. May God’s grace and blessing rest on you.

Frederick the Wise -- I will just link Rev. Webber's website, which features it at the bottom of this page: http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/lutherantheology. smithprophecies.html His dream is more symbolic in character. It is discredited by Schaff ( http://tinyurl.com/ln92ftp (http://tinyurl.com/ln92ftp) ), on the grounds that it is not mentioned in historical texts prior to 1591. The "original manuscript" that Walther referred to when he reprinted this dream in Volume 4, issue 4 of the 1847 Der Lutheraner was, according to the librarian, a copy made much later.

Dreams in the early Missouri Synod
Here are two dreams published while Walther was editor of Der Lutheraner:

By Meuer, in Der Lutheraner, about the dream of Myconius in 1546:
http://tinyurl.com/lfj6n26 (http://tinyurl.com/lfj6n26) (same) http://tinyurl.com/p4kf8vl (http://tinyurl.com/p4kf8vl)

Published by C.H. von Bogatzky about a letter of a noble woman who left with her six children to a Luthearn area in 1703 (also in Der Lutheraner):
http://tinyurl.com/nbvw89a (http://tinyurl.com/nbvw89a)

This ( http://tinyurl.com/ls82reo (http://tinyurl.com/ls82reo) ) is a precognitive dream from Katie Luther, interpreted by Melancthon, and later described by Martin Luther. It predicted the death of their 14-year-old daughter. (Melancthon wrote about dream interpretation in his De anime.) It was reported in the 1917 Lutheran Witness: http://tinyurl.com/lwbtcwp (http://tinyurl.com/lwbtcwp) .

[Side note: Melancthon also had a precognitive dream about his daughter's death. In his case, his daughter was grown and came to visit him with his grandchildren. His dream was darker in tone than Katie's dream: http://tinyurl.com/mo33gak (http://tinyurl.com/mo33gak)

Melancthon had a four part classification of dreams:

1. Natural dreams, related to your emotions or what you think or see

2. Prophetic dreams, which "are effected by the stars which awoke inborn prophetic powers." ( http://tinyurl.com/koffn6r (http://tinyurl.com/koffn6r) )

3. Divine dreams inspired by God

4. Satanic dreams inspired by the devil

For Melancthon, the dreams recorded in Scripture were either of divine or prophetic origin. One had to evaluate dreams based on the context of the dreamer to try to figure out which ones were really #1 or #4 in origin. For an example of a #4 dream, he believed that an angel guarded a Christian's bedroom to keep the devil out, but when this failed, the devil caused nightmares. On the other hand, dreams which appear to convey God's Word were to be regarded as from God if they agreed with Bible and were not contrary to either Law or Gospel. Even then, Melancthon did not always presume to be able to interpret visions, such as the one reported by the honest men of Brunswick ( http://tinyurl.com/m7dgf5k (http://tinyurl.com/m7dgf5k) ).

For Luther, these categories would be the same except I don't think he would have agreed with #2 due to his voluntarism and his rejection of astrology (which was a result of his voluntarism). Rather, he would have counted such dreams as divine. Unlike Melancthon, Luther didn't try to explain any of the dreams of the patriarchs as prophetic but instead considered them all divine miracles.]

Modern example

Jeannelle is a member of this Missouri Synod church ( http://bit.ly/1aNZvvf (http://bit.ly/1aNZvvf) for directory info) in Klinger, Iowa . She was diagnosed with Bipolar II, is a grandmother, has taught Sunday School, and identifies as a Lutheran. She was Baptist before she married her Lutheran husband. Her blog, http://midlifebyfarmlight.blogspot.com , has many examples of dreams, including precognitive ones. I liked this one:

http://bit.ly/1dg7l4z (http://bit.ly/1dg7l4z)

Quote
The following dream story happened in late summer of 2005: One morning, as I was waking up, a strange dream scene came and went. In it, a thing which looked like a watertower tank was flying low over our field by the road. The tank then landed across the road, in our neighbor's cornfield.

Again, on this morning, I happened to tell Husband about the dream, once I got to the barn. The following day, Husband, one of our sons, and my stepdad were up on the roof of our house, putting new shingles on. Suddenly, Husband hollered for me to bring the binoculars to him.......he said two police cars had just speeded by on our gravel road. (We live 1/4 mile off of it.) From up there on the roof Husband could see commotion on the road over by our neighbor's place. Pretty soon we heard and saw an ambulance go wailing by. Husband kept watching, and eventually said that it appeared a cement truck had gone into the ditch and overturned. Husband could see that the cement mixer's tank had rolled into our neighbor's cornfield! He looked down at me from the roof and said quietly, "Your dream." I hadn't even thought of that yet.

It turned out that the cement truck driver had lost control on loose gravel; he probably had been driving a bit too fast. Our neighbors rushed to the overturned truck's cab and found the driver conscious, but with his arm was pinned. It took the emergency workers 1-1/2 hours to extricate him from the cab! He had a badly broken arm and broken ribs, but no injuries that were life-threatening.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 30, 2020, 11:22:37 AM
Thank you, Larry and Dave, for your comments on the 100/60 option for church administration in the LCMS. Not sure whether our longstanding organization into districts is better or whether the 100/60 option would be an improvement. I would note that the current approach was not able to protect me and others from mobbing practices. I'm not sure that the 100/60 could either. To end those practices will require a cultural change in the synod.

Has anyone developed a list of pluses and minuses for districts versus 100/60 mini-districts? Has the 100/60 option been proposed at convention?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on December 30, 2020, 01:36:07 PM
You've got to get past that thing about elder blame and elder removal, Mark.  Or not; up to you , but it makes your 20/20 hindsight screen grumpy, almost bitter, as you obviate against the old decisions, and for the oldster retired pastors to step off from taking vacancies or small parishes so that some tbd team of younger wiser folks can redistribute congregations and their assets. 

It gets in the way of the actual dialog about decision process.  For instance in the case of the CBC property, it was illuminating to me to refresh that time-frame and see that this was also when the "free tuition" game was played.  So that magical thinking concerning financing combined with unrealistic plans regarding a growth pattern for training.  That it wasn't sustainable fits in a more complete picture.  The underlying reality, of older and older lay membership with less and less kids/grandkids coming into the picture, which was the case 20 years ago, and is now playing out, has always been the prime factor even as it's less able to be included as a factor at upper levels in Protestant denominational futures.  The virus, in my opinion, has actually assisted in putting that major deficit on the full screen not only in our denomination, but around the horn in Protestantism and in many ways in Christianity in this country and Europe.  The process has been failing because the underlying reality has primarily been faced at the local level. 

My recent favorite is calling some friends and finding they were on their way to the Christmas Eve Midnight Candlelight Service.  I asked how slowly they were driving, given the time.  They responded that the midnight service was now being held at 2 PM so the members could go home to dinner.  Which is at 4.  No need for candles.  Plenty of sunlight at 2PM.  Entirely senior citizen congregation.  Anyway.

The senior-aged pastors caring for senior-aged smaller congregations also has a shelf life.  The process of determination is not going to be best approached by head-butting, in my opinion.  Some of the oldsters might also possess a little wisdom, might actually help move things along, might actually be (uh-oh) in wider church leadership.  Even from your point of view, you should at least be able to say "with God all things are possible."

Dave Benke

Your second paragraph is what in various manifestations all my conversations and efforts for 15 years have been about.  Stop the magical thinking.  Look at things with clear eyes.  And make plans for where we actually are at, including everything that is already baked in but not fully exposed yet.  And make those decisions now, while you still have some of the strength of the elders.

And your first paragraph, really the first sentence, is true.  But in my 15 years of experience trying to address this, the denial is so deep, the only thing I've ever been halfway successful with is being a jerk, which lets someone like say Scott not be a jerk but be the reasonable person and move things in the right direction.

As far as "with God, all things are possible", true.  But that moves back to the mystical.  And on good days I can see it happening at a local level.  It has been a long time since anything institutional has felt hopeful.

Thanks for these words - honest and helpful.  You and Scott - one bad, one good.  It is the way of the brotherhood.  Santa knows - be good for goodness sake!

An actual conversation from the early 2000s at a national LCMS Convention.  My brother Bob was at the time shepherding a congregation very near to the congregation of one Walter Otten.  Walter Otten sees the two of us hobnobbing in the hallway, strides up and says, "Two brothers - how can one be so good and one be so bad?"  In the way of actual brothers, Bob and I at the exact same moment responded with the same exact words - "You must get that a lot!"  Of course, Bob and I broke up laughing.  Walter, to his eternal credit, had no idea what we were talking about and went on his way.  Which only made our laughter last longer.  C'mon, man.

Dave Benke

I’m glad to play the role of non-jerk in this discussion, Lord knows I’m certainly good at being a jerk, though. ;D

Dave, to your point about the wisdom of the old-timers I find myself apprehensive in some ways.  I always enjoy hanging and talking with the old –timers and I don’t want to come across as a sort of King Rehoboam in spirit.  But I find myself wondering if the Achilles’ heel at present is that previous generations were privy to and benefitted form the largest period of church growth, which is why we keep getting a regurgitation of various programs that have yet to work.  That’s good but it also skews the standards and expectations to this day.  If the referent point is an unprecedented period of growth then failure is inevitable according to that standard.  I may be wrong but I’m inclined to connect the purchase of the CBC with this generational blindspot.  I also don’t think it was an accident that this occurred during the Kieschnick era which was the pinnacle of Boomer leadership in the Synod.  In some ways the pendulum had to go in that direction after Barry, but it was also a strange time, especially as a seminarian in St. Louis.

I noted a few comments back that I think death, metaphorical and literal, must take place before Synod or whatever comes forth can truly step into new life.  I wonder if we’re still too enmeshed in the old ways or more resistant to it than we'd care to admit.  I think we like to believe that the onerous is on the conservative side of the isle because of who are SP is, but it's also on the liberal side, too. New programs are not necessarily new if you know what I'm saying.  It's like when Christ Esget was chosen over Jon Diefenthaler as our regional VP and many of us in our region were upset about that.  It was frustrating but from a leadership standpoint it makes perfect sense to me why President Harrison picked Esget. To have Diefenthaler in the current praesidium would have been really weird and may have caused more internal problems.  It also would have been a rehash of the past and reflective of what I noted above. 

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 30, 2020, 01:40:16 PM
Dave/Fr. Peters, a question in the 15/100 line.   Isn't the talk of bigger/smaller meaningless without an update in the process of how we do the most important things?  It is the processes that are broken, not necessarily the polity.

The biggest job, but also what I imagine to be the biggest trouble for whoever is tasked with that church admin role is "the call list".  What has shocked me in this age of online everything is that our process is so broken yet incapable of change.  In working with congregations in that call process, the toughest thing is the match between finding a pastor who would be interested in the congregation and a congregation who would be interested in that pastor.  Setting up 20 somethings is easier.

It would seem to me that the first step of any reconfiguration would be the creation of a clearing house.  An Ecclesial Supervisor posts a vacancy and opens a time window.  Pastors that might be interested in that call would post their info package.  The Supervisor could then curate the list, knowing that everyone who is on it is at least interested.  That curation could be as trivial as "here is everyone", it could be as serious as talking to each man and presenting the top 3.  Instead of passing along a list of 16 names - who the congregation calls each, and 11 of the 16 say no, 3 of the 16 say yes to everything but don't mean it, and only 2 are possibilities, but those two inevitably pale in comparison to the three who say yes because the process feeds their ego - instead of that current process, you get to pass along a list of those who are interested. That keeps the Ecclesial Supervisor in the process and gives a chance to shape a good list.  It would also give a Supervisor a clear signal - hey, your guy is submitting a lot of packages - that some attention needs to be paid.  It would also give a bunch of pastors a feeling of something beyond absolute helplessness.

100 supervisors would probably know the congregations well enough to know what they want, but not have enough reach to create a list.  Our current configuration, made more so if you went to 15, might have the reach to create a list, but they have no idea about the congregation, nor about the individual pastors in their midst.

Bring the process into the late 20th century, and the job itself might become more manageable. Make any sense?

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 30, 2020, 01:41:11 PM
Thank you, Larry and Dave, for your comments on the 100/60 option for church administration in the LCMS. Not sure whether our longstanding organization into districts is better or whether the 100/60 option would be an improvement. I would note that the current approach was not able to protect me and others from mobbing practices. I'm not sure that the 100/60 could either. To end those practices will require a cultural change in the synod.

Has anyone developed a list of pluses and minuses for districts versus 100/60 mini-districts? Has the 100/60 option been proposed at convention?

Mobbing - organized ganging up - is group bullying.  And it's often done in a cloak and dagger way.  As a for instance, there was a congregation in which the leadership wanted the pastor to be gone, which I didn't know, and for which there was no prior evidence.  Every year we sent out a compensation guideline for church workers to each congregation.  And I would append a note to use these as guidelines in the spirit of biblical "laborer is worthy of his wage," etc. etc.  There was a little mini-evaluative tool in there along with markers for size of congregation, area served, etc., all designed to assist in upgrading pastoral/worker compensation.  So I get a phone call inviting me to a meeting of the council with the pastor.  I figure it's to get them to new levels of giving.  But - unbeknownst to me, they have taken those tools, weaponized them, and proceed to let the pastor know, with me present, that he has scored at .3 on a 1-5 scale, and set the pastor's new compensation at 90% below what he had been paid.

Of course, I interjected that the guidelines were not meant as a weapon, and that they couldn't just whack away most of the pastor's compensation.  Then the actual meeting transpired, at which there was a lot of yelling.  My understanding was that the bottom line purpose of the  meeting by the gang was not about the pastor and them, but about me getting very actively involved in helping them get rid of the pastor.  In the words of Bob Marley - one love/one heart/let's get together and feel all right.  Not.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 30, 2020, 01:52:45 PM
Dave/Fr. Peters, a question in the 15/100 line.   Isn't the talk of bigger/smaller meaningless without an update in the process of how we do the most important things?  It is the processes that are broken, not necessarily the polity.

The biggest job, but also what I imagine to be the biggest trouble for whoever is tasked with that church admin role is "the call list".  What has shocked me in this age of online everything is that our process is so broken yet incapable of change.  In working with congregations in that call process, the toughest thing is the match between finding a pastor who would be interested in the congregation and a congregation who would be interested in that pastor.  Setting up 20 somethings is easier.

It would seem to me that the first step of any reconfiguration would be the creation of a clearing house.  An Ecclesial Supervisor posts a vacancy and opens a time window.  Pastors that might be interested in that call would post their info package.  The Supervisor could then curate the list, knowing that everyone who is on it is at least interested.  That curation could be as trivial as "here is everyone", it could be as serious as talking to each man and presenting the top 3.  Instead of passing along a list of 16 names - who the congregation calls each, and 11 of the 16 say no, 3 of the 16 say yes to everything but don't mean it, and only 2 are possibilities, but those two inevitably pale in comparison to the three who say yes because the process feeds their ego - instead of that current process, you get to pass along a list of those who are interested. That keeps the Ecclesial Supervisor in the process and gives a chance to shape a good list.  It would also give a Supervisor a clear signal - hey, your guy is submitting a lot of packages - that some attention needs to be paid.  It would also give a bunch of pastors a feeling of something beyond absolute helplessness.

100 supervisors would probably know the congregations well enough to know what they want, but not have enough reach to create a list.  Our current configuration, made more so if you went to 15, might have the reach to create a list, but they have no idea about the congregation, nor about the individual pastors in their midst.

Bring the process into the late 20th century, and the job itself might become more manageable. Make any sense?

The way I would invariably do pastoral vacancies was to be personally involved throughout in the congregation.  So - first meeting with everybody in the congregation to get the lay of the land, feel the fellowship, understand the dynamics.  Then I talk through the process about three times until it's understood, one item always being that if the congregation is in conflict, I need to know now because that's going to delay things.  Then I'd hang out on Sundays with them either preaching or being at other Sunday events, more informal, to get my own read of whether there are factions or whether there's unity, and what the opportunities could be.  You can't not do these things, in my opinion.  They're mandatory.

The issue of who's available for where and when is just tough.  I agree that the tech could be used better - now that they've messed with the lcms.org site on congregations (in my opinion very purposefully to keep information at a minimum) I think the ecclesiastical supervisors have a different set of data by far than the average bear can access.  Cultural changes have made it clear that when it comes to the decision to move or not move, often the wife and family are of the highest input and importance, even though they're not called by the congregation.  That's not really on any of the info. 

So - to your point, whatever the state of the process is currently, it needs to continue to be personal at a high level of involvement.  We're not moving Amazon technicians from one site to the next (and we have AOC to thank for the empty lots in Queens in that regard!). 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 30, 2020, 02:21:51 PM
Dave/Fr. Peters, a question in the 15/100 line.   Isn't the talk of bigger/smaller meaningless without an update in the process of how we do the most important things?  It is the processes that are broken, not necessarily the polity.

The biggest job, but also what I imagine to be the biggest trouble for whoever is tasked with that church admin role is "the call list".  What has shocked me in this age of online everything is that our process is so broken yet incapable of change.  In working with congregations in that call process, the toughest thing is the match between finding a pastor who would be interested in the congregation and a congregation who would be interested in that pastor.  Setting up 20 somethings is easier.

It would seem to me that the first step of any reconfiguration would be the creation of a clearing house.  An Ecclesial Supervisor posts a vacancy and opens a time window.  Pastors that might be interested in that call would post their info package.  The Supervisor could then curate the list, knowing that everyone who is on it is at least interested.  That curation could be as trivial as "here is everyone", it could be as serious as talking to each man and presenting the top 3.  Instead of passing along a list of 16 names - who the congregation calls each, and 11 of the 16 say no, 3 of the 16 say yes to everything but don't mean it, and only 2 are possibilities, but those two inevitably pale in comparison to the three who say yes because the process feeds their ego - instead of that current process, you get to pass along a list of those who are interested. That keeps the Ecclesial Supervisor in the process and gives a chance to shape a good list.  It would also give a Supervisor a clear signal - hey, your guy is submitting a lot of packages - that some attention needs to be paid.  It would also give a bunch of pastors a feeling of something beyond absolute helplessness.

100 supervisors would probably know the congregations well enough to know what they want, but not have enough reach to create a list.  Our current configuration, made more so if you went to 15, might have the reach to create a list, but they have no idea about the congregation, nor about the individual pastors in their midst.

Bring the process into the late 20th century, and the job itself might become more manageable. Make any sense?
One problem I see with this scenario would be that most pastors have really nothing to go on but location and whatever pictures are available at the website. Am I interested in serving at Holy Moly Lutheran in Upnort, Wisconsin? I have no idea, but it might be perfect. Or it might be a bad fit. Should I "apply"? If I don't, no call will ever come my way; by not applying anywhere I've cut off the possibility of God calling me elsewhere. I better be sure I'm in the perfect fit where I already am. But if I do apply, not knowing much about it, I've implied I'm interested based purely on location and a few basics of the job description, and I've also implied that I'm not necessarily perfectly content where I am and think God might be calling me elsewhere.

In the current way, if the good people at Upnort contact me, I can ask a few questions before agreeing or not agreeing to an interview or visit. I tell my congregation, "Hey, they contacted me, I can't just ignore them." If I don't get the call or decline it, there is no harm to my existing situation. But if the system is such that pastors apply in some way, then my congregation knows that I did that. Even if I don't get the call or decline it, I've destabilized my relationship to my congregation by making it clear I had my resume out there. A lot of possibilities for abuse of such a system.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 30, 2020, 02:29:12 PM
I wonder, Peter. I think it is our traditional posture that a pastor is USUALLY open to a call. Not shopping for one, but open. The sort of database Mark proposes could, of course, clearly indicate when that is NOT the case for a given pastor, and that way no congregation wastes time vetting and including him in their list. But I do think our current system is WAY too much under the thumb of the DPs and the result is the creation by and large of “districts in their own image.” They naturally want like minded folk (who will re-elect them!). And I’m not trying to be overly cynical about that; nor discounting that a DP may well be seeking the best for a given parish; but it is hard to cut out the potential to put “your guy” on the list, believing that those who think like you do are clearly the better choices! This is a phenomenon that is not limited to either extreme of Synod; the middle road guys, I believe, operate in like manner. My point is just that I’m not sure that actually putting all the data on pastors who are open to calls directly in the hands of the parishes without the clearing house of the DP is a bad idea.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 30, 2020, 03:10:00 PM
Dave, Yes so much yes to what Rosters and Statistics has done to what is available on line.  I registered an official "what the heck are you thinking" at that, eventually talking for over an hour with the guy behind the DB.  And yes, the action was done to hide stuff, because denial always works.  And yes, the DP's have access to a lot more.  But either they don't know how to use it, or just won't share it.  Probably a combination of both.

Which ties in with Weedon's comments.  The DP's have a stranglehold on so much.  And all they usually do is end up getting in their own way and making the synod's problems worse.  And if they aren't as involved with the congregations as you (Dave) highlight, it is exponential trouble.

C'mon Peter, any pastor with enough on the ball to want to call them has more than location and pictures.  In 30 mins of phone conversation you'd have enough to know.  You used to be able to get a good financial picture from R&S as well as a 10 year story, alas that now takes a few calls. (Although putting it pack into a clergy system could happen.) Before throwing in the resume, I'd call the CV and the nearest two local pastors just to find out the basic story.  But in that system the only way that a current congregation would know anything is if you got the call.  It might make it interesting if you decided to stay, but I don't think much different than currently.  Because even in the current system, if you got the call you chose to keep participating in the process.  And having the DP involved in making a list still gives the same amount of deniability.  I'm sure you would still have DPs putting "their guys" on lists regardless of interest.

What I really find as an advantage of such a system would be the mirror that it would hold up to both congregation and pastor.  Finding out who is interested in you is valuable information.  Looking in the mirror is often a spur to change.  And as Lutherans we hold up the use of the law as a mirror.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 30, 2020, 03:58:03 PM


What I really find as an advantage of such a system would be the mirror that it would hold up to both congregation and pastor.  Finding out who is interested in you is valuable information.  Looking in the mirror is often a spur to change.  And as Lutherans we hold up the use of the law as a mirror.
That's a good point about congregation's self-perception. The active members are who they are because they love the congregation. They have a hard time seeing why a pastor wouldn't want to serve among them. Maybe getting no bites would force them to take stock of the situation more honestly.

I'm more content than most with the current system, I guess. Calls and even inquiries about calls are disruptive. I like knowing that if one comes along I can take it seriously, but I don't have to periodically check on what's out there or initiate anything. To me, the system you propose would feel like every vacancy I heard about functioned like an initial inquiry from a call committee. I think I'd be likely to become a closet comparison shopper and become less content no matter what call I was serving. But I've never felt like I was on the DP's naughty list, either, so I've never personally experienced the downside of the current system.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 30, 2020, 04:05:58 PM
Dave/Fr. Peters, a question in the 15/100 line.   Isn't the talk of bigger/smaller meaningless without an update in the process of how we do the most important things?  It is the processes that are broken, not necessarily the polity.

The biggest job, but also what I imagine to be the biggest trouble for whoever is tasked with that church admin role is "the call list".  What has shocked me in this age of online everything is that our process is so broken yet incapable of change.  In working with congregations in that call process, the toughest thing is the match between finding a pastor who would be interested in the congregation and a congregation who would be interested in that pastor.  Setting up 20 somethings is easier.

It would seem to me that the first step of any reconfiguration would be the creation of a clearing house.  An Ecclesial Supervisor posts a vacancy and opens a time window.  Pastors that might be interested in that call would post their info package.  The Supervisor could then curate the list, knowing that everyone who is on it is at least interested.  That curation could be as trivial as "here is everyone", it could be as serious as talking to each man and presenting the top 3.  Instead of passing along a list of 16 names - who the congregation calls each, and 11 of the 16 say no, 3 of the 16 say yes to everything but don't mean it, and only 2 are possibilities, but those two inevitably pale in comparison to the three who say yes because the process feeds their ego - instead of that current process, you get to pass along a list of those who are interested. That keeps the Ecclesial Supervisor in the process and gives a chance to shape a good list.  It would also give a Supervisor a clear signal - hey, your guy is submitting a lot of packages - that some attention needs to be paid.  It would also give a bunch of pastors a feeling of something beyond absolute helplessness.

100 supervisors would probably know the congregations well enough to know what they want, but not have enough reach to create a list.  Our current configuration, made more so if you went to 15, might have the reach to create a list, but they have no idea about the congregation, nor about the individual pastors in their midst.

Bring the process into the late 20th century, and the job itself might become more manageable. Make any sense?

I would agree that greater technology assisting the process would help.

A while back a congregation approached me about a call. Before any paperwork was issued, they called me up and asked me if I would be interested. They felt comfortable doing this because they knew me. I had to tell them, no, and gave them a few practical reasons for my answer. A database where I could put those reasons might save them and others trouble.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 30, 2020, 04:14:52 PM
Let me say something radical.  I would have never agreed to be considered for my first call and was not consulted for my present call (and considered declining it out of hand without even visiting) but both proved to be just right -- now, let me explain just right.  Neither congregation wanted me or any pastor like me; they did not want to be moved in the direction of a weekly Eucharist or a more liturgical celebration of the Divine Service.  But after being with them, trusting the Holy Spirit, they trusting me, and both of us working together, the partnership has been very fruitful. 

In New York many folks in the pews openly told me that I was unspiritual and not the man they desired or wanted or needed. I am sure I was unspiritual and still am not the man of God I ought to be.  But by the end of nearly 13 years there, they wept openly when I accepted this call to TN and I wept openly that I was leaving them.  Hearts that trust in the Lord (on both sides) are flexible, malleable, and able to be directed but hearts that don't trust in the Lord and this process will never be happy, content, or satisfied and will probably begin looking for trouble as soon as the bags are unpacked (again both sides).

The key here is not finding the right man to fit exactly the congregation's self-perception or want or even need.  They key here is pastors loving their people, faithfully preaching the Word, teaching them to love and desire and esteem God's rich sacramental grace, and being there with them in the trying times of their lives AND congregations trusting that the call is not an employment contract but the discernment of the Spirit and, even more so, the willingness to hear, heed, and trust their pastor as God's man for this time and this place.  I have been a Circuit Visitor for nearly 20 years (between the AD and MDS) and in nearly every place where there were problems the pastor had a chip on his shoulder and the people did not want to receive him or trust him as God's man for them.  Some of the problems were there long before the call was issued and accepted and some came along during the process.

Maybe I am naive and foolish.  Probably am.  But I am less confident in a DP's wisdom or a congregational call committee's discernment than I am the Spirit to work if we are open to His working.

Dave may be right.  Urban congregations have more in common with each other than rural or suburban.  Maybe it would be better if urban parishes had their own districts, rural, and suburban their own.  I fear that this view looks too much at the programming aspects of the parish life.  I do not believe that the Word is or should be preached so differently or that the Divine Service is so different from place to place.  We like to emphasize diversity and differences but I am not at all convinced that it is healthy for our mobile people to relearn what Lutheran worship looks like every time they move or suddenly find out that a twice monthly Eucharist is just as salutary as a weekly Eucharist.  Why is it that everywhere else in the world brand identity is an asset except in the LCMS when we all do everything differently and are so very proud of it.  Ceremonies may be more elaborate or simple but they should not be so different that one does not remotely look like the other.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on December 30, 2020, 04:26:53 PM


What I really find as an advantage of such a system would be the mirror that it would hold up to both congregation and pastor.  Finding out who is interested in you is valuable information.  Looking in the mirror is often a spur to change.  And as Lutherans we hold up the use of the law as a mirror.
That's a good point about congregation's self-perception. The active members are who they are because they love the congregation. They have a hard time seeing why a pastor wouldn't want to serve among them. Maybe getting no bites would force them to take stock of the situation more honestly.

I'm more content than most with the current system, I guess. Calls and even inquiries about calls are disruptive. I like knowing that if one comes along I can take it seriously, but I don't have to periodically check on what's out there or initiate anything. To me, the system you propose would feel like every vacancy I heard about functioned like an initial inquiry from a call committee. I think I'd be likely to become a closet comparison shopper and become less content no matter what call I was serving. But I've never felt like I was on the DP's naughty list, either, so I've never personally experienced the downside of the current system.

I don't fear constant comparison shopping because of human nature.  We are by nature lazy, and a job search is hard work.  I could imagine at best about once a quarter day gazing over the green green grass on the other side of the fence line. But being obnoxious and disliked as John Adams sang in 1776, I recognize the steep downside to our current process.  It depends upon having hyper-competent men in the DPs office who realize: a) the job includes working with people you personally dislike, b) you need to tell congregations unpleasant things and c) having a personality is not a negative trait in a pastor.  Without men who are able to actualize that, everything turns into white noise without the gospel signal.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on December 30, 2020, 04:44:05 PM
Thank you, Larry and Dave, for your comments on the 100/60 option for church administration in the LCMS. Not sure whether our longstanding organization into districts is better or whether the 100/60 option would be an improvement. I would note that the current approach was not able to protect me and others from mobbing practices. I'm not sure that the 100/60 could either. To end those practices will require a cultural change in the synod.

Has anyone developed a list of pluses and minuses for districts versus 100/60 mini-districts? Has the 100/60 option been proposed at convention?

Mobbing - organized ganging up - is group bullying.  And it's often done in a cloak and dagger way.  As a for instance, there was a congregation in which the leadership wanted the pastor to be gone, which I didn't know, and for which there was no prior evidence.  Every year we sent out a compensation guideline for church workers to each congregation.  And I would append a note to use these as guidelines in the spirit of biblical "laborer is worthy of his wage," etc. etc.  There was a little mini-evaluative tool in there along with markers for size of congregation, area served, etc., all designed to assist in upgrading pastoral/worker compensation.  So I get a phone call inviting me to a meeting of the council with the pastor.  I figure it's to get them to new levels of giving.  But - unbeknownst to me, they have taken those tools, weaponized them, and proceed to let the pastor know, with me present, that he has scored at .3 on a 1-5 scale, and set the pastor's new compensation at 90% below what he had been paid.

Of course, I interjected that the guidelines were not meant as a weapon, and that they couldn't just whack away most of the pastor's compensation.  Then the actual meeting transpired, at which there was a lot of yelling.  My understanding was that the bottom line purpose of the  meeting by the gang was not about the pastor and them, but about me getting very actively involved in helping them get rid of the pastor.  In the words of Bob Marley - one love/one heart/let's get together and feel all right.  Not.

Dave Benke

The literature says bullying is typically one-on-one, unplanned, and lasts less than six months. Mobbing, on the other hand, is planned, organized as a group effort, and lasts more than six months.

In my case it has been about 9 years since I first recognized the hostility. I've learned to manage it, how best to respond to it, and have joy despite it. At this point, I suppose the only way it could end is if someone died.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 30, 2020, 06:31:36 PM
I am in full agreement with Larry on the spiritual/Holy Spirit underpinnings of the Christian Church, the communion of saints.  As uncomfortable as Creedal Third Article reality can be, it's bedrock. 

And at the same time the essentially spiritual fellowship includes - oh no - us.  Flesh and blood us.  Poor miserable sinner us. 

Our Missouri Synod ecclesiology comes through the early fires faced by our forebears.  So what is deemed also bedrock is that the local congregation (eventually - pending how the property was obtained/begun) owns its own property and writes the checks for its employees, among whom is the called pastor.  The denomination is at that level neither clericalist nor hierarchical.  It's congregational. 

To break that even to a limited degree would be quite an undertaking.  Would it be worth it at some time in the near future?  It would make closure and repurposing far easier among the 2000 or so congregations that are most likely not going to make it to 2030.  The ELCA instituted the "synodical administration" clause that allows the diocese/synod/district-equivalent to assume governance when certain metrics are not reached.  Normally this means close and sell.  And that could be useful in the LCMS.  But I think it would be perceived as a threat to the bedrock ecclesiological model. 

Dave Benke

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 30, 2020, 07:01:23 PM
I think death, metaphorical and literal, must take place

This is what the theory of collective narcissism indicates. On one hand, the forty years in the wilderness offers hope that collective narcissism may abate in future generations. And nonprofits in general are known to sometimes fail in a spectacular way when expenses outstretch income. (I lived through one of these situations once as low-level part of a secular institution. It was wild. Employees were spending big money right and left on pet projects. But really they were cannibalizing their once-sizable endowment fund in a manner carefully hidden from them by two men at the top. When the endowment ran out they publicly defaulted on debt and the party ended.)

