Author Topic: LCMS Inc 2020 Report  (Read 47652 times)

RevG

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #150 on: December 28, 2020, 11:07:36 PM »
Mark, of course, a salutary reminder. We are seldom privy to half the story. I remember thinking at the time how great it would be to actually have a seminary PRESENCE on one of the main thoroughfares as opposed to being buried deep off DeMun. My friend, Dr. Lee Maxwell, was actually hopeful that maybe the seminary’s archeology program could be housed in the new facilities and expanded; that turned out to be a pipe dream, however.

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

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

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

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

Peace,
Scott+

Robert Johnson

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #151 on: December 29, 2020, 12:09:28 AM »
"One of Woody Guthrie’s resolutions was to “Wake up and fight.”

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

He was talking about changing the culture.

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

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

Mark_Hofman

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #152 on: December 29, 2020, 12:17:10 AM »
My skin is thick enough - and my ego sinfully strong enough - to get over the hurt that drove the earlier sarcastic rant.

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

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

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


Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #153 on: December 29, 2020, 07:01:37 AM »
The point in listing the property expansions was to remind ourselves we are facing something new in recent American Lutheranism: consolidation. We have to identify what is actually mission critical and hold onto that while letting other things go.

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

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

The other thing proposed here appears to do away with district offices, creating about a hundred regional leaders (6,000 congregations divided into groups of 60). I'm not sure if that is a healthy consolidation and would like to see further comment. What happens to the liquidated assets?
« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 07:12:44 AM by Rev. Edward Engelbrecht »
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Randy Bosch

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #154 on: December 29, 2020, 08:31:40 AM »
"One of Woody Guthrie’s resolutions was to “Wake up and fight.”

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

He was talking about changing the culture.

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

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

Wow!  I'll delete every reference to him I have ever run across (that's the only one)!  Nothing good must have ever come from him (well, son Arlo wrote some good songs, so there's that)!

Randy Bosch

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #155 on: December 29, 2020, 08:34:57 AM »
For those demanding reparations or admissions of culpability for decisions made decades or even hundreds of years ago, here is a more positive new mission for you:

https://friendsoffriendlesschurches.org.uk/


Randy Bosch

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #156 on: December 29, 2020, 09:01:27 AM »

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

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

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

"Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but . . . against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."
Ephesians 6:12
« Last Edit: December 29, 2020, 09:04:50 AM by Randy Bosch »

PrTim15

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #157 on: December 29, 2020, 09:14:09 AM »
Yes;) forgiveness isn’t merely a theological construct;)

Charles Austin

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #158 on: December 29, 2020, 09:25:24 AM »
I think many people need to have an ogre in their life, a bugbear that becomes the focus for everything they think is wrong with whatever their favorite thing is whether it be church, school, or government.
Sometimes the ogre is a real being.
But sometimes, when things are calmer, or actually going the way one prefers, it’s oddly “comforting” to invoke the image of a long past object of loathing. Some people are inclined to settle scores tallied decades ago, or see every small alleged misdeed as a sign that the ogre is returning.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.

peter_speckhard

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #159 on: December 29, 2020, 09:27:20 AM »
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

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

Randy Bosch

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #160 on: December 29, 2020, 09:29:18 AM »
I think many people need to have an ogre in their life, a bugbear that becomes the focus for everything they think is wrong with whatever their favorite thing is whether it be church, school, or government.
Sometimes the ogre is a real being.
But sometimes, when things are calmer, or actually going the way one prefers, it’s oddly “comforting” to invoke the image of a long past object of loathing. Some people are inclined to settle scores tallied decades ago, or see every small alleged misdeed as a sign that the ogre is returning.

I think you're correct about people's ogres.  Sometimes, they bring comfort via Sun Tze"s "The best defense is a good offense", to avoid taking personal responsibility for doing something constructive and peacemaking.

Randy Bosch

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #161 on: December 29, 2020, 09:35:33 AM »
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

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

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

I think I'll stick with the Theology of the Cross in this post-Christian culture.

peter_speckhard

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #162 on: December 29, 2020, 10:38:07 AM »
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

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

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

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

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

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

Randy Bosch

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #163 on: December 29, 2020, 11:11:20 AM »
Sometimes decisions like CBC amount to this question: do we admit/embrace/plan around the likelihood and even inevitability of continuing decline? Or do we do the institutional equivalent of dressing for the job we want instead of the job we have?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Somewhere, "Give us this day our daily bread" entered into the equation, and a prayerful decision was made.
Looking back, it was still a prayerful decision.  Rest easy.

Charles Austin

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Re: LCMS Inc 2020 Report
« Reply #164 on: December 29, 2020, 11:24:46 AM »
Peter makes some good points that raise other questions.
He writes:
My congregation spent a lot of money on air conditioning for our school a couple of years ago. It was part of our plan to pass down what had received. Will there be an LCMS school in Munster in 40 years? Who knows? We can't control everything. But we could reasonably anticipate the likelihood that IF our school is still functioning in 40 years, it will be air-conditioned.
I muse:
Well, maybe, if the equipment lasts that long, which it probably won't. Or it will be too demanding of power for the time 40 years from now, or inadequate to cool the air because the climate has changed. OTOH if everything stays the way it is now, you're good.

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

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

Peter writes:
Now let's say that the decision proves to be bad, a mere building of bigger barns when the institution's life is about to be demanded of it. Okay. What should we have spent the money on?
I comment:
Another good point, because in the long-term, that is, the very long term perspective (or maybe short term, who knows these days?) we haven't a credible clue about when an institution's "life is about to be demanded of it."
We we hang loose and not get ourselves trapped into paralysis by analysis. We take our best shots based on our best thinking even in the midst of uncertainty.
I  liked the ending of "Great Balls of Fire" the bio-pic about Jerry Lee Lewis. His cousin, the preacher Jimmy Swaggert, thinks rock 'n roll and the way Jerry Lee plays the piano is completely "of the Devil." Obviously, the rocker disagrees - or doubts the Devil - and says to his cousin: "Well, if I'm goin' to Hell, I'm goin' there playin' the piano."
Rock on.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis.