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Topics - Dave Likeness

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Your Turn / Sharp Decline In LCMS Members From 2010 to 2018
« on: November 23, 2019, 03:24:54 PM »
Sharp Decline In LCMS From 2010 to 2018 In Membership is demonstrated by these figures:

2010 Baptized membership was 2,310, 235 and in 2018 it was 1,911,187
This is an 8 year loss of 399,048 members.

1970 Baptized membership was 2,788,536 and in 2010 it was 2,310,235
This is a 40 year loss of 478,301 members.

My point is that a sharp decline has been observed in the past 8 years for the LCMS.
This cannot be completely attributed to a high death rate in our parishes or the low
birth rate in our parishes.  Perhaps the high rate of parishes with no full-time pastor
and those congregations who have no intention of calling a pastor........has encouraged
some of those LCMS members to go somewhere else.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Your Turn / 5 Characteristics Of A Christian Congregation
« on: October 07, 2019, 06:43:49 PM »
According to 1 Peter 3:8, there are five elements which should characterize a Christian parish.

1. Harmony......Live in harmony with one another and share common goals
2. Sympathy.....Be responsive to the needs of others, a time to weep and a time to rejoice
3. Love............Treat each other as brothers and sisters in Christ
4. Compassion..Have a tender heart which cares for others
5. Humility.......Put the interests of others  ahead of one's own interests.

Unity of heart and mind is critical for the Christian community. It comes from a common focus
on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The result is a vibrant relationship of church members
with one another.  These five elements provide the fellowship (koinonia) that is essential for a
healthy congregation. The desired outcome is not uniformity, but unanimity.

Can this become a reality in a  Christian congregation?   What are the obstacles that the Devil,
the World and our Flesh throw out to prevent a healthy parish?

Your Turn / Breakdown Of Marriage and Family in 21st Century
« on: August 30, 2019, 05:47:11 PM »
The bonds of marriage and the stability of the family are the foundations upon which
a healthy society is built. In the 21st century we have seen severe devastation to marriage
and family in America.

1. In 2000, the divorce rate was still at 50%.  The no-fault divorce law has made it easy
to break up a relationship intended to be permanent.

2. By 2012, there were 7.5 million unmarried couples (male and female) living together.
Co-habitation has become a popular way to avoid the vows of marriage.

3. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.  Marriage
has become a civil right rather than a relationship instituted by God between one man and
one woman

4. In 2017, it was noted that 50% of children  were born to unwed mothers.

These facts have an impact on the Christian community as we come together and  gather
around the Word and Sacraments.  Can Christianity help to reverse these trends listed above?


Your Turn / Presidents Of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis
« on: June 28, 2019, 07:14:08 PM »
Ten men have served as President of Concordia Seminary, St Louis

Dr. C.F.W. Walther 1850-1887
Dr. Franz Pieper 1887-1931
Dr. Ludwig Fuerbringer 1931-1943
Dr. Louis Sieck 1943-1952
Dr. Alfred Fuerbringer 1953-1969
Dr. John Tietjen 1969-1974
Dr. Ralph Bohlmann 1975-1981
Dr. Karl Barth 1982-1990
Dr. John Johnson 1990-2004
Dr. Dale Meyer 2005-Present

Dr. Franz Pieper was the President when Concordia Seminary relocated to the Clayton campus in 1926.
Those 72 acres became the suburban home with excellent collegiate Gothic buildings for the seminarians.
In 1992 a free standing chapel was dedicated and became the focal point of the campus

Your Turn / Christians Still Need Both Law And Gospel
« on: May 28, 2019, 04:13:14 PM »
It is disheartening to see major church denominations approve of gay marriage.
God instituted marriage to be a union of one man and one woman.  The law of God
condemns homosexual activity such as sodomy.   Whether in the O.T. or the N.T.
sodomy is a sin.  Yet, today some denominations have even endorsed homosexual
marriage for pastors.

It is a cop-out to become antinomian and say God's grace allows homosexual marriage.
The law of God condemns all sin.  Only a repentant heart which trusts in God's grace
can be forgiven.  We as Christians still need both Law and Gospel to guide our lifestyle
and not live as though God's law is now obsolete in the 21st century.