On the other hand, the US Prohibition Party still exists (and even worse; it split into two parties due to an internal feud. Neither of the two parties would probably exist if it wasn't for someone who endowed the original one.) What keeps American Lutheranism from turning into a Prohibition Party? I don't have a good answer for that. Such an undead American Lutheranism would be financially dependent on sources that are bad for its spiritual health.

Although the membership numbers have been sinking for a long time now, the monetary side still expanded, masking the decline. Years ago I attempted to forecast when Lutheran institutions would be most likely to collapse. I came up with 2030 as the start of this period. (Now I question whether it was too late.) Looking at baptisms and deaths of members, I realized that membership would stabilize once the baby boom generation passed:

For your particular area, take the peak of the baby boom (by raw births, not rate), and add the life expectancy. Depending on exactly when the peak occurred and the sort of life expectancy figure you use, you get a year roughly from 2035 to 2045. Whenever it happens, it will be the worst year for losses. Continued losses or stabilization depend on the direction of the future birthrate; if it is too low, stabilization may not happen.

(Side note; for the baby-boom era LCMS and WELS, the youngest year in each synod was 1959 [as measured by dividing the baptized members by the confirmed members] Following this, the next peak is the echo boom. For WELS it is in 1989, for ELCA, 1994. For LCMS I don't have enough data. The echo boom is a much smaller peak; it represents a small, relatively level lull before the present decline in baptisms. US life expectancy from 1989 is 2064. From 1994 it is 2070.

After the worst of it passes, the membership figures should stabilize. Decline will continue, but it will be less decline each year after the peak until the start of the echo boom approaches the grave roughly around 2054. Then decline may pick up a bit until 2064-2070 ish. Because the year-to-year changes in births during the echo boom period is not as large as during the baby boom, it is more likely that future births may eclipse the dent their exit makes on the membership figures.)

What happens financially is less clear. I don't know is how many estate gifts can be expected. Another cushion (for urban areas) could be disruptive technology: Regus and Liquidspace are already AirBnB mimics for businesses wanting to rent offices or conference rooms. If one of those companies expanded into churches they could seriously reduce congregational physical plant costs. This seems inevitable to happen if tax privileges for places of worship are eliminated. Even under the current tax system, it would be interesting if a non-profit church AirBnB mimic could make a go of it. Especially districts would gain from such a platform because they could rent out defunct churches; old church buildings can be time-consuming to sell and costly to maintain. And churches which don't rent out their properties might have better luck getting loans from local banks; such banks may consider the rentability factor as a basis for lending.

For financial trends, it is possible to create your own inflation index using a locally relevant expense or price. It could be anything as long as you have yearly data for it. I made one for the WELS by using the first-year salary of a parish pastor as the basis of the index.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 31, 2020, 08:47:38 AM
Sometimes it seems to me that the Missouri Synod tries to have a governance like what is perceived as "Vatican style" governance employing what is perceived as "Baptist style ecclesiology" and with a perceived "Baptist Bible."   ;D

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 31, 2020, 08:50:57 AM
What happens financially is less clear. I don't know is how many estate gifts can be expected. Another cushion (for urban areas) could be disruptive technology: Regus and Liquidspace are already AirBnB mimics for businesses wanting to rent offices or conference rooms. If one of those companies expanded into churches they could seriously reduce congregational physical plant costs. This seems inevitable to happen if tax privileges for places of worship are eliminated. Even under the current tax system, it would be interesting if a non-profit church AirBnB mimic could make a go of it. Especially districts would gain from such a platform because they could rent out defunct churches; old church buildings can be time-consuming to sell and costly to maintain. And churches which don't rent out their properties might have better luck getting loans from local banks; such banks may consider the rentability factor as a basis for lending.

You bring a look well down the turnpike, Commencement, and most of it is connected to the word "decline."  After a certain point of declination at the local level, the second and third levels (regional and national) will in many ways collapse; the superstructure and its jobs/positions won't be sustainable. 

Renting of local church properties has long been in play in coastal areas across denominational lines.  Particularly school properties are useful for other kinds of schools (charter or private) or other assemblies.  However, the most productive usage is as tear-down/re-build sites for housing, supportive housing, or commercial developments that can bring in ongoing annual income.  Of course, this kind of plan cannot be undertaken by most urban congregations on their own - the membership is too diminished.  So level two is the manager and can use that income to promote new endeavors even on the same property.  The other option is for larger congregations to take title to tiny congregation property in order to sell or repurpose while initiating new outreach.  In any of these scenarios, the question is whether the new gathered group will make it as a congregation.

Covenant communities with more volunteer pastoral leadership is another way through the thicket, and training of clergy toward having another primary source of income will be important, in my opinion, from now through the next decades.   Your thoughts are appreciated in terms of the basic demographics especially for Lutherans, but Lutherans are usually "late adapters" to any strategy because "wir bleiben bei dem alten."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 31, 2020, 08:51:46 AM
Sometimes it seems to me that the Missouri Synod tries to have a governance like what is perceived as "Vatican style" governance employing what is perceived as "Baptist style ecclesiology" and with a perceived "Baptist Bible."   ;D

Peace, JOHN

Nice, John!     8)

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on December 31, 2020, 09:22:35 AM
John (and Dave), it’s cute, but not terribly accurate in my estimation. A synodical structure simply doesn’t fit into either the hierarchical or congregational alternatives, though it may combine features of both. When you realize that governance is essentially in a body that balances the voice of the congregations (as one house, if you will) with the voice of the ministerium (as another house, if you will) and doesn’t allow it to tilt one way or the other, you have a tertium quid.

The key, however, that is simply overlooked is that the structure of the LCMS with this Synodical blueprint ONLY works when both the constituent parts have a shared confessional standard, not merely on paper, but in conviction and practice. That is, will pastor or parishes allow practice and teaching to be conformed to the Symbols and corrected by them where they err or fall short? Said another way, is it a living and lively confession that unites us?

On the “Baptist” Bible is that just a slam at a Scripture that is without error because it is inspired by the Holy Spirit? If so, then that “Baptist” Bible is shared equally by the ancient and medieval Church and by the heirs of virtually every Reform movement that shook the West until the arrival of the acidic stew of German rationalism took hold.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on December 31, 2020, 09:30:38 AM
Baptist Bible?  What about Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that also affirm that Scripture is without error (the inerrancy) and infallibile?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on December 31, 2020, 09:56:21 AM
Baptist Bible?  What about Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that also affirm that Scripture is without error (the inerrancy) and infallibile?

But not quite though like the (not one of the Lutheran Confessions) Brief Statement.   ;D

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 31, 2020, 10:00:04 AM
What happens financially is less clear. I don't know is how many estate gifts can be expected. Another cushion (for urban areas) could be disruptive technology: Regus and Liquidspace are already AirBnB mimics for businesses wanting to rent offices or conference rooms. If one of those companies expanded into churches they could seriously reduce congregational physical plant costs. This seems inevitable to happen if tax privileges for places of worship are eliminated. Even under the current tax system, it would be interesting if a non-profit church AirBnB mimic could make a go of it. Especially districts would gain from such a platform because they could rent out defunct churches; old church buildings can be time-consuming to sell and costly to maintain. And churches which don't rent out their properties might have better luck getting loans from local banks; such banks may consider the rentability factor as a basis for lending.

You bring a look well down the turnpike, Commencement, and most of it is connected to the word "decline."  After a certain point of declination at the local level, the second and third levels (regional and national) will in many ways collapse; the superstructure and its jobs/positions won't be sustainable. 

Renting of local church properties has long been in play in coastal areas across denominational lines.  Particularly school properties are useful for other kinds of schools (charter or private) or other assemblies.  However, the most productive usage is as tear-down/re-build sites for housing, supportive housing, or commercial developments that can bring in ongoing annual income.  Of course, this kind of plan cannot be undertaken by most urban congregations on their own - the membership is too diminished.  So level two is the manager and can use that income to promote new endeavors even on the same property.  The other option is for larger congregations to take title to tiny congregation property in order to sell or repurpose while initiating new outreach.  In any of these scenarios, the question is whether the new gathered group will make it as a congregation.

Covenant communities with more volunteer pastoral leadership is another way through the thicket, and training of clergy toward having another primary source of income will be important, in my opinion, from now through the next decades.   Your thoughts are appreciated in terms of the basic demographics especially for Lutherans, but Lutherans are usually "late adapters" to any strategy because "wir bleiben bei dem alten."

Dave Benke

Several decades of debate were required before the U.S. Government finally recognized that the Board of Tea Experts, which had been established by the famous Tea Importation Act in 1897 and employed a small bevy of experts to taste tea, was obsolete.  A lot of debate for many years.  The Tea Tasters Union must have been very might though of few members. The Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act was finally passed in 1996, and the experts were retired or seconded to some other more essential function.

What functions continue in the LCMS that were necessary, edifying, seemed like a good idea, or helped place a few people here and there, and are now and in the foreseeable future obsolete, redundant, or completed tasks?

Of course, someone would pop up to find guilt or irrevocable sacredness in the personages or actions of those who long ago established or sustained such enterprises, particularly if such investigators had a dog in the hunt - old time relatives, active participation, "we've always done it that way".     

It should only take 3 or 4 Convention cycles and a few Committees to figure out what can go, a few more to memorialize the great traditions they represent... and maybe an action or two to absolve whoever.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on December 31, 2020, 10:50:32 AM
Several decades of debate were required before the U.S. Government finally recognized that the Board of Tea Experts, which had been established by the famous Tea Importation Act in 1897 and employed a small bevy of experts to taste tea, was obsolete.  A lot of debate for many years.  The Tea Tasters Union must have been very might though of few members. The Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act was finally passed in 1996, and the experts were retired or seconded to some other more essential function.

What functions continue in the LCMS that were necessary, edifying, seemed like a good idea, or helped place a few people here and there, and are now and in the foreseeable future obsolete, redundant, or completed tasks?

Of course, someone would pop up to find guilt or irrevocable sacredness in the personages or actions of those who long ago established or sustained such enterprises, particularly if such investigators had a dog in the hunt - old time relatives, active participation, "we've always done it that way".     

It should only take 3 or 4 Convention cycles and a few Committees to figure out what can go, a few more to memorialize the great traditions they represent... and maybe an action or two to absolve whoever.
I'm always learning things on this Forum! I never knew of the Tea Importation Act of 1897.
Quote
Tea Importation Act of 1897 was a United States public law forbidding the import of tea into the United States with excessive levels of fluoride, heavy metals, oxalate, and pesticides. The Act of Congress established a uniform standard of purity and quality while attempting to achieve the optimal health effects of tea and phenolic content in tea.
Wikipedia (which needs our support) reassures me that
Quote
After repeal, the Food and Drug Administration still regulates the quality of tea imported to the United States under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.[
I doubt if I've just advanced the thread discussion. :-[

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on December 31, 2020, 11:57:26 AM
Several decades of debate were required before the U.S. Government finally recognized that the Board of Tea Experts, which had been established by the famous Tea Importation Act in 1897 and employed a small bevy of experts to taste tea, was obsolete.  A lot of debate for many years.  The Tea Tasters Union must have been very might though of few members. The Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act was finally passed in 1996, and the experts were retired or seconded to some other more essential function.

What functions continue in the LCMS that were necessary, edifying, seemed like a good idea, or helped place a few people here and there, and are now and in the foreseeable future obsolete, redundant, or completed tasks?

Of course, someone would pop up to find guilt or irrevocable sacredness in the personages or actions of those who long ago established or sustained such enterprises, particularly if such investigators had a dog in the hunt - old time relatives, active participation, "we've always done it that way".     

It should only take 3 or 4 Convention cycles and a few Committees to figure out what can go, a few more to memorialize the great traditions they represent... and maybe an action or two to absolve whoever.
I'm always learning things on this Forum! I never knew of the Tea Importation Act of 1897.
Quote
Tea Importation Act of 1897 was a United States public law forbidding the import of tea into the United States with excessive levels of fluoride, heavy metals, oxalate, and pesticides. The Act of Congress established a uniform standard of purity and quality while attempting to achieve the optimal health effects of tea and phenolic content in tea.
Wikipedia (which needs our support) reassures me that
Quote
After repeal, the Food and Drug Administration still regulates the quality of tea imported to the United States under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938.[
I doubt if I've just advanced the thread discussion. :-[

Peace, Michael

Ah, but that allows thought about what in your church body (from top to bottom, or bottom to top) is the equivalent of a Board of Tea Tasters?  You may find them in a side alcove, tasting away.  Not the traditional, aesthetic or sublime things and acts of proven worth that help focus on the mission, on Christ, but things and functions that are truly anachronisms, or clearly now and in the future irrelevant?

Hey, there may even actually be a Council of Tea Tasters in there, somewhere...
Based on management logic, 10% of effort, cost and time may be involved.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 31, 2020, 12:18:05 PM
What happens financially is less clear. I don't know is how many estate gifts can be expected. Another cushion (for urban areas) could be disruptive technology: Regus and Liquidspace are already AirBnB mimics for businesses wanting to rent offices or conference rooms. If one of those companies expanded into churches they could seriously reduce congregational physical plant costs. This seems inevitable to happen if tax privileges for places of worship are eliminated. Even under the current tax system, it would be interesting if a non-profit church AirBnB mimic could make a go of it. Especially districts would gain from such a platform because they could rent out defunct churches; old church buildings can be time-consuming to sell and costly to maintain. And churches which don't rent out their properties might have better luck getting loans from local banks; such banks may consider the rentability factor as a basis for lending.

You bring a look well down the turnpike, Commencement, and most of it is connected to the word "decline."  After a certain point of declination at the local level, the second and third levels (regional and national) will in many ways collapse; the superstructure and its jobs/positions won't be sustainable. 

Renting of local church properties has long been in play in coastal areas across denominational lines.  Particularly school properties are useful for other kinds of schools (charter or private) or other assemblies.  However, the most productive usage is as tear-down/re-build sites for housing, supportive housing, or commercial developments that can bring in ongoing annual income.  Of course, this kind of plan cannot be undertaken by most urban congregations on their own - the membership is too diminished.  So level two is the manager and can use that income to promote new endeavors even on the same property.  The other option is for larger congregations to take title to tiny congregation property in order to sell or repurpose while initiating new outreach.  In any of these scenarios, the question is whether the new gathered group will make it as a congregation.

Covenant communities with more volunteer pastoral leadership is another way through the thicket, and training of clergy toward having another primary source of income will be important, in my opinion, from now through the next decades.   Your thoughts are appreciated in terms of the basic demographics especially for Lutherans, but Lutherans are usually "late adapters" to any strategy because "wir bleiben bei dem alten."

Dave Benke

Several decades of debate were required before the U.S. Government finally recognized that the Board of Tea Experts, which had been established by the famous Tea Importation Act in 1897 and employed a small bevy of experts to taste tea, was obsolete.  A lot of debate for many years.  The Tea Tasters Union must have been very might though of few members. The Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act was finally passed in 1996, and the experts were retired or seconded to some other more essential function.

What functions continue in the LCMS that were necessary, edifying, seemed like a good idea, or helped place a few people here and there, and are now and in the foreseeable future obsolete, redundant, or completed tasks?

Of course, someone would pop up to find guilt or irrevocable sacredness in the personages or actions of those who long ago established or sustained such enterprises, particularly if such investigators had a dog in the hunt - old time relatives, active participation, "we've always done it that way".     

It should only take 3 or 4 Convention cycles and a few Committees to figure out what can go, a few more to memorialize the great traditions they represent... and maybe an action or two to absolve whoever.

Yes - I remember us passing a resolution at the district convention level in 1997 strongly encouraging all congregations to have a fax machine.  And certainly an Epson spool printer.  So we were say 3 convention cycles off then, and are now encouraging congregations to consider life insurance for the members, a resolution sponsored by Thrivent.

The Committee level decisions are one thing - what really matters is a Blue Ribbon Commission. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 31, 2020, 05:36:19 PM
The Committee level decisions are one thing - what really matters is a Blue Ribbon Commission. 


Aren't they called "Blue Man Group" … Or am I thinking of another commission? :D

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on December 31, 2020, 05:47:07 PM
The Committee level decisions are one thing - what really matters is a Blue Ribbon Commission. 


Aren't they called "Blue Man Group" … Or am I thinking of another commission? :D

No, you're right.  Here's a synopsis of the one I served on:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnGlsQUhqlg

Dave Benke   8) 8)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Commencement2020 on December 31, 2020, 08:57:38 PM
Sometimes it seems to me that the Missouri Synod tries to have a governance like what is perceived as "Vatican style" governance employing what is perceived as "Baptist style ecclesiology"

There is an explanation for how this happened. The degree of natural hierarchy in a social system inversely correlates with its prosperity:

1. The economy in Germany was not the greatest at the time the philosophical system which Missourian governance is based on was developed.

2. The economy in the United States was excellent at the time Missourian ecclesiology was developed.

Another saying similar to yours is repeated within WELS: that the "LCMS practices the WELS position, and the WELS practices the LCMS position" or some variation of this. This is true in the dysfunctional sense, like if a simoniac with a dark personality gets more involved, the line of control quickly turns hierarchical in a way that is un-WELS and is more suited to the Vatican.

But the WELS saying may also reflect certain small matters; such as that the WELS equivalent of DCEs (be they male or female) are never, ever to assist in distribution, while this is common in the LCMS and has been so for decades. Or consider that I once attended an LCMS Sunday morning service (without communion) led by just the deaconess, while in the WELS if you listen long enough you'll find some (maybe most--I'm not sure--but certainly not all) pastors accepting that women's ordination and women pastors are acceptable [but such ministry would need to be confined to a convent or women's prison].

Your comment also reminds me of Jaroslav Pelikan's insight about how the LCMS was turning Baptist and the other Lutherans were turning Methodist.

He was of the opinion that epistemological divides were unsolvable. On page 113 of his book, From Luther to Kiekegaard he wrote "a repristination of classical Lutheran Orthodoxy was impossible after Kant, he had destroyed the epistemological presuppositions upon which Orthodoxy had built its system.”

So he ended his Baptist/Methodist soundbite by saying he would die in the bosom of the Orthodox Church.

It was shortsighted of him to give up on the epistemological divide as an irreconcilable difference. What he could have done instead was to come up with a system to navigate between the different thought patterns. Such a system could have been a guide to help translate ones' thought patterns into other ways of thinking. It would have made it immediately clear which apparently theologically differences were actually secular in nature. It also would have provided a gateway into the academic literature concerning the origin of the differences, so that people could see how each one developed. Altogether it would have been a stabilizing influence to prevent both schisms and shallow-rooted ecumenism (which is inherently unstable).

Baptists are typically subjectivist leaning Kantians or existentialists of some sort, while Methodists are Hegelians. Missouri Synod Lutherans (mostly) are objectivist-leaning Kantians, as are conservative Reformed Christians. This makes them closer to Baptists than to Methodists. In contrast, WELS and ELCA are both Hegelian; the difference being that WELS is right-Hegelian and ELCA closer to left-Hegelianism. Missouri moderates are also Hegelians, but somewhere in-between.

The epistemological evolution of the LCMS:


Although WELS did not have a Seminex, the Stoddard Controversy in the Protes'tant Conference was a similar schism. As most Protest'ant congregations eventually ended up as ALC, you could say the WELS did have an AELC-style schism via the Protest'ants. In WELS the Hegelian faction became the dominant one especially following the departure of the Kantians (which today make up the CLC).

The common theme is that the culture of the nation was undergoing an epistemological shift towards Hegelianism, emboldening like-thinking people in each denomination and initiating the schisms. To oversimplify the dynamic of what happened when the denominations experienced the intense cultural shifts of the counter-cultural period:


Last March, Dave Snowden wrote a public message concerning a "Numinous Program" which it appears the ELCA is starting. He was contracted for professional development purposes. I was glad to read this, because his Cynefin Framework is a method of intentionally sorting through epistemological differences without talking past each other. If ELCA is serious enough about it, this could be a stabilizing influence and help to prevent future schisms.

Cynefin alone is not enough to solve theological differences; instead it is a help. To solve the theological differences, you need to trace each position back to its source. Secular works like Cynefin or C. West Churhman's Inquiring Systems can serve as a general inspiration that the basic discrepancies between the epistemologies are not completely and fundamentally irreconcilable and incompatible--but instead become complementary when used properly.

Some instead use the same basic approach Aquinas used when he unified the Aristotelian Dominicans and the Platonist Augustinians: He asked different questions. And when people think using new questions the old differences get papered over. This can work, but at the expense of depth; you make people stupid by training people to put form over substance. For example, Luther in his contra Henricum criticized the Thomist method for causing theological shallowness: http://anglicanhistory.org/lutherania/against_henry.html (http://anglicanhistory.org/lutherania/against_henry.html)

Alternatively, you can use a system like Cynefin, Inquiring Systems, or a history of philosophy approach to categorize all differences among Lutherans. This includes the written theological disagreements, matters of practice, and informal internal culture idiosyncrasies. Then, you can line them up and see how all the diverse differences are really, put together, just a single difference. This in turn becomes a mirror to show us our crypto-secularism... just how bad its gotten.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 01, 2021, 09:42:38 AM
Our ecclesiology is messed up, we are not independent, we are self governing. In essence that means when when everything is fine, then we cruise along. When things are bad or conflicted we need someone to try to arbiter. Figuring out when and who and what has been a huge problem. My sense is that all needs to be redrawn the lack of integrity it has fueled is sinful.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 01, 2021, 10:05:04 AM
The ecclesiology of the LCMS is congregational.  Each congregation is self-governing.
The LCMS is advisory when it comes to non-doctrinal issues in the local parish.  If a
congregation wants to embark on a building program for a new sanctuary, then it is
up to the their Voters Assembly to approve it.  In 1985 our parish voted to approve
a building program of a new sanctuary and fellowship hall.  It was 94% of the voters
who approved our building program.

With an a overwhelming majority in favor of it, there was no difficulty in raising funds.
It is a blessing from the Lord when most people are on the same page.  However, when
a  parish votes on an important issue and only 55% of the voters are in favor of it, you
are going to have some problems.  With only 55% support, it would be best not to proceed
until more people are willing to support it.

A healthy parish has healthy leaders who understand the need for consensus in decision
making.  An unhealthy parish will engage in power struggles that nobody wins.
 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 01, 2021, 11:09:55 AM
The ecclesiology of the LCMS is congregational.  Each congregation is self-governing.
The LCMS is advisory when it comes to non-doctrinal issues in the local parish.  If a
congregation wants to embark on a building program for a new sanctuary, then it is
up to the their Voters Assembly to approve it.  In 1985 our parish voted to approve
a building program of a new sanctuary and fellowship hall.  It was 94% of the voters
who approved our building program.

With an a overwhelming majority in favor of it, there was no difficulty in raising funds.
It is a blessing from the Lord when most people are on the same page.  However, when
a  parish votes on an important issue and only 55% of the voters are in favor of it, you
are going to have some problems.  With only 55% support, it would be best not to proceed
until more people are willing to support it.

A healthy parish has healthy leaders who understand the need for consensus in decision
making.  An unhealthy parish will engage in power struggles that nobody wins.

94% approval is amazing.  I hasten to add that the building is now 35 years old and hopefully the congregation has not deferred maintenance (a most dreaded term) in recent years.  I say that as one whose congregation just chucked in $50000 in 2020 (of all years) in roof, chimney and door repairs on facilities ranging from 118 to 53 years old.  And as you would expect, the 53 year old building gives the most grief, the German forebears at the turn of the last century having used sturdier building materials including 2 x 4s that actually measure 2 x 4.  If anyone here has a spare $25000 it would be a great Epiphany blessing in Brooklyn.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 01, 2021, 11:28:45 AM
Sometimes it seems to me that the Missouri Synod tries to have a governance like what is perceived as "Vatican style" governance employing what is perceived as "Baptist style ecclesiology"

There is an explanation for how this happened. The degree of natural hierarchy in a social system inversely correlates with its prosperity:

1. The economy in Germany was not the greatest at the time the philosophical system which Missourian governance is based on was developed.

2. The economy in the United States was excellent at the time Missourian ecclesiology was developed.

Another saying similar to yours is repeated within WELS: that the "LCMS practices the WELS position, and the WELS practices the LCMS position" or some variation of this. This is true in the dysfunctional sense, like if a simoniac with a dark personality gets more involved, the line of control quickly turns hierarchical in a way that is un-WELS and is more suited to the Vatican.

But the WELS saying may also reflect certain small matters; such as that the WELS equivalent of DCEs (be they male or female) are never, ever to assist in distribution, while this is common in the LCMS and has been so for decades. Or consider that I once attended an LCMS Sunday morning service (without communion) led by just the deaconess, while in the WELS if you listen long enough you'll find some (maybe most--I'm not sure--but certainly not all) pastors accepting that women's ordination and women pastors are acceptable [but such ministry would need to be confined to a convent or women's prison].

Your comment also reminds me of Jaroslav Pelikan's insight about how the LCMS was turning Baptist and the other Lutherans were turning Methodist.

He was of the opinion that epistemological divides were unsolvable. On page 113 of his book, From Luther to Kiekegaard he wrote "a repristination of classical Lutheran Orthodoxy was impossible after Kant, he had destroyed the epistemological presuppositions upon which Orthodoxy had built its system.”

So he ended his Baptist/Methodist soundbite by saying he would die in the bosom of the Orthodox Church.

It was shortsighted of him to give up on the epistemological divide as an irreconcilable difference. What he could have done instead was to come up with a system to navigate between the different thought patterns. Such a system could have been a guide to help translate ones' thought patterns into other ways of thinking. It would have made it immediately clear which apparently theologically differences were actually secular in nature. It also would have provided a gateway into the academic literature concerning the origin of the differences, so that people could see how each one developed. Altogether it would have been a stabilizing influence to prevent both schisms and shallow-rooted ecumenism (which is inherently unstable).

Baptists are typically subjectivist leaning Kantians or existentialists of some sort, while Methodists are Hegelians. Missouri Synod Lutherans (mostly) are objectivist-leaning Kantians, as are conservative Reformed Christians. This makes them closer to Baptists than to Methodists. In contrast, WELS and ELCA are both Hegelian; the difference being that WELS is right-Hegelian and ELCA closer to left-Hegelianism. Missouri moderates are also Hegelians, but somewhere in-between.

The epistemological evolution of the LCMS:

  • Objectivist-leaning Kantian (Walther, solidified in the Predestinarian Controversy against the Hegelian-compatible position of the Ohio Synod)
  • Hegelian Right (with the election of John Behnken in 1935)
  • Shifted closer to the Hegelian Left until Seminex in 1974 when half of them left as the AELC.
  • Objectivist-leaning Kantian (post 1974)

Although WELS did not have a Seminex, the Stoddard Controversy in the Protes'tant Conference was a similar schism. As most Protest'ant congregations eventually ended up as ALC, you could say the WELS did have an AELC-style schism via the Protest'ants. In WELS the Hegelian faction became the dominant one especially following the departure of the Kantians (which today make up the CLC).

The common theme is that the culture of the nation was undergoing an epistemological shift towards Hegelianism, emboldening like-thinking people in each denomination and initiating the schisms. To oversimplify the dynamic of what happened when the denominations experienced the intense cultural shifts of the counter-cultural period:

  • For the WELS, Hegelians took control and Kantians left
  • In the Protest'ant Conference, Christian Exisitentialists (Hensel/Albrecht faction) took control and Hegelians left
  • In the LCMS, Kantians took control and Hegelians left, but only half of them.

Last March, Dave Snowden wrote a public message concerning a "Numinous Program" which it appears the ELCA is starting. He was contracted for professional development purposes. I was glad to read this, because his Cynefin Framework is a method of intentionally sorting through epistemological differences without talking past each other. If ELCA is serious enough about it, this could be a stabilizing influence and help to prevent future schisms.

Cynefin alone is not enough to solve theological differences; instead it is a help. To solve the theological differences, you need to trace each position back to its source. Secular works like Cynefin or C. West Churhman's Inquiring Systems can serve as a general inspiration that the basic discrepancies between the epistemologies are not completely and fundamentally irreconcilable and incompatible--but instead become complementary when used properly.

Some instead use the same basic approach Aquinas used when he unified the Aristotelian Dominicans and the Platonist Augustinians: He asked different questions. And when people think using new questions the old differences get papered over. This can work, but at the expense of depth; you make people stupid by training people to put form over substance. For example, Luther in his contra Henricum criticized the Thomist method for causing theological shallowness: http://anglicanhistory.org/lutherania/against_henry.html (http://anglicanhistory.org/lutherania/against_henry.html)

Alternatively, you can use a system like Cynefin, Inquiring Systems, or a history of philosophy approach to categorize all differences among Lutherans. This includes the written theological disagreements, matters of practice, and informal internal culture idiosyncrasies. Then, you can line them up and see how all the diverse differences are really, put together, just a single difference. This in turn becomes a mirror to show us our crypto-secularism... just how bad its gotten.

I hope you had a happy New Year's Eve, Commencement 2020 - certainly a lot of philosophical concepts to chew on in your post, which must have taken more than five minutes to put together.  I raise a New Year's Day Alka-Seltzer toast to you.

Understanding the philosophical underpinnings out of which theology flows is a necessary task for Christians and Lutherans.  The First Article as catechized ("reason and all my senses and still preserves them") helps, because the "logy" in theology is words/language/logical constructs.  The appropriate exercises of reason move into not only 19th century but 20th/21st century philosophical conversation.

Exegetical investigation of biblical texts, for example, that analyzes only the grammar and syntax without the Sitz im Leben is to study the bible in a locked upper room without access to history, only fixed (by whom?) rules of grammar, and is not fully useful; the same investigation that fails to understand the presuppositions and principles of investigation itself slides too readily into a plethora of hypotheticals and is also not fully useful.

At the end of the day, we who are called and ordained are stewards of the mysteries of God for a people of God who are baptized, with us, into an eternal spiritual fellowship, one step beyond the bounds of logic and reason.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on January 01, 2021, 12:23:14 PM
PrTim15:
Our ecclesiology is messed up, we are not independent, we are self governing. In essence that means when when everything is fine, then we cruise along. When things are bad or conflicted we need someone to try to arbiter. Figuring out when and who and what has been a huge problem. My sense is that all needs to be redrawn the lack of integrity it has fueled is sinful.

Me:
On the other hand, you seem to invoke your discipline process on doctrinal matters more often than we in the ELCA do.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 01, 2021, 12:25:57 PM
The ecclesiology of the LCMS is congregational.  Each congregation is self-governing.
The LCMS is advisory when it comes to non-doctrinal issues in the local parish.  If a
congregation wants to embark on a building program for a new sanctuary, then it is
up to the their Voters Assembly to approve it.  In 1985 our parish voted to approve
a building program of a new sanctuary and fellowship hall.  It was 94% of the voters
who approved our building program.

With an a overwhelming majority in favor of it, there was no difficulty in raising funds.
It is a blessing from the Lord when most people are on the same page.  However, when
a  parish votes on an important issue and only 55% of the voters are in favor of it, you
are going to have some problems.  With only 55% support, it would be best not to proceed
until more people are willing to support it.

A healthy parish has healthy leaders who understand the need for consensus in decision
making.  An unhealthy parish will engage in power struggles that nobody wins.

94% approval is amazing.  I hasten to add that the building is now 35 years old and hopefully the congregation has not deferred maintenance (a most dreaded term) in recent years.  I say that as one whose congregation just chucked in $50000 in 2020 (of all years) in roof, chimney and door repairs on facilities ranging from 118 to 53 years old.  And as you would expect, the 53 year old building gives the most grief, the German forebears at the turn of the last century having used sturdier building materials including 2 x 4s that actually measure 2 x 4.  If anyone here has a spare $25000 it would be a great Epiphany blessing in Brooklyn.


When I was on the board for an outdoor renewal center, the rule of thumb for capital fund drives for new facilities, the director told us, is to raise twice as much as the new construction will cost and put the other half in savings for maintenance. It's much easier to raise money for a building; and not so easy for repairs and upkeep for the building. Seldom do congregations do this.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 01, 2021, 12:37:05 PM
excerpt

Exegetical investigation of biblical texts, for example, that analyzes only the grammar and syntax without the Sitz im Leben is to study the bible in a locked upper room without access to history, only fixed (by whom?) rules of grammar, and is not fully useful; the same investigation that fails to understand the presuppositions and principles of investigation itself slides too readily into a plethora of hypotheticals and is also not fully useful.


The distinction you bring up comes from a bigger issue about the authorship of scriptures. When we talk about Sitz im Leben we are assuming a human author at a particular point of historical time to a particular audience with a particular purpose for that audience.


