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Messages - Randy Bosch

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1
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: May 17, 2021, 02:54:50 PM »
In Coronavirus news, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/texas-covid-deaths-biden-mask-mandate :
Zero COVID related deaths in the entire state of Texas yesterday, lowest new case rate since March 2020, lowest hospitalization rate and ICU occupancy claimed to be due to COVID, etc.

Let's hear it for Texas health and political leadership!  No Neanderthals there.

2
Joel D. Hirst, an American and Christian author residing in Armenia for the past two years, has gained a perhaps wider view of the threats to the Christian Church than most of us have experienced:

https://joelhirst.blog/2021/05/08/on-oppression/  .

The vast majority of talk about threats to the Christian Church, whether external or internal, overlooks that Christ has only one Church here on earth, and often wrings hands about but downplays oppression when it occurs in far-off lands - even as far as "It could never happen here".

3
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: May 07, 2021, 02:00:58 PM »
ďI do think that President Trumpís Operation Warp Speed was absolutely visionary to put together science, government, the military, and the private sector and just give us full empowerment. It was the right thing to do.Ē
Moncef Slaoui, Registered Democrat and Trump appointed Scientific Head of Operation Warp Speed as posted in Science Magazine interview on January 25, 2021

4
Your Turn / Re: Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents
« on: May 04, 2021, 02:14:23 PM »
Pete,

In that Peterson book he has a whole section on how this happens (again and again; caste or power or whatever) and how there are good, solid truths imbedded in it, but it is exaggerated to become some all encompassing system that presumes to explain everything and can only do so by making things that are very complex by nature into simplistic caricatures of themselves; and then demonizing anyone who point out that this is what has been done. Heís got no patience with it, but he is at pains to do exactly what you have endeavored in this thread: Okay, so she doesnít get everything right, but we need to hear and ponder what she does get right and not to toss the baby with the bath water (but also, not to drink the cool aide)
[/b]

Well considered comment, thank you Will.
Is the first reaction of anyone with deeply and/or long-held beliefs about the human side of life always so willing to not review challenges and constructively respond to them? That ego-driven defense seems pretty wide-spread, both in people in the church and in the world at large.

As to the bath water and the cool ade - mixing metaphors can be a good spur to actually thinking about things...

5
A few thoughts, some petty, maybe some profound:

1) As a graduate of some of the last bigger classes, where 20-30 graduates would go without a call on call day, when I look at where these grads are being assigned there is more than a hint of envy which is my sin such as it is.  Quite a few of us were assigned to places with little hope and the entire future course of ministry determined by that initial placement.  I am happy that it less so with many of these grads.  May they have fruitful ministries.

2) Even though the decline in the number of graduates has obviously allowed placement to be pickier, the rot and denial are deep enough that there are still several assigned between rocks and hard places.

3) Seeing as the system won't put any pressure itself on congregations to address reality, the only feedback mechanism is enrollment and what current pastors tell potential ones.  And what everyone in the hierarchy should understand fully is that the message is if you can do anything else, do it.  And until either enough pressure builds that the hierarchy is willing to lead in truth on these matters or the way of all flesh happens effecting the change by crisis and attrition from below, that will not change.

4) I was once hopeful that the pressure would build fast enough.  Today I am much less so.  The boomers as in all things are proving remarkably willing to hold onto positions and refuse necessary change (while often introducing spurious changes) long past the point of Joel's hope that something would be left after the locust swarm.

5) Thinking of Pr. Benke's statistics.  I have reported every year I have been here.  And I forced good numbers on myself.  Both things that are not widely shared.  Due to the demand to report on "in person" numbers, this is the first year I will not be reporting anything.  Since they dropped the 10 years of history on the locator, I have no intention of letting the one number anyone could see be COVID's number.  I have zero trust in the system to maintain any type of uniformity.  I specifically made choices that avoided the record and play anytime in favor of maintaining the church appointment.  Yes, they are not physically present which I agree doesn't fully count, but my numbers are not just "views".  They are attending in the way they think possible and I could speak to each one however briefly before and after much like meeting in the narthex.  I determined the best way not to lie about anything was simply not to report anything.  Let the numbers autopopulate from the prior year as they do with the appropriate year indicator.  Let the reader understand.

