“They Won’t Come in and Change Our Church – that Would Make People Mad” by Pr. Rossow

There was a great comment left on another string. It describes perfectly the challenge in the LCMS today. This comment is by someone who supports traditional, classical music but attends a happy/clappy church. Give a read and ponder this.


I have often thought about how LCMS would proceed with a Confessional pastor as President after years of…er….the ‘other type’ of governing.

Personally, I think it’s possible that the pop-culture-driven Lutheran churches may revolt against going towards a traditional Divine Service. Since much pop music comes out of rebellion, I suggest that those who enjoy it might rebel.

I have asked some leaders at my church how they intend to prepare church members for a more traditional approach should K. and Co. not be re-elected. Responses have been, “Oh, no one is going to come in and change anything, for that would make people mad.” So it comes down again to polling the people for their opinion, and go with that?

Mighty curious to hear more thoughts about this from Confessional pastors. Thank you.

This is a perplexing thing that is going to take time, a long time to solve. Electing Matt Harrison will not solve this problem overnight. I am beginning to believe that Matt Harrison will be elected but only time will tell. If he is, it will be a good thing for addressing this situation but it will take many years of positive promotion of our grandfather’s church before we will see a noticeable difference. We can be patient. First things first. Let’s elect  a good, solid, confessional, churchly man to the office.

Those are my thoughts. As the commenter asked, what are your thoughts?

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


“They Won’t Come in and Change Our Church – that Would Make People Mad” by Pr. Rossow — 45 Comments

  1. @Anonymous #1

    My sediments exactly, Anon. Who is doing the changing? Why, it is Satan of course, working through secularized Synodical leaders. This is nothing new as the Church has struggled through Her entire life. We do already know the outcome, Victory was accomplished on the Cross of Christ, and He will never let His Bride be killed.

  2. Let us not miss this point:
    Electing one man to the top office is not going to change things all that much, although it’s a good and necessary start. Whoever it is must have a body of like-minded subordinates. That means an overhaul of the members of Boards and Commissions at all levels, including District Presidencies (but it’s too late for that now…we had our chance in ’09 and mostly blew it.)
    Al Barry was an excellent choice in ’92, and he struggled valiantly for 8+ years, with a few solid supporters. Too few. Matt harrison is an excellent choice for ’10, but we need more than that.
    The troubles in Synod go far deeper than the Presidency. And it’s going to take a minor (or major) revolution of the people of Synod to make things work right.
    Are they up to it, after decades of sloppy catechesis (and all that that implies)?
    All we, like sheep, have gone astray.

  3. I’ve seen or heard nothing from Pastor Harrison that would suggest he would propose change in worship style, immediately at least.

    Everything that I have heard and read go along with his “It’s Time” paper that suggests all parties getting together, deciding what we confess and what we reject, then proceeding from there.

    I am a firm believer in Pr Klemet Preus “Fire and Staff ” teaching that Doctrine inevitably follows Practice, and vice-versa. Hopefully, getting a theologian in the office will get things moving in the liturgical direction.

    If we agree on Doctrine, faithful practice should follow.

    By the way, I read a survey on worship practices and in it most people defined “traditional” worship as what they grew up with.

    Unfortunately, happy/clappy is already “traditional” to a lot of LCMS congregations.

  4. What strikes me, as so odd (great, mind you) but odd…is that every major protestant denomination, has confessional factions at work. Another oddity, is that those confessional factions are quoting, with regularity, Martin Luther, “the father of the Reformation”. The liberals are stating, this is a “second reformation/formation”, in a manner that the first didn’t quite do the trick, it didn’t “include” all & everyone. The changes proposed, the issues in worship, liturgy, confessions, are frighteningly similar, if not exact. Hmmm, now where did I read about that….