The response I've occasionally received when bringing up such issues in biblical interpretation is: "God wrote the Bible and God is beyond all times and settings. What God said was true for Jews 3000 years ago or Christ-followers 2000 years ago is also true for us today." Thus, there were/are Christians who insist men have to have short hair and women long hair. We see women coming to worship (in other congregations) with hats on their heads. Some Christians insist that God's chosen day for worship is the seventh day.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 01, 2021, 01:06:27 PM
Baptist Bible?  What about Vatican II and the Catechism of the Catholic Church that also affirm that Scripture is without error (the inerrancy) and infallibile?

Maybe the LCMS should adopt the paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that pertain to the nature of Scripture and abandon the the Brief Statement and the 1970's Statement on Scripture. I would favor that.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 01, 2021, 01:09:58 PM
excerpt

Exegetical investigation of biblical texts, for example, that analyzes only the grammar and syntax without the Sitz im Leben is to study the bible in a locked upper room without access to history, only fixed (by whom?) rules of grammar, and is not fully useful; the same investigation that fails to understand the presuppositions and principles of investigation itself slides too readily into a plethora of hypotheticals and is also not fully useful.


The distinction you bring up comes from a bigger issue about the authorship of scriptures. When we talk about Sitz im Leben we are assuming a human author at a particular point of historical time to a particular audience with a particular purpose for that audience.


The response I've occasionally received when bringing up such issues in biblical interpretation is: "God wrote the Bible and God is beyond all times and settings. What God said was true for Jews 3000 years ago or Christ-followers 2000 years ago is also true for us today." Thus, there were/are Christians who insist men have to have short hair and women long hair. We see women coming to worship (in other congregations) with hats on their heads. Some Christians insist that God's chosen day for worship is the seventh day.

Biblical fundamentalism of the nature you reference isn't Lutheran; however, I think some Lutheran laity hold the opinions you reference.  On the other side of that ledger, "God-breathed" as applied to Scripture has to do with both inspiration and infallibility in the history of Christian thought, and should apply up through the process of the biblical canon as well as Luther's insight that the canon is open-ended; all of these have to do with "God-breathed," a pneumatological category extending back to the Garden.  Thus Scripture is described hypostatically as possessing the breath of life (Hebrews 4:12).

John Hannah's point is very well taken.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 01:24:51 PM
John,

What are the words in the Brief Statement that you find to be other than the doctrine expressed on the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture in CCC?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 01, 2021, 01:42:20 PM
John,

What are the words in the Brief Statement that you find to be other than the doctrine expressed on the inspiration and truthfulness of Scripture in CCC?

I think the insistence on absolute correctness of historical, geographical details is not an effective apologetic.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 01:54:06 PM
So the first section specifically these words: Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters, John 10:35.

I’m not hearing the tension here with the CCC’s affirmation:

The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Article III, par. 107)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 01, 2021, 02:54:44 PM
So the first section specifically these words: Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters, John 10:35.

I’m not hearing the tension here with the CCC’s affirmation:

The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Article III, par. 107)

So I guess my suggestion will not be accepted.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 03:12:00 PM
Well, John, I may be dense, but I’m not seeing daylight between the two statements. And if so, why suggest that CCC’s formulation is preferred to the other if they are essentially equivalent in their assertion on the part you found objectionable in the Brief Statement? I’m not trying to be difficult; I just don’t get a point of difference here in substance. And either statement seems quite simply to affirm what we know the Fathers affirmed, as for instance, St. Augustine:  “For it cannot be remotely possible that the authority of the Scriptures should be fallacious at any point.” Fathers of the Church, Vol. 20, Letters, 147:14.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 01, 2021, 03:19:27 PM
Questions to ask are where the two statements lead/have led in the study of Sacred Scripture for Roman Catholics and Missouri Synod Lutherans, and how the various magisteriums (in LCMS, the Synod in Convention dealing with doctrinal resolutions, in Catholicism the actual magisterium) have treated those teaching biblical theology as and for the Church. 

Recently the opproprium leveled at Jeff Kloha was a signal to me at least that the two statements are not equivalent when the rubber hits the road. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 03:33:18 PM
Dave,

The question behind that question, I suspect, is the question not of the inerrancy and infallibility, but of the preservation of the Scriptures in the Church; and that’s a question that is complicated and not actually addressed by Brief Statement as I see it. Both traditions (RC and Lutheran) would I think affirm the Holy Spirit’s preservation of the Scriptures within the Church, and both have room for textual criticism and both tolerate (probably to different degrees) disagreements about the assumptions of the textual families or types. I am in this a Luddite (as in so much else) and tend to run with the majority text (Byzantine) for the simple reason that since I am of the opinion that if the Holy Spirit preserved a reliable text it makes sense that it would be the text that was read in the majority of the churches (and there’s a symmetry there with the early church criterion of “what was read” in the apostolic churches). Nonetheless, as has been so often pointed out, no doctrinal matter hinges on any textual variations between the manuscript families; I mean, what exactly does change doctrinally if Elizabeth were the one who sung the Magnificat? I don’t believe she did. I don’t think the Church has been wrong on that for all these centuries. I know Metzger called for “weighing” not “counting” the manuscript witnesses; but I simply point out that weighing leaves you in a realm of subjectivity that counting does not. Still, none of this is or ought to be church divisive, nor am I convinced that the BS’s statement is actually responsible for the later Kloha brouhaha. Sometimes a scholar floats a term that just doesn’t seem to fit the pattern of sound words, and I suspect that’s what happened here. “Plastic text” is a bit of a red flag before the bull; but from the standpoint of the text critical questions, you can understand what was meant in a less offensive way than the term taken outside of the scholarly discussion actually implies.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 01, 2021, 04:24:34 PM
Questions to ask are where the two statements lead/have led in the study of Sacred Scripture for Roman Catholics and Missouri Synod Lutherans, and how the various magisteriums (in LCMS, the Synod in Convention dealing with doctrinal resolutions, in Catholicism the actual magisterium) have treated those teaching biblical theology as and for the Church. 

Recently the opproprium leveled at Jeff Kloha was a signal to me at least that the two statements are not equivalent when the rubber hits the road. 

Dave Benke

Dave is right on! Roman Catholics today do not have incidents like we have had (Kloha and Becker). We seem not able to avoid the temptation to employ our unique understanding of inerrancy as a weapon against individual pastors and theologians who are perfectly orthodox.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 01, 2021, 04:30:23 PM
So the first section specifically these words: Since the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, it goes without saying that they contain no errors or contradictions, but that they are in all their parts and words the infallible truth, also in those parts which treat of historical, geographical, and other secular matters, John 10:35.

I’m not hearing the tension here with the CCC’s affirmation:

The inspired books teach the truth. "Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures." (Article III, par. 107)

I think this part of the CCC statement left wiggle room:

"teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures"

The focus is on truth pertaining to salvation rather than historical, etc. I think their wording makes room for their "big tent" while also acknowledging the concerns of their conservatives.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 01, 2021, 04:35:57 PM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 04:41:01 PM
Edward,

I think that “wiggle room” is more apparent than real given the prior confession that ALL the Sacred Writers say has as their ultimate author, the Holy Spirit, and teach the truth of God without error. The bit about that truth being that which for the sake of our salvation God wanted to see confided to the Scriptures, at least it seems to me, is not saying that there is stuff in there that God has not provided for our salvation, but that there is truth outside of the Holy Scriptures also, but that is not the salvific stuff.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 01, 2021, 05:04:03 PM
Edward,

I think that “wiggle room” is more apparent than real given the prior confession that ALL the Sacred Writers say has as their ultimate author, the Holy Spirit, and teach the truth of God without error. The bit about that truth being that which for the sake of our salvation God wanted to see confided to the Scriptures, at least it seems to me, is not saying that there is stuff in there that God has not provided for our salvation, but that there is truth outside of the Holy Scriptures also, but that is not the salvific stuff.

I would say the statement affirms the truths pertaining to salvation as without error. The opening clause affirms that the inspired writers were inspired to write by the Holy Spirit. They do not state simply: all things in Scripture are true and without error, at least not in this statement. The latter is the sense of the Brief Statement and how we've understood and applied it in the LCMS.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 05:10:17 PM
“Since therefore ALL that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit...” I may be misinterpreting this, Edward, but I it sounds to me like a pretty blanket statement; all they affirm is affirmed by the Holy Spirit. Rather like what the St. Augustine quote also said; because the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth, is not prone to error.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 01, 2021, 05:19:49 PM
“Since therefore ALL that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit...” I may be misinterpreting this, Edward, but I it sounds to me like a pretty blanket statement; all they affirm is affirmed by the Holy Spirit. Rather like what the St. Augustine quote also said; because the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth, is not prone to error.

Will, I think you're matrixing the statement with Augustine, which is what a conservative would do. Not all Roman Catholics would do that. That's how you get Catholic scholars who will say frankly that the biblical writers had things wrong or culturally conditioned, etc. What they don't do is state the Scriptures teach dogmatic errors. So using historical criticism in their circles gets allowed but you can't undermine approved doctrine.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on January 01, 2021, 05:28:16 PM
If Scripture is true in dogma but may not be in other areas, who gets to decide what is dogma and what is the fuzzy area in which various opinions can be tolerated?  Historicity of Adam and Eve, the Fall into Sin, the miracles of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, etc. . . It would seem that at minimum the Nicene Creed would define dogma and yet there are creedal churches where there is no dogma concerning such things as the Virgin Birth.  I am not trying to start an argument but to ask an honest question -- barring an infallible Pope who can sort this out, there is only one other authority and that is a Scripture that does not err.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 05:32:52 PM
Edward,

I think that’s fair. There are Roman Catholics who would not do that; but of course, also, Roman Catholics who would. I think by and large the CCC tended to come down more on the side of the Traditionalists than not; and so I think it fair to read it more in continuity with the previous tradition. But, of course, I’m shooting blind. I’m not a Roman Catholic; have no intention of ever being one; and cannot read the stuff apart from my Lutheran lens, which is always problematic, I grant. The nuances of other traditions always set off harmonic overtones more readily perceived by the native than for the tourist. And there’s the danger of importing our own dogmatic harmonic overtones.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 01, 2021, 05:40:56 PM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.

Indeed.   :)

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 01, 2021, 05:48:47 PM
Larry, yes. And as Jacobs pointed out in *Elements of Religion* affirming that is not denying that the Scripture is not the sole source of the truths it presents; there is indeed a role for Tradition in preserving them (as you rightly cite with the NC and why the AC starts not with Scripture but the affirmation of the Creeds!). But the nature of unwritten Tradition is that is not as stable and more corruptible than the written transmission of the Scriptures (witness even in the NC the filioque controversy). I recognize of course that in the wider sense the preservation and transmission of the Sacred Scriptures is a part of Tradition as Chemnitz also taught; but it is the part that is inspired and infallible and the touchstone for what is authentic in the Tradition.

I am reminded of how it’s become accepted teaching in the East to insist that King Herod killed no less than 14,000 infants (https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2019/12/29/103682-14000-infants-the-holy-innocents-slain-by-herod-at-bethlehem); and how, for them, whatever makes it into the liturgy and perdures for a long enough time is to be taken by the faithful as truth. And similarly, I suppose, with the accumulation of papal pronouncements; if you hold to the letter of the actual document that promulgates either papal infallibility or the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin,  you will have to hold that those who deny these are under the anathema. Sasse spoke of what happens when the balloon of tradition comes loosed from the anchor of the Scriptures! But the Sacred Scriptures? They have not changed and “developed” since the death of the Apostles; they are the most stable and sure witness we have to the faith once delivered to the saints.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 01, 2021, 05:49:34 PM
If Scripture is true in dogma but may not be in other areas, who gets to decide what is dogma and what is the fuzzy area in which various opinions can be tolerated?  Historicity of Adam and Eve, the Fall into Sin, the miracles of Jesus, the Virgin Birth, etc. . . It would seem that at minimum the Nicene Creed would define dogma and yet there are creedal churches where there is no dogma concerning such things as the Virgin Birth.  I am not trying to start an argument but to ask an honest question -- barring an infallible Pope who can sort this out, there is only one other authority and that is a Scripture that does not err.

They don't bar the pope, Larry. He is that arbiter. Tradition, also, would play that role as well as living, respected authorities.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on January 01, 2021, 05:57:19 PM
But where is this agreement on tradition?  Is Rome without its heretics or theologians that skirt the fringes?  We as Lutherans cannot seem to agree and we have written Confessions.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 01, 2021, 06:26:37 PM
But where is this agreement on tradition?  Is Rome without its heretics or theologians that skirt the fringes?  We as Lutherans cannot seem to agree and we have written Confessions.

We hear the arguing in our own house and can't hear it so clearly among the neighbors. Doubtless, it is there as I heard it years ago at Notre Dame.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 01, 2021, 10:19:26 PM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.

Indeed.   :)

Peace, JOHN

Double indeed.  All in the name of the Bible.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 08:15:51 AM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.

Indeed.   :)

Peace, JOHN

Double indeed.  All in the name of the Bible.

Dave Benke

Even a pastor holding an LCMS approved hermeneutic who happens to use his Nestle-Aland New Testament text will also use the BDAG lexicon. That is Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich. Danker was a world-class NT scholar but another victim of the heresy hunt.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 02, 2021, 08:30:07 AM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.

Indeed.   :)

Peace, JOHN

Double indeed.  All in the name of the Bible.

Dave Benke

Even a pastor holding an LCMS approved hermeneutic who happens to use his Nestle-Aland New Testament text will also use the BDAG lexicon. That is Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich. Danker was a world-class NT scholar but another victim of the heresy hunt.

Peace, JOHN
John, you consistently blame the LCMS for having doctrinal standards they actually enforce. Is it your contention that people like Prof. Becker teach what the LCMS teaches? Or that they don’t, but they teach what the LCMS should teach? Or is it that they teach something different, but the LCMS should stop being so fussy about its teachers contradicting each other? How would you prevent the LCMS from becoming just another mainline liberal Protestant body like the ELCA if you think it wrong to remove preachers and teachers whose side with the ELCA on matter where the two bodies differ?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 02, 2021, 09:09:25 AM
Ah, the unending bitterness of that battle... We need to allow the blood of the Savior which has answered for the sins of the world to do exactly that in our own hearts toward others. There’s a beautiful prayer in Seed Grains (Loehe) in which he prays: “Unto all whom I have ever pained, deceived, or caused to sin, or whom I have robbed of honor, health, or possessions, whom I can no longer ask for pardon, nor restore unto them, *because they have already gone into joy and pardon of every sin*—gone home to Thee—to all these, O Lord, grant good for all my evil, both now and in the day of the resurrection of the just; even as Thou knowest how, and in how far, all this which I ask can be granted.” Dr. Piepkorn and Dr. Danker have gone into the joy and pardon of every sin. As have most of those who many of you believe wronged them. At one before the throne of the Lamb, with every error corrected, every sin forgiven, every grudge erased. This is the heavenly life that He gives us now to live here upon the earth. Let’s not reject it!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 09:27:27 AM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.

Indeed.   :)

Peace, JOHN

Double indeed.  All in the name of the Bible.

Dave Benke

Even a pastor holding an LCMS approved hermeneutic who happens to use his Nestle-Aland New Testament text will also use the BDAG lexicon. That is Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich. Danker was a world-class NT scholar but another victim of the heresy hunt.

Peace, JOHN
John, you consistently blame the LCMS for having doctrinal standards they actually enforce. Is it your contention that people like Prof. Becker teach what the LCMS teaches? Or that they don’t, but they teach what the LCMS should teach? Or is it that they teach something different, but the LCMS should stop being so fussy about its teachers contradicting each other? How would you prevent the LCMS from becoming just another mainline liberal Protestant body like the ELCA if you think it wrong to remove preachers and teachers whose side with the ELCA on matter where the two bodies differ?

PETE,

The doctrinal standard of the LCMS is clear in the constitution. Confessions only. The only doctrinal standard of the prescribed ordination rites is clear. The Evangelical Lutheran Confessions. Sacramentally, liturgically, and theologically, the Lutheran Symbols clearly distinguish us from any American Protestant body, whether liberal or conservative.

Just in my lifetime I have watched sadly as American Lutheranism permitted our confessional heritage to erode and evolve gradually into various forms of Protestantism. Missouri opted for Evangelical Protestantism and the ELCA predecessors for the mainline. Our current state suggests that we are headed for extinction as Lutherans. There is no longer any reason to remain distinct. Once we were a brilliant evangelical catholic witness; now that is eclipsed by the American melting pot. I am an outlier, I know. So were Benedict, Luther, Stephan, Walther, and many, many more.   ;D

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 02, 2021, 09:33:22 AM
Ah, the unending bitterness of that battle... We need to allow the blood of the Savior which has answered for the sins of the world to do exactly that.

The bitterness of that battle is actually at an ebb, because most of the participants and those directly connected have passed or are well into their older years.  But "battle" is the operative term.  I've stated here and continue to hold that the battle that persists in our Missouri fellowship is not primarily the one from the 70s, but the one that took place in the late 80s and early 90s which could be labeled Bohlmann/RPreus and was more about leadership and succession - ecclesiology - than anything else.

Jack Preus spoke at length from retirement at the 1989 Synod convention about the division being created by his brother; eventually Bohlmann was upended, and a cycle of battles over worship style, prayer in public and leadership succession have continued.  I think the ongoing marker of leadership issues is highlighted by the simple fact that an anonymous group - the United List - controls the selection of national electees by a 90% margin.  I don't think there's another Protestant denomination with that "distinction."

People who studied under or were mentored by ACP or Fred, or Bill Danker, for example, will continue in their senior years to mourn the loss of those stalwarts to their denomination.  They should.  It was a great loss.  But more and more of those people are saints around the eternal throne each year.  John Hannah eloquently and painfully describes what's happened in Lutheranism as the authentic evangelical and catholic center has failed to hold.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2021, 09:39:20 AM
Heresy hunting is always a bone of contention. But heresy hunting is a necessary function of any organization. Considered in a broad way, heresy could be considered as any ideas or actions that are inimical to the mission, functioning, or existence of the organization. In that sense we here at the ALPB Forum Online are right now going through a period of heresy hunting. Some posters who do not conform to the standards decided upon by the Forum leadership are being expelled (anonymous posters), some topics are being ruled as off limits (politics),  and some behaviors are being ruled out of bounds and their practice could result in expulsion. Why? Because it is thought that such behaviors are damaging to the mission of this Forum and threaten its continued existence.


Is it wrong for our designated heresy hunters (the moderators backed by the ALPB Board) to define what is heretical for this Forum and enforce those boundaries? That is their job. If they do not enforce the rules this can and likely would become a toxic place. Is it possible that they could enforce the rules too stringently? Certainly, and that also would be damaging.


The late LCMS unpleasantness, late 60s into the 70s was heresy hunting. We will disagree on whether it was over reach, a kind of allergic reaction or autoimmune disorder, or a necessary correction. But the fact that lines were drawn and rules and standards enforced was not in itself something bad. Such things are necessary, just as many agree that the new rules and standards being enforced by our moderators are necessary. The question is whether they went too far or not.


For another perspective on the events at the St. Louis Seminary during those times, I recommend to your attention the book (available on Kindle) A Seminary in Crisis: The Inside Story of the Preus Fact Finding Committee by Paul Zimmerman.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on January 02, 2021, 09:56:14 AM

For another perspective on the events at the St. Louis Seminary during those times, I recommend to your attention the book (available on Kindle) A Seminary in Crisis: The Inside Story of the Preus Fact Finding Committee by Paul Zimmerman.

I found his account to be rather dull.

I recommend this: https://scholar.csl.edu/controversylcms/

Sadly, the course is incomplete. I wish they had everything there that they had in the class.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 10:03:43 AM
Ah, the unending bitterness of that battle... We need to allow the blood of the Savior which has answered for the sins of the world to do exactly that.

The bitterness of that battle is actually at an ebb, because most of the participants and those directly connected have passed or are well into their older years.  But "battle" is the operative term.  I've stated here and continue to hold that the battle that persists in our Missouri fellowship is not primarily the one from the 70s, but the one that took place in the late 80s and early 90s which could be labeled Bohlmann/RPreus and was more about leadership and succession - ecclesiology - than anything else.

Jack Preus spoke at length from retirement at the 1989 Synod convention about the division being created by his brother; eventually Bohlmann was upended, and a cycle of battles over worship style, prayer in public and leadership succession have continued.  I think the ongoing marker of leadership issues is highlighted by the simple fact that an anonymous group - the United List - controls the selection of national electees by a 90% margin.  I don't think there's another Protestant denomination with that "distinction."

People who studied under or were mentored by ACP or Fred, or Bill Danker, for example, will continue in their senior years to mourn the loss of those stalwarts to their denomination.  They should.  It was a great loss.  But more and more of those people are saints around the eternal throne each year.  John Hannah eloquently and painfully describes what's happened in Lutheranism as the authentic evangelical and catholic center has failed to hold.

Dave Benke

Yes, Dave. The consequences of the "Battle" reach into the 1980s and 1990s as we in the LCMS drifted from our evangelical catholic and confessional witness.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on January 02, 2021, 10:04:08 AM

For another perspective on the events at the St. Louis Seminary during those times, I recommend to your attention the book (available on Kindle) A Seminary in Crisis: The Inside Story of the Preus Fact Finding Committee by Paul Zimmerman.

I found his account to be rather dull.

I recommend this: https://scholar.csl.edu/controversylcms/

Sadly, the course is incomplete. I wish they had everything there that they had in the class.

Thanks for passing on that link to the course by Drs. Herrman and Bode.  I'll be checking it out.  What do you mean that the course is incomplete?  I only looked at the titles of each section. 

Jeremy
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 02, 2021, 10:06:23 AM
I've stated here and continue to hold that the battle that persists in our Missouri fellowship is not primarily the one from the 70s, but the one that took place in the late 80s and early 90s which could be labeled Bohlmann/RPreus and was more about leadership and succession - ecclesiology - than anything else....

I came to the seminary (CTS-FW) in 1983 after the battle of the 70s had waned, although it was less than a decade after the last convention decision essentially brought it to an official end. As I graduated in 1987 the new battle was warming up, and we saw our president, Dr. Robert Preus, under attack from St. Louis (I was in my fourth year when the first 'visit' was conducted on CTS's campus from St. Louis). I studied under Preus (he was my professor for the Lutheran confessions), and remember my years at the Fort as productive and good.  Despite what was brewing beyond our walls I was still largely unaware of just what was going on 'out there.'  After I graduated and took my first call I saw from a distance as the president under whom I had trained was deposed.  You can well imagine the reaction of many Ft. Wayne graduates at that time. We saw no reason for what happened.  The seminary where we trained was a stable place of learning. It made no sense to us.

I lived through the 80s and 90s you mention largely preoccupied by the demands of parish ministry, culminating with a challenging tenure at the end of the 90s at a parish with 1,600 members.  I saw the various trends come and go, the first of which was a hard push by the Church Growth advocates.  The "Battle for the Bible" was in the background then, for the new fight was over ecclesiology, what does the church essentially look like, how does it properly function, what determines how it makes decision.  I watched as business principles and sociological theories began to be used as a way to build and re-energize the church. As I was pastoring a small church in a very poor and lightly populated county with a bi-racial population, the new principles fell flat.  They didn't work where I was sent.  I thanked God at the time for Sasse for restoring my theological bearings in the theology of the cross.  I had read him under Marquart, but the lessons really took hold in the field. 

In the last several years I saw us walk away from those trendy techniques and embrace again our Christological center.  At least that was my perspective.  I also saw how our Lutheran relatives on the other side of the fence were walking in a direction that appeared to be quite opposite of where my church was going.  I continued to have polite professional relationships with the leaders of these congregations, but what we had in common seemed less and less with each passing year.  Now I am watching their numbers dwindle in my community and out here in the rural expanses I find myself the remaining Lutheran post.  I know we are all part of an aging predominantly white group, but somehow the more 'progressive' direction is not taking.  At least not here. 

I hear as some bemoan what they feel is lost and gone in Missouri.  Since I lack the real time experience of the 70s, or of the decades prior, it is difficult for me to relate.  I am a product of the years following.  Perhaps some can enlighten me on what was lost that was so important that I neglected to appreciate.  Yes, I am a product of a much more conservative era.  Yes, some of my convictions align me more closely with my conservative Baptist and related Reformed neighbors.  But I am also the product of a time of liturgical renewal and rediscovery.  My predecessor, a product of the 60s at Springfield, did not have the benefit of the liturgical renewal I experienced.  And in this way I also find myself quite distant from those same Baptist and Reformed neighbors.  Yet we sit down weekly to study the Greek New Testament.  We talk of our similarities and differences.  It is productive and instructive.  I don't know if I would have the same discussions with the more 'progressive' clergy of my area, since our theological paths have parted over the years with such distance.  Our premises are so different.  It is not that I would not or could not discuss theology with them, but I fear we now would struggle to find as much common ground. 

So, for those who mourn what they feel we lost in the era before I entered the ministry, can you explain what we need to recover and rediscover that is no longer here?  Especially for those of us who did not live and experience the church in the era where your time began. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 10:22:53 AM

So, for those who mourn what they feel we lost in the era before I entered the ministry, can you explain what we need to recover and rediscover that is no longer here?  Especially for those of us who did not live and experience the church in the era where your time began.


From what I read here from you I would say you are on the right track and fulfilling your proper vocation.     ;D

Peace, JOHN

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 02, 2021, 10:32:09 AM
In the LCMS the rear view mirror seems bigger than the windshield, we are dying as an institution. Time to press on not go back. I’m w Pastor Weedon, let grace do it’s work and press on. Let the Lord Jesus square things up.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 02, 2021, 11:24:18 AM
"For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord..."to give you a future and a hope" Jeremiah 29:11.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on January 02, 2021, 12:41:55 PM
I believe that life as a parish pastor should have several focal points.
First of all, Word and Sacrament ministry with the people in the parish, eucharistically centered, doctrinally solid (though with less rigidity than some might prescribe), aesthetically elevated in ways appropriate to the assembly that gathers on Sunday.
Second, an energetic teaching ministry to the generation who did not grow up with regular Sunday School, Bible stories at home, Vacation Bible School and Church Camp.
Third, energetically relating numbers One and Two to the Church beyond the parish, to the neighborhood of the parish, and to the social, moral and political issues of the neighborhood, town, country and world outside that parish.
   While I might give #1 priority, I am also inclined to rate all three as equal priorities.
   This requires much from those of us under the Call. Personally, I feel that many have neglected #3; some have turned #1 into "worship wars," and #2 can become mini-battles for the Bible.
   And while the parish is the center, it is very wrong for pastors to say "I take care of things here, and do not have time for all that 'other stuff' going on in the denomination or the world."
  Big mistake, that is.
 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 02, 2021, 12:48:21 PM
"For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord..."to give you a future and a hope" Jeremiah 29:11.

And if you're feeling the tug of the Benedict option in your future, try this on for size, from the prior verses, so in context:  7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Jeremiah is to tell the exiles headed off for a two generation stay in a strange land -
a) pray for Babylon's welfare
b) live your lives in Babylon, keep on keeping on
c) "in its welfare you will find your welfare."

That to me is a futures option we call "engagement," a strategy stated in the theme of the Atlantic District for the past going on twenty years, "Engaging the world with the Gospel of hope."  In the world, but not of the world.  And not out of the world.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 02, 2021, 12:51:54 PM
The ultimate lunacy was labeling Dr. Arthur Carl Piepkorn as part of a faculty
that was no longer orthodox.  He was one of the outstanding theologians of
the LCMS in the 20th century. Dr. Piepkorn was unjustly condemned and
made a victim of a heresy hunt in the 1970's.

Indeed.   :)

Peace, JOHN

Double indeed.  All in the name of the Bible.

Dave Benke

Even a pastor holding an LCMS approved hermeneutic who happens to use his Nestle-Aland New Testament text will also use the BDAG lexicon. That is Bauer, Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich. Danker was a world-class NT scholar but another victim of the heresy hunt.

Peace, JOHN
John, you consistently blame the LCMS for having doctrinal standards they actually enforce. Is it your contention that people like Prof. Becker teach what the LCMS teaches? Or that they don’t, but they teach what the LCMS should teach? Or is it that they teach something different, but the LCMS should stop being so fussy about its teachers contradicting each other? How would you prevent the LCMS from becoming just another mainline liberal Protestant body like the ELCA if you think it wrong to remove preachers and teachers whose side with the ELCA on matter where the two bodies differ?

PETE,

The doctrinal standard of the LCMS is clear in the constitution. Confessions only. The only doctrinal standard of the prescribed ordination rites is clear. The Evangelical Lutheran Confessions. Sacramentally, liturgically, and theologically, the Lutheran Symbols clearly distinguish us from any American Protestant body, whether liberal or conservative.

Just in my lifetime I have watched sadly as American Lutheranism permitted our confessional heritage to erode and evolve gradually into various forms of Protestantism. Missouri opted for Evangelical Protestantism and the ELCA predecessors for the mainline. Our current state suggests that we are headed for extinction as Lutherans. There is no longer any reason to remain distinct. Once we were a brilliant evangelical catholic witness; now that is eclipsed by the American melting pot. I am an outlier, I know. So were Benedict, Luther, Stephan, Walther, and many, many more.   ;D

Peace, JOHN
I don't think we are headed for extinction as Lutherans, but certainly that view is a matter of trust more than a sociological outlook. All the trendlines are bad. Only the promise is good. Lutheran institutions may fail, but living Christian faith as doctrinally described by Lutheranism will always be around.

I simply don't see the Evangelical Protestantism in the LCMS except in a few of the large suburban big box wannabes. If you compare a typical LCMS congregation in 1950 to today, my guess is that today's LCMS (in general) exhibits far less eagerness to blend in with American Protestantism and far more robust sacramental theology and liturgical practice. It's just that we have fewer and older people doing it, so we're declining rather than growing. We are evangelical catholic. There is life in American Evangelism and life in Roman Catholicism, but no life left in mainline American Protestantism; it is a coexist bumper sticker on a cultural institution running on fumes. Institutionally, we're like mainline and declining accordingly. But in theology and practice we share much with Evangelicals and Catholics, and what we share with them is the respective life-giving parts of them-- a high view of the Scriptures and a high view of the Sacraments.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 02, 2021, 01:09:15 PM
Dave,

You sure do hate the Benedict Option! But remember that monasticism was the CENTER of outreach in much of the ancient church. And the fundamental idea is that the Church cannot lean on society at all any more for formation; she has to provide that entirely. And she seeks the welfare of the city by inviting to repentance and so valuing of God’s Commandments, and proclaiming His gracious promises. But the Church has to equip her children to face a world that thinks opposite of those commandments and thinks the promises are sheer delusion. I don’t think Benedict Option ever suggested not seeking the welfare of the city; it suggested a way toward it.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 01:27:56 PM
Dave,

You sure do hate the Benedict Option!


Are you sure he does, Will? Maybe he merely rejects a perverted Benedict option of the church isolated.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 02, 2021, 01:40:17 PM
John,

You’re right. I should have said, it sound to me like you sure do hate the Benedict Option...
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 02, 2021, 02:01:52 PM
I've stated here and continue to hold that the battle that persists in our Missouri fellowship is not primarily the one from the 70s, but the one that took place in the late 80s and early 90s which could be labeled Bohlmann/RPreus and was more about leadership and succession - ecclesiology - than anything else....

I came to the seminary (CTS-FW) in 1983 after the battle of the 70s had waned, although it was less than a decade after the last convention decision essentially brought it to an official end. As I graduated in 1987 the new battle was warming up, and we saw our president, Dr. Robert Preus, under attack from St. Louis (I was in my fourth year when the first 'visit' was conducted on CTS's campus from St. Louis). I studied under Preus (he was my professor for the Lutheran confessions), and remember my years at the Fort as productive and good.  Despite what was brewing beyond our walls I was still largely unaware of just what was going on 'out there.'  After I graduated and took my first call I saw from a distance as the president under whom I had trained was deposed.  You can well imagine the reaction of many Ft. Wayne graduates at that time. We saw no reason for what happened.  The seminary where we trained was a stable place of learning. It made no sense to us.

Don, John, and Dave, I think it is very telling that you are all describing the wounds associated with purging. The short term political gains of this tactic keep political leaders coming back to it as a solution while the long term damage ensures yet more purging in the future. The back and forth of this tactic will need to stop for the sake of stability and renewed growth.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 02, 2021, 02:08:19 PM
One issue that I have with the discussion of the Benedict Option is for how much longer it will even be optional. We live in a society that is becoming increasingly intolerant of dissent or diversity of thought or ideology. Those that do not conform their speech and action to the prevailing progressive woke ideology are being increasingly dismissed as unworthy of being in polite society and increasingly of doing business in society or being employed. As conservative religious groups seek to do social service in their communities, they are increasingly being told that they must conform not to their beliefs but to proper progressive ideology or be banished.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 02, 2021, 02:22:00 PM
The Benedict Option is not opposed to the Church being for the world. The premise is that a church that is of the world cannot be for the world. If individual members are not part of a strong Christian community (strong enough to be counter-cultural) the church sinks into worldliness.

