Author Topic: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly  (Read 5472 times)

readselerttoo

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #60 on: May 09, 2018, 01:44:49 PM »


My concern has always been whether politics takes precedence in the church's mission over the unique Christian gospel.  Under the law and seeking righteousness in that way always confuses the unique mission of the church.  St. Paul writes that "Apart from law a righteousness of God has appeared..."  The church or at least this church ie. the public persona of the ELCA, needs to recover this "apart-fromness".  It needs to recover that the gospel has a unique voice and a different righteousness than what the law can give in offering relative matters of peace and justice.  Or, it will miss and omit the unique character of Christ's mission and his death on the cross for all sinners becomes rendered powerless.  Perhaps this is the real scandal of the gospel in that as we swim as creatures immersed under the law's righteousness it becomes more difficult to hear the unique voice of the gospel message.  Indeed the church can and does confuse the law's way of building righteousness over the Gospel's way.  They must be separate and distinct.  Both voices cannot speak together at the same time (uni-sono).

If I were not a subscriber to "Today in the Church Year" I wouldn't have known that today we commemorate Job.  The devotional piece is interesting in that it speaks to Job's battle between Paul's "the old man and the new man."   As I read this devotion I thought of your comment herein and wondered if what you describe above is a battle of the old man and new man - that is, one rooted to the world seeking the world's balm for its afflictions and the new man who sees Christ as the balm [for affliction].  Given that, I would agree that we are seeking temporal solutions and mistaking them as eternal. 

If you aren't a subscriber to this on-line gem, you may subscribe using this link.  https://calendar.cph.org  It arrives on Sundays and commemorations (or the frequency of your choice).  Many thanks to Deaconess Anna Johnson for this gift.


Yes, Job's wrestling with 100% old man and 100% new man simul justis is accurate imo.  However as to the fruition of the new person with Job, Christ had not arrived during his time and so the unique quality which Christ brings to his time was not available to him, again, imo.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 01:47:15 PM by George Rahn »

gan ainm

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #61 on: May 09, 2018, 03:33:48 PM »


My concern has always been whether politics takes precedence in the church's mission over the unique Christian gospel.  Under the law and seeking righteousness in that way always confuses the unique mission of the church.  St. Paul writes that "Apart from law a righteousness of God has appeared..."  The church or at least this church ie. the public persona of the ELCA, needs to recover this "apart-fromness".  It needs to recover that the gospel has a unique voice and a different righteousness than what the law can give in offering relative matters of peace and justice.  Or, it will miss and omit the unique character of Christ's mission and his death on the cross for all sinners becomes rendered powerless.  Perhaps this is the real scandal of the gospel in that as we swim as creatures immersed under the law's righteousness it becomes more difficult to hear the unique voice of the gospel message.  Indeed the church can and does confuse the law's way of building righteousness over the Gospel's way.  They must be separate and distinct.  Both voices cannot speak together at the same time (uni-sono).

If I were not a subscriber to "Today in the Church Year" I wouldn't have known that today we commemorate Job.  The devotional piece is interesting in that it speaks to Job's battle between Paul's "the old man and the new man."   As I read this devotion I thought of your comment herein and wondered if what you describe above is a battle of the old man and new man - that is, one rooted to the world seeking the world's balm for its afflictions and the new man who sees Christ as the balm [for affliction].  Given that, I would agree that we are seeking temporal solutions and mistaking them as eternal. 

If you aren't a subscriber to this on-line gem, you may subscribe using this link.  https://calendar.cph.org  It arrives on Sundays and commemorations (or the frequency of your choice).  Many thanks to Deaconess Anna Johnson for this gift.

The Pray Now app from CPH also discussed Job today.  Excellent app, check it out, I have it on my iPhone and I do not know if it is available for Android. 