    Kiley, spot on! I never thought I’d see a day when other denoms would reccomend Luther’s writings, let alone quote or reccomend Luther’s commentaries! But they are! I really, do not see, at this moment, how a scism/split can be avoided in the LCMS. If Harrison is elected, the changes he will make (It’s Time) will drive off the liberal/social/cultural spiritualists/”theologians”. If Harrison is not elected, it will drive off the confessional congregations, members, and existing steadfast staff. Choose the new & improved or let me show you the door, you are now a “relic”, we can no longer afford.

    You are right, the victory, outcome, how & what occurs, will be done, according to His Will, not our own. I think I am beginning to warm to the term “remnant” more than I have ever have. Like the hymn says, “I am but a stranger here, Heaven is my Home.” Things are becoming more & more strange by the day! We may not know, but our Heavenly Father does, & He sees further than we can dream to. I will say this though, it is a fearfully awesome thing to watch! Our Heavenly Father has, does, and always will, preserve His Own & that which belongs to Him. He sees what we cannot, & I gotta say, that is good enough for me. Let them do their worst, that is when we sheep see His Best!

  5. Clarification: The church which the writer attends has a very fine traditionally-oriented service. There is a contemporary service as well but it is pretty thoughfully done.

  6. Let’s not lose sight that our brothers and sisters who listen to or practice contemporary worship are believers, too!

  7. lccm,

    You are correct, they are believers but they are practicing a piety that over time runs the risk of losing the doctrine handed down to us from Christ which is why we are alarmed about it.


  8. Changing perceptions takes time and some are so set in their convictions that I wonder if even the preaching of Stephen combined with the appearance of our Lord himself would effect a change of direction. I wish I could remembe who said it, but it is more true today than ever: The church that marries the spirit of the age in one generation becomes a widow in the next.

  9. Just a postscript to what came before:

    “Originality means to remain faithful to the originals, to the eternal prototypes, to extinguish ‘a wisdom of [your] own’ before the ‘common Word’, as Heraclitus says (Fr. 2)—in other words, to lose your soul if you wish to find it, and not to parade your originality or to do what pleases you.”
    –Alexandros Papadiamandis

  10. Dutch,
    It’s definitely not a “given” that if Matt Harrison is elected that will “drive off the…”. Al Barry’s election didn’t drive ’em off, they just hunkered down, organized, founded Geez US First, and look what we got out of that!
    We can hope and pray, bu we can’t count chicks afore they’re hatched.
    I’m extremely dubious about any immediate results. It took decades for us to get into this mess. I’ll be long gone by the time we get out of it…if ever.
    Sorry to throw cold water around, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs in this for forty years, and my cynicism shows!

  11. “Oh, no one is going to come in and change anything, for that would make people mad.” – Complacency is the handmaiden of the devil. I wonder how many orthodox, confessional LCMS members made this same statement when contemporary worship started creeping in to the churches around them.

    If it is true that a complacent attitude opens the door for change, maybe, just maybe, solid, faithful, confessional worship practices have a chance to enter back into churches that have become blasé about the predominantly vacuous happy-clappy contemporary services and teaching. If this is the case, then I pray that the Rev Harrison might be the initial opening of that door!

  12. Califiowan,
    I agree with you, really I do. I do think though, it is rather important, to ask: how long are the men & women of the LCMS supposed to wait? Wait for a change, wait to undo the change, wait until man A is elected, now wait until man B is elected, wait…wait…wait…
    wait for what?
    This isn’t a corporation or business, transitioning & readying for a re launch. This is a church, and souls live & die by it. If this drivel, has been going on for decades, and it’s fought & re-fought the same ways, how can anyone expect different results? Too many good men & women are being told to wait, many here I see post have, almost as long as I have been alive. They can wait until convention, but what then?
    JF isn’t going to stop, the Willow Creek partner churches aren’t going to stop, & the vile Emergent movement in the LCMS isn’t going to stop. Once plans & policies are enacted, they don’t stop, they grow. Women are already elders, do we wait until their pastors? Do we wait until we share “all inclusive” rights with any denom? Some already do that, behind the backs of the members. So waiting, for what? Where is the line in the sand, where is the boundry line? So many have come, been stepped over, and moved back again & again. Where do we stop, waiting & expecting different results from the same old, same old? What do we say to those, who finally say, ” I waited, as you asked, you all can wait, now I am walking out the door. My Faith is too precious for me to bide time “