Your Turn / Lutheran Levity Part 2
« on: May 24, 2019, 02:10:51 PM »
Adam was walking around the Garden of Eden and feeling extremely lonely.  So God asked Adam:
"Do you have a problem?"   Adam replied: "I do not have anyone to talk with."

Then, God told Adam that He was going to give him a companion and it would be a woman.
God said to Adam: "This woman will cook  for you, wash your laundry and keep you content.
She will agree with all your decisions and never argue with you.  She will bear your children
and never ask you to get up in the middle of the night to take care of them.  She will not nag
you or ever say that you made a mistake.  She will show you love and compassion at all times."

Adam asked God, "What would a woman like this cost me?"
God said, " An arm and a leg."
Adam said, "What can I get for just a rib?"

Of course the rest of the story is now history.

Your Turn / Sharp Numerical Decline In LCMS
« on: February 18, 2019, 07:04:12 PM »
It is sad to see a 544, 073 decline in LCMS baptized membership in the past 15 years
In 2002 we had 2,512,714 and in 2017 we were down to 1,968,641. In those 15 years
there has been relative tranquility in the LCMS.  No major doctrinal upheavals occurred.

How do you account for over one half million members no longer in the LCMS?

Your Turn / Jesus "I Came Not To Call The Righteous, But Sinners"
« on: January 26, 2019, 04:06:51 PM »
Congregations are declining in membership in 21st century America.  It may be in part because
they have grown too comfortable with a fellowship of "morally upright and like-minded people."
The local parish can become stagnant when they shun "the tax collectors and sinners".

In Matthew chapter nine, the Pharisees are upset that Jesus went to Matthew's home with
his disciples and ate with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus said, " It is not the healthy who need
a doctor, but the sick.......I came not to call the righteous, but sinners."

Today, Jesus wants us to share the gospel with the sinful and hurting, not just the pious who seem
to have their act together.  Someone has said that the church should be a hospital for the sick,
and not a museum for the saints.

Bottom Line:  How can a congregation lose its focus on reaching out to sinners?

Your Turn / Recent Lutheran Theologians Who Joined RCC or EO
« on: January 19, 2019, 06:56:42 PM »
Many people think that the exodus from Lutheranism began after the ELCA 2009 Churchwide Assembly

However, the following three Lutheran theologians left already in the 1990's.

Sept........  1990.......Richard John Neuhaus to Roman Catholic Church
July...........1994.......Robert Louis Wilken to Roman Catholic Church
March........1998.......Jaroslav Pelikan to Eastern Orthodox Church

Could  any of you add to this list? 
Thanks for your help. 

Your Turn / Reasons U.S. Adults Gave For Attending Worship
« on: November 28, 2018, 06:48:03 PM »
This year The Pew Research Center asked U.S.Adults for reasons they attended religious services
at least once or twice a month.  Here are the top 6 reasons given:

81%.....To become closer to God
69%.....So children will have a moral foundation
68%.....To make me a better person
65%.....For comfort in times of trouble or sorrow
59%.....I find the sermons valuable
57%.....To be part of a community of faith

What do find interesting about these reasons?

Your Turn / ELCA In "Full Communion" With 6 Denominations
« on: October 16, 2018, 05:14:48 PM »
The August issue of Living Lutheran had a feature article on this subject. 

The Following 6 Denominations are Full Communion partners with the ELCA:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) since 1997
Reformed Church in America since 1997
United Church of Christ since 1997
The Episcopal Church since 1999
The Moravian Church Church since 1999
The United Methodist Church since 2009

This partnership includes "Mutual recognition of Baptism and a sharing of the Lord's Supper,
allowing for joint worship and an exchangeability of members"

Of course there is altar and pulpit fellowship among the clergy of the 6 denominations and the ELCA

Bottom Line:  Is the ELCA unable to dialogue with the LCMS and WELS with whom they share the Book of Concord?
Where are the theologians in the ELCA & LCMS who want to work on fellowship with other Lutherans?