I think conservatives tend to view the Benedict Option more favorably because they perceive the trend of the culture to be away from the church. Moderates and progressives don’t see the culture outside the church changing so much for the worse, so they see less reason the disengage from certain aspects of it.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 02, 2021, 02:26:03 PM
"For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord..."to give you a future and a hope" Jeremiah 29:11.


That verse is clearly addressed to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. It is specifically about the end of their captivity (Jer 29:14). Why would you think it applies to the LCMS?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 02, 2021, 02:31:37 PM
"For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord..."to give you a future and a hope" Jeremiah 29:11.


That verse is clearly addressed to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. It is specifically about the end of their captivity (Jer 29:14). Why would you think it applies to the LCMS?
Because it shows that God is not abandoning people just because hard times are coming upon them.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 02, 2021, 02:34:50 PM
"For I know the plans I have for you" says the Lord..."to give you a future and a hope" Jeremiah 29:11.


That verse is clearly addressed to the Israelites exiled in Babylon. It is specifically about the end of their captivity (Jer 29:14). Why would you think it applies to the LCMS?
Because it shows that God is not abandoning people just because hard times are coming upon them.


God didn't make that promise to other exiled people - include the Israelites who had been exiled by Assyria. God's plans for the Northern Kingdom was that it disappeared. To take what God promised to one group of people over a very specific issue and apply it to all people of all time is probably going too far with scriptures.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 02:45:24 PM

Don, John, and Dave, I think it is very telling that you are all describing the wounds associated with purging. The short term political gains of this tactic keep political leaders coming back to it as a solution while the long term damage ensures yet more purging in the future. The back and forth of this tactic will need to stop for the sake of stability and renewed growth.


Indeed, Ed. The consequences of starting a purge is that it becomes addictive to some and others join and also become addicted.   :)

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on January 02, 2021, 02:48:36 PM
I honestly don't understand John Hannah's complaints outside of "my guys were treated roughly."  Which they were. Weedon and Speckhard's questions never get answered.  And it is all fine to say "the confessions are the standards", but you can't say that and then refuse to follow it to a conclusion.  Either they say something, or they don't, and we should just stop it.  For example, under the confessions, is this German Bishop outside of them, or is this another spot we "must maintain evangelical catholic witness and dialog about?"

https://religionnews.com/2020/12/29/top-german-catholic-bishop-urges-shift-on-womens-ordination-homosexuality/ (https://religionnews.com/2020/12/29/top-german-catholic-bishop-urges-shift-on-womens-ordination-homosexuality/)

Quote
Bishop Georg Bätzing, the current president of the German national conference of Catholic prelates, called for a more inclusive church on Tuesday (Dec. 29), suggesting that the Catholic hierarchy could shift its positions on women’s ordination and homosexuality...Bätzing, who heads the Diocese of Limburg, near Frankfurt, told a German magazine that while it is important to “honestly state the church’s arguments as to why the sacramental ministry can only be given to men,” those arguments are becoming less convincing over time.

“There are well-developed arguments in theology in favor of opening up the sacramental ministry to women as well,” Bätzing told the German magazine Herder Korrespondenz.

He suggested that change could come gradually by ordaining women as deacons in the church, before ordaining them as priests and bishops.

Bätzing also reportedly discussed the church’s position on homosexual relationships, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church currently describes as “intrinsically disordered."...He also told the Catholic News Service in May that the church should examine the “signs of the times” and “develop” teachings — including those dealing with sexual morality.

Is it possible that the church for 2000 years has agreed with the prior Jewish understanding on sexuality, but now due to new theology we are starting to see the light?

This is what it comes down to.  If your doctrinal standards can't say that the German Bishop has excommunicated himself and that he should repent, then to hell with them.  This stuff is just plain paganism.  And it isn't heresy hunting to say it.  And it isn't nut-picking to use this as casuistry.  This guy in the Arch-Bishop head of the RCC's German National conference of Prelates.

People should be willing to give a plain answer.  At this point you can't fault the German Bishop, he's rather plain.  The church should be rather plain back, but he knows it won't be.  And we are essentially arguing that we should be more obscure.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 02, 2021, 03:51:58 PM
Mark, what's happening in Germany is not happening in the LCMS. It seems very different.

More tension and threat often leads to less clarity, more sneaking. Happened in the Walkout era and in the Preus ouster. If we want more candor, it will likely require less tension and threat. Once those have escalated, it's difficult to scale them back. We have operated as a church with those tensions for more than 50 years.

I think the question is how do we maintain our standards with sincerity while lowering tensions. No one seems to know how to do this.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on January 02, 2021, 03:59:34 PM

For another perspective on the events at the St. Louis Seminary during those times, I recommend to your attention the book (available on Kindle) A Seminary in Crisis: The Inside Story of the Preus Fact Finding Committee by Paul Zimmerman.

I found his account to be rather dull.

I recommend this: https://scholar.csl.edu/controversylcms/

Sadly, the course is incomplete. I wish they had everything there that they had in the class.

Thanks for passing on that link to the course by Drs. Herrman and Bode.  I'll be checking it out.  What do you mean that the course is incomplete?  I only looked at the titles of each section. 

Jeremy

For example, the last episode is only 11 minutes long, but I don't think they only had class for 11 minutes. Something else must have taken place that day which isn't on film.

In a couple of places, they talk about having people from the walkout in class to speak about their experiences, but none of those are filmed.

I think they have a video of Jack Preus talking about his experience. That was from my "History of the LCMS" class, taught by John Wohlrabe who was working on his Th.D. at the time. I'm somewhere in the first row.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 02, 2021, 04:18:22 PM
I have watched parts of this course so far. It is accurate and fair in my estimation. Best of all the two avoid hysterical descriptions of characters opposing the majority. All are treated as sincere churchmen.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on January 02, 2021, 05:48:31 PM

For another perspective on the events at the St. Louis Seminary during those times, I recommend to your attention the book (available on Kindle) A Seminary in Crisis: The Inside Story of the Preus Fact Finding Committee by Paul Zimmerman.

I found his account to be rather dull.

I recommend this: https://scholar.csl.edu/controversylcms/

Sadly, the course is incomplete. I wish they had everything there that they had in the class.

Thanks for passing on that link to the course by Drs. Herrman and Bode.  I'll be checking it out.  What do you mean that the course is incomplete?  I only looked at the titles of each section. 

Jeremy

For example, the last episode is only 11 minutes long, but I don't think they only had class for 11 minutes. Something else must have taken place that day which isn't on film.

In a couple of places, they talk about having people from the walkout in class to speak about their experiences, but none of those are filmed.

I think they have a video of Jack Preus talking about his experience. That was from my "History of the LCMS" class, taught by John Wohlrabe who was working on his Th.D. at the time. I'm somewhere in the first row.

I was part of the first class to take the course when it was first offered in Spring ‘09.  I still remember watching the Jack Preus lecture. We had persons who walked out come and talk and those who stayed come and talk.  It was rather illuminating.  Very different in terms of language used and what was emphasized.  I found the guys who walked out to be much more spirited and energetic whereas the LCMS guys seemed much more sober and levelheaded. For me it begged the question:”How much of this really was about theology and how much of this was about personality and the way people are wired?”

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 02, 2021, 06:08:55 PM

For another perspective on the events at the St. Louis Seminary during those times, I recommend to your attention the book (available on Kindle) A Seminary in Crisis: The Inside Story of the Preus Fact Finding Committee by Paul Zimmerman.

I found his account to be rather dull.

I recommend this: https://scholar.csl.edu/controversylcms/

Sadly, the course is incomplete. I wish they had everything there that they had in the class.

Thanks for passing on that link to the course by Drs. Herrman and Bode.  I'll be checking it out.  What do you mean that the course is incomplete?  I only looked at the titles of each section. 

Jeremy

For example, the last episode is only 11 minutes long, but I don't think they only had class for 11 minutes. Something else must have taken place that day which isn't on film.

In a couple of places, they talk about having people from the walkout in class to speak about their experiences, but none of those are filmed.

I think they have a video of Jack Preus talking about his experience. That was from my "History of the LCMS" class, taught by John Wohlrabe who was working on his Th.D. at the time. I'm somewhere in the first row.

I was part of the first class to take the course when it was first offered in Spring ‘09.  I still remember watching the Jack Preus lecture. We had persons who walked out come and talk and those who stayed come and talk.  It was rather illuminating.  Very different in terms of language used and what was emphasized.  I found the guys who walked out to be much more spirited and energetic whereas the LCMS guys seemed much more sober and levelheaded. For me it begged the question:”How much of this really was about theology and how much of this was about personality and the way people are wired?”

Peace,
Scott+

From another but somewhat related angle, I think from the lay side of things devotion to personalities prevailed many times over understanding of theological issues.  If a church trusted its pastor before the so-called 'walk out' they would probably trust what he felt or believed about whoever he backed.  I also think that if people studied under a man and like him as a professor, they trusted his judgement and probably wanted to back him regardless of what others in the church said.  When you are at the seminary you are a theologian in process.  A college/university graduate, yes, but still pretty naive about the intricacies of theology.  A few exceptions, of course, but most of us were 20-somethings that had yet to grow into our clerical collars. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 02, 2021, 06:18:57 PM
I honestly think the book that gives you the best insight into the best (and the worst) of the theology of 801 at the time is the rather amazing festschrift for Caemmerer with the entirely boring title, *The Lively Function of the Gospel.* In said volume, my all time favorite essay is the one by Korby on...WORSHIP. If I recall correctly, the biggest insight into the Valpo-Seminex theology (owing much to Elert) was in the Betram essay (if I am remembering correctly). The language of the Melanchthonian blight was telling. Or maybe that was Schroeder. I can’t remember after all these years. But the volume is an outstanding portrait of where the sem was theologically at that particular moment. And characteristic of their thought (though not, I think of Piepkorn’s) was that there was a fundamental deterioration of Luther’s insights in the later Orthodoxy.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 02, 2021, 07:07:43 PM
I honestly think the book that gives you the best insight into the best (and the worst) of the theology of 801 at the time is the rather amazing festschrift for Caemmerer with the entirely boring title, *The Lively Function of the Gospel.* In said volume, my all time favorite essay is the one by Korby on...WORSHIP. If I recall correctly, the biggest insight into the Valpo-Seminex theology (owing much to Elert) was in the Betram essay (if I am remembering correctly). The language of the Melanchthonian blight was telling. Or maybe that was Schroeder. I can’t remember after all these years. But the volume is an outstanding portrait of where the sem was theologically at that particular moment. And characteristic of their thought (though not, I think of Piepkorn’s) was that there was a fundamental deterioration of Luther’s insights in the later Orthodoxy.

The series referenced above mentions "German theology." That pursuit was certainly key to the flow toward Walkout.

It also refers to "fundamentalism," setting up a clash. But the Preus brothers were not fundamentalists in a "Baptist" sense. A broad sense of the term is appropriate: people who reject modernism and look to pre-modern approaches for direction. For the Preus brothers, that was Lutheran Orthodoxy rather than anything Baptist.

So the clash that developed was one that had already taken place in Germany years earlier. Only this time, the LCMS gravitated toward Lutheran Orthodoxy rather than neo-orthodoxy or theological liberalism.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 02, 2021, 08:02:08 PM
The Benedict Option is not opposed to the Church being for the world. The premise is that a church that is of the world cannot be for the world. If individual members are not part of a strong Christian community (strong enough to be counter-cultural) the church sinks into worldliness.

I think conservatives tend to view the Benedict Option more favorably because they perceive the trend of the culture to be away from the church. Moderates and progressives don’t see the culture outside the church changing so much for the worse, so they see less reason the disengage from certain aspects of it.

I don't know about moderates and progressives, you could be right.  My experience with Benedict option folks is with Mennonites and Pentecostals.  Both groups punch at the culture, avoid it, are in reclusion from it, and are - Benedict being about the Rule - law-based.  I have buddies among both groups, and some of their best in terms of service is better than my best, that's for sure.  But law-based.  And not Eucharistic.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on January 02, 2021, 08:19:51 PM
I honestly think the book that gives you the best insight into the best (and the worst) of the theology of 801 at the time is the rather amazing festschrift for Caemmerer with the entirely boring title, *The Lively Function of the Gospel.* In said volume, my all time favorite essay is the one by Korby on...WORSHIP. If I recall correctly, the biggest insight into the Valpo-Seminex theology (owing much to Elert) was in the Betram essay (if I am remembering correctly). The language of the Melanchthonian blight was telling. Or maybe that was Schroeder. I can’t remember after all these years. But the volume is an outstanding portrait of where the sem was theologically at that particular moment. And characteristic of their thought (though not, I think of Piepkorn’s) was that there was a fundamental deterioration of Luther’s insights in the later Orthodoxy.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/The-lively-function-of-the-Gospel-1966-Richard-R-Caemmerer-Theology/274561305472?hash=item3fed210b80:g:r0IAAOSweNpfosny
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 02, 2021, 09:05:15 PM
The Benedict Option is not opposed to the Church being for the world. The premise is that a church that is of the world cannot be for the world. If individual members are not part of a strong Christian community (strong enough to be counter-cultural) the church sinks into worldliness.

I think conservatives tend to view the Benedict Option more favorably because they perceive the trend of the culture to be away from the church. Moderates and progressives don’t see the culture outside the church changing so much for the worse, so they see less reason the disengage from certain aspects of it.

I don't know about moderates and progressives, you could be right.  My experience with Benedict option folks is with Mennonites and Pentecostals.  Both groups punch at the culture, avoid it, are in reclusion from it, and are - Benedict being about the Rule - law-based.  I have buddies among both groups, and some of their best in terms of service is better than my best, that's for sure.  But law-based.  And not Eucharistic.

Dave Benke
I think you're mistaken about law-based, at least in the sense of salvation by works. Call it discipline-based. The eucharist can be called law-based in the sense that you have to go to communion or at least take communion in order to receive communion. But a book recommending the discipline of receiving communion weekly would not therefore be a law-based thing, at least not unless they said that if you didn't receive it weekly you were sinning.

I think you're con on Benedict Option because you don't realize the extent to which you already have what the book recommends Christians should seek.

 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 02, 2021, 09:28:19 PM
I honestly think the book that gives you the best insight into the best (and the worst) of the theology of 801 at the time is the rather amazing festschrift for Caemmerer with the entirely boring title, *The Lively Function of the Gospel.* In said volume, my all time favorite essay is the one by Korby on...WORSHIP. If I recall correctly, the biggest insight into the Valpo-Seminex theology (owing much to Elert) was in the Betram essay (if I am remembering correctly). The language of the Melanchthonian blight was telling. Or maybe that was Schroeder. I can’t remember after all these years. But the volume is an outstanding portrait of where the sem was theologically at that particular moment. And characteristic of their thought (though not, I think of Piepkorn’s) was that there was a fundamental deterioration of Luther’s insights in the later Orthodoxy.
I'm curious about the phrase,
Quote
with the entirely boring title, *The Lively Function of the Gospel.*
That sounds pretty invigorating to me.
I don't press you to say what the "the best (and the worst)" were, but presumably you really like some of the contributions, such as Korby on worship, and see others as showing signs that theology at Concordia Saint Louis was losing its way. Is that correct?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 03, 2021, 07:32:49 AM
The Benedict Option is not opposed to the Church being for the world. The premise is that a church that is of the world cannot be for the world. If individual members are not part of a strong Christian community (strong enough to be counter-cultural) the church sinks into worldliness.

I think conservatives tend to view the Benedict Option more favorably because they perceive the trend of the culture to be away from the church. Moderates and progressives don’t see the culture outside the church changing so much for the worse, so they see less reason the disengage from certain aspects of it.

I don't know about moderates and progressives, you could be right.  My experience with Benedict option folks is with Mennonites and Pentecostals.  Both groups punch at the culture, avoid it, are in reclusion from it, and are - Benedict being about the Rule - law-based.  I have buddies among both groups, and some of their best in terms of service is better than my best, that's for sure.  But law-based.  And not Eucharistic.

Dave Benke
I think you're mistaken about law-based, at least in the sense of salvation by works. Call it discipline-based. The eucharist can be called law-based in the sense that you have to go to communion or at least take communion in order to receive communion. But a book recommending the discipline of receiving communion weekly would not therefore be a law-based thing, at least not unless they said that if you didn't receive it weekly you were sinning.

I think you're con on Benedict Option because you don't realize the extent to which you already have what the book recommends Christians should seek.

Maybe so.  My instinct has and will continue to be engagement.  Contact.  Involvement.  Commitment and dedication to being among and with people who are not yet part of the Body. To the degree that the Benedict Option opposes those, I don't want it.  To the degree that it fosters those, I'm for it.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 03, 2021, 08:38:50 AM
The Benedict Option is not opposed to the Church being for the world. The premise is that a church that is of the world cannot be for the world. If individual members are not part of a strong Christian community (strong enough to be counter-cultural) the church sinks into worldliness.

I think conservatives tend to view the Benedict Option more favorably because they perceive the trend of the culture to be away from the church. Moderates and progressives don’t see the culture outside the church changing so much for the worse, so they see less reason the disengage from certain aspects of it.

I don't know about moderates and progressives, you could be right.  My experience with Benedict option folks is with Mennonites and Pentecostals.  Both groups punch at the culture, avoid it, are in reclusion from it, and are - Benedict being about the Rule - law-based.  I have buddies among both groups, and some of their best in terms of service is better than my best, that's for sure.  But law-based.  And not Eucharistic.

Dave Benke
I think you're mistaken about law-based, at least in the sense of salvation by works. Call it discipline-based. The eucharist can be called law-based in the sense that you have to go to communion or at least take communion in order to receive communion. But a book recommending the discipline of receiving communion weekly would not therefore be a law-based thing, at least not unless they said that if you didn't receive it weekly you were sinning.

I think you're con on Benedict Option because you don't realize the extent to which you already have what the book recommends Christians should seek.

Maybe so.  My instinct has and will continue to be engagement.  Contact.  Involvement.  Commitment and dedication to being among and with people who are not yet part of the Body. To the degree that the Benedict Option opposes those, I don't want it.  To the degree that it fosters those, I'm for it.

Dave Benke
I don’t think there is a degree to which the Benedict Option opposes those. It only insists that one be anchored/rooted/nurtured by Christian community that is shaped by the church and not the passing culture. In other words, shore up the place you’re engaging from.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on January 03, 2021, 09:53:04 AM
A Jesuit take, not always favorable, on the Benedict option:
https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2018/01/26/benedict-option-based-christian-principles-or-white-middle-class-ones?gclid=Cj0KCQiA88X_BRDUARIsACVMYD_RPflBprRZjggli_DOCdqgsIkry_nb26wPoRRzY_8QcuO-vQTxN60aAmX_EALw_wcB

How and if one makes a distinction between “strategic withdrawal“ and “all out retreat“ is significant.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 03, 2021, 10:03:32 AM
Father, oh, quite correct. There was some really awesome stuff in there; and some stuff that made me scratch my head a bit. The chief idea I think is wrong is that Lutheran Orthodoxy developed out of that Melanchthonian blight and represented a betrayal of the Gospel’s, “lively function.”

About the title, there’s something about the word “function,” I think. Now, if it had been: The Life-giving Gospel or The Living and Enlivening Gospel or The Promise that Raises the Dead or something like that...

I recommend the book mostly because I think it help gets into the theological issues of the time, but as a Festschrift, without the edge of polemics.

P.S. A memorable line (though going from memory so no doubt a paraphrase): The Gospel must give sight to the blind, not merely suggest that seeing is better than blindness; it must open deaf ears, not merely suggest that hearing is better than deafness; it must raise the dead, not merely suggest that life is better than death. I think that was in the essay that dealt with the so-called Melanchthonian blight; it’s point being that information that there is forgiveness of sins is quite a different thing than proclaiming that forgiveness.

P.S.S. I have often chuckled to myself that a festschrift in honor of Dr. Caemmerer really ought to have entitled: Goal, Malady, Means.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 03, 2021, 10:57:14 AM
Father, oh, quite correct. There was some really awesome stuff in there; and some stuff that made me scratch my head a bit. The chief idea I think is wrong is that Lutheran Orthodoxy developed out of that Melanchthonian blight and represented a betrayal of the Gospel’s, “lively function.”

About the title, there’s something about the word “function,” I think. Now, if it had been: The Life-giving Gospel or The Living and Enlivening Gospel or The Promise that Raises the Dead or something like that...

I recommend the book mostly because I think it help gets into the theological issues of the time, but as a Festschrift, without the edge of polemics.

P.S. A memorable line (though going from memory so no doubt a paraphrase): The Gospel must give sight to the blind, not merely suggest that seeing is better than blindness; it must open deaf ears, not merely suggest that hearing is better than deafness; it must raise the dead, not merely suggest that life is better death. I think that was in the essay that dealt with the so-called Melanchthonian blight...

P.S.S. I have often chuckled to myself that a festschrift in honor of Dr. Caemmerer really ought to have entitled: Goal, Malady, Means.
Thank you! That "memorable line" truly is memorable.
In any case, if some of the authors decried Lutheran Orthodoxy explicitly, I can see how that would be a problem for a seminary faculty. Of course, if they were saying only that some Lutherans' orthodoxy was weaker and less vigorous than it could and should be, well, that is an argument that perhaps should be going on in most churches.
Didn't Dr. Caemmerer get in trouble for participating in some kind of end-of-the-war celebration in St. Louis?

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 03, 2021, 11:10:55 AM
Father,

I’m not aware of that account about Dr. Caemmerer and the end-of-war celebration.

I will say, his little book The Church in the World was, I think, his most vital work and it’s sadly been largely forgotten. Even his homiletics text, which shaped several generations pre and post walkout, doesn’t top it in my estimation.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 03, 2021, 11:56:12 AM
     By late 1944, Americans were anticipating an end to the long world war. In St. Louis the mayor invited representatives of different churches to plan a community celebration when peace came at last. When the LCMS representative informed the mayor that the Synod could not participate in a service of worship, it was agreed that the celebration would be designed as a civic event. In May 1945, the Axis powers surrendered and the St. Louis celebration of “V-E Day” was scheduled. The mayor was to preside, and clergy representatives from five different religious groups were invited to speak for five minutes each. The Missouri Synod was represented by Dr. Richard Caemmerer, professor of homiletics at Concordia Seminary. His participation was approved by the St. Louis pastoral conference. The other speakers included a Roman Catholic priest, a rabbi, a Presbyterian, and an African American Protestant pastor. All the addresses were primarily of a civic nature; Caemmerer, for instance, “stressed the significance of V-E Day as a reminder of undone tasks and the need for continued vitality of citizenship.” Another Missouri Synod pastor had been asked to give the benediction, but when concerns were expressed by fellow pastors that this would cross the line into participation in a unionistic service, he bowed out and Caemmerer took his place. Instead of offering a prayer, Caemmerer closed the meeting by reading portions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
     Nevertheless, some were offended at Caemmerer’s participation, and letters were sent to Synod officials charging him with “violation of God’s Word and the Synod’s constitution.” For other Synod members—so argued Jack Treon Robinson, whose 1972 dissertation is the most complete account of the events surrounding “A Statement”—this attack on Caemmerer was the last straw, and discussion began about how to make their concerns known. The result was the document drafted by a group of Missouri Synod pastors who met in Chicago in September 1945.


--Richard O. Johnson, Changing World, Changeless Christ: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1914-2014 (ALPB Books, 2018), 139-140.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 03, 2021, 12:02:16 PM
Thanks, Richard.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 03, 2021, 12:05:09 PM
     By late 1944, Americans were anticipating an end to the long world war. In St. Louis the mayor invited representatives of different churches to plan a community celebration when peace came at last. When the LCMS representative informed the mayor that the Synod could not participate in a service of worship, it was agreed that the celebration would be designed as a civic event. In May 1945, the Axis powers surrendered and the St. Louis celebration of “V-E Day” was scheduled. The mayor was to preside, and clergy representatives from five different religious groups were invited to speak for five minutes each. The Missouri Synod was represented by Dr. Richard Caemmerer, professor of homiletics at Concordia Seminary. His participation was approved by the St. Louis pastoral conference. The other speakers included a Roman Catholic priest, a rabbi, a Presbyterian, and an African American Protestant pastor. All the addresses were primarily of a civic nature; Caemmerer, for instance, “stressed the significance of V-E Day as a reminder of undone tasks and the need for continued vitality of citizenship.” Another Missouri Synod pastor had been asked to give the benediction, but when concerns were expressed by fellow pastors that this would cross the line into participation in a unionistic service, he bowed out and Caemmerer took his place. Instead of offering a prayer, Caemmerer closed the meeting by reading portions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.
     Nevertheless, some were offended at Caemmerer’s participation, and letters were sent to Synod officials charging him with “violation of God’s Word and the Synod’s constitution.” For other Synod members—so argued Jack Treon Robinson, whose 1972 dissertation is the most complete account of the events surrounding “A Statement”—this attack on Caemmerer was the last straw, and discussion began about how to make their concerns known. The result was the document drafted by a group of Missouri Synod pastors who met in Chicago in September 1945.


--Richard O. Johnson, Changing World, Changeless Christ: The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1914-2014 (ALPB Books, 2018), 139-140.


The 44.  Talk about a once-in-a-lifetime event - V-E Day, for Pete's sake.  And the Missouri Synod had taken the charge to be there pastorally in the military chaplaincy in WWII. 
I would imagine there were some in the LCMS who were on the "V" side not for Victory but for Vaterland, which of course took the big L.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 03, 2021, 12:06:20 PM
In life a good deal of the genetics of the seminary faculty flowed through the East, as in the "old" Atlantic District (Atlantic, New Jersey, New England).  Fr. John Damm, John Tietjen, Andy Weyermann, Bob Werberig, Caemmerer family (Margaret Schulze), Pieper family (the Ressmeyers), Bob Smith, all were "us," as well as Ralph Klein, Ozzie Hoffman, Bob Bertram (all in various family and friend networks) and others I'm forgetting.  At the time, under Bp. Rudy Ressmeyer (+), we had our own district theologian, Dave Lotz.  And in Brooklyn, writing "As Missouri Turns," was the inimitable Richard John Neuhaus (+).  This was always for me more about people than pieces of paper.  Bob Bertram's class, making us disputants on one side or the other in early Lutheran times, was remarkable for the depth of discussion.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 03, 2021, 01:56:08 PM
P.S. A memorable line (though going from memory so no doubt a paraphrase): The Gospel must give sight to the blind, not merely suggest that seeing is better than blindness; it must open deaf ears, not merely suggest that hearing is better than deafness; it must raise the dead, not merely suggest that life is better than death. I think that was in the essay that dealt with the so-called Melanchthonian blight; it’s point being that information that there is forgiveness of sins is quite a different thing than proclaiming that forgiveness.


If "righteousness" (especially in Hebrew,) is about making things right, then eyes that don't see, ears that don't hear, or to use Joseph Sittler's example, an engine that is misfiring, are not working right. Giving sight, hearing, and an engine tune-up makes them righteous.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 03, 2021, 02:53:17 PM
The wife of Ed Schroeder and the wife of Martin Scharlemann were sisters.
This made for a family feud when Martin Scharlemann who introduced the
Historical Critical Method to Concordia Sem, St.Louis in 1952, fhen apologized
for it and rejected it at LCMS Cleveland Convention in the early 1960's.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 03, 2021, 04:36:40 PM
P.S. A memorable line (though going from memory so no doubt a paraphrase): The Gospel must give sight to the blind, not merely suggest that seeing is better than blindness; it must open deaf ears, not merely suggest that hearing is better than deafness; it must raise the dead, not merely suggest that life is better than death. I think that was in the essay that dealt with the so-called Melanchthonian blight; it’s point being that information that there is forgiveness of sins is quite a different thing than proclaiming that forgiveness.


If "righteousness" (especially in Hebrew,) is about making things right, then eyes that don't see, ears that don't hear, or to use Joseph Sittler's example, an engine that is misfiring, are not working right. Giving sight, hearing, and an engine tune-up makes them righteous.


My original source for Joseph Sittler:

Joseph Sittler often told the story of a time he was in Jerusalem and his car broke down. He took it to a mechanic to have it fixed. When the mechanic had finished and started up the engine to hear it running perfectly he said, “Zadik.” Zadik is the Hebrew word translated as righteousness. In this context it means simply: “it works.” Sinners and the world are made to “work” in and through the ministry of the One who fulfills all righteousness. [p. 58, Richard Jensen, Preaching Matthew’s Gospel]
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Michael Slusser on January 03, 2021, 08:22:47 PM
Thanks, Richard.
I thank Richard also. In particular, he pinpointed the place where I read that--Jack Treon Robinson's dissertation.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 03, 2021, 08:26:42 PM
I’m not sure how to shift our conversation from the rear view mirror to what’s awaiting outside the windshield (to use Pr. K’s analogy), but I do think it’s far more productive to think together about next steps than it is to nurse old bitterness and disappointments. I shared earlier Ratzinger’s prescient words from 1969. I think he nailed it especially with “Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.” The little flock that has had its fears chased away by its Good Shepherd and who invites the weary world into the fellowship with the Blessed Trinity which is her secret inner life and supreme joy and which she knows she’s only tasting the slightest teasing taste of in this age...How do we become that fearless little flock possessed of the peace and communion that the world is literally dying for lack of? How do we structure the earthly institutions of the Church to serve that end better than we are now? How can the focus shift from US to HIM? How to overcome the institutional curvatus in se? And if the LCMS is better poised than the ELCA to be distinct from the world in her teaching; she has sadly copied the world in her politics! What we need is an LCMS that renounces that path as the dead end it has manifestly shown itself to be, and in repentance and faith and fervent prayer seeks by the wisdom and strength of God to be delivered from it; all the while remaining faithful to her Confession and so utterly and growingly distinct from the world around us. Not closed to that world, but opening to that world the hope and the life that exists in penitence and faith. The City shining on a hill that cannot be hid. The hill of Zion.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 03, 2021, 10:57:45 PM
Boom:) Happy New Year
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rob Morris on January 03, 2021, 11:34:39 PM
I, for one, am not convinced that LCMS policy or polity needs an overhaul... for several reasons:

1) At least in the context of this thread, the implication would be that if we just structured this thing the right way, we could staunch the bleed of numbers. I don't buy that. The numbers bleed is a demographic and cultural pincer that no amount of structuring could ever fully counteract. Does anyone really think large numbers of people would be saying, "I had been letting my faith and fervor dim, but doggone it, they are so streamlined and efficient, I am rededicating myself!"? Not seeing it.

2) Whatever policy or polity replaced the status quo would still be populated by humans, and thus still subject to misuse or bad behavior as is the current system. I don't see how you could make a misuse-proof system. What's more, such a creation would require a number of elapsed years to tinker and test-drive and debug. Anyone up for re-writing all the Synod's bylaws and then trying to vote all that through at convention... at each convention for the next 9-12 years? Not seeing it.

3) I haven't seen almost any evidence of genuine misuse of the system within the last few decades. Apologies to Pr. Engelbrecht, but the only verifiable evidence he offered was verified false. That he (and others) are mistreated by people is likely... that it is the work of a shadowy cabal of deep-pocketed conspirators... just not buying it. Even those who pointed out that the wars of the 60s and 70s bled into the actions and discussions of the 80s and 90s failed to acknowledge that the 90s are now approaching thirty years ago. That's nearly a ministry generation. Honestly, my own situation might be the closest we got to a full-blown controversy in the last decade, and I was met with genuine goodwill at almost every official turn, from the presidium to the conferences I was invited to by both "sides". Were there loudmouths? Sure - on both sides. But they were not those in any official positions. The idea that the system is so rotten it must be blown up? Not seeing it.

My view is mostly from the cheap seats. But even if one or more of these views aren't entirely accurate, I just don't see why the significant effort of restructuring would be undertaken. How can anyone be certain that the end result would be any better than the current reality?

I do think that we will see districts contracting their staffing and perhaps merging, etc, just as congregations are doing so. National has already done so. Our roster of churches will be much smaller in 10 years, as will our roster of active pastors. It is sad for those (ordained or lay) who now have to look for other employment and it is difficult to acknowledge the glory days that are gone, but such is our earthly reality in many areas - there is no reason to believe that church life will be the exception. In fact, Scripture gives us every reason to believe it will not.