Hey Mark,

Just catching up here.

I always look forward to reading your posts as they always pique my interest.  To your 4th point Iíve been thinking about that a lot recently, especially considering some of the comments here.   I wonder if the inability to let go has to do with all the hard work that during their tenure in ministry did tend to work.  I suppose thatís the curse of coming of age and serving during the greatest period of growth the church has ever seen.   I would imagine it must be hard watching the very thing that you dedicated your entire life to fall apart before your very eyes.  It begs all kind of questions, questions that may be a very threat to the identities and egos that were formed during this time and then cemented.   You add the ďsacred canopyĒ and the denial can be even stronger and decision making even more baffling.  After all, God is on our side, at least thatís what weíve always believed and it always appeared that way.  So now what?  Maybe this decline and collapse is revealing that we havenít been as effective or in control as we thought we might be and thatís going to mess around with some egos.  Itís always funny for my wife and I to compare how we grew up, especially from a church life perspective.  We really were in two different worlds.  Already in the 90s my home congregation and school was well into decline, with its glory days further and further in the rear view mirror.  My wifeís congregation and school, headed by father-in-law, was growing by leaps and bounds, breaking ground and building.  He was at one time one of those guys who would go all over and speak at conferences and conventions.   Coming into a marriage with both experiences has made for interesting conversations and realizations on both sides.  The one thing it impressed upon me was that there are much more exterior and worldly factors that go into the success of a church which we donít really give much attention to because of our God talk.  It reminds me of the conversation concerning movements and leaders.  Are movements spawned by good leadership or do movements spawn the leaders needed to lead them?  My sense is that we are still very much attached to the former because of how individualistic we are, which is why we keep doing the same things over and over again but getting the same results.  Itís like Synodical politics, I think we would more accurately read the present state of Synod if we understood President Harrison as being more the result of Synodís move rightward rather than his leading the way from the start.   

Peace,
Scott+

Very helpful analysis, thank you.

6
Maybe I am missing something here but the lack of students at the seminaries doesn't concern me given our current decline.  To me it makes sense, a rapidly declining church body is inevitably going to have less seminarians.  It's all relative.  If my class (09) graduated in 2021 there would be a shortage of calls.  The amount of calling congregations seeking seminarians is still very low when compared to the numbers of previous decades. 

Peace,
Scott+

The final "trail indicator" is congregations closing.  From a corporate perspective, which we are not, more than a third of the franchises should be closed or merged because the market share has gone the way of all flesh. 

Of course, we don't think that way.  Instead, the small/tiny and getting smaller/tinier congregations sometimes band together, sometimes use a retired pastor or some form of other vocational servant, and offer less and less annually other than the 10 AM service. 

On our Call Day in the way back when, of the 350 candidates receiving calls (that's right, 350 from the two seminaries) at least half, maybe more, went to St. John Gaspump in Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and other states, with 80 people in worship.  Today in those same precincts 80 is a MegaChurch, and 4 churches together calling one candidate would get to 80.  The other end is that there are less and less places needing an associate pastor, a #2, because the congregation has grown.  Some have instead shrunk from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1. 

Since our way of seeing the world is through the Axis Mundi and the inbreaking of the Kingdom through local altars, fonts and pulpits we are loath to give up on any of those locales. 
Ergo - the number of students graduating from seminaries is a far, far steeper declination table than the number of congregations - that's held almost steady all these decades even though the number of graduates is 25% the high point.

Blame it on the bossa nova.

Dave Benke

How much of this is simple demographic change, including vast mechanization and corporate ownership of farmlands today, and movement to cities for proclaimed better opportunities for children of the farmlands? 
Certainly that 50% or so of your class didn't decimate or kill off those congregations. 
Older city congregations face similar challenges.

Apparently, there is no Christian church in Ephesus today.  Yet, something pretty good happened there and came out of that storied place.

God has a purpose at small town/rural/inner city St. John Gaspump congregations today.
The number of called seminary graduates is pretty close to the Biblically famous 72 sent out several millenia ago.
Praise God for them and pray for their ministries wherever they were called.
Start from there.