Dan Fienen

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #62 on: May 09, 2018, 04:13:37 PM »



My concern has always been whether politics takes precedence in the church's mission over the unique Christian gospel.  Under the law and seeking righteousness in that way always confuses the unique mission of the church.  St. Paul writes that "Apart from law a righteousness of God has appeared..."  The church or at least this church ie. the public persona of the ELCA, needs to recover this "apart-fromness".  It needs to recover that the gospel has a unique voice and a different righteousness than what the law can give in offering relative matters of peace and justice.  Or, it will miss and omit the unique character of Christ's mission and his death on the cross for all sinners becomes rendered powerless.  Perhaps this is the real scandal of the gospel in that as we swim as creatures immersed under the law's righteousness it becomes more difficult to hear the unique voice of the gospel message.  Indeed the church can and does confuse the law's way of building righteousness over the Gospel's way.  They must be separate and distinct.  Both voices cannot speak together at the same time (uni-sono).

If I were not a subscriber to "Today in the Church Year" I wouldn't have known that today we commemorate Job.  The devotional piece is interesting in that it speaks to Job's battle between Paul's "the old man and the new man."   As I read this devotion I thought of your comment herein and wondered if what you describe above is a battle of the old man and new man - that is, one rooted to the world seeking the world's balm for its afflictions and the new man who sees Christ as the balm [for affliction].  Given that, I would agree that we are seeking temporal solutions and mistaking them as eternal. 

If you aren't a subscriber to this on-line gem, you may subscribe using this link.  https://calendar.cph.org  It arrives on Sundays and commemorations (or the frequency of your choice).  Many thanks to Deaconess Anna Johnson for this gift.

The Pray Now app from CPH also discussed Job today.  Excellent app, check it out, I have it on my iPhone and I do not know if it is available for Android.
Yes it is, look in the Google Play Store.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #63 on: May 09, 2018, 06:16:45 PM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)
Using this classification, where would you place the large population American racial minorities?


As I recall, and it was over 40 years ago, the economic and education status is what they primarily looked at. Affluent minorities are likely to be in the more liturgical church bodies, like Episcopalians. The less affluent in the less liturgical churches - and even among them, Pentecostals are generally less structured than Baptist who are less structured than Methodists.


The Black man who joined my home congregation many years ago, was a medical doctor.
Since 40 years have passed, can you comment on whether there is any truth to this theory?  Ultimately my point here is answering the question whether predominantly white denominations like the ELCA are intentionally excluding minorities, like some of our shrill voices who decry our demographics and demand quotas to "correct" it, or minorities are simply not attracted to our style of church, for whatever reason.


From that study, it is our style of worship that does not attract the lower socio-economic and less educated population. For a simple example, our worship services pretty much assume that the worshipers can read and understand English. (Consider that the NRSV is written at about a 10th grade level, it requires a good education to understand the scripture readings if that translation is used. I don't use it.) Consider how different our liturgies might be if we assumed that most of the gathered people couldn't read? How Lutheran would a liturgy be without hymnals or bulletins or projection?


Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church talks about his target audience, "Saddleback Sam and Sally." They turn out to be pretty much the same type of people as Rick Warren: college educated, listen to the same radio station, watch the same TV programs, etc. In most congregations, the people that they can best reach and minister to are just like the people they already have reached and minister to.


Other statistics indicate that about 80% of new members came because a friend or relative invited them. Who are the friends of our members? They will be people who are pretty much like our members.


It seems likely to me that changes to our style of worship that would be more attractive to minorities are likely to be changes that the members don't particularly like. The members are members because they like what the church is doing.


I think that declining congregations continue to decline and refuse to make changes, because what they are doing is meeting the needs of the people who gather for worship. They are fearful that changes means that it will no longer be their worship or meet their needs. Unfortunately, the attitude is one about "me" rather than one about reaching out to the neighbor.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Eileen Smith

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #64 on: May 09, 2018, 07:36:35 PM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)
Using this classification, where would you place the large population American racial minorities?


As I recall, and it was over 40 years ago, the economic and education status is what they primarily looked at. Affluent minorities are likely to be in the more liturgical church bodies, like Episcopalians. The less affluent in the less liturgical churches - and even among them, Pentecostals are generally less structured than Baptist who are less structured than Methodists.