As I said several pages ago, I do believe that our synod (and American Christianity) is in a stage of pruning, of winter hardening. However, I don't think we have to view that as an inherently bad thing. And if it really were to be the case that the synod folds up in, say, 20 years... the Church will still stand. Even when steeples are falling...
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on January 03, 2021, 11:40:56 PM
Bishop/Pastor Benke mentions:
Fr. John Damm, John Tietjen, Andy Weyermann, Bob Werberig, Caemmerer family (Margaret Schulze), Pieper family (the Ressmeyers), Bob Smith, Ralph Klein, Ozzie Hoffman, Bob Bertram Bp. Rudy Ressmeyer (+), Dave Lotz and, of course, Richard John Neuhaus (+). 

I comment:
And some of us non-LCMSers knew, or knew of, or were actually friends with some of these people.
Fr. John Damm preached at my installation in a New Jersey parish. In New York, I was one of the "associates" connected to St. Peter's. I had known John Tietjen through his communications work and his New Jersey parish work and of course, through the Seminex period and the Commission for a New Lutheran Church. Also acquainted with Rudy Ressmeyer, Ralph Klein, Ozzie Hoffman and Bob Bertram.
Pr. Mandy Derr, a close associate of Fr. Damm, was pastor at Grace, Teaneck, where we were members and where our two children were confirmed, and where I often preached, celebrated or assisted and was the "vice-pastor" when Mandy left for St. Peter's, New York. I had corresponded with Richard Neuhaus since 1970 and was occasionally at his evening soirees in New York City. I also wrote for Forum Letter when he was the editor.
A truly notable bunch of Lutherans of varying ideas and personalities.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 04, 2021, 05:10:56 AM
"She [LCMS] has sadly copied the world in her politics! What we need is an LCMS that renounces that path as the dead end it has manifestly shown itself to be, and in repentance and faith and fervent prayer seeks by the wisdom and strength of God to be delivered from it; all the while remaining faithful to her Confession and so utterly and growingly distinct from the world around us. Not closed to that world, but opening to that world the hope and the life that exists in penitence and faith."

This is well said, Will.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 04, 2021, 09:07:53 AM
"Most of the great problems we face are caused by politicians creating solutions to the problems they caused in the first place." (Walter E. Williams)

This includes within the church, large and small. 
Politicians or churchmen?
Look in the mirror, everyone (and I'm one of everyone, too..)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 04, 2021, 09:48:16 AM
Let’s restructure is typically the lasts gasps of a dead organization. Don’t know what else to do, we will restructure. I’m talking about something deeper than that. Renewal of the soul of Missouri, putting away our sins at foot of cross and working together with our vast resources. If you always do what you always done, you always git what you always got.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 04, 2021, 10:36:13 AM
Let’s restructure is typically the lasts gasps of a dead organization. Don’t know what else to do, we will restructure. I’m talking about something deeper than that. Renewal of the soul of Missouri, putting away our sins at foot of cross and working together with our vast resources. If you always do what you always done, you always git what you always got.
I'm not sure we haven't done what you're suggesting all along. A big cross to bear is no longer being what you once were but continuing on anyway. Frost's poem Oven Bird asks the poignant question, What to make of a diminished thing?

Your last line simply isn't true; that's the problem we face. Doing what we always did no longer gits what it used to got. (It is equally false when presented as the definition of insanity, i.e. doing the same thing and expecting a different result). It presupposes that the outcome hinges on our actions and strategy. Ultimately, it is only true of a purely materialist system, like in a theoretical physics experiment. The persistent widow was not insane (and she had a rough time of it for a while) because prayer is a real thing. And a church can't ever really do the same thing because the situation around it is always changing.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on January 04, 2021, 10:54:00 AM
I, for one, am not convinced that LCMS policy or polity needs an overhaul... for several reasons:

1) At least in the context of this thread, the implication would be that if we just structured this thing the right way, we could staunch the bleed of numbers. I don't buy that. The numbers bleed is a demographic and cultural pincer that no amount of structuring could ever fully counteract. Does anyone really think large numbers of people would be saying, "I had been letting my faith and fervor dim, but doggone it, they are so streamlined and efficient, I am rededicating myself!"? Not seeing it.

2) Whatever policy or polity replaced the status quo would still be populated by humans, and thus still subject to misuse or bad behavior as is the current system. I don't see how you could make a misuse-proof system. What's more, such a creation would require a number of elapsed years to tinker and test-drive and debug. Anyone up for re-writing all the Synod's bylaws and then trying to vote all that through at convention... at each convention for the next 9-12 years? Not seeing it.

3) I haven't seen almost any evidence of genuine misuse of the system within the last few decades. Apologies to Pr. Engelbrecht, but the only verifiable evidence he offered was verified false. That he (and others) are mistreated by people is likely... that it is the work of a shadowy cabal of deep-pocketed conspirators... just not buying it. Even those who pointed out that the wars of the 60s and 70s bled into the actions and discussions of the 80s and 90s failed to acknowledge that the 90s are now approaching thirty years ago. That's nearly a ministry generation. Honestly, my own situation might be the closest we got to a full-blown controversy in the last decade, and I was met with genuine goodwill at almost every official turn, from the presidium to the conferences I was invited to by both "sides". Were there loudmouths? Sure - on both sides. But they were not those in any official positions. The idea that the system is so rotten it must be blown up? Not seeing it.

My view is mostly from the cheap seats. But even if one or more of these views aren't entirely accurate, I just don't see why the significant effort of restructuring would be undertaken. How can anyone be certain that the end result would be any better than the current reality?

I do think that we will see districts contracting their staffing and perhaps merging, etc, just as congregations are doing so. National has already done so. Our roster of churches will be much smaller in 10 years, as will our roster of active pastors. It is sad for those (ordained or lay) who now have to look for other employment and it is difficult to acknowledge the glory days that are gone, but such is our earthly reality in many areas - there is no reason to believe that church life will be the exception. In fact, Scripture gives us every reason to believe it will not.

As I said several pages ago, I do believe that our synod (and American Christianity) is in a stage of pruning, of winter hardening. However, I don't think we have to view that as an inherently bad thing. And if it really were to be the case that the synod folds up in, say, 20 years... the Church will still stand. Even when steeples are falling...

Rob, more or less agree with you in everything here.  Except in one view.  Everybody is saying "look out the windshield".  And that is usually what I've been saying.  There are some real choices to be made.  They aren't really at the denominational or even district level. What is happening there will continue to happen, although we really need them to be places of leadership.  The choices and the "restructuring" if I have to use that term is all at the congregation/circuit level.  Absent doing anything I think the natural decay will produce three buckets: #1 closed churches and semi-private chapels, #2 marginal but still having a lampstand congregations, and #3 go it alone non-denoms.  What can be done right now is some minimization of bucket 1, bolstering of bucket 2 and either inclusion or preparation for bucket #3.  We can passively see bucket #1 grow and grow, while doing nothing for the congregations in bucket #2 or the pastors who are struggling to stay there.  Or we can actively address reality and try to craft the best local situation for continued ministry.  My guess is that you get the passive approach.  There are just too many hard conversations for leadership to be active.  But I do think that if we could have those hard conversations, we could on the ground get to something more like a active co-operative parish instead of vacant congregational buildings that were suspicious of each other.  And an active co-operative parish is something that can impact a culture not just continue a slide down a slope.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on January 04, 2021, 12:07:30 PM
Let’s restructure is typically the lasts gasps of a dead organization. Don’t know what else to do, we will restructure. I’m talking about something deeper than that. Renewal of the soul of Missouri, putting away our sins at foot of cross and working together with our vast resources. If you always do what you always done, you always git what you always got.

Although the book is written for congregations, his theories might also apply to denominations. A synopsis from the forward.

To Dream Again: How to Help Your Church Come Alive
Robert D. Dale (1981, Broadman Press, Nashville – out of print)

There are four ways to revitalize a church, organizationally speaking. The easiest change is policy change. You simply adjust the way you do things.

A second strategy is to change personnel. Firing the minister or electing new lay leaders is a common approach.

Another change tactic is to create new program structures. Reorganization plans are familiar in institutions of all kinds.

Change policy. Change people. Change programs. Each of these approaches has its advocates. But the approach I suggest is the most basic of all – clarify purpose.

The fourth way to revitalize a church is to define and act on its fundamental purpose. A new dream awakes a congregation. A poster motto challenges: “Aim for the sun. You may not reach it, but you will fly higher than if you never aimed at all.”

This book proposes to help church leaders understand their congregations better.

The health cycle model of organization behavior I develop in this book is one way to diagnose and bring vitality to congregations. The health cycle is more intuitive than researched. I hope more empirical research will undergird this model of how it feels to live and minister within a local church or other volunteer organizations.

This book is intended for ministers and lay leaders who are concerned for the health of their congregations ….



He uses charts of a life-cycle (attached): from birth to death. He applies it to organizations: from dreams to dropouts. Finally, he graphically illustrates the attempts to start over listed above: restructuring and/or setting new goals (which usually don't work well to revitalize an organization,) and starting over with dreaming again.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 04, 2021, 12:18:13 PM
I knew one pastor who made huge changes to his old, historic congregation, often with a lot of resistance. The church had been declining from the glory days for decades. In response to those who just wanted to keep on keeping on and hope for the best, he quoted someone (I can't remember who) by saying, "I like my way of doing something better than your way of doing nothing." I don't think his changes did much to the trajectory of decline at that congregation, but they served almost as a conscience soother. Nobody can say we didn't try something. I did my job. I wasn't just a chaplain or a caretaker, I was a leader.

To me, that's what restructuring feels like-- probably won't serve any purpose other than as something we can point to in order to show we were responsive and "did something." It is a deflating feeling to manage decline, so, like the German generals who initiated the Battle of the Bulge, we'd rather die in a desperate attack than carry on in retreat mode.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rob Morris on January 04, 2021, 12:30:45 PM
Let’s restructure is typically the lasts gasps of a dead organization. Don’t know what else to do, we will restructure. I’m talking about something deeper than that. Renewal of the soul of Missouri, putting away our sins at foot of cross and working together with our vast resources. If you always do what you always done, you always git what you always got.
I'm not sure we haven't done what you're suggesting all along. A big cross to bear is no longer being what you once were but continuing on anyway. Frost's poem Oven Bird asks the poignant question, What to make of a diminished thing?

Your last line simply isn't true; that's the problem we face. Doing what we always did no longer gits what it used to got. (It is equally false when presented as the definition of insanity, i.e. doing the same thing and expecting a different result). It presupposes that the outcome hinges on our actions and strategy. Ultimately, it is only true of a purely materialist system, like in a theoretical physics experiment. The persistent widow was not insane (and she had a rough time of it for a while) because prayer is a real thing. And a church can't ever really do the same thing because the situation around it is always changing.

I agree with Pr. Speckhard's observation about the "git what you always got" thing - if 2020 has shown us anything, it is that we can't manhandle the forces around us. For approaching 10 months now, getting what we always got would be a major upgrade to the current reality. The "git what you always got" mindset assumes that our choices determine outcomes.

Plus: "Don't just stand there... do something," is hard to square with "Here I stand, I can do no other." We are called to faithfulness, not efficiency. Most of the time, the two can be co-travelers. But not always.

I genuinely think part of American Christianity's problem has been the amount of tinkering that happened with church and theology in the 60s, all accompanied by exponential growth. Looking back, we know that demographics, not methodology, was the growth driver. BUT, the people who grew up in church at that time by and large connected the growth with the tinkering. Thus, by the 80s and 90s, you get Willow Creek and Saddleback as the paragons of what church is to be: endless and inveterate tinkerers.  And it worked, to a degree (we can debate the theology and ecclesiology some other time)... until it didn't. When last heard from, this approach not only eventually sank both those churches, but it then led to the Emerging Church and the Shane Claibornes and Rob Bells who were just rinsing and repeating long-treaded paths of becoming either Sadducees or Pharisees.

What does that all mean for the LCMS as an organization or for individual congregations? The fact of the matter is that we as Christians do not and must not fear death.

The charts that are produced by Organizational Behavior experts (that was my degree in undergrad) all operate on the a priori assumption that death must be avoided by any and all means. That assumption is unhealthy in regards to individual human life. Why would we think it healthy in organizational life? If any group has reached the stage of death, then let us set an example in how we do that with grace and hope in the life that extends beyond death: for the Church apostolic and for us as Christians.

PS - Not trying to be a pain, but I truly can't recall with certainty: I think I remember reading on some far-earlier thread that PrTim15 is Tim Klinkenberg, who recently stood for SP... am I remembering this correctly?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 04, 2021, 12:35:27 PM
"...The church had been declining from the glory days for decades....

Not picking on you, because I'm not sure whether this use of "the glory days" is in jest or not ... or if any of the other uses of the term are serious or sarcastic (not that I would pick on you anyway...).

However, many of the comments that include "the glory days" seem to dwell purely on the number of members (sometimes totally unreflective of the percentage of "members" attending services), or on the legendary Seminary professors now sainted or sailed away, et. al.

I am reminded of an illustration, drawn by N.N. Taleb's brother.
It shows a formally dressed, very large turkey standing before an audience of also very healthy looking turkeys in late October.  He is pointing to a graph labeled "growth this year", and illustrating virtually continuous growth since the start of the year.  He tells his followers, "We've had a great year to date and I'm looking for continued great growth during the rest of the year!"  Context.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 04, 2021, 12:43:55 PM
Discussion on how to choreograph decline has often included thoughts about what to do with dying congregations that are usually defined as "small", often "rural", but also "urban".
Perhaps many "small" and therefore condemned to extinction (by prognosticators, sometimes realists, sometime opportunists).
Sometimes, the small in numbers congregation may be far healthier than the larger congregation that someone up the ladder will slate to absorb it.

Those who undertake that crusade might be better prepared by reviewing Revelations chapters 2 & 3, and ponder the condition Seven Churches as they do their analysis and refine algorithyms for decline.
What do you really see as the condition of the congregations today adjudged as "dying" or "robust"?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 04, 2021, 01:05:19 PM
"...The church had been declining from the glory days for decades....

Not picking on you, because I'm not sure whether this use of "the glory days" is in jest or not ... or if any of the other uses of the term are serious or sarcastic (not that I would pick on you anyway...).

However, many of the comments that include "the glory days" seem to dwell purely on the number of members (sometimes totally unreflective of the percentage of "members" attending services), or on the legendary Seminary professors now sainted or sailed away, et. al.

I am reminded of an illustration, drawn by N.N. Taleb's brother.
It shows a formally dressed, very large turkey standing before an audience of also very healthy looking turkeys in late October.  He is pointing to a graph labeled "growth this year", and illustrating virtually continuous growth since the start of the year.  He tells his followers, "We've had a great year to date and I'm looking for continued great growth during the rest of the year!"  Context.
The glory days would be in terms of anything, really. Numbers, yes (attendance, not merely on the rolls), but also services on special days (as opposed to moving things to the nearest Sunday), finances, building, quality of music and musicians, the place the church occupied in the lives of the members-- youth groups, pot lucks, etc. It simply means the same thing it might mean to a town, a business, and industry, a family farm or whatever.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 04, 2021, 01:06:51 PM
The posturing for expertise based upon being taught or mentored by particular professors or teachers (sometimes different categories...), seminary, pre-school, or the only correct and/or best edition of often republished texts, fortunately has not often led to "mine are bigger, better, more renowned, etc., etc., than yours" and "my CV is better than yours" dust-ups.   Certainly, knowing of mentors, experience, and well-read tomes often help others understand where the writer obtained information or viewpoint - if citations are provided.  Outsiders to personal history and relationships are assisted, yet sometimes the practice devolves into an "inside baseball" that excludes many who might have worthwhile additions to the discussion.  This challenge clouds all humankind, not limited to Pastors.

Sometimes, however, this gets to the point of remembering the caution of 1 Corinthians 1:12+ff:
"What I mean is that each one of you says, 'I follow Paul', or 'I follow Apollos', or 'I follow Cephas', or 'I follow Christ' in the sense that the speaker is a better follower of Christ than his interlocutors.  Jesus Christ's CV trumps them all.


Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 04, 2021, 06:03:24 PM
Randy, that is a part of our tradition as well. Some men took classes with specific profs, which there isn't necessarily a problem. It was always funny to hear guys parrot Dr. Nagel after having taken every class he every offered. Honestly, his class on Christology was probably best class I took at seminary
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 04, 2021, 06:54:22 PM
"...The church had been declining from the glory days for decades....

Not picking on you, because I'm not sure whether this use of "the glory days" is in jest or not ... or if any of the other uses of the term are serious or sarcastic (not that I would pick on you anyway...).

However, many of the comments that include "the glory days" seem to dwell purely on the number of members (sometimes totally unreflective of the percentage of "members" attending services), or on the legendary Seminary professors now sainted or sailed away, et. al.

I am reminded of an illustration, drawn by N.N. Taleb's brother.
It shows a formally dressed, very large turkey standing before an audience of also very healthy looking turkeys in late October.  He is pointing to a graph labeled "growth this year", and illustrating virtually continuous growth since the start of the year.  He tells his followers, "We've had a great year to date and I'm looking for continued great growth during the rest of the year!"  Context.
The glory days would be in terms of anything, really. Numbers, yes (attendance, not merely on the rolls), but also services on special days (as opposed to moving things to the nearest Sunday), finances, building, quality of music and musicians, the place the church occupied in the lives of the members-- youth groups, pot lucks, etc. It simply means the same thing it might mean to a town, a business, and industry, a family farm or whatever.

I wonder how often when people (me included, of course) say "glory days" they really mean "good old days," which always look "good" to us because we've forgotten all the bad parts.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 04, 2021, 06:57:15 PM
Eccl. 7:10...
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 04, 2021, 07:15:54 PM
 for decades....

Decline in the Missouri Synod, as it was parsed to us a few years ago at official levels with appropriate data, began in 1963.  And has been downhill ever since.  Think of it then.  We had close to 1000 boys in each class of our prep schools going to our junior colleges and then to the senior college and to the seminary.  The great weeding out took more than half of them, so  400-500 made it through to ordination per year by the late sixties, set up to be Pastor Martin from This is The Life, church versions of Marcus Welby, MD.  We had game!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 04, 2021, 07:53:28 PM
for decades....

Decline in the Missouri Synod, as it was parsed to us a few years ago at official levels with appropriate data, began in 1963.  And has been downhill ever since.  Think of it then.  We had close to 1000 boys in each class of our prep schools going to our junior colleges and then to the senior college and to the seminary.  The great weeding out took more than half of them, so  400-500 made it through to ordination per year by the late sixties, set up to be Pastor Martin from This is The Life, church versions of Marcus Welby, MD.  We had game!

Dave Benke
Indeed. We finally got out of our German ghetto and glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 05, 2021, 10:45:44 AM
In the early 1950's the TV Series "This Is The Life" featured the Fisher Family
and Pastor Martin.  This program did not compete with TV Evangelists and their
plea for money.  Instead we had a Christian program that tried to deal with
various situations which called for a strong faith in Christ.  Pastor Martin was
a humble counselor who encouraged the Christian lifestyle of complete trust
in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on January 05, 2021, 11:03:38 AM
for decades....

Decline in the Missouri Synod, as it was parsed to us a few years ago at official levels with appropriate data, began in 1963.  And has been downhill ever since.  Think of it then.  We had close to 1000 boys in each class of our prep schools going to our junior colleges and then to the senior college and to the seminary.  The great weeding out took more than half of them, so  400-500 made it through to ordination per year by the late sixties, set up to be Pastor Martin from This is The Life, church versions of Marcus Welby, MD.  We had game!

Dave Benke
Indeed. We finally got out of our German ghetto and glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low.

I submit the decline began with the birth of the 1961 "the State of the Church" conference in Milwaukee, WI.  It had nothing to do with "our German ghetto."  The gathering was designed to return the LCMS to the Confessional Lutheran and the writings of Pastor Paul Burgdorf.  The "State of the Church" conference founders accomplished their goal of embedding "The Brief Statement" into LCMS theology and dismissing any remnant of the "44."

Supporters of Burgdorf contributed to the continued publication of "Lutheran News," later "Christian News," under editor Herman Otten.  The ALBP Publication, "The American Lutheran," under editor Adolf Meyer is now "Lutheran Forum."

I was present at the first State of the Church Conference in Milwaukee. In fact, I agreed to my brother Herman Otten's request to serve as secretary of the Conference. (At the time I was parish deaconess at Nazareth in downtown Milwaukee.) What I heard and witnessed there was unsettling.   

On August 12, 1962 my father-in-Adolf Meyer presided at the wedding of Bill Meyer and Marie Otten.  Also present at the New York wedding were Oswald Hoffman, a signer of the "44," and my brother Herman Otten, editor of the new "Lutheran News."

Two weeks later, Grace Anderson, one of my college roommates and a bridesmaid at the Bill Meyer/Marie Otten wedding, married Herman Otten in Marengo, Iowa.  Bill and I were both members of the Herman Otten/Grace Anderson wedding party attended by numerous supporters of the former Confessional Lutheran.

Persons who lived through events that followed the Milwaukee State of the Church know that the history of the LCMS from that time on is not the story of an "LCMS German ghetto" that "glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low."

The internal political and theological story is far different and far more tragic. It is story that began within the LCMS, is currently maintained within the LCMS... a story that contributes to the current decline of the LCMS.

IOW... the current decline neither originated outside the LCMS, nor is it maintained from without.  We have yet to meet and confront the problem that exists within.

Marie Otten Meyer
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 05, 2021, 11:14:50 AM
Pastor Paul Burgdorf had a parish in Clinton, Iowa and helped turn the Iowa
East District into one of the most conservative in the LCMS.  His views were
given a wider audience with Pastor Otten's weekly newspaper.  Burgdorf
passed the baton to Otten who became a powerful voice of dissent in LCMS
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 05, 2021, 11:16:53 AM
I submit the decline began with the birth of the 1961 "the State of the Church" conference in Milwaukee, WI.  It had nothing to do with "our German ghetto."  The gathering was designed to return the LCMS to the Confessional Lutheran and the writings of Pastor Paul Burgdorf.  The "State of the Church" conference founders accomplished their goal of embedding "The Brief Statement" into LCMS theology and dismissing any remnant of the "44."

Supporters of Burgdorf contributed to the continued publication of "Lutheran News," later "Christian News," under editor Herman Otten.  The ALBP Publication, "The American Lutheran," under editor Adolf Meyer is now "Lutheran Forum."

I was present at the first State of the Church Conference in Milwaukee. In fact, I agreed to my brother Herman Otten's request to serve as secretary of the Conference. (At the time I was parish deaconess at Nazareth in downtown Milwaukee.) What I heard and witnessed there was unsettling.   

On August 12, 1962 my father-in-Adolf Meyer presided at the wedding of Bill Meyer and Marie Otten.  Also present at the New York wedding were Oswald Hoffman, a signer of the "44," and my brother Herman Otten, editor of the new "Lutheran News."

Two weeks later, Grace Anderson, one of my college roommates and a bridesmaid at the Bill Meyer/Marie Otten wedding, married Herman Otten in Marengo, Iowa.  Bill and I were both members of the Herman Otten/Grace Anderson wedding party attended by numerous supporters of the former Confessional Lutheran.

Persons who lived through events that followed the Milwaukee State of the Church know that the history of the LCMS from that time on is not the story of an "LCMS German ghetto" that "glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low."

The internal political and theological story is far different and far more tragic. It is story that began within the LCMS, is currently maintained within the LCMS... a story that contributes to the current decline of the LCMS.

IOW... the current decline neither originated outside the LCMS, nor is it maintained from without.  We have yet to meet and confront the problem that exists within.

Marie Otten Meyer


Accurate, Marie. The Burgdorf-Otten rebellion was not the only factor toward decline but was perhaps the largest contributor.

Peace, JOHN

PS: I still have a cousin living in Marengo.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on January 05, 2021, 11:20:42 AM
I would like to know in what ways you guys think your church “brought into the American main stream.“ When did that happen? And how? And in what way?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on January 05, 2021, 12:15:09 PM
Pastor Paul Burgdorf had a parish in Clinton, Iowa and helped turn the Iowa
East District into one of the most conservative in the LCMS.  His views were
given a wider audience with Pastor Otten's weekly newspaper.  Burgdorf
passed the baton to Otten who became a powerful voice of dissent in LCMS

The above restates and affirms the essence of the personal history I wrote.

Once the history is acknowledged we, the LCMS, are confronted with the question, "How, when and where are we willing to confront the truth of our history?   The truth of how we as a church body have allowed internal conflict, be in theological, personal or political, to divide us in a way that hinders the mission and ministry Christ has entrusted to us?"

As a woman who in the past and the present has experienced LCMS internal divisiveness at a spiritual, emotional and intellectual level do not understand why LCMS brothers in Christ are blind to the truth of our history.   

We are experiencing the fallout of our history while continuing to repeat the mistakes of the past. To blame our culture rather than placing  ourselves under the Law contributes to the current decline.

Rather than perpetuating the myth that we are the True Confessional Lutheran Church to which may smaller Lutheran Church bodies are looking for truth, we need to re-examine the reality of how our internal division hinders our Christian witness to the world.

marie otten meyer

 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 05, 2021, 12:28:50 PM
for decades....

Decline in the Missouri Synod, as it was parsed to us a few years ago at official levels with appropriate data, began in 1963.  And has been downhill ever since.  Think of it then.  We had close to 1000 boys in each class of our prep schools going to our junior colleges and then to the senior college and to the seminary.  The great weeding out took more than half of them, so  400-500 made it through to ordination per year by the late sixties, set up to be Pastor Martin from This is The Life, church versions of Marcus Welby, MD.  We had game!

Dave Benke
Indeed. We finally got out of our German ghetto and glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low.

I submit the decline began with the birth of the 1961 "the State of the Church" conference in Milwaukee, WI.  It had nothing to do with "our German ghetto."  The gathering was designed to return the LCMS to the Confessional Lutheran and the writings of Pastor Paul Burgdorf.  The "State of the Church" conference founders accomplished their goal of embedding "The Brief Statement" into LCMS theology and dismissing any remnant of the "44."

Supporters of Burgdorf contributed to the continued publication of "Lutheran News," later "Christian News," under editor Herman Otten.  The ALBP Publication, "The American Lutheran," under editor Adolf Meyer is now "Lutheran Forum."

I was present at the first State of the Church Conference in Milwaukee. In fact, I agreed to my brother Herman Otten's request to serve as secretary of the Conference. (At the time I was parish deaconess at Nazareth in downtown Milwaukee.) What I heard and witnessed there was unsettling.   

On August 12, 1962 my father-in-Adolf Meyer presided at the wedding of Bill Meyer and Marie Otten.  Also present at the New York wedding were Oswald Hoffman, a signer of the "44," and my brother Herman Otten, editor of the new "Lutheran News."

Two weeks later, Grace Anderson, one of my college roommates and a bridesmaid at the Bill Meyer/Marie Otten wedding, married Herman Otten in Marengo, Iowa.  Bill and I were both members of the Herman Otten/Grace Anderson wedding party attended by numerous supporters of the former Confessional Lutheran.

Persons who lived through events that followed the Milwaukee State of the Church know that the history of the LCMS from that time on is not the story of an "LCMS German ghetto" that "glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low."

The internal political and theological story is far different and far more tragic. It is story that began within the LCMS, is currently maintained within the LCMS... a story that contributes to the current decline of the LCMS.

IOW... the current decline neither originated outside the LCMS, nor is it maintained from without.  We have yet to meet and confront the problem that exists within.

Marie Otten Meyer
Your understanding of events from an inside perspective perhaps leads you over-invest in that interpretation. I did something similar about a decade or so ago trying to understand the mild but to me surprising beginning of decline at the congregation was serving. I was accustomed to a growing congregation and expected it. Decline had to have a cause. It made no sense to me that attendance would go down from the previous year unless some internal factor specific to the congregation or town explained it. I made a large timeline that covered a full ten years and charted every week's attendance on it. Then I added in every major event in the life of the congregation-- building project, pastor retired, got our first music director, went to the new hymnal, associate took a call, etc. etc.-- trying to se how the ups and downs corresponded to internal events. What I discovered, counter-intuitively, was that they didn't really correspond. The line on my big graph almost exactly aligned (really, to an eerie degree) with the line on a graph I discovered from a major study of congregations (I believe done by the UMC and PCA) charting attendance at established Protestant congregations nationwide that roughly matched our size and age.

I think you're making the same mistake I did. I would submit, though I obviously cannot prove, that if the conference in Milwaukee had never happened for some reason, say, due to inclement weather or a sudden change of heart by some of the presenters or something, that the LCMS today, sixty years later, would be in pretty much the same shape it is in now. We tend to grossly overestimate the impact of personalities and localized events on large scale cultural trends. The parade is actually following the parade route, not whoever happens to me marching front at the time. In the late 50's or early 60's, establishment American Protestantism peaked. That was about the time the LCMS wanted in instead of remaining deliberately apart as it had in the 19th Century and struggled with in the interwar period. The synodical conference had broken up and the ecumenical movement began (belatedly among us) in earnest. Look at our old evangelism materials from the 60's; they could have been produced by almost any respectable Protestant church. We finally decided to be good American Boy Scout types and be like everyone else right when everyone else was starting to get tired of it. We did the same thing decades later with contemporary Worship. Bought into it right as it was becoming passe.   

If Herman Otten had said in 1962, "You know Maries, you're right. You've been right all along. I'm a changed man," we'd still be pretty much where we are today, trying to deal with top-heavy institutions and dwindling worship attendance.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 05, 2021, 12:32:47 PM
Sorry, Pr. K, the tug of that rear view mirror is just way too strong. Kind of a dangerous way to drive though. Just sayin.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 05, 2021, 12:43:44 PM
Just so I can keep up with the flow of the conversation....Pr. Weedon, who is "Pastor K"?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 05, 2021, 12:56:10 PM
The man who started the thread and introduced the rear view mirror / windshield analogy; Pr. Tim Klinkenberg.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 05, 2021, 01:03:45 PM
Thank you.  I didn't realize that was PrTim15's last name. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on January 05, 2021, 01:57:55 PM
Quote
We are experiencing the fallout of our history while continuing to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Marie could be right or she could be wrong.  We might be in worse shape if it were not for the conference.  I cannot read history and come up with absolute certainty that this caused that and that caused this.  But if there were a church body more in tune with its own angst than Missouri, I have not seen it.  At some point the preoccupation with the past will have to end and we will have to deal with the present as it is -- not as we wish it to be.  It is this preoccupation that just may prevent us from taking a look around us and at us.  At the same time, it is hard to find Lutheran vitality anywhere else in America.  Missouri may be wounded and broken but look at the Lutheran bodies bleeding.  It is one thing to bleed off people but it is another to bleed off the Gospel.  Missouri generally preaches and teaches faithfully in spite of her many faults.  Yet this has not prevented us from shrinking any more than the much more liberal ELCA.  I wonder if the focus does not lie in putting aside institutional decline and looking at the local entity.  If we are as faithful as we can be locally (preaching the Gospel, administering the Sacraments, doing the work of the Kingdom) and our congregation and church body dies, so be it.  But if we are not faithful and these die, then the responsibility hangs on us and no one else.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on January 05, 2021, 02:05:33 PM
I previously wrote....

"Persons who lived through events that followed the Milwaukee State of the Church know that the history of the LCMS from that time on is not the story of an "LCMS German ghetto" that "glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low."

"The internal political and theological story is far different and far more tragic. It is story that began within the LCMS, is currently maintained within the LCMS... a story that contributes to the current decline of the LCMS.

"IOW... the current decline neither originated outside the LCMS, nor is it maintained from without.  We have yet to meet and confront the problem that exists within."

Pr. Speckardt responded....

"Your understanding of events from an inside perspective perhaps leads you over-invest in that interpretation."   

"I think you're making the same mistake I did. I would submit, though I obviously cannot prove, that if the conference in Milwaukee had never happened for some reason, say, due to inclement weather or a sudden change of heart by some of the presenters or something, that the LCMS today, sixty years later, would be in pretty much the same shape it is in now. We tend to grossly overestimate the impact of personalities and localized events on large scale cultural trend.   

"If Herman Otten had said in 1962, "You know Maries, you're right. You've been right all along. I'm a changed man," we'd still be pretty much where we are today, trying to deal with top-heavy institutions and dwindling worship attendance."