  13. One thing is certain; we need somebody with a spinal column at the helm of the LCMS. We need a leader who will turn to the Word of God and our Lutheran confessions, rather than to the words of church growth consultants and church futurists.

  14. Dutch,
    I’m not advoacating a wait scenario. Just admitting to a reality.
    Jim Pierce has got it. Spinal column, intestinal fortitude, whatever you want to call it.
    But the people of Synod have to have it, too. I’m just not all that sure that, after being fed pablum instead of steak for all these decades, they have it anymore.
    Dear God I hope I’m wrong!!!

  15. @Anonymous #1
    Transforming Churches is about change, but if the church is, as the writer says, “Clap-happy”, I doubt that TC would change anything. TC is about top-down managing of the congregation by the pastor-turned-CEO. I’ve only seen one TC prescription re: worship, and it advised adding a “neighborhood-friendly” worship service, which based on the evidence would have been “clap-happy” to one degree or another.

    Advocates of the kind of change we all would like to see had better be prepared to deal with the big bucks that the organization I call “Politics First” is going to spend. Looking at the presenters in Dearborn last weekend, JF was all over the place from Will Sohns to David Buegler. One of their leaders had blatantly and publicly campaigned to be his circuit’s delegate, and was successful. He was there, too. That’s what we’re up against.


  16. Actually, it was Pastor Russow who said the church was clap-happy not the author, and my clarification later was that the author’s church has a more traditional service along with a separate contemporary service.

  17. There will be no returning the synod to its roots until there is meaningful church discipline. If one looks all the way back to the Seminex situation, there has been no real discipline. Many of the Seminexers remained in synod and you are now paying the price. They have the upper hand and do not tolerate those who are solid Lutherans. Without church discipline there is no confessional unity.

  18. I agree with Mr. Kope. Whoever the next confessional president is, be that Harrison or someone else, they have to be aggressive in exercising discipline. They can not let things drag on and on. Al Barry’s short coming was that he was not aggressive in exercising discipline. A couple of example, he let RIM hang around way too long with the endless discussions that were going no where. Instead of disciplining RIM memebers, they just went underground. Another example was Paul Bretscher. How long was he on the LCMS clergy roster before he was finally removed. He was an open and avowed liberal who denied basic Biblical doctrine. There was just cause to remove him years earler but no discipline was exercised. The question I have is this, “Should Harrison get elected will he have the back bone to aggressively exercise discipline?”

  19. #4, (Jim)

    You are exactly right. I put it another way, to cover the “two churches/one roof” phenomenum: “The ‘traditional’ service in a congregation is a continuation of whatever traditions were followed by that particular parish before said parish decided to inaugurate an alternative worship service.”

    So “traditional” worship is not necessarily the answer. The answer is simply…..Lutheran worship. Not high church, not low church, not organ church, not radio-music church. Just Lutheran worship. The attendant details (ceremonies, music, art, vestments) may be simple or elaborate, but the piety is unmistakable. It may or may not be your actual grandfather’s church.

    But, whatever your instruments and however you may follow the rubrics, it is the church that Walther and Chemnitz and Luther and Paul and Moses and Elijah would attend.

    How do we “get there” as the LCMS? First, realize that, by the grace of God, we are already there – in Christ. But the inauguration is incomplete, and so we need church leaders who will uphold the Divine Service, patiently and lovingly catechize the church in all sound doctrine, and produce good resources for promoting and providing good worship.