Again, maybe Iím missing something here but if it is simply demographic changes then where did everyone go?  Certainly, the numbers should be similar, with congregations gaining more in some places and others losing members.  Thatís not the case, though.  So what gives?  Iím sure we can always find a biblical reference to make us feel better about things like your Luke 10 reference.  But then again our guys donít go out two by two nor do they go out with nothing instead they go into a very specific setting (an established LCMS congregation).  I donít intend to be a jerk with that response but I find that  we often use the Scriptures to legitimate things as they are rather than take a good hard look at things.

Peace,
Scott+

What gives?  First, demographics isn't that simple.  Second, people don't just move and automatically connect to a same-denomination church, if any at all.  Third, my biblical reference isn't intended to make us feel better about things.  It actually makes me feel worse about things because the church seems stuck in the Baby Boomer growth model and in denial of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Always up, up and up?  I don't find that the Scripture legitimates these things as they are, or as we would dream them to be; rather, that they tell us where our focus needs to be, and it is on sharing Christ's saving grace, not on an obsolete business model, unreformed corporate mind set, and expectations of an unchanging established LCMS congregation. 

Marshall McLuhan, in "The Medium is the Message", opined that "There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening."  Another feel-good bromide, I imagine, but doing the same thing again, and again, and again expecting different results in the face of lowering returns or failures is futile.
 

7
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: May 02, 2021, 02:10:07 PM »

8
Maybe I am missing something here but the lack of students at the seminaries doesn't concern me given our current decline.  To me it makes sense, a rapidly declining church body is inevitably going to have less seminarians.  It's all relative.  If my class (09) graduated in 2021 there would be a shortage of calls.  The amount of calling congregations seeking seminarians is still very low when compared to the numbers of previous decades. 

Peace,
Scott+

The final "trail indicator" is congregations closing.  From a corporate perspective, which we are not, more than a third of the franchises should be closed or merged because the market share has gone the way of all flesh. 

Of course, we don't think that way.  Instead, the small/tiny and getting smaller/tinier congregations sometimes band together, sometimes use a retired pastor or some form of other vocational servant, and offer less and less annually other than the 10 AM service. 

On our Call Day in the way back when, of the 350 candidates receiving calls (that's right, 350 from the two seminaries) at least half, maybe more, went to St. John Gaspump in Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana and other states, with 80 people in worship.  Today in those same precincts 80 is a MegaChurch, and 4 churches together calling one candidate would get to 80.  The other end is that there are less and less places needing an associate pastor, a #2, because the congregation has grown.  Some have instead shrunk from 3 to 2 or 2 to 1. 

Since our way of seeing the world is through the Axis Mundi and the inbreaking of the Kingdom through local altars, fonts and pulpits we are loath to give up on any of those locales. 
Ergo - the number of students graduating from seminaries is a far, far steeper declination table than the number of congregations - that's held almost steady all these decades even though the number of graduates is 25% the high point.

Blame it on the bossa nova.

Dave Benke

How much of this is simple demographic change, including vast mechanization and corporate ownership of farmlands today, and movement to cities for proclaimed better opportunities for children of the farmlands? 
Certainly that 50% or so of your class didn't decimate or kill off those congregations. 
Older city congregations face similar challenges.

Apparently, there is no Christian church in Ephesus today.  Yet, something pretty good happened there and came out of that storied place.

God has a purpose at small town/rural/inner city St. John Gaspump congregations today.
The number of called seminary graduates is pretty close to the Biblically famous 72 sent out several millenia ago.
Praise God for them and pray for their ministries wherever they were called.
Start from there.

9
Your Turn / Re: Threats To The Christian Church: External & Internal
« on: April 28, 2021, 11:19:22 AM »
I just virtually sat in on some teaching and information on the "internal" end of things this afternoon, having to do with the Hybrid Church workshop, with maybe 5000 others who lead congregations and ministries.  What do we do with societal trends and changing situations as they unfold as St. John Gaspump or their HQ location?
Four options:
Accept the trend and change
Challenge the trend and change
Adapt to the trend and change
Ignore the trend and change

Under the heading of "the world is very evil/the times are waxing late", most of us in conservative denominations have been taught for a long, long time to challenge the trends and changes because to adapt to them would bring the threat of heterodoxy, impurity and other great shame and vice.  At the other end of the spectrum there are those congregations and denominations that basically accept the trends and changes as the "new order", and baptize those trends and changes. 