On what basis was it said that my perspective is "perhaps" the result of  being over-invested in my interpretation of the event?  Frankly, I find the comment condescending.

What follows is continued ignorance of LCMS history following the years when the State of the Church continued.  Men involved in the effort included seminary professors and elected LCMS officials.  To suggest a rain delay of the first conference would have changed LCMS history is nothing sort of bizzare.

Marie Meyer 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 05, 2021, 02:10:06 PM
for decades....

Decline in the Missouri Synod, as it was parsed to us a few years ago at official levels with appropriate data, began in 1963.  And has been downhill ever since.  Think of it then.  We had close to 1000 boys in each class of our prep schools going to our junior colleges and then to the senior college and to the seminary.  The great weeding out took more than half of them, so  400-500 made it through to ordination per year by the late sixties, set up to be Pastor Martin from This is The Life, church versions of Marcus Welby, MD.  We had game!

Dave Benke
Indeed. We finally got out of our German ghetto and glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low.

I submit the decline began with the birth of the 1961 "the State of the Church" conference in Milwaukee, WI.  It had nothing to do with "our German ghetto."  The gathering was designed to return the LCMS to the Confessional Lutheran and the writings of Pastor Paul Burgdorf.  The "State of the Church" conference founders accomplished their goal of embedding "The Brief Statement" into LCMS theology and dismissing any remnant of the "44."

Supporters of Burgdorf contributed to the continued publication of "Lutheran News," later "Christian News," under editor Herman Otten.  The ALBP Publication, "The American Lutheran," under editor Adolf Meyer is now "Lutheran Forum."

I was present at the first State of the Church Conference in Milwaukee. In fact, I agreed to my brother Herman Otten's request to serve as secretary of the Conference. (At the time I was parish deaconess at Nazareth in downtown Milwaukee.) What I heard and witnessed there was unsettling.   

On August 12, 1962 my father-in-Adolf Meyer presided at the wedding of Bill Meyer and Marie Otten.  Also present at the New York wedding were Oswald Hoffman, a signer of the "44," and my brother Herman Otten, editor of the new "Lutheran News."

Two weeks later, Grace Anderson, one of my college roommates and a bridesmaid at the Bill Meyer/Marie Otten wedding, married Herman Otten in Marengo, Iowa.  Bill and I were both members of the Herman Otten/Grace Anderson wedding party attended by numerous supporters of the former Confessional Lutheran.

Persons who lived through events that followed the Milwaukee State of the Church know that the history of the LCMS from that time on is not the story of an "LCMS German ghetto" that "glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low."

The internal political and theological story is far different and far more tragic. It is story that began within the LCMS, is currently maintained within the LCMS... a story that contributes to the current decline of the LCMS.

IOW... the current decline neither originated outside the LCMS, nor is it maintained from without.  We have yet to meet and confront the problem that exists within.

Marie Otten Meyer
Your understanding of events from an inside perspective perhaps leads you over-invest in that interpretation. I did something similar about a decade or so ago trying to understand the mild but to me surprising beginning of decline at the congregation was serving. I was accustomed to a growing congregation and expected it. Decline had to have a cause. It made no sense to me that attendance would go down from the previous year unless some internal factor specific to the congregation or town explained it. I made a large timeline that covered a full ten years and charted every week's attendance on it. Then I added in every major event in the life of the congregation-- building project, pastor retired, got our first music director, went to the new hymnal, associate took a call, etc. etc.-- trying to se how the ups and downs corresponded to internal events. What I discovered, counter-intuitively, was that they didn't really correspond. The line on my big graph almost exactly aligned (really, to an eerie degree) with the line on a graph I discovered from a major study of congregations (I believe done by the UMC and PCA) charting attendance at established Protestant congregations nationwide that roughly matched our size and age.

I think you're making the same mistake I did. I would submit, though I obviously cannot prove, that if the conference in Milwaukee had never happened for some reason, say, due to inclement weather or a sudden change of heart by some of the presenters or something, that the LCMS today, sixty years later, would be in pretty much the same shape it is in now. We tend to grossly overestimate the impact of personalities and localized events on large scale cultural trends. The parade is actually following the parade route, not whoever happens to me marching front at the time. In the late 50's or early 60's, establishment American Protestantism peaked. That was about the time the LCMS wanted in instead of remaining deliberately apart as it had in the 19th Century and struggled with in the interwar period. The synodical conference had broken up and the ecumenical movement began (belatedly among us) in earnest. Look at our old evangelism materials from the 60's; they could have been produced by almost any respectable Protestant church. We finally decided to be good American Boy Scout types and be like everyone else right when everyone else was starting to get tired of it. We did the same thing decades later with contemporary Worship. Bought into it right as it was becoming passe.   

If Herman Otten had said in 1962, "You know Maries, you're right. You've been right all along. I'm a changed man," we'd still be pretty much where we are today, trying to deal with top-heavy institutions and dwindling worship attendance.

I'm going to disagree with you to some extent here, Peter.  Even though in the end who can say what might have been, I think from the crowd of clergy and churches swept up in the seventies mess, had the Otten/Burgdorf movement been short-circuited early, that basically middle-liturgical Lutheran somewhat like Pastor Martin of This is the Life group of pastors and leaders would have been aligned with the mostly middle-more rural ALC.  And the temperament of the ALC and Missouri would have made for a more long-term middle Lutheranism.  I'm actually pretty convinced of that. 

I don't know if that solves the Great Dwindling of today or would have made for a more resilient Church in the present.  But it might have.  Just reading some of the graph 'n chart-folks description of what's out there now - wow, pretty disheartening across the board, spiraling.  Our former interlocutor Commencement2020 read it forward to a time around 2050 when things "level out" at some way lower level.  How low is that. 

Anyway, I enjoyed reading about the conference at Nazareth Lutheran in Milwaukee, which was one of our major flag football opponents in the Lutheran grade school league, a fellow north-side factory-worker-kids tough guy school.  Whom we beat.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on January 05, 2021, 02:19:40 PM
The point is that neither conservative nor liberal strains of Lutheranism seem to be flourishing right now.  What might have been is not nearly as compelling as what is and what we are doing right now.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on January 05, 2021, 02:31:16 PM
The LCMS Convention in 1969 at Denver signaled the debut of intense political
activity for the first time to oust an incumbent Synodical President.  That is a
fact beyond dispute. It was no accident that Herman Otten was involved in the
 campaigning against the incumbent President and part of the challenger's team.

The introduction of hard-nosed politics to  become a LCMS President began in
1969 and has never stopped.  Each national convention to elect a Synodical
President becomes a feud which short circuits the integrity of both candidates.
The infighting factions in the LCMS have helped to demoralize the love needed
to proclaim Christ to a lost world.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 05, 2021, 02:53:39 PM
The point is that neither conservative nor liberal strains of Lutheranism seem to be flourishing right now.  What might have been is not nearly as compelling as what is and what we are doing right now.

My reading is that there's a vast swath in the middle of both of those strains.  The question to be asked is whether there is a cultural middle.  I think there is, that in political terms it looks and acts like a moderate Republican (when that category existed, which is not that far in the dim past), and that it represents about 70% of Lutherans in the United States. 
Could/would the cultural right (LCMS) and cultural left (ELCA) have done better had Lutheranism hewed to a centrist line, or, to those on the cultural right, does that always lead to caving in to the left, or, to those on the cultural left, does that always lead to caving in to the right?  In other words, could the center have held?  We'll never know.

However, an evangelical and catholic presentation of Church through Word and Sacraments, through formation and engagement, through alliances across denominational lines for that set of beliefs and practices, would in my opinion look and feel in cultural terms more "middle" than at either edge. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 05, 2021, 03:00:13 PM
for decades....

Decline in the Missouri Synod, as it was parsed to us a few years ago at official levels with appropriate data, began in 1963.  And has been downhill ever since.  Think of it then.  We had close to 1000 boys in each class of our prep schools going to our junior colleges and then to the senior college and to the seminary.  The great weeding out took more than half of them, so  400-500 made it through to ordination per year by the late sixties, set up to be Pastor Martin from This is The Life, church versions of Marcus Welby, MD.  We had game!

Dave Benke
Indeed. We finally got out of our German ghetto and glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low.

I submit the decline began with the birth of the 1961 "the State of the Church" conference in Milwaukee, WI.  It had nothing to do with "our German ghetto."  The gathering was designed to return the LCMS to the Confessional Lutheran and the writings of Pastor Paul Burgdorf.  The "State of the Church" conference founders accomplished their goal of embedding "The Brief Statement" into LCMS theology and dismissing any remnant of the "44."

Supporters of Burgdorf contributed to the continued publication of "Lutheran News," later "Christian News," under editor Herman Otten.  The ALBP Publication, "The American Lutheran," under editor Adolf Meyer is now "Lutheran Forum."

I was present at the first State of the Church Conference in Milwaukee. In fact, I agreed to my brother Herman Otten's request to serve as secretary of the Conference. (At the time I was parish deaconess at Nazareth in downtown Milwaukee.) What I heard and witnessed there was unsettling.   

On August 12, 1962 my father-in-Adolf Meyer presided at the wedding of Bill Meyer and Marie Otten.  Also present at the New York wedding were Oswald Hoffman, a signer of the "44," and my brother Herman Otten, editor of the new "Lutheran News."

Two weeks later, Grace Anderson, one of my college roommates and a bridesmaid at the Bill Meyer/Marie Otten wedding, married Herman Otten in Marengo, Iowa.  Bill and I were both members of the Herman Otten/Grace Anderson wedding party attended by numerous supporters of the former Confessional Lutheran.

Persons who lived through events that followed the Milwaukee State of the Church know that the history of the LCMS from that time on is not the story of an "LCMS German ghetto" that "glommed onto the American mainstream just in time to buy high and sell low."

The internal political and theological story is far different and far more tragic. It is story that began within the LCMS, is currently maintained within the LCMS... a story that contributes to the current decline of the LCMS.

IOW... the current decline neither originated outside the LCMS, nor is it maintained from without.  We have yet to meet and confront the problem that exists within.

Marie Otten Meyer
Your understanding of events from an inside perspective perhaps leads you over-invest in that interpretation. I did something similar about a decade or so ago trying to understand the mild but to me surprising beginning of decline at the congregation was serving. I was accustomed to a growing congregation and expected it. Decline had to have a cause. It made no sense to me that attendance would go down from the previous year unless some internal factor specific to the congregation or town explained it. I made a large timeline that covered a full ten years and charted every week's attendance on it. Then I added in every major event in the life of the congregation-- building project, pastor retired, got our first music director, went to the new hymnal, associate took a call, etc. etc.-- trying to se how the ups and downs corresponded to internal events. What I discovered, counter-intuitively, was that they didn't really correspond. The line on my big graph almost exactly aligned (really, to an eerie degree) with the line on a graph I discovered from a major study of congregations (I believe done by the UMC and PCA) charting attendance at established Protestant congregations nationwide that roughly matched our size and age.

I think you're making the same mistake I did. I would submit, though I obviously cannot prove, that if the conference in Milwaukee had never happened for some reason, say, due to inclement weather or a sudden change of heart by some of the presenters or something, that the LCMS today, sixty years later, would be in pretty much the same shape it is in now. We tend to grossly overestimate the impact of personalities and localized events on large scale cultural trends. The parade is actually following the parade route, not whoever happens to me marching front at the time. In the late 50's or early 60's, establishment American Protestantism peaked. That was about the time the LCMS wanted in instead of remaining deliberately apart as it had in the 19th Century and struggled with in the interwar period. The synodical conference had broken up and the ecumenical movement began (belatedly among us) in earnest. Look at our old evangelism materials from the 60's; they could have been produced by almost any respectable Protestant church. We finally decided to be good American Boy Scout types and be like everyone else right when everyone else was starting to get tired of it. We did the same thing decades later with contemporary Worship. Bought into it right as it was becoming passe.   

If Herman Otten had said in 1962, "You know Maries, you're right. You've been right all along. I'm a changed man," we'd still be pretty much where we are today, trying to deal with top-heavy institutions and dwindling worship attendance.

I'm going to disagree with you to some extent here, Peter.  Even though in the end who can say what might have been, I think from the crowd of clergy and churches swept up in the seventies mess, had the Otten/Burgdorf movement been short-circuited early, that basically middle-liturgical Lutheran somewhat like Pastor Martin of This is the Life group of pastors and leaders would have been aligned with the mostly middle-more rural ALC.  And the temperament of the ALC and Missouri would have made for a more long-term middle Lutheranism.  I'm actually pretty convinced of that. 

I don't know if that solves the Great Dwindling of today or would have made for a more resilient Church in the present.  But it might have.  Just reading some of the graph 'n chart-folks description of what's out there now - wow, pretty disheartening across the board, spiraling.  Our former interlocutor Commencement2020 read it forward to a time around 2050 when things "level out" at some way lower level.  How low is that. 

Anyway, I enjoyed reading about the conference at Nazareth Lutheran in Milwaukee, which was one of our major flag football opponents in the Lutheran grade school league, a fellow north-side factory-worker-kids tough guy school.  Whom we beat.

Dave Benke
There is a big difference between the Otten/Burgdorf movement and Otten/Burgdorf themselves. That was part of my point-- the parade has people marching in front of it, but the leaders mislead themselves if they think the parade is following them and not simply moving in the same direction as they are. They have some localized impact on events, but major social movements do not depend upon personalities, they create personalities. I would say, contra Marie, that no movement or decline in the LCMS began in 1961 because of a conference in Milwaukee. The movement and the decline would have happened without that conference and even if the people who led the conference had done something else with their lives instead. The timeline would feature different things and there may have been better or worse outcomes in individual stories and localities, but the general, overall decline would be more or less the same today. That is my belief. But again, I cannot prove that, only posit it.

The "middle" is a meaningless concept apart from the edges. The middle of the LCMS has always been and always will be the middle of the LCMS. Only by defining the edges do we define the middle. And sometimes the point of controversy divides the middle. Women's ordination, for example, has no middle.
People are on one side of that issue or the other. No ALC-LCMS coming together could even have theoretically changed that fact.   

Marie, if the "perhaps" offends you, my apologies. I have no idea why you find it condescending unless the very idea of disagreeing with your interpretation despite your having been there is hubris on my part. It seem to me leaving the "perhaps" out would be far more condescending, and more dogmatically certain than I would intend to be about a hypothetical. My point was that your interpretation of events is highly dependent on particular people and relationships, as though the various movements followed them and would have followed them in other, better directions. My interpretation is that the competing movements created them, and would have created other people had those not been available. You can dismiss my take as something everyone who lived back then just knows is wrong and continue to assert that our decline traces to particular people and events. But then you'd have to write off the almost exactly parallel decline of several other bodies as mere coincidence relating to other people and conferences that were prominent in their history. Possible, of course, but to me it seems quite unlikely. That's why I compared it to the congregational timeline I made vs. the national trendline. What I had thought was a trendline related to internal events turned out to be no such thing in the big picture.

Family lore featuring prominent leaders and tragic divisions, something to which I am not a stranger, is an affect more than a cause. Our real impact is in the lives of the people who know us, not in the overall flow of historical and cultural trends.

Most calls for an end to divisiveness and the triumph of the middle amount to little more than the observation that if everybody would just stop disagreeing with me we wouldn't have all these problems. Everyone can say that.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on January 05, 2021, 03:11:28 PM
Peter writes:
...but major social movements do not depend upon personalities, they create personalities....
I comment:
I could not disagree more. Even if we leave Jesus out of it for a little bit, let’s consider such persons as Augustine, Gregory the great, others of the great patriarchs. Or in the later times Savonarola. Frances. Henry the eighth. And in more modern times Gandhi, King, Nelson Mandela,. I contend that these personalities created the movements.
Without the person of Herman Otten and his persistence, the LCMS would be a different church body today.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 05, 2021, 03:41:37 PM
Leadership is a good question though in terms of ecclesial futures from the point of view of anyone's denominational leadership. 

Are leaders made or born, do they rise from the crucible of their crises, or were they leaders all along from childhood?  A method of determination is followers/allies/disciples.  Did/do they have any?  If not, are they leaders?  Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on January 05, 2021, 03:43:16 PM
Sorry, Pr. K, the tug of that rear view mirror is just way too strong. Kind of a dangerous way to drive though. Just sayin.

I couldn't agree more, Will.  Away for a few days and reading through I'm rather frustrated.  Repetition of old ideas and wounds gets us nowhere and gets the same results time and time again.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 05, 2021, 03:51:28 PM
Without the person of Herman Otten and his persistence, the LCMS would be a different church body today.

One person can cause others to stand up and take notice, to recognize a problem they were not at first willing to see as such.  Or to admit the seeming seriousness of it.  That is one way I view Pr. Otten.  I view him as one of those notorious "whistleblowers" we hear about in politics these days. Many in places of power and influence would have been much happier to have his voice not heard, especially as it spread to the level of the rank-in-file of Synod.  But once the word was out someone had to address it.  It would not go away.  Much difference in opinion comes in whether what he viewed was a 'problem.'  I predict that had he not been one of those starting the fire of the controversy, the whole matter might very well have smouldered and eventually been pushed aside as Missouri moved further in the direction of where the ELCA is now.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 05, 2021, 04:19:53 PM
Peter writes:
...but major social movements do not depend upon personalities, they create personalities....
I comment:
I could not disagree more. Even if we leave Jesus out of it for a little bit, let’s consider such persons as Augustine, Gregory the great, others of the great patriarchs. Or in the later times Savonarola. Frances. Henry the eighth. And in more modern times Gandhi, King, Nelson Mandela,. I contend that these personalities created the movements.
Without the person of Herman Otten and his persistence, the LCMS would be a different church body today.
I contend that had MLK died of a heart attack ten years earlier, the Civil Rights Movement would still have happened. South Africa would be integrated if Mandela had never been born. India would have been liberated by now without Ghandi. These things might not have happened with the same twists and turns or at exactly the same rate or with the same high points, but the overall move to integration of the races and the dissolution of the British Empire was not the work of individual leaders. You may as well say that if the Wright brothers had gone back to their bicycle shop we still wouldn't have the airplane. We wouldn't have had it as soon, but the trend to toward every greater capacity for manned flight would have happened in some kind of way without them. And the numerical decline of the LCMS and the established American Protestantism generally was not going to go in a significantly different direction if only Herman Otten hadn't wrecked everything starting in Milwaukee in 1961. At best he and that conference were one of ten million factors that gave shape to the overall trend lines.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on January 05, 2021, 04:20:52 PM
Sorry, Pr. K, the tug of that rear view mirror is just way too strong. Kind of a dangerous way to drive though. Just sayin.

I couldn't agree more, Will.  Away for a few days and reading through I'm rather frustrated.  Repetition of old ideas and wounds gets us nowhere and gets the same results time and time again.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on January 05, 2021, 04:48:05 PM
Sorry:  I hit send too soon.

The reason old ideas and wounds resurface is because we live with a distorted self-image of the LCMS.   

The self image brought up at each synodical convention is one where the LCMS is the bastion of orthodoxy to which small Lutheran churches/synods world wide flock. They are said to want what we have.  All the while the synod is declining with fewer and fewer young men graduating from the seminaries.

The reality of discord within the LCMS is glossed over.  Time and again I hear our decline excused as the same decline that all churches are experiencing. Rather than critical self-examination, we blame our culture.  Denial, defensiveness and deflection perpetuate the reality that our claim of doctrinal "purity" and the inner drive to defend this claim is systemic within the LCMS.

Rather than understanding why the LCMS needs to apply the Law as a sword that exposes our misuse of good and gracious gifts received from God, we hold to a legalistic third use of the law that passes judgement on churches less doctrinally pure than we are. The third use is also used against those within the synod deemed less doctrinally pure than our "beloved" synod once was.

The 2020 LCMS report reveals a spiritual problem that cries for our attention.

Marie Meyer



 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 05, 2021, 05:15:51 PM
Peter writes:
...but major social movements do not depend upon personalities, they create personalities....
I comment:
I could not disagree more. Even if we leave Jesus out of it for a little bit, let’s consider such persons as Augustine, Gregory the great, others of the great patriarchs. Or in the later times Savonarola. Frances. Henry the eighth. And in more modern times Gandhi, King, Nelson Mandela,. I contend that these personalities created the movements.
Without the person of Herman Otten and his persistence, the LCMS would be a different church body today.
I contend that had MLK died of a heart attack ten years earlier, the Civil Rights Movement would still have happened. South Africa would be integrated if Mandela had never been born. India would have been liberated by now without Ghandi. These things might not have happened with the same twists and turns or at exactly the same rate or with the same high points, but the overall move to integration of the races and the dissolution of the British Empire was not the work of individual leaders. You may as well say that if the Wright brothers had gone back to their bicycle shop we still wouldn't have the airplane. We wouldn't have had it as soon, but the trend to toward every greater capacity for manned flight would have happened in some kind of way without them. And the numerical decline of the LCMS and the established American Protestantism generally was not going to go in a significantly different direction if only Herman Otten hadn't wrecked everything starting in Milwaukee in 1961. At best he and that conference were one of ten million factors that gave shape to the overall trend lines.

I mostly agree with Peter here. But of course this is an ongoing debate among historians. The "great man theory" was articulated in the 19th century and held sway for quite a while, but it has been less influential in recent decades. As a church history professor, there were a very few figures that I felt justified in saying, "If this person hadn't lived, everything would be completely different." But not many. Do individuals have an impact on history? Obviously, yes; but the impact appears less and less significant the further the camera pans out. In the big picture, individual people and events are more illustrative than causative.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 05, 2021, 05:38:50 PM
Sorry, Pr. K, the tug of that rear view mirror is just way too strong. Kind of a dangerous way to drive though. Just sayin.

I couldn't agree more, Will.  Away for a few days and reading through I'm rather frustrated.  Repetition of old ideas and wounds gets us nowhere and gets the same results time and time again.

Peace,
Scott+

Typically the people groups that get an organization to a point are not the ones to lead it out. That being said, Scott, more than likely the remnant of my generation of pastors and yours will be able to think this through without such an immediate interest. My father was a pastor in the 70's and went back from Flagstaff, Arizona to complete his Mdiv after having done his BDiv at Springfield. He went back in essence to support the Seminary and the LCMS. But I was 8 years old and have no dog in that fight. Thank Pr Weedon:)

I do think that doing things officially isn't going to work. The restructure and the nature of organizations like ours is to perpetuate itself as it was. There's a more organic conversation like this that can happen in more places that can happen because we tend to be more congregationally based. I would be interested in looking through that windshield.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: aletheist on January 05, 2021, 05:43:18 PM
The self image brought up at each synodical convention is one where the LCMS is the bastion of orthodoxy to which small Lutheran churches/synods world wide flock. They are said to want what we have.  All the while the synod is declining with fewer and fewer young men graduating from the seminaries.
Why could it not be the case that both statements are true?

The reality of discord within the LCMS is glossed over.
By whom? It seems to me that the discord is acknowledged, but different people attribute it to different factors (and people).

Time and again I hear our decline excused as the same decline that all churches are experiencing. Rather than critical self-examination, we blame our culture.
Why should there be a permanent expectation of increase, such that decline must be excused or blamed on something? Last I checked, Jesus said that the gate is narrow and Paul said that no matter who plants and waters, it is God who gives the growth.

Denial, defensiveness and deflection perpetuate the reality that our claim of doctrinal "purity" and the inner drive to defend this claim is systemic within the LCMS.
I see it not as a claim but as an aspiration. All we can do is seek to be faithful to the truth, both Law and Gospel, and the rest is out of our hands.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Pastor Ken Kimball on January 05, 2021, 05:43:41 PM
At some point though, the panning out of the camera becomes a blur.  History still happens but not in the same way or time or outcome if certain people with their particularities of virtue or malice do not exist.   Without Lincoln and Grant, it is not a certainty that secession does not succeed and slavery continues, at least for a time, with a very different outcome, e.g. the balkanization of North America.   Without Churchill, the likelihood very much existed of Britain knuckling under to some acceptance of the Nazi Reich in 1940.  It may be true that in the ecclesiastical matters of the LCMS that particular persons in the past are not as much the cause of where things are at in the present--but would there have been an LCMS without Walther?   Without Paull Spring there would likely not have been an NALC.  What might have resulted without Paull would be a very different organizing of the splinters from the ELCA.   Individuals do matter and do leave an imprint and do make a difference in particular choices and decisions made. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 05, 2021, 05:45:43 PM
Malcolm Gladwell did an interesting analysis in one of his books, basically asserting that the great captains of industry of old and the tech billionaires of today were largely products of circumstances that were bound to produce such people. Someone of precisely the right age was going to invent Facebook or its equivalent right about the time Zuckerberg did.

The problem with applying the Law to the issue of numerical decline is that there is no corresponding Gospel apart from numerical growth, which we are not in a position to provide. Your church is shrinking because you are a bad, unfaithful person. Okay. Now what?

A church without zeal for pure doctrine is not a Christian church. Who are the apostles and patron saints of the church of not bothering so much about what is true and what is false? I suspect that those who put “pure” in scare quotes are every bit as concerned about pure doctrine. They just don’t think the LCMS’s doctrine is pure. But the first step toward changing it is creating doubt about it.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Mark Brown on January 05, 2021, 06:06:21 PM
Quote
Often enough, our hope for a better future will be hope merely for a certain sequence of the inevitable catastrophes: that those which come first, and finally detach us from the status quo, will not be the final catastrophes that would end our particular history. - From Robert Jenson, Story and Promise (1973).

Of course he puts those temporal hopes against the background of THE eschatological hope.  That whatever is unfulfilled today, is merely held for fulfillment then. Also, it should probably be said that the entire book is something of a fun-house mirror read today, in a meet the new boss, same as the old boss way.  You get everything you want, and surprise, you become Nixon.  But if his examples don't stand the test of time, his eyes are clear enough on the top lines.  We are all partisans in particulars.  And it is probably better spiritually to lose them here, because then our hopes are pointed to the proper end.

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RDPreus on January 05, 2021, 06:19:01 PM
The LCMS Convention in 1969 at Denver signaled the debut of intense political
activity for the first time to oust an incumbent Synodical President.  That is a
fact beyond dispute. It was no accident that Herman Otten was involved in the
 campaigning against the incumbent President and part of the challenger's team.

The introduction of hard-nosed politics to  become a LCMS President began in
1969 and has never stopped.  Each national convention to elect a Synodical
President becomes a feud which short circuits the integrity of both candidates.
The infighting factions in the LCMS have helped to demoralize the love needed
to proclaim Christ to a lost world.

I agree!  I would like to point out that while Herman Otten was instrumental in the election of Jack Preus in 1969 he was by no means a part of his team.  Just a few months after Uncle Jack was elected he, along with most of the COP, repudiated Christian News.  It is true that Otten had a great influence on the LCMS, but he really didn't have the political influence many people think he had.  I'm not saying he had none.  Dean Wenthe ignored advice to visit with Otten to assure him of his Waltherian credentials.  Wenthe lost to Kieschnick.  Matthew Harrison, on the other hand, courted Otten and sought his support.  He won.  I doubt that Otten represented more than 5% of the delegates, but that's enough to tip a close election.

I think it's sad that delegates rely on preferred candidate lists as they decide for whom to vote at LCMS conventions.  Can any of you name the men who make up the "United List" or tell us how many they are?  Yet, if one is not on it, he is rarely elected.  Sometimes they make excellent recommendations.  Sometimes they make bad recommendations.  I would like to see them go out of business.  I know and like both Matthew Harrison and David Maier.  They are both Christian brothers with feet of clay.  I won't say which one I voted for, but I will say that it was not a choice between good versus evil. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 05, 2021, 06:23:50 PM
I think it's sad that delegates rely on preferred candidate lists as they decide for whom to vote at LCMS conventions.  Can any of you name the men who make up the "United List" or tell us how many they are?  Yet, if one is not on it, he is rarely elected.  Sometimes they make excellent recommendations.  Sometimes they make bad recommendations.  I would like to see them go out of business.  I know and like both Matthew Harrison and David Maier.  They are both Christian brothers with feet of clay.  I won't say which one I voted for, but I will say that it was not a choice between good versus evil. 

I'll raise a glass - bourbon or single malt, take your pick - to the bolded and underlined section, RD.  What I'd love to see happen myself is for that anonymous group to simply state who they are/have been as they determine no longer to take part as the United List. 

I will add that if that were to happen, you could pretty well depend on the eschaton arriving within no more than 48 hours, give or take.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RDPreus on January 05, 2021, 06:33:07 PM
I think it's sad that delegates rely on preferred candidate lists as they decide for whom to vote at LCMS conventions.  Can any of you name the men who make up the "United List" or tell us how many they are?  Yet, if one is not on it, he is rarely elected.  Sometimes they make excellent recommendations.  Sometimes they make bad recommendations.  I would like to see them go out of business.  I know and like both Matthew Harrison and David Maier.  They are both Christian brothers with feet of clay.  I won't say which one I voted for, but I will say that it was not a choice between good versus evil. 

I'll raise a glass - bourbon or single malt, take your pick - to the bolded and underlined section, RD.  What I'd love to see happen myself is for that anonymous group to simply state who they are/have been as they determine no longer to take part as the United List. 

I will add that if that were to happen, you could pretty well depend on the eschaton arriving within no more than 48 hours, give or take.

Dave Benke

I'll join you in that toast.  It will have to be single malt.  I'm out of bourbon.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 05, 2021, 06:58:07 PM
I think it's sad that delegates rely on preferred candidate lists as they decide for whom to vote at LCMS conventions.  Can any of you name the men who make up the "United List" or tell us how many they are?  Yet, if one is not on it, he is rarely elected.  Sometimes they make excellent recommendations.  Sometimes they make bad recommendations.  I would like to see them go out of business.  I know and like both Matthew Harrison and David Maier.  They are both Christian brothers with feet of clay.  I won't say which one I voted for, but I will say that it was not a choice between good versus evil. 

I'll raise a glass - bourbon or single malt, take your pick - to the bolded and underlined section, RD.  What I'd love to see happen myself is for that anonymous group to simply state who they are/have been as they determine no longer to take part as the United List. 

I will add that if that were to happen, you could pretty well depend on the eschaton arriving within no more than 48 hours, give or take.

Dave Benke

I'll join you in that toast.  It will have to be single malt.  I'm out of bourbon.

Well, 7 my time is 5 your time - I'm going with The Balvenie, there's a little left in that bottle.  Smoky, very nice.  An epiphany on the Eve of the Epiphany.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 05, 2021, 09:47:15 PM
My sense there are some kingmakers that keep it pretty quiet. Was always interesting how much weird email, anonymous notes and out and out threats a person who lets his name stand gets. Honestly, I'd never let my name stand for anything every again synodically. Yet I would give tireless effort for us to find a new way to walk together. I"d like about 10 minutes with the United List people as well:)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 06, 2021, 09:08:15 AM
My sense there are some kingmakers that keep it pretty quiet. Was always interesting how much weird email, anonymous notes and out and out threats a person who lets his name stand gets. Honestly, I'd never let my name stand for anything every again synodically. Yet I would give tireless effort for us to find a new way to walk together. I"d like about 10 minutes with the United List people as well:)

Skip the 10 minutes, look for affirming flames (they're always Christocentric...).

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out, wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of eros and dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.   
    - Auden

Needed to add:
"I should like to say something serious, just that, speaking for myself, over the years, looking not very assiduously or systematically or learnedly or virtuously, but always looking for a light in a dark time, the only one that I have found shone first in Galilee."      Malcolm Muggeridge
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 06, 2021, 10:01:26 AM
Love that
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 06, 2021, 10:44:05 AM
Much of the discussion regarding the design of the Synod, past present, and future, falls into what those working on system design refer to as Speculative Design.  J. Auger wrote a multi-page thesis a few years ago on the subject.  Serendipitously, Paul Raven (University of Lund, Sweden) published a brief summary of Auger's key points to consider about the several methods of engaging in speculative design that might be of worth to some of those discussing "reorganization", or "new structure for the future", or "repristination is progress", or "woe is us" approaches.
Here's the link:
https://www.velcro-city.co.uk/contract-bridge-auger-2013-speculative-design-crafting-the-speculation/

I speculate that some of you will find this useful.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 06, 2021, 11:08:44 AM
I think it's sad that delegates rely on preferred candidate lists as they decide for whom to vote at LCMS conventions.  Can any of you name the men who make up the "United List" or tell us how many they are?  Yet, if one is not on it, he is rarely elected.  Sometimes they make excellent recommendations.  Sometimes they make bad recommendations.  I would like to see them go out of business.  I know and like both Matthew Harrison and David Maier.  They are both Christian brothers with feet of clay.  I won't say which one I voted for, but I will say that it was not a choice between good versus evil. 

