Funding Congregations First

Started by PrTim15, December 30, 2022, 01:23:29 PM

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PrTim15

In receiving a myriad of asks for dollars from the surviving Concordias, every LCMS RSO in my area and beyond, and from so many consultant type groups. It dawned on me that there could be a reordering in the LCMS and maybe other church bodies. What if the districts and the synod did less programming and invested resources in congregations? Seems to be every nickel that goes outside of a congregational ministry, very seldom returns, whereas districts and denominations would be much stronger if the sum of their parts, congregations, were well funded and robust. Fund and support congregations and let the chips fall where they may. Seems to me history bears out that healthy and robust congregations would be force for positive and on ground ministry. What do you think?

Dave Likeness

Healthy congregations are the future of the LCMS.  It seems that Districts
can siphon off funds from parishes when they have a bloated full-time staff.
We do not need Evangelism and Stewardship executives on both the District
and Synodical level. It becomes a duplication of effort.  Some of those men
could serve in parishes and actually build healthy and robust congregations.

ghp

Quote from: Dave Likeness on December 30, 2022, 02:28:41 PM
Healthy congregations are the future of the LCMS.  It seems that Districts
can siphon off funds from parishes when they have a bloated full-time staff.
We do not need Evangelism and Stewardship executives on both the District
and Synodical level. It becomes a duplication of effort.  Some of those men
could serve in parishes and actually build healthy and robust congregations.


Bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.

Charles Austin

#3
Congregations do get returns. They get trained pastors. They get supervision of pastors.  They get Sunday school  materials. They get the supervision of national and international missions. They get representation of the church in the public sphere. They get opportunities to help other parts of the church including other congregations in need.
There are of course problems with any big structure. But the idea that the church bureaucracy exists only for itself not correct. And it is an insult to the hundreds of pastors, Rostered ministers and lay people who answer the call to work in it.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

ghp

Quote from: Charles Austin on December 30, 2022, 06:41:24 PM
Congregations do get returns. They get trained pastors. They get supervision of pastors.  They get Sunday school  materials. They get the supervision of national and international missions. They get representation of the church in the public sphere. They get opportunities to help other parts of the church including other congregations in need.
There are of course problems with any big structure. But the idea that the church bureaucracy exists only for itself not correct. And it is an insult to the hundreds of pastors, Rostered ministers and lay people who answer the call to work in it.


For someone so invested in writing (self-proclaimed) whimsy, you certainly have a problem reading it from other people.


PrTim15

Perhaps there needs to be a new contract with the LCMS and her congregations. Seems the number of retiring pastors, myself included, will eclipse the synod's ability to fill pulpits, if indeed that is their responsibility. My sense is we need more focus on congregational health, especially financially, so that congregations have the resources going forward and they are pillaged by other organizations, synod included.

Charles Austin

How is tithing to the district or synod or ELCA or LCMS "pillaging"?
Why shouldn't the congregation send 10% (or more) of its income to missions outside its own territory?
Why shouldn't every congregation be glad to support what the Synod  or district or national church is doing?
In the ELCA, we speak of the interdependence that exists involving the congregation, the synod, and the national church. Each needs the other in order to be fully involved in the mission.
Several bishops told me following 2009 that many of the congregation leaving the ELCA sent virtually no mission support to the Synod or the national church. Their pastors and people were not seen at synod events. A stronger, healthier relationship with the other parts of the church might've kept some of those congregations within the fellowship of the ELCA.
Iowa-born. Long-time in NY/New Jersey, former LWF staff in Geneva.
ELCA PASTOR, ordained 1967. Former journalist. Retired in Minneapolis. Often critical of the ELCA, but more often a defender of its mission. Ignoring the not-so-subtle rude insults which often appear here.

Dave Benke

I think what's healthy in the ELCA is the emphasis on the three "expressions" of Church - local, judicatory and national.  Those have from the second century onward been part of the Church's tradition.  And Lutherans acknowledge the importance of those expressions confessionally de iure humano.  And the ELCA works that thought and theology well.  What happens, however, when the national expression passes on what is not widely viewed as a good opinion (viz. 2009) is that the independent streak overtakes triplicity; hence NALC.