The Black man who joined my home congregation many years ago, was a medical doctor.
Since 40 years have passed, can you comment on whether there is any truth to this theory?  Ultimately my point here is answering the question whether predominantly white denominations like the ELCA are intentionally excluding minorities, like some of our shrill voices who decry our demographics and demand quotas to "correct" it, or minorities are simply not attracted to our style of church, for whatever reason.


From that study, it is our style of worship that does not attract the lower socio-economic and less educated population. For a simple example, our worship services pretty much assume that the worshipers can read and understand English. (Consider that the NRSV is written at about a 10th grade level, it requires a good education to understand the scripture readings if that translation is used. I don't use it.) Consider how different our liturgies might be if we assumed that most of the gathered people couldn't read? How Lutheran would a liturgy be without hymnals or bulletins or projection?


Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church talks about his target audience, "Saddleback Sam and Sally." They turn out to be pretty much the same type of people as Rick Warren: college educated, listen to the same radio station, watch the same TV programs, etc. In most congregations, the people that they can best reach and minister to are just like the people they already have reached and minister to.


Other statistics indicate that about 80% of new members came because a friend or relative invited them. Who are the friends of our members? They will be people who are pretty much like our members.


It seems likely to me that changes to our style of worship that would be more attractive to minorities are likely to be changes that the members don't particularly like. The members are members because they like what the church is doing.


I think that declining congregations continue to decline and refuse to make changes, because what they are doing is meeting the needs of the people who gather for worship. They are fearful that changes means that it will no longer be their worship or meet their needs. Unfortunately, the attitude is one about "me" rather than one about reaching out to the neighbor.

I don't want to read more into this comment than is intended.  Is it suggested that minorities (as mentioned herein) comprise a "lower socio-economic and less educated population?"   I'm wondering as you've mentioned that our liturgical style, like the Episcopal, is more conducive to more educated, professional people. 

Some of the holes I find in this theory include, first and foremost, neither whites or POC are homogeneous.  i've known clergy that have introduced "This Far by Faith" into predominantly (fully) black congregations and it did not go over well.   One woman actually questioned if it was Lutheran.  I think this is where we sometimes fall apart in trying to diversify the church.  We impose our view of a certain ethnicity and treat all members within that group as if they are the same with assumptions abouet the hymns they might like and the style of worship that they are comfortable with.   We plan a synod worship service and stick in Alabare somewhere as we need to recognize our Hispanic members.  And some indeed love that hymn (as do some whites).  But some don't.  There are many white people in my congregation that cringe when we sing those great 16th century chorales and yet I know black Lutherans who love them. 

I also question what is written about literacy of our members. Perhaps we have congregations where the language spoken is not English.  In Queens we have a Chinese congregation but they worship with essentially the same liturgy, only sung in a Chinese dialect.  There may be members of our Hispanic or Russian, or African congregations where English isn't a first language and a member(s) would not be comfortable participating with a bulletin and hymnal in English but that is not to say these congregations do not have resources. 

One cannot deny the poverty that many minorities suffer but one cannot simply state that white=rich and black=poor.   We simply cannot fit people into neat little boxes and attempt to reach them by appealing to what we believe that box holds.

We need to be sensitive to cultures other than white and it is good to examine our worship, but what we need to offer is not simply liturgical style and hymns (or lack of liturgy), we need to offer substance and we do in Word and Sacrament.  We need to more effectively communicate this gift.

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #65 on: May 09, 2018, 07:42:55 PM »
A course I took in seminary was on the social sources of denominationalism with a book by that title. A general finding in the book and in our studies was that among Protestant churches, the non-liturgical ones tended to attract lower social class people and the liturgical ones tended to attract higher social class people. (Even your illustration about Lutherans being more like Episcopalians follows this logic.)
Using this classification, where would you place the large population American racial minorities?


As I recall, and it was over 40 years ago, the economic and education status is what they primarily looked at. Affluent minorities are likely to be in the more liturgical church bodies, like Episcopalians. The less affluent in the less liturgical churches - and even among them, Pentecostals are generally less structured than Baptist who are less structured than Methodists.