I'll raise a glass - bourbon or single malt, take your pick - to the bolded and underlined section, RD.  What I'd love to see happen myself is for that anonymous group to simply state who they are/have been as they determine no longer to take part as the United List. 

I will add that if that were to happen, you could pretty well depend on the eschaton arriving within no more than 48 hours, give or take.

Dave Benke

After I finished The Lutheran Study Bible, Paul McCain invited me to let my name stand for a vice president's position in synod. I immediately said, "No thank you" since I was content in my calling and still raising my children. That perhaps gives you a snap shot of how recruiting for the list happens. I was never one to hang out in St. Louis and rarely was sent to conferences so I did not get to know others in the circle of recruiting and choosing.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 06, 2021, 12:32:17 PM
The nature of the United List has gotten us to a dark place organizationally. The nomination committees are subverted  and their due diligence is ignored. I sat at two conventions where the delegates on either side of me were voting straight off of the United List and had nothing to do with he official materials from the LCMS. In any healthy system, there's room for dialogue and debate that's done with strength and kindness. When we lose that tension we lose the refining of ideas. I don't choose yes men to serve on boards, committees and task forces in the parish I serve. Rather I seek to chose those who are bright, clear thinking and willing to speak out. The hegemony of the United List has sucked that good tension out of the LCMS. Furthermore it seems that the longer it has gone the more apathetic the congregations, clergy and other workers and members are. I believe the United List is an agency of evil.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on January 06, 2021, 01:12:40 PM
The nature of the United List has gotten us to a dark place organizationally. The nomination committees are subverted  and their due diligence is ignored. I sat at two conventions where the delegates on either side of me were voting straight off of the United List and had nothing to do with he official materials from the LCMS. In any healthy system, there's room for dialogue and debate that's done with strength and kindness. When we lose that tension we lose the refining of ideas. I don't choose yes men to serve on boards, committees and task forces in the parish I serve. Rather I seek to chose those who are bright, clear thinking and willing to speak out. The hegemony of the United List has sucked that good tension out of the LCMS. Furthermore it seems that the longer it has gone the more apathetic the congregations, clergy and other workers and members are. I believe the United List is an agency of evil.

I think calling the United List an "agency of evil" is way over the top.

But you are right: this does subvert the work of the Synod's Nominating Committee and it has taken us to a dark place organizationally because people are elected to positions simply because their names are on the list.

There are some good people on the United List; really, some very good people. OTOH, I've known some very good people who don't make the list. That's the real problem. I've also known some unqualified people to be on that list and elected to various positions. I remember one church worker who was on the list that I knew very well. This person was elected to both positions that the UL recommended them for. IMO, and I knew this person for a number of years, s/he was not qualified for either one of them. They were elected simply because their name was on the list.

*sigh*
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 06, 2021, 01:15:18 PM
Figured my comment would garner a response. Even still, that which is done in the darkness and seeks to deceive is evil.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 06, 2021, 02:10:31 PM
Also, there’s nothing that suggests that the persons that show up on the United List are “yes” men, meaning they’ll just do the administration’s bidding. I remember a couple times the same name showed up on both the United List and whatever the other list is calling itself that time round. As Pete’s pointed out a time or twenty, people tend to stay with the UL because they’re actually content with the outcome of using it.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 06, 2021, 02:47:14 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 06, 2021, 02:55:34 PM
It beggars belief to say that the delegates actually have sufficient relevant knowledge of the various candidates to cast a meaningful vote. If I were sitting next to someone who said, "Hey, that guy running for a spot on such and such a board comes from my home church. Really good guy," I'd probably vote for him based on that alone, even though the exact thing might be said to me about the other candidates had I sat somewhere else. Voters' guides of some kind are helpful, or at least would be for me if I were a delegate.

If you want to find out who does the United List, just publish your own list under the title "United List" and mail it to everyone. People not in the loop would get opposing lists both claiming to be the United List. It would be quite tricky to sort it out without anyone "in the know" revealing themselves to settle it. And then we would know. Or we would just have two lists.

 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 06, 2021, 02:56:09 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored.
What is the direction of those who form the list?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: RevG on January 06, 2021, 03:15:48 PM
Sorry:  I hit send too soon.

The reason old ideas and wounds resurface is because we live with a distorted self-image of the LCMS.   

The self image brought up at each synodical convention is one where the LCMS is the bastion of orthodoxy to which small Lutheran churches/synods world wide flock. They are said to want what we have.  All the while the synod is declining with fewer and fewer young men graduating from the seminaries.

The reality of discord within the LCMS is glossed over.  Time and again I hear our decline excused as the same decline that all churches are experiencing. Rather than critical self-examination, we blame our culture.  Denial, defensiveness and deflection perpetuate the reality that our claim of doctrinal "purity" and the inner drive to defend this claim is systemic within the LCMS.

Rather than understanding why the LCMS needs to apply the Law as a sword that exposes our misuse of good and gracious gifts received from God, we hold to a legalistic third use of the law that passes judgement on churches less doctrinally pure than we are. The third use is also used against those within the synod deemed less doctrinally pure than our "beloved" synod once was.

The 2020 LCMS report reveals a spiritual problem that cries for our attention.

Marie Meyer



 

Marie,

I certainly don’t want to diminish your experiences, especially considering who your brother was and his impact on the LCMS.  Lord only knows what you have had to go through and I want to honor that.  At the same time, I also wonder if this is also something that we need renewal from or that we need to let go of.  What I mean is that often our identities can become so wrapped up in the stories that we tell ourselves that we fail to realize that even those things need to be let go of and that we need a change in our thinking.  What good comes from drudging up the past constantly except to keep peeling off the scab of a wound that needs to be healed?  Without a doubt such wounds are still with us in a myriad of forms.

There’s certainly a distorted self-image in the LCMS and I agree with much of what you write but I don’t know if I agree with your diagnostic concerning decline.  That is, I don’t know if I agree that the reason for our decline is this spiritual problem that you note above.  I would think it’s connected in some way but, as Peter notes, our decline isn’t unique in the bigger picture.  Another thing to point out is that the walkout didn’t result in the predicted fracturing.  Synod held steady numerically despite the split. 

Regarding the United List, I agree with Tim it certainly isn’t healthy.  At the same time, I think it’s also an indicator of where Synod is at presently, just as the election of Matt Harrison the last 4 cycles indicates as much as well.  The UL and the SP are good at what they do politically, but that isn’t the whole game.  They simply reflect where Synod is at as a whole.  I think the last election cycle proved as much.  Certainly, President Harrison lost ground but he still won by a fair margin.  Remember, too, that the SP election gives us a more accurate summation of Synod representation than elections before 2013 may have.   

Peace,
Scott+

 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 06, 2021, 03:19:50 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored.
What is the direction of those who form the list?

That would be their published platform.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 06, 2021, 03:29:44 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored. 

And, who carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices those compiling the United List?
As to the highlighted section: You have put forth an interesting judgement.  What you opine is "part of the vetting process" can honestly be seen by the recipients as "mobbing".
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 06, 2021, 03:36:44 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored. 

And, who carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices those compiling the United List?
As to the highlighted section: You have put forth an interesting judgement.  What you opine is "part of the vetting process" can honestly be seen by the recipients as "mobbing".

No. Mobbing by definition lasts six months or more. So in Tim's case, if it went on and on, it had metastasized into mobbing, especially if it changed from questions to threats.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 06, 2021, 03:39:39 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored.
What is the direction of those who form the list?


That would be their published platform.
Where might one go to see that, and what aspects of it do you consider to be a problematic direction? What is, as you call them, the "other team's" platform?

It seems to me if UL publishes a platform, then voters using the UL are thereby expressing support for that platform. Getting rid of the list would serve only to get voters who supported one platform to inadvertently support a different platform because they weren't sure which candidates supported the that voter's preferred platform. And if there is not real, substantive difference in the platforms, then who cares if all the people elected happened to be on the United List?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on January 06, 2021, 03:43:23 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored. 

And, who carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices those compiling the United List?
As to the highlighted section: You have put forth an interesting judgement.  What you opine is "part of the vetting process" can honestly be seen by the recipients as "mobbing".

No. Mobbing by definition lasts six months or more. So in Tim's case, if it went on and on, it had metastasized into mobbing, especially if it changed from questions to threats.

In many cases, including yours, no question, and you have experience to define it that way.
In many more cases, mobbing only takes a time-specific period to realize its goals toward a primary target, and as little as one instance to cause irreversible collateral damage.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 06, 2021, 03:58:39 PM
Candidates on the list would have been carefully vetted for their beliefs and practices. There is a network of persons managing that process. (When Tim refers to strange emails and phone calls, some of that may have been part of the vetting process rather than simple meanness.) While the list candidates may not be "yes men," they are compliant with the direction of those who form the list. One of the greater concerns is that a candidate could be loyal to another team, therefore, the candidates are carefully monitored.
What is the direction of those who form the list?


That would be their published platform.
Where might one go to see that, and what aspects of it do you consider to be a problematic direction? What is, as you call them, the "other team's" platform?

It seems to me if UL publishes a platform, then voters using the UL are thereby expressing support for that platform. Getting rid of the list would serve only to get voters who supported one platform to inadvertently support a different platform because they weren't sure which candidates supported the that voter's preferred platform. And if there is not real, substantive difference in the platforms, then who cares if all the people elected happened to be on the United List?

Peter, I'm just describing how things get done. I'm not opposing the use of voting lists. I would encourage published platforms so voters would have greater understanding and choice as they voted.

If there are no published platforms, a voter might call that into question. Without published platforms, the voters act in the dark or are directed in some private fashion.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on January 06, 2021, 04:03:04 PM
Speaking as one whose name has never appeared on any list and who has no knowledge of such lists, I think Peter hit it on the head.  We are long ago past knowing people by name in this Synod.  I have been around for more than 40 years and consider myself to know a few folks around the Synod but most all of the names nominated at a Synod convention are strangers to me -- especially when it involves laymen.  I have looked at the United List and been surprised both by who was and who was not on it and how many times the name appears on more than one list.  That said, the way we do nominations pretty much precludes the day when significant numbers can be nominated from the floor.  Somebody decided that having a Nominations Committee do the vetting was a good idea and perhaps the same mindset was interested in further singling out names.  In the end, I am not sure that it matters so much.  Boards of Regents add their own people for expertise and skill sets.  We have very few boards and commissions left anymore after the restructuring a decade or so ago.  Indeed, with the help of technology the elections at a convention happen so quickly you almost have no time to think -- it invites having an official or homemade cheat sheet.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 09, 2021, 10:11:17 AM
Your point about the speed of elections is a good one. The perfunctory prayers are funny as well. Someone need to pray and honest prayer before a church election. Lord bless our wrangling and forgive us for not putting our trust in you or trusting one another as we vote for the white men on the lists before our delegates. Amen prayers to bless what we already done seem useless to me,
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 09, 2021, 12:59:57 PM
Speaking as one whose name has never appeared on any list and who has no knowledge of such lists, I think Peter hit it on the head.  We are long ago past knowing people by name in this Synod.  I have been around for more than 40 years and consider myself to know a few folks around the Synod but most all of the names nominated at a Synod convention are strangers to me -- especially when it involves laymen.  I have looked at the United List and been surprised both by who was and who was not on it and how many times the name appears on more than one list.  That said, the way we do nominations pretty much precludes the day when significant numbers can be nominated from the floor.  Somebody decided that having a Nominations Committee do the vetting was a good idea and perhaps the same mindset was interested in further singling out names.  In the end, I am not sure that it matters so much.  Boards of Regents add their own people for expertise and skill sets.  We have very few boards and commissions left anymore after the restructuring a decade or so ago.  Indeed, with the help of technology the elections at a convention happen so quickly you almost have no time to think -- it invites having an official or homemade cheat sheet.

That which is avoided is the harmful and at the same time telltale phenomenon of the anonymity of the United List.  A group of people without names is responsible for the names of the candidates for election.  Who elected them, why do they choose to remain anonymous, and why do those elected at all levels not encourage/demand that they reveal themselves? 

What they have to hide is that which keeps them anonymous - their power.  Because they are completely non-accountable.  And that's the source of their power.  They move the pegs around on the board with an invisible hand, making whatever decisions they make without connection to the rest of the denomination.  I would hope it is that these folks be urged (somebody must know who they are, no?) to unmask themselves, explain themselves, and become part of the ordinary process of selection rather than the super-ordinary.  It's a cancer on the Body of Christ at the national level.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 09, 2021, 02:23:56 PM
Speaking as one whose name has never appeared on any list and who has no knowledge of such lists, I think Peter hit it on the head.  We are long ago past knowing people by name in this Synod.  I have been around for more than 40 years and consider myself to know a few folks around the Synod but most all of the names nominated at a Synod convention are strangers to me -- especially when it involves laymen.  I have looked at the United List and been surprised both by who was and who was not on it and how many times the name appears on more than one list.  That said, the way we do nominations pretty much precludes the day when significant numbers can be nominated from the floor.  Somebody decided that having a Nominations Committee do the vetting was a good idea and perhaps the same mindset was interested in further singling out names.  In the end, I am not sure that it matters so much.  Boards of Regents add their own people for expertise and skill sets.  We have very few boards and commissions left anymore after the restructuring a decade or so ago.  Indeed, with the help of technology the elections at a convention happen so quickly you almost have no time to think -- it invites having an official or homemade cheat sheet.

That which is avoided is the harmful and at the same time telltale phenomenon of the anonymity of the United List.  A group of people without names is responsible for the names of the candidates for election.  Who elected them, why do they choose to remain anonymous, and why do those elected at all levels not encourage/demand that they reveal themselves? 

What they have to hide is that which keeps them anonymous - their power.  Because they are completely non-accountable.  And that's the source of their power.  They move the pegs around on the board with an invisible hand, making whatever decisions they make without connection to the rest of the denomination.  I would hope it is that these folks be urged (somebody must know who they are, no?) to unmask themselves, explain themselves, and become part of the ordinary process of selection rather than the super-ordinary.  It's a cancer on the Body of Christ at the national level.

Dave Benke
I don’t understand how they get power by publishing an anonymous voter guide. Anyone can publish a guide. Why do people vote by it? 100% of the power is invested in the voters, by design and function. Your beef seems to be with the voters, but that would require an acknowledgement that most people seem pretty content with people being elected. The only way to maintain that the non-UL folks actually represent the prevailing view in synod is to separate vote from voter and blame it on the list, as though the voters were being fooled or coerced into selecting UL candidates.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 09, 2021, 02:33:29 PM
Another important point: the U list tends to be used as a guide by the majority, but almost always the Convention will choose to elect those who are not on it as well, usually because the person was a known commodity and they trusted her or him. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 09, 2021, 03:01:52 PM
I have said before that the problem I see with the Unite List is that it merely a symptom of the fact that we are structured to be a small denomination with 100-200 congregations rather than one with 6,000. How can a voting delegate from North Carolina know anything about candidates for 100 offices scattered all around the nation? Why should she be voting at all? Why should she care about a regent for Concordia, St. Paul?

The United List symptom is only one of many indications that we are too big to manage as we do. As I said also, we'd like to have Vatican style governance, especially over doctrine and practice. We can't do that with Baptist ecclessiology.

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 09, 2021, 03:06:15 PM
Another important point: the U list tends to be used as a guide by the majority, but almost always the Convention will choose to elect those who are not on it as well, usually because the person was a known commodity and they trusted her or him.

That percentage is around 85-15, the 85 being those on the U list.  The other statement here is just wrong-headed.  The voters are being steered directly down the tunnel toward the U list.  Why would anyone encourage an anonymously created candidate list in churchly elections?  It's unhealthy per se.  This is mostly laughable at the local level where we'd love to have more than one candidate for any office, but would you want your nominating committee outflanked by another anonymous group in the local congregation?  The "Trinity Concerned List" (TCL) presents nominees that more faithfully represent the values of Historic Trinity.  That would be a sign of congregational disease.  As it is with the national church body.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 09, 2021, 03:26:22 PM
Amen and Amen...we have had for any number of years now rule by an oligarchy of like minded people. In our congregation we smile at one another and ask with all candor, "So, how's that going for you?" Always clarifies the result. I stand by my assertion way back that the the United List is dark and represents evil. Perhaps people vote for it as delegates because they too have been chosen specifically as delegates by a bigger machine than simply congregational or circuit elections.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 09, 2021, 03:27:16 PM
Well, to underscore Peter’s earlier point: people use it because they find it generally yields them outcomes they find good or at least acceptable. The nominations process doesn’t actually help the run of the mill delegate evaluate and weigh the candidates; yes, it provides important biographical info and such, but it also leaves the delegates for the most part in the dark if they don’t know the specific candidates. And so they turn to lists. And important as the work of an nominating committee is, it is always the right of the delegates to ADD to that list. That’s not an abuse; it’s a feature of our structure! And surely it is manifest that there’s more than one list floating around? It’s just the delegates have tended (in recent years) to favor UL, rather than one that has various reincarnations and names. I’m not convinced it’s a sign of disease, Dave, per se.

Tim, I think you have to factor in the existence of what some call “Synod groupies” who ENJOY the convention experience and often serve as delegates repeated times because they are free to do so time wise, and the circuit is just happy to have the slot filled. I’m not sure it’s as nefarious as you’re suggesting there! 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on January 09, 2021, 03:40:23 PM
I have said before that the problem I see with the Unite List is that it merely a symptom of the fact that we are structured to be a small denomination with 100-200 congregations rather than one with 6,000. How can a voting delegate from North Carolina know anything about candidates for 100 offices scattered all around the nation? Why should she be voting at all? Why should she care about a regent for Concordia, St. Paul?

The United List symptom is only one of many indications that we are too big to manage as we do. As I said also, we'd like to have Vatican style governance, especially over doctrine and practice. We can't do that with Baptist ecclessiology.

Peace, JOHN

John,

The  LCMS election system worked when the synod was larger than it is today.   Others may correct me, but the lists did not began until late sixties, maybe early seventies.  By 1975 they were in full swing. I know that because my  name was on the "conservative" and "liberal' list when I was elected to the powerful Committee for Convention Nomination in 1975.  Seems as if I was "vetted" by two groups.  By the completion of my term, the "conservatives" were not shy in making it known that that had made a mistake.

Marie Meyer
 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 09, 2021, 03:42:36 PM
P.S. Full disclosure, fwiw. I obviously used to work under Matt Harrison at the IC and I consider him a friend. I wrote in FL back in the day about why I thought in 2010 he was the better candidate. I have been on the United List once, I think, when nominated and elected in 2010 to serve as a regent at CUC. I have never attended a “behind the scenes” political meeting in the Synod and don’t know at all who works to put together the UL. But like many, I found it to be a reliable guide and freely used it extensively at the last convention where I was a delegate (2010). Thereafter I was a Synod employee and saw an entirely different side of Convention as the chaplain for three of them. No time doing that to pay too terribly much attention to elections, but my assistant (Deaconess Bowers) found the process interesting and she kept tally, noting the folks who were elected from either list or from no list whatsoever. I think 80-85% is about right, which is amazing for UL. I do think the “sea change” that took place in 2010 was largely fueled by anger over the firing of the man who is now my boss: Jeff Schwarz, and the cancellation of Issues, which I dubbed in a thread on this forum “Holy Tuesday Treachery.” I can’t even begin to count the number of folks at that Convention who came up to introduce themselves to me and let me know that they listened to Issues (where I was a frequent guest) and they were HOT and ready to do something about it. I honestly believe that that single event cost President Kieschnick the presidency, something that he did not expect, of course.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 09, 2021, 04:27:56 PM
I think that the firing of the Rev. Wallace Schultz at Lutheran Hour Ministries in 2002 was also a flash point. It concerned a controversial time and many saw it as politically motivated.  Schultz, as far as I can tell, was a respected and loved speaker at LH, and folks out in the field had a hard time understanding why he was let go simply for carrying out his duties as a vice president of Synod.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 09, 2021, 04:36:32 PM
I think the difference, Don, is where the nation was internet wise at the different time. 2002 DID make lots of folks angry (on either side of the question). But we still hadn’t reached the point where news of such a thing travelled instantly! I mean, Jeff called me after being fired (I was his pastor) and I posted on this forum, on my blog, and a few other spots within the hour. It was picked up instantly and spread, well, virally. I don’t doubt stuff like that would have happened earlier had the mechanism been there, but it wasn’t. I do remember hearing that Dr. K wondered how on earth it was possible the IC was being flooded with calls within a few hours of the firings. I don’t think the administration at that time understood how people used the net, and that THAT was how most of them listened to Issues!
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 09, 2021, 05:03:17 PM
I think the difference, Don, is where the nation was internet wise at the different time. 2002 DID make lots of folks angry (on either side of the question). But we still hadn’t reached the point where news of such a thing travelled instantly! I mean, Jeff called me after being fired (I was his pastor) and I posted on this forum, on my blog, and a few other spots within the hour. It was picked up instantly and spread, well, virally. I don’t doubt stuff like that would have happened earlier had the mechanism been there, but it wasn’t. I do remember hearing that Dr. K wondered how on earth it was possible the IC was being flooded with calls within a few hours of the firings. I don’t think the administration at that time understood how people used the net, and that THAT was how most of them listened to Issues!

That is a good point.  I know my involvement with social media goes back only to 2008, which was six years after the dismissal of Schultz.  Facebook, itself, was not opened to the general public until 2006, four years removed from that event, the same year I began to write a person blog.  Hard to believe.  We take it all for granted now, but it's really quite a new phenomena, historically speaking.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on January 09, 2021, 05:37:10 PM
I think the difference, Don, is where the nation was internet wise at the different time. 2002 DID make lots of folks angry (on either side of the question). But we still hadn’t reached the point where news of such a thing travelled instantly! I mean, Jeff called me after being fired (I was his pastor) and I posted on this forum, on my blog, and a few other spots within the hour. It was picked up instantly and spread, well, virally. I don’t doubt stuff like that would have happened earlier had the mechanism been there, but it wasn’t. I do remember hearing that Dr. K wondered how on earth it was possible the IC was being flooded with calls within a few hours of the firings. I don’t think the administration at that time understood how people used the net, and that THAT was how most of them listened to Issues!

I read it on your blog and immediately called my dad. Todd's wife is my dad's niece, my cousin. I was really mad and didn't understand why they were fired and the show canceled. I know there was political strife but now deep. It was a fatal, self-inflicted wound for Pres. Kieschnick.

I made use of the lists in Milwaukee. There were four of us delegates in a row and we'd say, "I know that guy, know of that guy, went to college with her, etc." If there wasn't any of that info, we'd generally vote the UL. The convention materials were extremely helpful in going through the nominees. I'd make my selections, then see who were on the lists.

Jeremy
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 09, 2021, 06:00:41 PM
The United List and its hegemony of 80-85% of elected offices clearly has limited the breadth and depth of who serves in LCMS. I’m a pariah and I’m cool w that, don’t lose a bit of sleep on that. There are some fine people, who get no chance to serve and the discussion clearly becomes an echo chamber as the COP spends time, yet again, on communion distribution. Again, only something done in darkness and apart from the light can come from one place. Again, how’s it going for us?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 09, 2021, 06:25:44 PM
The United List and its hegemony of 80-85% of elected offices clearly has limited the breadth and depth of who serves in LCMS. I’m a pariah and I’m cool w that, don’t lose a bit of sleep on that. There are some fine people, who get no chance to serve and the discussion clearly becomes an echo chamber as the COP spends time, yet again, on communion distribution. Again, only something done in darkness and apart from the light can come from one place. Again, how’s it going for us?

I don't want to divert the thread, but I believe that the "communion distribution" issue came about because of a recent and novel approach of remote consecration.  I think it deserved the serious attention of the COP and probably requires additional discussion and study beyond that. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 09, 2021, 06:30:34 PM
That’s fair;) thank you
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 09, 2021, 07:18:10 PM
When Matt was first elected, the Main Nag was vetting the voters and counting the votes of the delegates ahead of the election. He told me the count was very close. That is how organized the effort was---down to the delegate for the presidential election. The networking is obviously very extensive, adding weight to their influence.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on January 09, 2021, 07:21:06 PM
When Matt was first elected, the Main Nag was vetting the voters and counting the votes of the delegates ahead of the election. He told me the count was very close. That is how organized the effort was---down to the delegate for the presidential election. The networking is obviously very extensive, adding weight to their influence.
Who is the main nag?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on January 09, 2021, 07:45:48 PM
Deep Throat.

It's not who you intimated it to be in your article. Name this person please.

Jeremy
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on January 09, 2021, 08:02:56 PM
We've been down this road before.  I still don't understand the need to call this person by a pseudonym.  If we can't call the person by a real, identifiable name, we're right back in that anonymous name thing we were wrestling with here for users of the forum. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 09, 2021, 08:18:26 PM
Not to wander too far off, but Schmemann’s Eucharist does an interesting job of showing how the Sacrament is a whole, from the initial action to its consummation. And the initial action is invariably synaxis: “When ye come together therefore into one place...” 1 Cor. 11:20 That “coming together” is the first act that culminates in the Eucharist; and without it there IS no Eucharist. The problem in Corinth was they were coming together alright, but for the lesser thing, not the greater thing, for the Agape meal rather than for what the Lord had delivered to them: His body and His blood. If you take away “gathering together” you will not have Eucharist, whatever else it may be considered.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on January 10, 2021, 06:43:05 AM
I'm simply recounting how things get done as I described also earlier. You open your database, add the names of the delegates, check mark everyone you know is on your side, mark also everyone you know will not join your side, and then focus on the unknowns. That process of elimination makes the job smaller and easier.

You may prioritize the unknowns by district into friendly and less likely to be friendly. You work up your vetting topics and form your vetting questions. Then starts the phone calls and emails. Where there is uncertainty, check with local persons you know and trust. In this way, you foresee how the convention will vote.

So far, this is just research and counting. But when folks find themselves short-handed, temptation enters in. Fears rise and pressure mounts. Underhanded tactics may enter in. That's when things go amiss.

Lord, have mercy upon us. Christ, have mercy upon us. Lord, have mercy upon us.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 10, 2021, 10:28:08 AM
I have heard first hand stories of people sitting on an airplane and a person sitting next to them and helping them with their view of the convention issues, elections and understandings. Honestly time to beat our spears into plowshares...when is enough enough?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on January 10, 2021, 10:44:49 AM
But then there is the District Caucus Breakfasts at which the DPs would basically school the delegates from their districts on the best way to vote too on the issues likely to be presented that day. It would be a new day indeed if either “side” stopped long enough to suggest:

So let’s put the 8th commandment to work on explaining our neighbor’s actions (and thoughts!) in the kindest way.

I.e., to lose the demonization of opposing thoughts, but to allow for HONEST and OPEN discussion of real disagreements. What the KP promised, but was never ever to attain (I think, because of our fear of outcome). How much better if disagreements were actually openly expressed in discussion and real debate occurred about the various points of division.

My guess is that the future will lie with simple faithfulness to our Confessions. I think those that live congruently with them and seek to order ministry in that place congruently with them, will endure, little flock though they be (fear not!); but that those who are Lutheran for what Lutherans have in common with everyone else and downplay Lutheran distinctives will actually not make it through. But I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son...
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Keith Falk on January 10, 2021, 11:31:23 AM
When Matt was first elected, the Main Nag was vetting the voters and counting the votes of the delegates ahead of the election. He told me the count was very close. That is how organized the effort was---down to the delegate for the presidential election. The networking is obviously very extensive, adding weight to their influence.
Who is the main nag?


If anonymity - per, evidently, conversations by the ALPB board and/or advisors - is no longer permitted on this forum, then that should go for references to the Main Nag (and still waiting for an apology, anything, ANYTHING about that article in Lutheran Forum and gan anim)
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on January 10, 2021, 12:32:33 PM
But then there is the District Caucus Breakfasts at which the DPs would basically school the delegates from their districts on the best way to vote too on the issues likely to be presented that day. It would be a new day indeed if either “side” stopped long enough to suggest:

One of the nice things about being from a small district: we never had District Caucus breakfasts. I'd go to a bagel place for my breakfast--usually all alone.

I.e., to lose the demonization of opposing thoughts, but to allow for HONEST and OPEN discussion of real disagreements. What the KP promised, but was never ever to attain (I think, because of our fear of outcome). How much better if disagreements were actually openly expressed in discussion and real debate occurred about the various points of division.

I only heard two things about KP: a meeting between pastors from the Wyoming and Atlantic Districts (which I was told went over quite well) and some use of materials in the COP.

Otherwise, it just died. I don't know why it died, but it did.

My guess is that the future will lie with simple faithfulness to our Confessions. I think those that live congruently with them and seek to order ministry in that place congruently with them, will endure, little flock though they be (fear not!); but that those who are Lutheran for what Lutherans have in common with everyone else and downplay Lutheran distinctives will actually not make it through. But I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son...

As he was reaching the end of his service on the CTCR, Sam Nafzger told me that he didn't think we are as divided as many in the Synod think we are. I agree with him. Many years ago, I hitched a ride from Kansas City to the Synod convention in St. Louis with a pastor who is part of the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations group. He and I talked theology all the way there and back. I think we disagreed on a couple of things, but we both agreed they weren't all that important.

We do have some people who like to throw out labels and make accusations. I had one guy accuse me of being "liberal" because I supported Jerry Kieschnick's reorg of the Synod. I just told him that I didn't realize that the Synod's organizations structure was an issue of doctrine, but if he'd like to point me to where Scripture and the Confessions addressed the topic, then I'd be glad to reconsider.

But those are few. Indeed, I'd argue that most of those making the most noise are a very small minority.

Perhaps we could have a thread on issues that we see as divisive in the Synod, because I don't see that many real issues myself.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Richard Johnson on January 10, 2021, 03:18:33 PM
This is one area where the cultures in LCMS and ELCA really differ. At our assemblies, there are no "lists" floating around (well, there likely are, but they are floating around in very small circles). Voting members get presented with long, long ballots full of (usually) two already vetted persons for each slot, with virtually no information about them. At least two-thirds of the voting members are there for the first time and likely know absolutely none of the candidates unless they happen to be from their own synod (and maybe not even then). That's how almost all of the elections go. Even for the officers, if you've been around for a while, you might know some of the candidates for Presiding Bishop and Secretary, but if you haven't, you likely don't. For Vice President and Treasurer, I can't recall that I've ever known any of the candidates other than the incumbent (and then only because s/he is the incumbent). It's mostly a really stupid process, IMO, from start to finish.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 10, 2021, 03:35:09 PM
But then there is the District Caucus Breakfasts at which the DPs would basically school the delegates from their districts on the best way to vote too on the issues likely to be presented that day. It would be a new day indeed if either “side” stopped long enough to suggest:

One of the nice things about being from a small district: we never had District Caucus breakfasts. I'd go to a bagel place for my breakfast--usually all alone.

I.e., to lose the demonization of opposing thoughts, but to allow for HONEST and OPEN discussion of real disagreements. What the KP promised, but was never ever to attain (I think, because of our fear of outcome). How much better if disagreements were actually openly expressed in discussion and real debate occurred about the various points of division.

I only heard two things about KP: a meeting between pastors from the Wyoming and Atlantic Districts (which I was told went over quite well) and some use of materials in the COP.

Otherwise, it just died. I don't know why it died, but it did.

My guess is that the future will lie with simple faithfulness to our Confessions. I think those that live congruently with them and seek to order ministry in that place congruently with them, will endure, little flock though they be (fear not!); but that those who are Lutheran for what Lutherans have in common with everyone else and downplay Lutheran distinctives will actually not make it through. But I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son...

As he was reaching the end of his service on the CTCR, Sam Nafzger told me that he didn't think we are as divided as many in the Synod think we are. I agree with him. Many years ago, I hitched a ride from Kansas City to the Synod convention in St. Louis with a pastor who is part of the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations group. He and I talked theology all the way there and back. I think we disagreed on a couple of things, but we both agreed they weren't all that important.

We do have some people who like to throw out labels and make accusations. I had one guy accuse me of being "liberal" because I supported Jerry Kieschnick's reorg of the Synod. I just told him that I didn't realize that the Synod's organizations structure was an issue of doctrine, but if he'd like to point me to where Scripture and the Confessions addressed the topic, then I'd be glad to reconsider.

But those are few. Indeed, I'd argue that most of those making the most noise are a very small minority.

Perhaps we could have a thread on issues that we see as divisive in the Synod, because I don't see that many real issues myself.