    No, a Synod President is not, can not, nor should not come in and “change things” according to his rule. That path just leads to further change when a new Synod President comes in. Such is the path of structure, organization, and authority that is laid before us in Blue Ribbon proposals and the current Presidium’s approach to “leadership”. Rev. Harrison has outlined instead a churchly path, the path of our fathers. This takes time, but, through the Gospel, wins over hearts and minds so that many more may follow and cherish that which is to be upheld: the Gospel taught in its truth and purity, and the Sacraments rightly administered.

    May our Synod uphold this as the model, just as Moses lifted up a snake in the wilderness!

  20. You know, if you want someone who decisively uses the power he has you can just stay with President Kieschnick.

    If you think we need a confesional president to come in and quickly clean house, sweeping out all who don’t meet some standard of correctness, I very much doubt Pastor Harrison is the man you want.

    On the other hand, if you want the President to have such power, I assume you’ll support the changes to the constitution proposed by the BRTFSSG, especially Article VII.B, which in conjunction with the inclusion of constitutional subscription in Article VI and the procedures for expulsion from the Synod in Article XIII would make it possible for the President to take action against anyone who doesn’t actively support his vision for the Synod (which, of course, he’s shepherded through the convention).

    No thanks! I’m with Califiowan on this: “It took decades for us to get into this mess. I’ll be long gone by the time we get out of it … if ever.” The only power to do it is God’s Word rightly preached and taught. Our Synod is mired in a spiritual problem which can only be solved spiritually.

  21. John,

    The president already has the power to supervise the doctrine and life of the entire synod. It is his first duty listed in the handbook. So, I do not think we need to pass any of the proposals to grant the president the power to practice church discipline.

    I do agree with all the comments that assert that this will not happen overnight. Harrision as president is a necessary cause for correcting false doctrine and practice in the synod but not a sufficient cause. (I suppose one could even argue that it is not even a necessary cause since theoretically a set of strong pastors and laity or either one could bring about correction in the synod without a strong president but having the strong president certainly makes the job a lot easier and is pretty much necessary.)


  22. #21 – Phil, I’m not sure I understand your point. This Summer I attended a service in a small LCMS church building that was apparently only recently constructed by a congregation that had begun as a mission plant some 12-15 years ago. The “sanctuary” area consisted of a modest size area with folding chairs and a platformed area at the front. There was no cross, no pulpit, and only three strange-looking plant stand-like objects that had been clustered together with a couple of candles on top which I guess was supposed to pass for an altar. Next to those was an electronic keyboard, a “rhythm section,” and three “praise team” worship leaders. Behind the “altar” was a recessed area that I assumed could be used to house a baptistry (perhaps they used a church building contractor who sold them a cookie cutter architecture that would work just as well in any run-of-the-mill evangelical congregation). Perhaps one day they even envision furnishing it with a dunk tank – who knows.

    The pastor wore a regular business suit; no surplice or stole of any kind. And, of course, the little musical group played, sang, and led the congregation in the popular P&W music selections of the day. As you might guess, there was no formal liturgy, the congregation owned no hymnals – everything they needed to read or sing was projected on a screen up-front, and the sermon, of course, revolved largely around what it takes for all of us to get along with each other in keeping with gospel-reduction vogue.

    How would a congregation like that ever make the quantum leap back to the Divine Service? I could have been in attendance at any Baptist church service! To steal some of the thunder from another recent thread, this is mission reductionism heaped upon gospel reductionism to the hilt. A return to churchly discipline, as that blog poster also points out, is the only way out of it and I would venture to guess that they would leave the synod if it ever came to that.

  23. Dear BJS bloggers,

    Califiowan and Johannes are right. The mess we are in will not mop up overnight. Am I talking about the division in the Missouri Synod over doctrine and practice, or the USA in Iraq, or the recession in the world economy? My point is that anything really significant is going to take time, but we can start today.