The Black man who joined my home congregation many years ago, was a medical doctor.
Since 40 years have passed, can you comment on whether there is any truth to this theory?  Ultimately my point here is answering the question whether predominantly white denominations like the ELCA are intentionally excluding minorities, like some of our shrill voices who decry our demographics and demand quotas to "correct" it, or minorities are simply not attracted to our style of church, for whatever reason.


From that study, it is our style of worship that does not attract the lower socio-economic and less educated population. For a simple example, our worship services pretty much assume that the worshipers can read and understand English. (Consider that the NRSV is written at about a 10th grade level, it requires a good education to understand the scripture readings if that translation is used. I don't use it.) Consider how different our liturgies might be if we assumed that most of the gathered people couldn't read? How Lutheran would a liturgy be without hymnals or bulletins or projection?


Rick Warren in The Purpose Driven Church talks about his target audience, "Saddleback Sam and Sally." They turn out to be pretty much the same type of people as Rick Warren: college educated, listen to the same radio station, watch the same TV programs, etc. In most congregations, the people that they can best reach and minister to are just like the people they already have reached and minister to.


Other statistics indicate that about 80% of new members came because a friend or relative invited them. Who are the friends of our members? They will be people who are pretty much like our members.


It seems likely to me that changes to our style of worship that would be more attractive to minorities are likely to be changes that the members don't particularly like. The members are members because they like what the church is doing.


I think that declining congregations continue to decline and refuse to make changes, because what they are doing is meeting the needs of the people who gather for worship. They are fearful that changes means that it will no longer be their worship or meet their needs. Unfortunately, the attitude is one about "me" rather than one about reaching out to the neighbor.

From the beginning those from the outside were understood as entering into another culture by virtue of simply entering the church.  The solution was not to change the church to match the outside culture, but to catechize the newcomer to understand this new culture.  What does it mean to change the worship to "meet the needs" of a visitor?  If the "needs" of all worshipers are basically the same, spiritually speaking, our greatest concern beyond that is whether the person can hear and understand what is being communicated.  What "needs" do we need to "meet" to be faithful in "reaching out to the neighbor"?
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

readselerttoo

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #66 on: May 09, 2018, 07:47:39 PM »
When I was growing up the standard was listening to the scriptures being read.  We had no bulletin inserts and the readings from the scriptures were not printed.  I don't think a reading level was necessary.  Listening to the readings at the liturgy meant one had ears to hear.  Reading and following along from an insert requires a level of education.  Listening really does not.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2018, 07:50:51 PM by George Rahn »

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #67 on: May 09, 2018, 08:28:18 PM »
From the beginning those from the outside were understood as entering into another culture by virtue of simply entering the church.  The solution was not to change the church to match the outside culture, but to catechize the newcomer to understand this new culture.  What does it mean to change the worship to "meet the needs" of a visitor?  If the "needs" of all worshipers are basically the same, spiritually speaking, our greatest concern beyond that is whether the person can hear and understand what is being communicated.  What "needs" do we need to "meet" to be faithful in "reaching out to the neighbor"?


I agree with you. Worship services were not intended to be evangelical crusades, but a gathering of believers (often in secret when Christianity was illegal).


Basically, in today's culture, if the church members aren't excited enough about what's going on their church to invite others to come, it's likely the church will not grow in membership.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #68 on: May 09, 2018, 08:30:01 PM »
When I was growing up the standard was listening to the scriptures being read.  We had no bulletin inserts and the readings from the scriptures were not printed.  I don't think a reading level was necessary.  Listening to the readings at the liturgy meant one had ears to hear.  Reading and following along from an insert requires a level of education.  Listening really does not.


However, a minister commented after coming back from vacation where he was just a person in the pew, that the listening to the lessons was the worst part of the service. When he's preaching, he immerses himself in the lessons. They become important to him. However, when he was just a listener the thrill of the Word just didn't happen.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #69 on: May 09, 2018, 08:33:43 PM »
From the beginning those from the outside were understood as entering into another culture by virtue of simply entering the church.  The solution was not to change the church to match the outside culture, but to catechize the newcomer to understand this new culture.  What does it mean to change the worship to "meet the needs" of a visitor?  If the "needs" of all worshipers are basically the same, spiritually speaking, our greatest concern beyond that is whether the person can hear and understand what is being communicated.  What "needs" do we need to "meet" to be faithful in "reaching out to the neighbor"?