At another level, which is let's say the sociological and demographic change that takes places around many congregations, the choice is to ignore.  Lock the doors more thoroughly against any change, any new blood.  It's a form of challenging, really, that's an attempt to ignore but you can't so you just say in words of one syllable Keep Out.  At the local level, a few controllers are the internal engine that's infernal.  And can be deadly. 

Dave Benke

Perhaps you could remark on what the workshop leaders (whoever they are, whatever they represent) brought forth that relates to the unchanging part of the work of the church - proclaiming Christ and His Gospel?  After all,
"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (from Psalm 127)

10
Your Turn / Re: Harrison and Evangelical Catholics
« on: April 26, 2021, 01:43:03 PM »
And off we go into the stratosphere of divergency.   :o 

Woolgathering...

11
Your Turn / Re: Harrison and Evangelical Catholics
« on: April 26, 2021, 01:04:39 PM »
The gospel lesson for Good Shepherd Sunday yesterday in John 10 was noteworthy.
Jesus reminds us there will be one flock and one shepherd.  To first century Christians
it meant there should not be a separate church for Jewish Christians or Gentile Christians.
The Apostle Paul reminded the Ephesians that there is one body and one Spirit, one hope,
 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. /quote]

One writer, using that verse, recommended that when a congregation is large enough to call a second pastor, it should divide. I believe he also wrote that if the congregation is large enough to require a sound system to be heard, it should divide. (Using a sound system to help the hearing impaired is a different issue.) We know that organisms grow by having its cells multiply. Should that happen with congregations? Each shepherd should have one flock. Each flock should have one shepherd.

(I've heard, and even used the argument, that we all have only one shepherd, Jesus. Pastors are more like the shepherd's sheep dogs - used by the shepherd to try and keep the sheep under some sort of organized control.)

Experts have found that one shepherd often manages herds of 1000 or so animals, often with just one herding dog.
Temporary help is needed during lambing and shearing seasons (  https://www.quora.com/How-many-sheep-is-a-shepherd-in-charge-of ).

I note that such a shepherd does not have a sound system to keep 1000 under control...  Of course, people are usually more unmanageable than sheep, particularly during birthing and shearing seasons...

12
I'll assume you meant David French, not Brooks...

Yes, thank you.  Fixed it. 

13
Rod Dreher gives a "half right" opinion about David Brooks French view of what's wrong with America's churches:
https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/david-french-source-of-the-church-problem-liberal-conservative/
Interesting viewpoint.


14
Your Turn / America is a Pagan Nation - Now What?
« on: April 19, 2021, 02:02:07 PM »
Article by a Catholic layperson thinking about the precipitous drop in claimed church membership (of all flavors, and in the Gallup polling including Synagogues and Mosques) since 2000.  His title is because of the very recent poll finding that less than 50% of polled Americans now identify as belonging to a church.

https://theimaginativeconservative.org/2021/04/america-pagan-nation-now-what-eric-sammons.html

A primary conclusion is that the church(es) in America jumped off the cliff into trying to be relevant to a changing humanistic culture as a solution, rather like pouring gasoline onto a fire.

Some food for thought.


15
Your Turn / Re: Coronavirus news
« on: April 13, 2021, 02:31:43 PM »
How many times do I need to say it? The ďmedical adviceď changes as we learn more and as we apply it to different settings and different situations.

You'll be relieved to know that the Hennepin County Healthcare organization has determined (perhaps with "medical advice") that the COVID-19 vaccines in use in their jurisdiction do not contain the "Mark of the Beast".
https://www.hennepinhealthcare.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/COVID-19-Vaccination-handout_Facts.pdf
Of course, that is "medical advice" that you advise changes as we learn more ...

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