    Luther said that if the end of the world was tomorrow, he would plant an apple tree today. I say if the end of the Missouri Synod is July 2010, I will “plant an apple tree today.”

    Here’s my apple tree. How about something different for a change? How about, instead of: 1) 90% the delegates coming to the convention more or less unprepared; 2) 90% of the delegates “going with the flow” of whatever the President and Floor Chairman want; 3) 90% of the delegates never having talked about the issues prior to the convention; and 4) that same 90% only engaging the issues, maybe, when they walk in the door and pick up a couple of politically oriented newsleters — how about those same 90% talking about the issues, and candidates, with the other 10% for six months prior to the convention!

    This blogger technology is the way that the “conversations” can happen. If all the delegates start talking with each other, now, they will be in a much better position to discern the real issues and make intelligent decisions for the good of the church.

    I don’t have any specific ideas about how this can be done. But the technology is here now, and it is a lot cheaper than sending out mail, and people get to talk, not just absorb someone else’s opinions.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  24. @Pastor Tim Rossow #23

    Brother Rossow,

    I agree that the President already has power and responsibility for supervising doctrine and life. My concern is whether he uses the power of the Word or simply the raw power he can exert as president.

    Some are arguing that Pr. Harrison should come in and clean house. Based on “It’s Time” I don’t think he would do that, and I don’t think that he should. If elected–and I earnestly pray he is!–I expect that he will use the Word to teach and reprove and correct and train in righteousness. We don’t need someone who will be “aggressive in exercising discipline.” We need a President who recognizes the theological dangers of American evangelicalism and for the sake of souls uses his office to preach and teach pure Law and pure Gospel, properly distinguished. So much of the current direction of our Synod seems to be driven by fear that if we don’t adapt we will cease to exist. I’m convinced that if we adapt we will have ceased to exist as a Lutheran Church whether something called LCMS endures or not.

    We don’t need a president who uses power autocratically, and we certainly don’t need a constitution which enables members of the Synod to be expelled because they don’t enthusiastically support a program of the Synod (proposed Article VII.B in conjunction with proposed Article VI and Article XIII).

    It’s enough that those who persist in teaching falsely or living a manifestly unrepentant life be called to account, first in the hope that they might repent and be won back and only if that fails after repeated and earnest effort that they might be expelled so that they do not lead others into their error. That’s not what I understand is being called for under the plea for a president who will aggressively exercise church discipline.

  25. John,

    I agree 100%. One of the great things about Harrison is that he is churchly. You have described the churchly way of doing this. When he is elected that is what we will get, not perfectly I am sure (as fast or as deliberate as some would hope) but faithfully.


  26. Pastor Noland,
    Don’t I wish, delegates & alternates had a basic knowledge of LCMS history, when I say basic, I mean, “Who was Walther” type basic. If those I know, are any gauge, they know what their Pastors tell them, they know from the documents given to them by their Pastor’s or the Synod packet & site, and that, would be it. They have no real clue, what these proposals & changes will mean! The reason they are vague, is because it leaves room for future interpretation by the governing body/s. They do not know that, nor do they understand the implications of them!!! They are elected to represent their congregations, & to a goodly amount, they do not see past their own congregations.
    Most of these men, view this task, as honor, privilge, & duty. Not political, not Synodical, they have a duty to the people they see on Sundays. That is half the problem. Unless, their Pastor, speaks with them, presents both sides, they can only vote one way, they only know one way, the way they are told to vote.
    The question of the hour is, what do we do, we here now, do? So many here, would do whatever is asked, of us, but, that would require information. What do we print out, what articles do we send or print for them? If we have been given a fair bit, offer the entrance to the BJS convention in Feb? If anyone, would just state, on the record, for mere members, to do a, b,c, &d, for the delegates elected for their congregations, (after speaking to their Pastor first) many here would do that. Unless, I missed it, which I’m sure I have, I have yet to see a plan posted for this. Any thoughts or ideas would be helpful, for those who depend on those elected to the LCMS convention.
    In Christ,