Your Turn / The Fleeting Fame of "Big Name" Preachers
« on: September 14, 2018, 03:44:44 PM »
Pastor Robert Schuller was the famed preacher of the Crystal Cathedral in suburban Los Angeles.
My father and I attended a Rose Bowl game between Iowa and UCLA on January 1, 1986.
On the previous Sunday we attended the 8:00 am Worship at an LCMS parish in Long Beach
After our brunch my brother-in-law offered to take us to see the Crystal Cathedral.  So we drove
to the 11:00 am Worship.   As we arrived in the parking lot we were greeted by parking attendants
in brown blazers.  They told us there was standing room only yet we were still welcome.

The three of us managed to find a pew in the back and we were able to sit down.  We got there in
time for the sermon by Robert Schuller. It was nothing more than the power of positive thinking
that he had warmed over from Norman Vincent Peale. But al least we had visited one the tourist's
sites of Southern California.  Of course, the Crystal Cathedral eventually went bankrupt and was
sold to the Roman Catholics.

In the mid-1990's I went to a Pastoral Conference for several days in Naperville, Illinois.  After the
Conference was over, I decided to take a quick drive up to Barrington, Illinois and spend a Thursday
afternoon checking out Willow Creek Community Church.  Of course this was the parish of Pastor Bill
Hybels who had one of the largest non-denominational churches in America. Their campus had the
look of a corporate headquarters for a Fortune 500 Company.

I looked at the theater complex where they worshiped.  It had a huge stage with lighting overhead and
was surrounded by cushion theater seats.  No Christian symbols were to be seen, not even a cross.
Of course this auditorium was empty when I surveyed it.  There was  a clear glass podium on the stage
for the preacher and place for the musicians to sit.

About a month ago I read of Bill Hybels resignation from Willow Creek.  At the age of 66 he was stepping
down and had planned to retire in October. However, he retired early in the midst of sexual harassment
charges from about 5 different women who had worked on his staff in the past 30 years.  It was a sad
ending for a pastor who had been a guru for "Seeker Evangelism".

Bottom Line:  It is always sad to see a parish close or a pastor retire  under unwanted circumstances.
Yet the Good News of Jesus Christ must continue to be proclaimed even if we are not a famous preacher
in the eyes of the world.

Your Turn / Confessing The Gospel: 2 Volume Systematics (2017)
« on: September 03, 2018, 10:12:09 PM »
In July of 2017, Pastor Kirchner started a thread on this new two volume systematics.
Now a year later I wanted to hear the comments of those who bought and have read
this contribution to systematic theology by LCMS theologians. 

Your Turn / Sayonara To Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson
« on: August 25, 2018, 12:09:30 PM »
The Fall Edition of the Lutheran Forum came with the news that Sarah Hinlicky Wilson has accepted
a call to a Lutheran  parish in Tokyo, Japan as their pastor.  As a result of that call she will be resigning
as Editor of the Lutheran Forum after the next edition.

She has become an articulate theologian and well-received  conference speaker across the globe.
Sarah received her Master of Divinity degree in 2003 from Princeton University as well as her Ph.D.
in 2008. She was a parish pastor in Trenton, New Jersey in those years. From 2008 to 2016,  she
was in Strasbourg, France at a Research Institute, and most recently in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The Lord's blessings on her as she begins another chapter in her amazing life.  She and her husband
and their son will continue the journey  of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with our world.

Your Turn / The Truth About Clergy Burnout
« on: July 10, 2018, 03:22:29 PM »
About 30 years ago, Rev. William Willimon held a daylong seminar in St. Paul, Minnesota to address 300 clergy.

His theme was that clergy burnout is not due to a lack of energy or physical stamina.but a lack of understanding
about what they do.  Pastoral ministry is a vocation. a calling from God.   We need to return of what pastors are
called to do: preaching, teaching, administering the Sacraments, giving spiritual guidance and care to the parish.

Willimon said that pastors should ask their parish: "What is it I do for you that no one else does?  How can you
help me focus on that?"  He stated that time management issues are crucial for the clergy. He felt that clergy are
not overworked, but have failed to take control of their schedules.

He said, "If all you have is a vague desire to help people, then God help you."   Clergy are not to see themselves
as a free lance mental health worker., instead we are there to interpret Holy Scripture and to preach and to teach.
As pastors we are to look at our congregational members as the ones for whom Christ died on the cross.

Bottom Line:  Do you still hear the term "clergy burnout"?

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