Your answer is too simplistic. Should we teach all new members to understand Greek so we might worship as the earliest Christians did and read the NT in the original language? For centuries, the Roman Church taught it's members Latin so that they could understand the Roman culture.


Yes, our concern should be centered on how well our message is being heard. That requires some understanding of the people who are listening.
"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #70 on: May 09, 2018, 08:39:12 PM »
I don't want to read more into this comment than is intended.  Is it suggested that minorities (as mentioned herein) comprise a "lower socio-economic and less educated population?"   I'm wondering as you've mentioned that our liturgical style, like the Episcopal, is more conducive to more educated, professional people.
 


I'm suggesting, based on that long-ago class, that when minorities might join Lutheran (or Episcopal) congregations, it is probably more about socio-economic issues than racial ones.


Of course there are many exceptions to the general pattern.


"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #71 on: May 09, 2018, 11:42:22 PM »
From the beginning those from the outside were understood as entering into another culture by virtue of simply entering the church.  The solution was not to change the church to match the outside culture, but to catechize the newcomer to understand this new culture.  What does it mean to change the worship to "meet the needs" of a visitor?  If the "needs" of all worshipers are basically the same, spiritually speaking, our greatest concern beyond that is whether the person can hear and understand what is being communicated.  What "needs" do we need to "meet" to be faithful in "reaching out to the neighbor"?

Your answer is too simplistic. Should we teach all new members to understand Greek so we might worship as the earliest Christians did and read the NT in the original language? For centuries, the Roman Church taught it's members Latin so that they could understand the Roman culture.


Yes, our concern should be centered on how well our message is being heard. That requires some understanding of the people who are listening.

I think you missed my point.  I honestly don't think anyone is arguing for visitors or prospective members to learn another foreign language.  The liturgy has been in the vernacular for quite a while. I do think that catechesis regarding the liturgy itself as well as the meaning of what we are doing in worship is necessary.  Too often churches jettison the liturgy and any historic/traditional trappings of worship in favor of stages, pit bands and screens because they believe this is all people want or can understand.  These things are part of the outside culture they already understand and offer nothing to help people truly appreciate and understand the mysteries of coming into God's presence to receive God's gifts in Word and Sacrament. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #72 on: May 10, 2018, 07:49:22 AM »
The template or model comparing socio-economic status to the various protestant denominations has never been successfully applied to Roman Catholics (or Orthodox), who have kept their practice of doctrine and liturgy above the culture. Neither should it apply to Lutherans. When it does, we have lost something.

Peace, JOHN
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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #73 on: May 10, 2018, 09:29:17 AM »
Pastor Engebretson writes:
Too often churches jettison the liturgy and any historic/traditional trappings of worship in favor of stages, pit bands and screens because they believe this is all people want or can understand.
I comment:
I have always thought it was wrong to assume that people "want" in church what they get outside the church.

Pastor Engebretson:
These things are part of the outside culture they already understand and offer nothing to help people truly appreciate and understand the mysteries of coming into God's presence to receive God's gifts in Word and Sacrament.
Me:
I agree completely. Furthermore, we rarely do those "other things" - use of bands, screens, and staging - with the same skill and expertise as the "outside" world and consequently we look ridiculous and give people bad pop culture.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

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Re: Breaking News from SW Texas Synod assembly
« Reply #74 on: May 10, 2018, 10:09:47 AM »
Ross Douthat has some interesting thoughts from a Roman Catholic perspective, although I think most Lutherans can identify with the basic challenge of when to be culturally accommodating and when to celebrate our distinctiveness (or "weirdness", as Douthat puts it).

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/opinion/met-gala-catholic-church.html?rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fross-douthat&action=click&contentCollection=opinion&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

Peace,
Jon