  27. That Walther guy had something to say:

    “When a theologian is asked to yield and make concessions in order that peace may at last be established in the Church, but refuses to do so even in a single point of doctrine, such an action looks to human reason like intolerable stubbornness, yea, like downright malice. That is the reason why such theologians are loved and praised by few men during their lifetime. Most men rather revile them as disturbers of the peace, yea, as destroyers of the kingdom of God. They are regarded as men worthy of contempt. But in the end it becomes manifest that this very determined, inexorable tenacity in clinging to the pure teaching of the divine Word by no means tears down the Church; on the contrary, it is just this which, in the midst of greatest dissension, builds up the Church and ultimately brings about genuine peace. Therefore, woe to the Church which has no men of this stripe, men who stand as watchmen on the walls of Zion”
    C. F. W. Walther, The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel , trans., W. H. T. Dau, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1928, p. 28.

  28. Jim,

    It reminds me of the treatment given to those that had participated in the lawsuit. Gatherings always seem to have a list of their names handy and ready to be used to point them out in shame. It is a practice that further divides and lacks the forgiveness and mercy that we should extend to others, especially our own brothers in Christ.

    Also for any that have not heard, CPH will be releasing a reader’s edition of Walther’s The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel next June. I know I am looking forward to its release.

  29. Brother Noland has, as usual, hit the nail on the head. We have the technology to do things a different way than confessional groups have done for forty years. How to use it effectively is another question.

    BJS is the only organized website for confessionals at present. LCA doesn’t have one, Affirm doesn’t have one, and the only other group site disappeared about a year ago. Maybe that’s a good thing. An overabundance of sites, sometimes (more often than not!) competing with one another in the realm of ideas and proposals, is overkill…and confusing to the uninitiated…the very ones we want to reach.

    A lot of individual blogs are good, and many have been referenced/linked on the BJS site, but BJS remains the one with coherent snd consistent organization.
    Delegates ar overwhelmed with print material, most of which goes unread, particularly the “unofficial” stuff.

    So, Dutch, one thing we can do, as individuals, is recommend BJS to everyone we can reach…in our congregations, among delegates we know of, and anyone/everyone else. There is no guarantee that all or even any of them will avail themselves of the opportunity, but we can at least try. Put the information out there and pray that they latch on to it.

    Another thing we can do is request to speak to our Church Councils, Boards of Directors, and Voters Assemblies (or even to other congregations.) The success of that will depend on the powers that be in the individual congregation(s). I’m working that angle in my congregation right now.

    We can also make sure we attend our congregational meetings to participate in the Synod nominating process. It’s been my experience that whoever has a list of nominees is generally successful in seeing them nominated. (Unless, as happened to me in 2007, when my pastor nominated Kieschnick!)

    Let’s use the technology available to us, including our poor little selves, and pray that God’s will be done.

  30. To everyone here:

    Remembering that I am a musician……

    Teach a history of sacred music class that is also a Music Appreciation class at the seminaries. Do it intentionally and make it part of every degree program.

    Most students have little understanding of sacred music or how to approach it from a listening OR worship standpoint. Our whole world is inundated with pop culture music and people these days have little exposure to anything but rock, pop, etc. Trust me, it’s a problem in the arts field, too.

    Ah….a History of Sacred Music Appreciation class. THAT would begin to make a difference. And I’d probably attend.


  31. Re: Dutch, #28
    “Don’t I wish, delegates & alternates had a basic knowledge of LCMS history,…”

    An outstanding summary of LCMS history, up to 2002, that tells us how we got to the Kieschnick era, is presented in a paper by Rev. Dr. John Wohlrabe, Jr.. It may be downloaded from either of these two sites……



    I would encourage all laypersons to be familiar with this paper. It is somewhat long (88pp.), but well worth reading. There are numerous references cited, along with footnotes.
    I highly recommend it to all!

