Author Topic: LCMS Inc 2020 Report  (Read 31795 times)

Dave Benke

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #90 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

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #91 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

Dave Benke

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #92 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

Dave Likeness

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #93 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.

Commencement2020

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #94 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

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:

  • Lack of support--although the LCMS has put good effort into solving this, individual churches or broader communities may vary widely
  • Trade-offs (with respect to seminarians)--The "bad apples" in terms of mobbing can be effective as professors and administrators. The same mild personality-disordered traits that make them prone to mobbing students or condoning mobbing between students also makes them otherwise good professionals as is typically defined. In the WELS they are called "hards" and are customarily expected to fill leadership roles. But they are at LCMS institutions too.
  • German culture--strong on consensus and a high degree of perfection. This is both a strength and a weakness depending on the circumstances. With respect to pastors' overall situation it is a weakness because they become "fair game" easier. Such a congregation goes straight from Conflict Level Zero to Level Three, and then back to Level Zero again quickly. To the best of my purely anecdotal understanding, LCMS pastors of ethnic minority congregations are less likely to be mobbed, especially when they are minorities too.
  • The oversupply factor: In history the nobility got rid of their surplus children by getting them to become priests, monks and nuns. There was an oversupply especially of the latter two, which caused monkish quarrels. Luther was at first considered to be another run-of-the-mill monkish quarreler. He was getting mobbed but instead he hid at Wartburg.

    Today, LCMS congregations who are especially grateful for their pastor are those who have longed for a minority pastor and finally get one. It follows that they will not mob him.
  • The "Four Ways to Spend Money" table on paper page 10, pdf page 11: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/The-Opportunity-Costs-of-Socialism.pdf shows one factor. Congregations on the right hand side of the table might mob their pastor, but congregations on the left hand side will not. Most congregations fall somewhere in-between, but probably more on the right hand side.

    The Schmidt Family Church types can be healthy, if the family itself is and the pastor is a good fit. It would be in the top right hand corner. Endowment funded congregations fall in the bottom right hand corner if they are perfectly democratic in governance and there are no heirs around pretending it is still their money. Ideally a church will be both egalitarian in its funding and in its governance. As best as I can tell this was the model a long time ago when dues were assessed.

    The imbalance happens when the governance & funding shift, such can happen when a board makes more of the decisions or a single member or family pays a disproportionate amount of the bills. Then the church falls into the right hand side, where because the the money is being spent on someone else, they "don't seek highest value". Mobbing is one form of not seeking the highest value.

    It is not uncommon for secular nonprofits have issues with a dark workplace culture. They typically fall on the right hand side of the table; and for charities helping other people they are on the bottom right hand side. A notorious example was the now defunct Kids Company in Great Britain.

    You may have heard about a large LCD screen factory that was supposed to be built in southwest Wisconsin. They have had massive issues with dark workplace culture issues. The managers were spending "other people's money" on people they did not intend to retain but only hired to meet the subsidy quota. So they paid a lot of people to do nothing and collectively treated each other really bad. This factory also falls into the bottom right hand side. Because there was no future for them, they weren't even investing in themselves.

    A congregation on subsidy like Dave's once was can be healthy, but not all are. One factor is when strings are attached to the subsidy. This can work to convince members not to take ownership of the congregation. On the other hand the mission or congregation is spending the money on themselves, they will seek the best value (left hand side of the table).

    Some of the feelings I've seen between churchworkers and wealthy donors resemble the Chinese golden boat story. There is a story about a man who was given a jeweled & golden boat by his worst enemy, who eventually became emperor. It was given for the express purpose of making the man mad that he couldn't repay it with an even gift. There is a similar dynamic at work when a very wealthy man donates a great deal of money. The clergy hate him and indulge his vices. They hate him because they can never repay such a large gift. You wonder if he will go to hell because of his manifest sin. If he was loved, his pastor would correct him. But he is not loved, only feared and hated. Such bad emotions definitely expedite mobbing.
  • The mid-20th century stabilizing fluke that I mentioned in an earlier post: http://alpb.org/Forum/index.php?topic=7712.msg495268#msg495268 (When the clergy contracepted, but the laity still generally did not contracept.) This era was marked by clergy readily being given loans by secular banks. This shifted the power of governance more in the hands of clergy, which spent other people's money on themselves. They sought the best value. Maybe the bankers made them economize; I don't know. What I do know is that this era is unlikely to repeat itself. When it ended there was schism.