The Waltherian tug on that arrangement in the LCMS is the centrality placed on the local congregation as assembly of believers in a sense over and against councils and wider church selected magisterium.  That can lead to the local congregation favoring either the national level (which is far, far away) over the regional when the regional desires input and/or accountability, or to the wider church at any level having to kind of break through the barricade of independence to get to appropriate interdependence.  At a true truth level, the axis mundi is the locus where Word and Sacrament break through and Eucharistic community is formed by God's hand of grace.  And that is - primarily but not exclusively in the history of the Church - at the local altar, font and pulpit.

Dave Benke

It's OK to Pray

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Dave Benke on January 09, 2023, 05:03:20 PM
I think what's healthy in the ELCA is the emphasis on the three "expressions" of Church - local, judicatory and national.  Those have from the second century onward been part of the Church's tradition.  And Lutherans acknowledge the importance of those expressions confessionally de iure humano.  And the ELCA works that thought and theology well.  What happens, however, when the national expression passes on what is not widely viewed as a good opinion (viz. 2009) is that the independent streak overtakes triplicity; hence NALC.

The Waltherian tug on that arrangement in the LCMS is the centrality placed on the local congregation as assembly of believers in a sense over and against councils and wider church selected magisterium.  That can lead to the local congregation favoring either the national level (which is far, far away) over the regional when the regional desires input and/or accountability, or to the wider church at any level having to kind of break through the barricade of independence to get to appropriate interdependence.  At a true truth level, the axis mundi is the locus where Word and Sacrament break through and Eucharistic community is formed by God's hand of grace.  And that is - primarily but not exclusively in the history of the Church - at the local altar, font and pulpit.


Some friends had been Baptists until they believed the pastor was doing some improper things (dealing with finances, not sexual). They were frustrated because there was no hierarchy that offered oversight or discipline to the pastors. They ended up in a Reformed church because they concluded some hierarchy is good.


Along the same lines, the question was asked of an LCMC pastor about discipline in the church if there are no bishops (or presidents). He said that it was the responsibility of the congregation. When a congregation believes there is misconduct by the pastor, they have the responsibility to get rid of him. (I suspect that doesn't work as well in practice as in theory. I believe in all three of the ELCA disciplinary cases related to homosexual behaviors that went through the whole process and the pastors were removed from the roster; their congregations kept them as their pastors.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

peter_speckhard

Quote from: Dave Benke on January 09, 2023, 05:03:20 PM
I think what's healthy in the ELCA is the emphasis on the three "expressions" of Church - local, judicatory and national.  Those have from the second century onward been part of the Church's tradition.  And Lutherans acknowledge the importance of those expressions confessionally de iure humano.  And the ELCA works that thought and theology well.  What happens, however, when the national expression passes on what is not widely viewed as a good opinion (viz. 2009) is that the independent streak overtakes triplicity; hence NALC.

The Waltherian tug on that arrangement in the LCMS is the centrality placed on the local congregation as assembly of believers in a sense over and against councils and wider church selected magisterium.  That can lead to the local congregation favoring either the national level (which is far, far away) over the regional when the regional desires input and/or accountability, or to the wider church at any level having to kind of break through the barricade of independence to get to appropriate interdependence.  At a true truth level, the axis mundi is the locus where Word and Sacrament break through and Eucharistic community is formed by God's hand of grace.  And that is - primarily but not exclusively in the history of the Church - at the local altar, font and pulpit.

Dave Benke
"They don't want accountability" seems to be the charge both sides in the LCMS level against each other. SP oversight of the Concordias, to take but one example, is simple accountability to some, tyrannical centralization of power to others.

Dave Benke

Quote from: peter_speckhard on January 10, 2023, 08:20:26 AM
Quote from: Dave Benke on January 09, 2023, 05:03:20 PM
I think what's healthy in the ELCA is the emphasis on the three "expressions" of Church - local, judicatory and national.  Those have from the second century onward been part of the Church's tradition.  And Lutherans acknowledge the importance of those expressions confessionally de iure humano.  And the ELCA works that thought and theology well.  What happens, however, when the national expression passes on what is not widely viewed as a good opinion (viz. 2009) is that the independent streak overtakes triplicity; hence NALC.

The Waltherian tug on that arrangement in the LCMS is the centrality placed on the local congregation as assembly of believers in a sense over and against councils and wider church selected magisterium.  That can lead to the local congregation favoring either the national level (which is far, far away) over the regional when the regional desires input and/or accountability, or to the wider church at any level having to kind of break through the barricade of independence to get to appropriate interdependence.  At a true truth level, the axis mundi is the locus where Word and Sacrament break through and Eucharistic community is formed by God's hand of grace.  And that is - primarily but not exclusively in the history of the Church - at the local altar, font and pulpit.