  32. lccm,

    That is a great idea. The sem curriculum is pretty crowded already but I think this would be a good addition. I would suggest that it be a second required liturgics class (when I was at sem there was only one liturgy class required – I think it is still the same). The class could deepen the understanding of the history of the liturgy with an emphasis on appreciation of sacred music.


  33. @Pastor Tim Rossow #35

    Pr. Rossow and Lccm, my daughter (who is 19 and in college studying literature) and I were just talking about that very thing. We were even discussing how the classics in art, literature, and music, are fast disappearing in America. If you ask someone to name a classical musician, it is really sad when they respond, “Oh, that’s easy… Led Zeppelin”.

  34. Jim Pierce and Pr. Russow:

    It’s up to the pastors and the seminary profs. to begin to address this issue of how little the average person knows about sacred classical music, if any, and how that is affecting pastors’ view of the Divine Service. It’s time for this to change. How can that be done?


  35. It would help if Lutheran music were valued at the college (Concordia) level! It’s hard to have good liturgical services if the pewsitters can’t/won’t sing.

    You might consider some agitation if your local school district “balances its budget” by eliminating art, music, and P.E. teachers at the elementary levels.
    (Obesity is one part lack of physical activity and two parts boredom with the curriculum.)

    “In olden days” the classroom teacher did these things, of course.]

  36. @lccm #38

    LCCM, that’s a great question, and one I don’t have a straightforward answer to. Change may need to be effected through the grassroots of the synod, or via a top-down approach, or likely both. In any case it would likely happen through teaching (catechesis). The problem is that some probably don’t even realize what they are missing in the Divine Service. I can imagine Martin Luther, if he was living today, writing to the synod leadership what he wrote in his preface to the Small Catechism,

    “The deplorable, miserable condition that I discovered recently when I, too, was a visitor, has forced and urged me to prepare this catechism, or Christian doctrine, in this small, plain, simple form. Mercy! Dear God, what great misery I beheld! The common person, especially in the villages, has no knowledge whatever of Christian doctrine. And unfortunately, many pastors are completely unable and unqualified to teach.”

    When I see some of what is going on in our synod (such as with congregations like “The Alley”, etc.) I simply have to wonder where catechesis from our Lutheran Confessions and the scripture is being done. I simply don’t understand why some profane the Divine Service with a Baptistic/Pentecostal, theology of glory, sort of worship. It isn’t so much that sacred classical music isn’t being used, but it is how the service is ordered that troubles me the most. Some of these congregations have turned the divine service into a revival-light meeting replete with the “mood music” which crescendos into a baptist-ish type sermon sans the outright appeal to make a decision for Christ and pray the “Sinners Prayer”. These same congregations have been duped into thinking that success is measured by numbers in the pews and hence they jettison the “crusty old, frozen, Divine Service” and replace it with a service template purchased from a Willow Creek church consultant or a Saddle Back church consultant. It is my hope and prayer that the current “Purpose Driven” SP will be replaced with a Gospel driven president who understands that the Divine Service is for the faithful delivery of Word and Sacrament—for the forgiveness of sins—and is not about being “missional” and appealing to the culture at large so WE can “save” their souls. Perhaps if we have such a man leading the synod, then we will see a push towards proper catechesis and a renewed interest in sacred classical music?

  37. Hi George,

    My point is that we need to focus on Lutheran piety, uphold the best expressions as models, but not diminish other expressions of it in the process.

    Now the congregation you described was obviously not worshipping as Lutherans. And you ask a good question: How would such a congregation make the “quantum leap” to the Divine Service? I wouldn’t characterize the jump as that extreme, but it would be a challnege. Here’s the path:

    1 – The pastors & the elders need to agree to a vision as to how the congregation should worship and then uphold that ideal as they move toward that goal, teaching and encouraging all the way.