    So one factor with mobbing is that Lutherans once had an easier time avoiding conflict due to demographics, but that time is over.

    Could one recreate some of that fluke stabilizing effect by banning children of churchworkers from going into the ministry? That would be far better than instituting a "one child policy" to enforce stability. There is historical precedent for this sort of restriction from when the Catholics cracked down on the practice of creating lots of cardinal-nephews. I am aware of one Lutheran congregation which enacted strange bylaws specifically to keep the pastor's many older sons (he did not contracept) from voting. This restriction may have postponed the Level Four conflict, but it did not prevent it.

  • I get the sense that some pastors, especially in the WELS try to get their children to go into the ministry to help keep them from competing with their congregation member's children (or teens). There are only so many top spots in many communities, competition can be fierce and the pastor's children are outsiders. Some of the weird stuff described in the Klaas and Klaas study could relate to this. One solution is to send them off to prep school.

    The model for an Anglican pastor is George Herbert, who wrote extensively about how parish life should work in The Country Parson. He would have been a great man to have as both a pastor or a father. But today wouldn't he be a prime target for mobbing? Too strange, too many children who are better raised than the congregation members' children.

    How to solve this vulnerability? Some churches eschew contraception more or less, so they all have a lot of children and are used to the competition. Or if the pastor is already from the area the congregation members won't feel as threatened by competition from his children. I don't have a good response to this vulnerability for most situations though.
  • Tuition is another factor compounding mobbing. It cuts two ways: making new pastors with debt more vulnerable and by potentially compounding social class issues.

    Why is tuition so high at the LCMS seminaries? One factor is that it must be kept high as a gatekeeping measure. Since income is generally correlated with intelligence and good genetics, it follows that the LCMS pastorate can be made more elite by raising tuition. While this could be criticized as eugenics, it is not entirely a bad thing. Poor behavior can be caused by low intelligence. Marital faithfulness correlates with it.

    But what if there was another way to screen the incoming seminarians? As I understand, you aren't allowed to use IQ tests because they are racially discriminatory. Maybe use a random lottery instead to cull them to a proper number. Maybe ASVAB, ACT, or SAT scores or some other test would be another way. In the WELS, they keep tuition low, so instead a major screening factor is the senior thesis paper. (Side note: I've met a pastor who because of his learning disability, could not complete it. He did not graduate. Instead he found a community lacking any Lutheran church at all. He took a dishwashing job and told everyone he was starting a new church. He managed to start it and it grew large quickly. But then it joined ALC which he would not go along with.)

    There is concern that American Lutherans are not as intelligent as several other groups, such as from this study
    https://twitter.com/kirkegaardemil/status/1088579701944201216

    This study makes me question how the ELS can keep their seminary free because then they do not screen out the low income people. The theory (again, rejected by enough mainstream people that you can ignore it if you like) is that over the generations, urbanization and birth control reduces the heritable aspect of intelligence. The genetically smart people move to cities, where they don't have much children as the more fertile but dumber rural ones. An example: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303857537_Evidence_of_dysgenic_fertility_in_China

    The ELS historically has had less contraception and less urbanization than the LCMS. Urbanization is my own assessment; the comparison of contraception comes here: https://www.ryancmacpherson.com/download/research-papers/els-demographic-history.pdf So it follows that they don't need to put up such a high bar to keep students out because they have less of them to begin with.

    Similarly, the DELTO program in the LCMS lowers the financial bar for ethnic minorities. But since they don't have as long of a history of urbanization and contraception as German Lutherans, the higher bar is not needed.

    The tuition factor may play a role in congregational dynamics. How many parishioners could realistically afford to put their children through seminary without debt? If not, it follows that the pastor is necessarily of a high social class. This distinction can be ignored when things are going well, but when things go badly it could be a compounding factor. If entrance into the pastorate was a strict meritocracy, this concern would be lessened. In such a case an incentive not to mob the pastor would be that members might aspire for their own children or grandchildren to become churchworkers someday.

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.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2020, 04:24:37 PM by Commencement2020 »

peter_speckhard

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #95 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.

Norman Teigen

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #96 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."
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #97 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.
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peter_speckhard

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #98 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.

RevG

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #99 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+

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #100 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.

peter_speckhard

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #101 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.

Charles Austin

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #102 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.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Back home from Sioux City after three days and a pleasant reunion of the East High School class of - can you believe it! - 1959.

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #103 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?
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John_Hannah

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #104 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
« Last Edit: December 28, 2020, 09:05:36 AM by John_Hannah »
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