Dave Benke
"They don't want accountability" seems to be the charge both sides in the LCMS level against each other. SP oversight of the Concordias, to take but one example, is simple accountability to some, tyrannical centralization of power to others.

The Concordias are certainly a special case in the Waltherian tug o' war, I think worthy of a thread of their own as we enter the national LCMS convention year with the triennial sweepstakes about to begin.  Three Concordias down, how many more to go, first of all.  The one with the big lawsuit pending out West takes "accountability" up a hill well beyond simple.  If boards of regents are elected at national and regional levels, why would accountability for contractual breaches, if there are any, not ascend to those levels?  Is ownership owned at all levels, or only some?

Beyond the financial entanglements, though, is the core question of Lutheran identity.  As I receive info from Luther Classical College directly and concerning Concordia Texas, and as I read the Lutheran identity statement prepared and used at Concordia Bronxville when there was such an institution, the differences among them are to me minimal.  However, the way Lutheran identity is expressed and promoted is quite different.   

For instance, this is from Luther Classical College: This is why we are so confident to build an unapologetically Lutheran college for our children. A college in which:
All professors and students will be confessional Lutherans.Confessional Lutheran doctrine will be taught in every classroom and campus culture will center around daily chapel. Students will form friendships based on God's pure Word, joyfully singing Lutheran hymns from classroom to classroom. Graduates will be confident to return to Lutheran congregations after college, making daily Christian sacrifices to raise families, care for fellow Christians, and continue passing down our rich Lutheran heritage from one generation to the next. 


I participated in that educational process, in Milwaukee, from 1960-1966 and in Fort Wayne from 1966-1968.  It was designed by clergy for future clergy, and all the  professors were LCMS members, almost all clergy.  It was ultimately a "classical" education, because we learned the classics in their original language (as long as the original language was German, Greek or Latin), reciting Cicero, doing our declensions like "vocab vultures," with our male cheerleaders exhorting us hoopsters with "Sophocles, Demosthenes, the Peloponnesian War" and other such classical cheers.  And we came out OK for the most part.  So I can't argue against myself.
And that type of education is or at least should be available in some measure at our Concordias for future clergy. 

But it would be and maybe will be a draconian settlement for the Missouri Synod if Luther Classical College is viewed as the future of the Concordias.  The word "unapologetically" as imbedded at Luther Classical implies that there are other colleges out there (where?) which are not as unapologetical as they need to be.  That dialog, about the extent and direction of Lutheran identity, is to me critically important.

Dave Benke

It's OK to Pray

Dave Likeness

The January 2022 Lutheran Witness magazine had 2 alarming statistics.

Teacher education enrollment at our Concordia Universities has decreased
60% in the last 15 years

Only 49% of Lutheran schoolteachers in our Lutheran elementary schools and
high schools are LCMS rostered.

The LCMS has a history of excellent Lutheran elementary schools as well as
high schools. There was a time when their faculties were 90 to 100% LCMS
rostered teachers.  Today, we need to improve that statistic of only 49%.

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

"All professors and students will be confessional Lutherans."

This looks like what some here have called "The Benedict Option." Yes?

Dave Benke

Quote from: Dave Likeness on January 10, 2023, 12:21:20 PM
The January 2022 Lutheran Witness magazine had 2 alarming statistics.

Teacher education enrollment at our Concordia Universities has decreased
60% in the last 15 years

Only 49% of Lutheran schoolteachers in our Lutheran elementary schools and
high schools are LCMS rostered.

The LCMS has a history of excellent Lutheran elementary schools as well as
high schools. There was a time when their faculties were 90 to 100% LCMS
rostered teachers.  Today, we need to improve that statistic of only 49%.

Dave, did the article contain statistics concerning the number of schools, the type of schools, and the comparison of enrollment at schools with the past?  The same trend that exists in churches as to attendance and membership pertains to schools, in my opinion.  And since a lot of the schools are exclusively or primarily pre-schools, the percentage of LCMS teachers is going to be lower in those settings, because of lower compensation and neighborhood base.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Dave Likeness

Bishop Benke....Sorry those were the only 2 stats given.



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