    2 – Over the course of about three years, the following changes would be made:

    a. put up a cross as a focal point for worship. (“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I’ve come”.)

    b. move the altar to a more clear & central location, add a pulpit, and a font. These are the three basic pieces of furniture found throughout Christian history around the world.

    c. have the pastor at least wear a collar. Garments evoking Revelation can come later when the congregation is more catechized.

    d. using the existing musicians, introduce more Lutheran hymnody to the congregation via the LSB Guitar Edition; CPH’s Hymns for the Contemporary Ensemble; and other resources.

    e. teach the congregation that because they are in Christ, their song is the song of Christ, and so we heed what Paul teaches us in two of the few specific instructions about worship we receive in the NT: “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs”. Follow this by introducing Psalm singing in styles that are consistent with the existing way the congregation sings and with the musical vocabulary of the P&W band. These are available from many resources, including, GIA, OCP, and Liturgy Solutions.

    f. teach the congregation about the Spiritual songs. what is ‘spiritual’? “Of the Holy Spirit” (according to Norman Nagel). What songs are “of the Holy Spirit”? Easy – the songs elsewhere in the Bible: the Canticles. The Magnificat, for example is a “Spiritual Song”. The liturgy is full of Spiritual songs, and so introduce them to the congregation. Perhaps one a season until they have learned enough Canticles do do a complete Divine Service.

    At this point, this congregaiton might still sing their praise songs as an Entrance Hymn and for an Offertory or as a closing song, but with this patience pace they will within two years be singing a Kyrie, a Gloria, various Psalms, a Sanctus, and an Agnus Dei, along with good hymns for the Hymn of the Day and communion distribution.

    Finally, by this point they should be getting so much that is based in our hymnals that they can move from projecting LSB resources onto a screen toward getting actual hymnals.

    Perhaps as this three-year plan winds down this congregation might want to do other things, such as learn to chant Introits or Psalms, have choirs sing the Verse of the Day, etc. Or they might not. As much as I like having a corpus on the cross, processions, a pipe organ, chanting, full vestments, and other rich trappings of liturgical worship, such is not necessary.

    If the congregation in question simply did the things I outlined above, they would be recognizingly Lutheran in 1-2 years and will have become habituated in a Lutheran piety within 3. They would follow the rubrics of the Divine Service, and the focus of the people would be on where Christ gives us His cross-born gifts through the Office of the Holy Ministry: the font, the altar, and the pulpit.

    That wouldn’t be “high church” or “low church”. It’d just be Lutheran church. In a way that would be appropriate to their sanctuary and their people. It would be a church none of us would mind visiting, even as we appreciate the different customs of our home congregations.

  38. Jim Pierce:
    I just looked up The Alley. Felt ill at what I read and heard and then left a prayer request for the church to pray for the arts community, which is hurting and needs to know Jesus. Asked them to find ways to reach out to the artist (using their language) since the mega-church model does not have much room for the fine arts or artists.

    I also mentioned that fine artists probably won’t listen to CCM so they were effectively eliminating them from their mission.

    I haven’t heard back yet but I did leave my (real) phone number.

  39. I also mentioned that fine artists probably won’t listen to CCM so they were effectively eliminating them from their mission.

    That is a pretty good point, LCCM. They lay claim to being inclusive, but their service excludes people since it is designed to reach a certain demographic. That is one of many problems with the claims of church growth/seeker sensitive; they aren’t expressing the gospel in an inclusive manner as they claim.

  40. Mr. Pierce:
    I really hope The Alley calls about my prayer request. Still waitin’ to see if they post it. Not holding said breath.

    Mr. Pierce, you are so right about the exclusionary nature of CCM. We need a thread to discuss this sometime. Once people are educated they can begin to see through it. It’s the same with revealing the self-centered focus of a lot of CCM. Once a congregant begins to count the number of ‘I’ and ‘me’ references, little lights go on.

  41. Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.

    Thanks n regards

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