The guy who mentioned the breakfasts is right on, plus they were so early. And don’t forget the pre convention programming that goes on formally in districts and informally across the denomination. There’s no question we agree on so much more than we disagree on, perhaps a discussion on those things we agree would be valuable as well
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 10, 2021, 03:48:23 PM
But then there is the District Caucus Breakfasts at which the DPs would basically school the delegates from their districts on the best way to vote too on the issues likely to be presented that day. It would be a new day indeed if either “side” stopped long enough to suggest:

One of the nice things about being from a small district: we never had District Caucus breakfasts. I'd go to a bagel place for my breakfast--usually all alone.

I.e., to lose the demonization of opposing thoughts, but to allow for HONEST and OPEN discussion of real disagreements. What the KP promised, but was never ever to attain (I think, because of our fear of outcome). How much better if disagreements were actually openly expressed in discussion and real debate occurred about the various points of division.

I only heard two things about KP: a meeting between pastors from the Wyoming and Atlantic Districts (which I was told went over quite well) and some use of materials in the COP.

Otherwise, it just died. I don't know why it died, but it did.

My guess is that the future will lie with simple faithfulness to our Confessions. I think those that live congruently with them and seek to order ministry in that place congruently with them, will endure, little flock though they be (fear not!); but that those who are Lutheran for what Lutherans have in common with everyone else and downplay Lutheran distinctives will actually not make it through. But I am neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son...

As he was reaching the end of his service on the CTCR, Sam Nafzger told me that he didn't think we are as divided as many in the Synod think we are. I agree with him. Many years ago, I hitched a ride from Kansas City to the Synod convention in St. Louis with a pastor who is part of the Association of Confessing Evangelical Lutheran Congregations group. He and I talked theology all the way there and back. I think we disagreed on a couple of things, but we both agreed they weren't all that important.

We do have some people who like to throw out labels and make accusations. I had one guy accuse me of being "liberal" because I supported Jerry Kieschnick's reorg of the Synod. I just told him that I didn't realize that the Synod's organizations structure was an issue of doctrine, but if he'd like to point me to where Scripture and the Confessions addressed the topic, then I'd be glad to reconsider.

But those are few. Indeed, I'd argue that most of those making the most noise are a very small minority.

Perhaps we could have a thread on issues that we see as divisive in the Synod, because I don't see that many real issues myself.

I'm with you on all points, Jim.  Except #1.  We used those caucus breakfasts (2 of them usually) to
a) worship and pray and receive the Eucharist together
b) listen to some guest from "on high" usually on missions
c) ask who was puzzled/troubled/ecstatic about something happening
d) get set on who would meet who for drinks later in the day

The Koinonia Project could have been more successful, no doubt.  My insider knowledge at the time was that the hard-edge clergy on the right just wouldn't participate.  So at day's end, it was more an echo chamber.  Where you had an actual conversation going, as Wyoming/Atlantic, it was really positive in terms of relationship building.  All issues weren't solved, but there was a platform - personal connection and determination - to listen.  That particular concept, however, has now outlived its shelf life.  What drives the bus now in my opinion is survival.

My distaste for the United List, and my call for its end, has to do with structural leadership in the context of your primary opinion (see the last paragraph).  My opinion, which is a firm one, is that oceans of talent in the Missouri Synod at the level of elected positions in the structure have been wasted.  The larger congregations that have greater worship variety are almost completely missing.  And inside those larger congregations are tons of leaders who are corporate execs, business leaders, mission and vision development folks, and servant leaders who have been deemed ineligible for service at the national level for reasons not of theology but of worship style.  That's something that's easily quantifiable.  Because of that the elected/electable talent pool for national service has been foreshortened.  It's an inside traders' group.   Way inside, since we really don't even know who's doing the trading. 

The rest of that picture has to do with who goes to the national conventions and why - of course, as someone stated, there are the convention geeks, who invariably get elected or show up.  And that's often unhelpful, a reinforcement of positions already held, as you properly indicate, and an echo-chamber alikeness in the discussions on and off floor.
As Pastor Ed says, somebody's putting together pegs on the board as to who gets elected to be national convention delegates -there is an organization of that by somebody, and my hunch is it's the same basic crew at United List headquarters.  It doesn't take rocket science to reach that conclusion.  So the echo chamber echoes itself.

And all of that, in my opinion and yours, takes place inside a denomination that's in basic agreement on pretty much everything.  Which ends up majoring in minors.  We can do better, and really we need to do better. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 10, 2021, 03:55:45 PM
Love this post Dave, you are right across the board, we can do a better job from top to bottom. The larger congregations have very little representation. A gentleman from St. John’s ran for regent at sem as a personal favor to Dale Meyer. I wrote his recommendation and even with his educational and professional achievements, his lifelong dedication tot he LCMS for almost strictly doctrinal reasons including our sacramental understanding, not only was he not elected he had people tell him he needed to transfer congregations if he wanted to serve.

The CEO of Valero and leaders of large organization who serve are boards that make the size and scale o the LCMS look pedestrian. Time to come together and talk. The sainted Herb Mueller would have loved to see the KP take off, maybe we need zero money from synod, zero imperative except that imperative to love each other.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on January 24, 2021, 10:57:35 AM
Tick Tock Tick Tock, what happens if say only 10% of churches weigh in on the convention postponement?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 24, 2021, 12:32:02 PM
Tick Tock Tick Tock, what happens if say only 10% of churches weigh in on the convention postponement?

I forgot how the district conventions tie into the national framework.  But if there's a need for X and Y to be done say 9 months prior to the national convention, then the last district conventions would have to be in October.  Lots of rushing around, pending some very real-world issues with the distribution and effect of the vaccine.  And therefore perhaps not even possible.  For this reason alone, the words from the national Board of Directors seemed to me ill-chosen. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on January 24, 2021, 01:07:14 PM
Tick Tock Tick Tock, what happens if say only 10% of churches weigh in on the convention postponement?

Well, then we'll jut to figure out where things go from there.

But I think 25% will vote and the postponement will be approved.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on January 24, 2021, 02:37:21 PM
District Conventions may be held any time during the year prior to the Synod Convention.  Their most urgent business is electing people.  Apart from that urgency, most things could be accomplished via another venue.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on January 24, 2021, 08:25:32 PM
The reason for the district and national convention delay should be, with that time lag, to gather and regroup first locally and then nationally around Word and Sacrament and in many opportunities for study and for fellowship in person, to regain the sense of the larger Body of Christ, to ponder what has been lost and what has been gained in wisdom and direction. 

The proposal to go to "another venue" (i.e. yet another online/virtual methodology) for most other things except elections is simply to envision that the purpose of conventions is elections.  Most particularly, in this special season for Christ's Church, the purpose must be to gather, regroup, share and grow as God's people. 

Don't delay - vote today - to delay. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on January 24, 2021, 08:31:48 PM

Don't delay - vote today - to delay. 

Dave Benke

Very nice rhyme. Have you been inspired by that young lady at the inauguration?

Your respectful presbyter, Bishop. Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jim Butler on January 24, 2021, 08:49:22 PM

Don't delay - vote today - to delay. 

Dave Benke

We voted in December when we passed the budget. I had the officers register our vote the day we received the information. we voted to delay.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dan Fienen on January 24, 2021, 09:10:04 PM
Our congregation voted and we have registered our vote, to delay.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on February 05, 2021, 10:15:19 AM
Looking again at the discussions about reducing the number of Districts or the number of congregations, here is an article looking at the problem of church finances, structure, and membership - not just during but perhaps accelerated by both COVID-19 era events and the blanket increase of secularization in American society.
The article is about a Church of England parish and the larger state of affairs in that church:
https://unherd.com/2021/02/can-the-church-cope-with-being-broke/
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on February 05, 2021, 10:26:03 AM
Don't delay - vote today - not to delay.

I disagree with the vote to delay -- it is not because it cannot be done but because people don't want to.  If the ladies of the LWML can meet in national convention in 2021, I think the districts can.  You don't have to meet for more than a day to accomplish essential business.  You don't have to meet until the vaccines are out (Johnson and Johnson say 100 million doses of the single shot will be available by summer on top of the two others).  We in the Mid-South are meeting.  That is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of anyone other than me.  But I hope and I am not alone.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 05, 2021, 10:39:10 AM
At the BOD meeting this week our district leaders (North Wisconsin) decided to delay our convention if the Synod does, or hold it this summer if they remain on schedule.  I didn't sense any strong feelings either way. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on February 05, 2021, 11:33:24 AM
The Atlantic District is completely in favor of the delay at the leadership/Board level, as far as I've heard, along with every congregation that I know of, all around the issue of the safety of parishioners.  For that reason, we have had repeated Zoom meetings with pastors and leaders initiated by Bp. Lecakes on following the state guidelines for worship attendance and church opening/closing, wearing masks, taking other safety precautions in worship and enrolling vulnerable parishioners (at this time) for the vaccine. 

I wonder in the context of this push to have the conventions if there's a correlation with the two other surrounding issues - wearing of masks/PPP/safety precautions and state mandates on houses of worship.

Here there has been almost zero pushback on safety precautions at the local level.  There are no "anti-masker" leaders trying to force their views in who gets into the church building.  And there are to my knowledge no congregations harboring resentment or pushing the envelope on the mandated house of worship restrictions.  And without question, the overwhelming vote from here is going to be to delay the convention(s). 

Is there a correlation the other way when it comes to the "don't delay, convene today" voters?  AND - we don't need no masks, and we will bring out however many we want to our services? Is that a thing?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: John_Hannah on February 05, 2021, 12:11:06 PM
The Atlantic District is completely in favor of the delay at the leadership/Board level, as far as I've heard, along with every congregation that I know of, all around the issue of the safety of parishioners.  For that reason, we have had repeated Zoom meetings with pastors and leaders initiated by Bp. Lecakes on following the state guidelines for worship attendance and church opening/closing, wearing masks, taking other safety precautions in worship and enrolling vulnerable parishioners (at this time) for the vaccine. 

I wonder in the context of this push to have the conventions if there's a correlation with the two other surrounding issues - wearing of masks/PPP/safety precautions and state mandates on houses of worship.

Here there has been almost zero pushback on safety precautions at the local level.  There are no "anti-masker" leaders trying to force their views in who gets into the church building.  And there are to my knowledge no congregations harboring resentment or pushing the envelope on the mandated house of worship restrictions.  And without question, the overwhelming vote from here is going to be to delay the convention(s). 

Is there a correlation the other way when it comes to the "don't delay, convene today" voters?  AND - we don't need no masks, and we will bring out however many we want to our services? Is that a thing?

Dave Benke

That's it. It's the liberals. Anti-law. Counter culture. anti-establishment. Cancel culture. "They ain't wearing no masks!" "And they have a 1st Amendment right to protest."

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on February 05, 2021, 02:09:01 PM
There is, apparently, nothing more important to the future of the LCMS than when the Convention is held and whether it shall be held even if or when masks are no longer mandated or recommended.
Nothing.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on February 05, 2021, 04:10:43 PM
There is, apparently, nothing more important to the future of the LCMS than when the Convention is held and whether it shall be held even if or when masks are no longer mandated or recommended.
Nothing.

Destiny.  DESTINY!  Preach it, brother.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 05, 2021, 04:27:39 PM
The Atlantic District is completely in favor of the delay at the leadership/Board level, as far as I've heard, along with every congregation that I know of, all around the issue of the safety of parishioners.  For that reason, we have had repeated Zoom meetings with pastors and leaders initiated by Bp. Lecakes on following the state guidelines for worship attendance and church opening/closing, wearing masks, taking other safety precautions in worship and enrolling vulnerable parishioners (at this time) for the vaccine. 

I wonder in the context of this push to have the conventions if there's a correlation with the two other surrounding issues - wearing of masks/PPP/safety precautions and state mandates on houses of worship.

Here there has been almost zero pushback on safety precautions at the local level.  There are no "anti-masker" leaders trying to force their views in who gets into the church building.  And there are to my knowledge no congregations harboring resentment or pushing the envelope on the mandated house of worship restrictions.  And without question, the overwhelming vote from here is going to be to delay the convention(s). 

Is there a correlation the other way when it comes to the "don't delay, convene today" voters?  AND - we don't need no masks, and we will bring out however many we want to our services? Is that a thing?

Dave Benke

Of course.  Because everywhere is the same as NYC and its environs.  Because everyone who fails to see the need for delay is automatically an "anti-masker" (ooh, it must be bad because you have a label for it!).  Because if one does not agree that worship services everywhere must be banned (even if there is not the need locally) then one MUST be full of "resentment" and "pushing the envelope".

Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers are THE most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on February 05, 2021, 04:32:59 PM
Pastor  ohlervwrites:
Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers are THE most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world.
I comment:
Do not judge all New Yorkers by the behavior of former president Trump. Of course, he was born and reared a New Yorker, but he’s a resident of Florida now.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on February 05, 2021, 06:57:59 PM
There is, apparently, nothing more important to the future of the LCMS than when the Convention is held and whether it shall be held even if or when masks are no longer mandated or recommended.
Nothing.

Every church, school, ECE Center in the LCMS has to pivot and figure it out. We are all tele evangelists at this point...let’s boil down the this district and synod convention and get after it. What are the most important pieces?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 05, 2021, 07:51:34 PM
There is, apparently, nothing more important to the future of the LCMS than when the Convention is held and whether it shall be held even if or when masks are no longer mandated or recommended.
Nothing.

Every church, school, ECE Center in the LCMS has to pivot and figure it out. We are all tele evangelists at this point...let’s boil down the this district and synod convention and get after it. What are the most important pieces?

"We are all tele evangelists at this point"?  Well, some of us -- I am guessing a LOT of us -- are having regular weekly in-person worship.  Maybe I owe Dr. Benke and the New Yorkers an apology; it seems that folks in CA are just as guilty of seeing themselves as the center of the universe.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on February 05, 2021, 08:06:40 PM
How funny, pot, kettle...kettle pot...for your humble consideration, we have outdoors worship, with Holy Communion and had 16 baptisms about about 35 adult confirmations last weekend. God is good.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on February 05, 2021, 09:29:48 PM
How funny, pot, kettle...kettle pot...for your humble consideration, we have outdoors worship, with Holy Communion and had 16 baptisms about about 35 adult confirmations last weekend. God is good.

Tim, I was talking to a media savvy guy last week and he indicated that the way the paradigm is shifting, whatever you had that was set up for in person with a side dish of virtual/online/live-stream is turning inside out quickly.  This is across various enterprises.  So I'm trying to figure out how to make the online/virtual far more a main objective of ministry, with the in-person not a side dish but an accompanying vision for the fully Sacramental aspects of being a congregation.  Not an easy journey.  At all.  But from the way I'm contacting people these days from really all over the planet, I think it has a large measure of truthiness in it. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on February 05, 2021, 09:32:43 PM
Just so you know, there are other important things.  We have followed every mandate from our government, have masks available and encourage them for all people, have roped off every other pew, practice social distancing, and have had only 2-3 actual cases traced to a contact at the church since March of 2020.  At the same time we did not ever stop holding services, every Sunday Divine Service.  We have had 9 baptisms, 7 youth confirmations, received 30+ new members (most via adult confirmation) and have adjusted our regular activities to fit the recommended parameters.  We have online services (but not live).  We have regular email updates to every member, snail mail for those who prefer, have proceeded with all meetings with zoom option for those who prefer, have our preschool going full force with accommodations to the recommended and required rules, have had funerals, etc... which is our most important concern.  It can be done.  We have done it.  I am sure we are not alone and I am sure that nearly all our congregations and pastors are focused on this first and foremost.  That said, I still think it is unnecessary to delay and that district conventions can be held and be safe for all to attend.  You are free to disagree with my opinion but you are not free to characterize what we do is unsafe or irresponsible.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on February 05, 2021, 09:35:44 PM
Quote
the paradigm is shifting, whatever you had that was set up for in person with a side dish of virtual/online/live-stream is turning inside out quickly.  This is across various enterprises.  So I'm trying to figure out how to make the online/virtual far more a main objective of ministry, with the in-person not a side dish but an accompanying vision for the fully Sacramental aspects of being a congregation.  Not an easy journey.

What does that mean?  How can a sacramental and liturgical church make online/virtual the main objective?
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on February 05, 2021, 09:55:37 PM
Quote
the paradigm is shifting, whatever you had that was set up for in person with a side dish of virtual/online/live-stream is turning inside out quickly.  This is across various enterprises.  So I'm trying to figure out how to make the online/virtual far more a main objective of ministry, with the in-person not a side dish but an accompanying vision for the fully Sacramental aspects of being a congregation.  Not an easy journey.

What does that mean?  How can a sacramental and liturgical church make online/virtual the main objective?

Well, first of all I didn't say that.  I said "more of a main objective," not THE main objective.  But that's not a felicitous phrase. 

So let's make it "a far more focused objective." 

In our case, as we have morphed from 100 people in person to 600 people online from all over the place, I have had to re-think the ministry of the Word.  We're not re-thinking the ministry of the Sacrament - that's in-person.  And that is where the altar, font and pulpit are located.  But at least here, that has been minimally accessible for a long time.  We refrained from the Eucharist for four months at the front end.  And many folks have not/cannot return yet who are in the NYC area.  Plus hundreds who aren't. 

Failure to acknowledge this shift, or to power through without thought and effort, would be failure to use the noggin.  So I and a few of us have some strategies set to go for when we can re-emerge that will not only bring back the power of in-person, but strengthen it in new ways.  One of them will be the continued use of the media resources.  Another will be far more openness to Christian counsel in settings other than the church building.  Another will be re-development of the communion of saints relationally. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on February 05, 2021, 10:29:49 PM
100% with you Dave...virtual church is certainly going to be an option for us for a long time. The equipment and ability to do the services online well is relatively accessible for those who are open to it. Our older members appreciate it a ton as they had been frightened by the government more than others. I’m with you on sacramental presence, says a lot about how we reopen our campus when we make the giant jump from purple to red:)

A great book I read at the onset of this is titled “Analog Church”. HIs thesis, to a degree is, “digital church informs and analog church transforms.” Obviously we were never meant to primarily follow Jesus outside of community. Digital church sure opens doors that maybe would never be knocked on. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on February 06, 2021, 07:47:05 AM
That's a neat phrase about digital church and analog church. I'd like to think our congregation has been hitting the mark with a lot of things. We started streaming our services in 2017, so the move to virtual was pretty seamless. We've enacted practices for in-person worship that adhere to local (KC metro) guidelines. Attendance isn't bad, classes and meetings have dual options thanks to Zoom. Twice a month we have individual communion opportunities for people who are not comfortable yet with being in large settings. Our preschool continues to operate albeit in different ways.

It's been an adjustment, not always easy. But we are trying to inform and transform.

Jeremy
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 06, 2021, 09:18:55 AM
How funny, pot, kettle...kettle pot...for your humble consideration, we have outdoors worship, with Holy Communion and had 16 baptisms about about 35 adult confirmations last weekend. God is good.

That's lovely.  My point was that, by your phrase "we are all tele evangelists at this point", you seem to think that everyone is doing "tele evangelism" because you are (much like Dr. Benke and the New Yorkers seem tho think that because THEY cannot have in-person services, no one can).  And that is just not true. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Charles Austin on February 06, 2021, 09:37:53 AM
The real point, Pastor Bohler, is not that some churches “can“ have in person services, but that those churches who are doing televised services of various sorts are learning a new way to reach out, and include more people in the life of the congregation.
Even after a pandemic does not make having televised services in some places necessary, learning how to do those services gives those congregations another tool for evangelism and participation in the life of the congregation.
The churches now having televised services may be learning skills that someday you, Pastor Bohler, might want to have. Or maybe not.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 06, 2021, 09:49:17 AM
Many LCMS churches in Indiana have made a few common sense adjustment to the sanctuary for the sake of distancing and then just gone ahead with church like normal this whole time. Some wear masks, some don't, but they don't have to sit near one another. I know of several that offer common cup communion and have been all along. They offer worship to those who can gather and they visit those who can't. I doubt they'll see postponing conventions as a priority.

 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: PrTim15 on February 06, 2021, 10:03:53 AM
How funny, pot, kettle...kettle pot...for your humble consideration, we have outdoors worship, with Holy Communion and had 16 baptisms about about 35 adult confirmations last weekend. God is good.

That's lovely.  My point was that, by your phrase "we are all tele evangelists at this point", you seem to think that everyone is doing "tele evangelism" because you are (much like Dr. Benke and the New Yorkers seem tho think that because THEY cannot have in-person services, no one can).  And that is just not true.

Got it and sarcasm noted...
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Randy Bosch on February 06, 2021, 11:18:05 AM
Remember that it is rather difficult, and almost always painful, to caress the ones you love with a keyboard or a computer screen.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Terry W Culler on February 06, 2021, 11:29:34 AM
I can't help but think that televised services contributes to the "church as entertainment" model until recently dominated by the mega-church, mini-gospel model.  In addition to be contrary to Scripture (remember not ceasing to meet together) it also reduces the work of the cure of souls to the lowest level possible without closing altogether.  Reading John Owen I came across an idea that struck me as being utterly contrary to what we seem to think important in these days.  Since all bishops/pastors will one day stand before the judgment seat of Christ to answer for our cure of souls, we should be careful about wanting to expand our cure beyond that which we can rightly do.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on February 06, 2021, 11:31:28 AM
Quote
A great book I read at the onset of this is titled “Analog Church”. HIs thesis, to a degree is, “digital church informs and analog church transforms.”

Exactly.  We had a discussion among pastors and one fellow complained that we were trying too hard to make folks Lutheran and just needed to give them Jesus.  Except that the Jesus we give them lives in Words that address the person, in water that splashes over the head, in absolution to the souls crying out in confession, and in bread and wine in which we eat and drink the flesh and blood of Christ.  You cannot bring people to Jesus and leave them without the blessing and benefit of this personal sacramental life around the Word and Table of the Lord.  If that Word informs then it will lead them to the place where they will be transformed or else something is wrong.  In Acts, even with mighty St. Paul, the preaching leads to baptism. 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 06, 2021, 11:32:50 AM
I have fully adopted a digital online presence for my congregation.  Our Sunday services are faithfully live streamed each week, and with a few exceptions where I am tied up with Zoom meetings and other commitments, I also provide a live streamed devotion on FB that lasts for about 15 minutes every morning.  To supplement that we mail out a number of my sermons to others who have no access to the internet.  In some cases more savvy adult children have found ways to provide the live streamed service for their very elderly members, two of which are either over 100 or approaching that age. 

I realize that the online thing is here to stay in one form or another (and will be a tool not just for shut-ins, but as we have discovered in the great white north, an option for severe weather days).  But I have come to appreciate that for many Christians it will never substitute for the incarnational aspect of worship.  And by that I mean more than just the Lord's Supper, although that is clearly an incarnational high point.  The body of Christ, like all human relationships, was not designed to be 'virtual' or 'remote.' Yes, our forefathers in years past wrote many letters, their form of virtual/remote communication.  But Christians always have treasured the aspect of real-time, in-person community.  That must predominate when this crisis has abated.   
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Benke on February 06, 2021, 11:40:14 AM
Many LCMS churches in Indiana have made a few common sense adjustment to the sanctuary for the sake of distancing and then just gone ahead with church like normal this whole time. Some wear masks, some don't, but they don't have to sit near one another. I know of several that offer common cup communion and have been all along. They offer worship to those who can gather and they visit those who can't. I doubt they'll see postponing conventions as a priority.

 

That's what we did - a whole bunch of common sense sanctuary adjustments in terms of seating as to the limits set by the state for percentages.  But also with health components - mandatory masks, no fellowship hour, temperature taken at door, sanitizer, and, not insignificantly, individual cup only in the containers.  When this is over or on the downside, we will offer common cup, but I think there will be few takers.  Because of the fellowship hour loss, a parishioner set up her own food truck outside the church for 3 months, with individually packaged Caribbean specialties for all, satisfying the need to feed.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 06, 2021, 11:49:45 AM
Many LCMS churches in Indiana have made a few common sense adjustment to the sanctuary for the sake of distancing and then just gone ahead with church like normal this whole time. Some wear masks, some don't, but they don't have to sit near one another. I know of several that offer common cup communion and have been all along. They offer worship to those who can gather and they visit those who can't. I doubt they'll see postponing conventions as a priority.

 

That's what we did - a whole bunch of common sense sanctuary adjustments in terms of seating as to the limits set by the state for percentages.  But also with health components - mandatory masks, no fellowship hour, temperature taken at door, sanitizer, and, not insignificantly, individual cup only in the containers.  When this is over or on the downside, we will offer common cup, but I think there will be few takers.  Because of the fellowship hour loss, a parishioner set up her own food truck outside the church for 3 months, with individually packaged Caribbean specialties for all, satisfying the need to feed.

Dave Benke

Is the parishioner with the food truck donating the food or charging? 
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: mariemeyer on February 06, 2021, 12:26:22 PM
The Atlantic District is completely in favor of the delay at the leadership/Board level, as far as I've heard, along with every congregation that I know of, all around the issue of the safety of parishioners.  For that reason, we have had repeated Zoom meetings with pastors and leaders initiated by Bp. Lecakes on following the state guidelines for worship attendance and church opening/closing, wearing masks, taking other safety precautions in worship and enrolling vulnerable parishioners (at this time) for the vaccine. 

I wonder in the context of this push to have the conventions if there's a correlation with the two other surrounding issues - wearing of masks/PPP/safety precautions and state mandates on houses of worship.

Here there has been almost zero pushback on safety precautions at the local level.  There are no "anti-masker" leaders trying to force their views in who gets into the church building.  And there are to my knowledge no congregations harboring resentment or pushing the envelope on the mandated house of worship restrictions.  And without question, the overwhelming vote from here is going to be to delay the convention(s). 

Is there a correlation the other way when it comes to the "don't delay, convene today" voters?  AND - we don't need no masks, and we will bring out however many we want to our services? Is that a thing?

Dave Benke

Of course.  Because everywhere is the same as NYC and its environs.  Because everyone who fails to see the need for delay is automatically an "anti-masker" (ooh, it must be bad because you have a label for it!).  Because if one does not agree that worship services everywhere must be banned (even if there is not the need locally) then one MUST be full of "resentment" and "pushing the envelope".

Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers are THE most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world.

I do not understand why the above was not censured.

Prof David Scaer is a native New Yorker and was the late Herman Otten Sr. and Pr. Walter Otten.  For the record,. the late Rev Prof. Kurt Marquart became a New Yorker when he arrived in NYC as a DP from Eastern New York.  He attended Concordia, Bronxville.

The ALPB has is roots in New York City. The majority of ALPB Board Members have been New Yorkers, I think of the late Prof. Ruth Zerner, PhD in Reformation History, long time member of the Board and financial supporter of the ALPB.  Ruth and I were members of St. Matthew, Manhattan, attended the same NYC Hunter College High School for girls, she went on to be a professor of NYC Hunter College. She was among the most gifted self-giving woman I had the privilege of knowing.

Think of ALPB men who served as pastors in New York... Glenn Stone,, Richard Koenig, Richard John Neuhaus, Fred Schumacher, Adolf Meyer, and Ted Wittrock, the list goes on.  Many served as inner city pastors in congregations where they and their wives gave selflessly to support the ministries of their husbands. 

I respectfully request that the statement "Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers are THE most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world." be removed from this Forum.


Marie Otten Meyer

Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 06, 2021, 12:31:27 PM
The woman with the food truck belonged to the parish's LWML.
This was her 3 month mission project and she accepted donations
which went to the LWML project in Central America.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: FrPeters on February 06, 2021, 01:44:22 PM
I detest individual cups and have introduced the chalice to both parishes I have served (which had only the individual cups) and one of the great sorrows I have over this pandemic is the idea that the chalice will either die or be used by fewer and fewer.  My issue with individual cups has as much to do with the fact that few churches ablute the cups and dispose of what remains in them properly, much less the visual of seeing some who actually have garbage cans by the rail for people to ditch their own.  What does that say to our theology?  I gave my parish an ultimatum.  Either every individual cup must be abluted and the water and what remains in those cups poured down a piscina or no cups.  There were grumbles but they finally treated the cups appropriately to our theology of the real presence.  Though we did nothing but subtle teaching, we saw half our people switch to the chalice.  Now we are down to about a quarter of the congregation receiving from the chalice and I fear it will be hard to restore the former numbers and the momentum.  Furthermore, the fact that individual cups are used in parishes that have no theology of the real presence only encourages our people to believe that the communion received in Protestant congregations is the same as Lutheran.  It does not help that now we have hermetically sealed mini-chalices with wine and a crumb of bread -- further encouraging the idea that the cup is not safe.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on February 06, 2021, 02:01:51 PM
I may be off, but it looks to me like we still have a majority receiving from the chalice. And as I noted before, among them most of our health care workers! Oh, and at our weekday masses, there are no individual cups at all. And our pastor, who drinks from the chalice after everyone else has communed by consuming whatever is leftover of our Lord’s blood, has not even come down with COVID at all.
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 06, 2021, 02:53:38 PM
The Atlantic District is completely in favor of the delay at the leadership/Board level, as far as I've heard, along with every congregation that I know of, all around the issue of the safety of parishioners.  For that reason, we have had repeated Zoom meetings with pastors and leaders initiated by Bp. Lecakes on following the state guidelines for worship attendance and church opening/closing, wearing masks, taking other safety precautions in worship and enrolling vulnerable parishioners (at this time) for the vaccine. 

I wonder in the context of this push to have the conventions if there's a correlation with the two other surrounding issues - wearing of masks/PPP/safety precautions and state mandates on houses of worship.

Here there has been almost zero pushback on safety precautions at the local level.  There are no "anti-masker" leaders trying to force their views in who gets into the church building.  And there are to my knowledge no congregations harboring resentment or pushing the envelope on the mandated house of worship restrictions.  And without question, the overwhelming vote from here is going to be to delay the convention(s). 

Is there a correlation the other way when it comes to the "don't delay, convene today" voters?  AND - we don't need no masks, and we will bring out however many we want to our services? Is that a thing?

Dave Benke

Of course.  Because everywhere is the same as NYC and its environs.  Because everyone who fails to see the need for delay is automatically an "anti-masker" (ooh, it must be bad because you have a label for it!).  Because if one does not agree that worship services everywhere must be banned (even if there is not the need locally) then one MUST be full of "resentment" and "pushing the envelope".

Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers are THE most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world.

I do not understand why the above was not censured.

Prof David Scaer is a native New Yorker and was the late Herman Otten Sr. and Pr. Walter Otten.  For the record,. the late Rev Prof. Kurt Marquart became a New Yorker when he arrived in NYC as a DP from Eastern New York.  He attended Concordia, Bronxville.

The ALPB has is roots in New York City. The majority of ALPB Board Members have been New Yorkers, I think of the late Prof. Ruth Zerner, PhD in Reformation History, long time member of the Board and financial supporter of the ALPB.  Ruth and I were members of St. Matthew, Manhattan, attended the same NYC Hunter College High School for girls, she went on to be a professor of NYC Hunter College. She was among the most gifted self-giving woman I had the privilege of knowing.

Think of ALPB men who served as pastors in New York... Glenn Stone,, Richard Koenig, Richard John Neuhaus, Fred Schumacher, Adolf Meyer, and Ted Wittrock, the list goes on.  Many served as inner city pastors in congregations where they and their wives gave selflessly to support the ministries of their husbands. 

I respectfully request that the statement "Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers are THE most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world." be removed from this Forum.


Marie Otten Meyer

1. Perhaps you missed, but on another thread I said maybe I owed New Yorkers an apology as the folks in California apparently are just as self-centered and egotistical.  So there is that.

2. If it will make you feel any better, I am willing to amend my statement to "Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers seem to me to be the most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world".  Or even "Honestly, Dr. Benke, you New Yorkers -- along with Californians -- seem to me to be the most self-centered, egotistical folks in the world."  Would either of those satisfy you?

3. Maybe you don't see it, but I think that there is more than a little humor in a New Yorker getting all bent out of shape over someone daring to criticize New Yorkers for being self-centered (and, I might add, self-important).
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 06, 2021, 02:55:08 PM
The woman with the food truck belonged to the parish's LWML.
This was her 3 month mission project and she accepted donations
which went to the LWML project in Central America.

May I ask where you learned this?  Not that I am doubting you or your report, but I am surprised that you would know the answer (don't you live in Illinois?).
Title: Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
Post by: Weedon on February 07, 2021, 10:37:51 AM
I counted this morning at 8 am service. 5/6 communicants received still from the chalice.