St. Louis Seminary’s “Out of the Box” workshop

Did anyone get a chance to attend the “Out of the Box” workshop held at Concordia Seminary a week ago in St. Louis? You can check out the flyer (click on the image to the right for a PDF) but it was led by two speakers who are ‘highly experienced in contextualizing God’s Word to a specific people and place.” One presenter is an LCMS pastor, I believe, of a church called “Lake Pointe Church.” Another presenter is the co-founder of something called ChurchPlanters.com. I’m pretty sure he’s not LCMS.

Anyway, the seminary hosted the workshop to teach seminarians how to “learn the importance of contextual ministry and how to do it effectively!” How to “think outside the box of a single, cookie-cutter ministry model” and to “discover how to meet your hearers where they are, and get out of the box!”

It was held in the “President’s Room” of Concordia Seminary.

Did anyone go to this? I’m hoping that it’s just the flyer that seems to be avoiding confessional Lutheranism in favor of the outdated church growth movement. Maybe folks at the seminaries think that what the pastors-to-be need is more knowledge of how to ape American evangelicalism. Maybe the seminar was actually critical of throwing off our Lutheran identity in favor of generic American Protestantism. I have no idea. Anyone have any more information?


Comments

St. Louis Seminary’s “Out of the Box” workshop — 124 Comments

  1. @Concerned Seminarian #75

    The meaning was picked up very nicely by Mr. Pierce (#76) and Rev. Mayes (#81, #87).

    The Lord has not only given to His Church the “mission” (or “purpose,” or “goal,” etc.), but also the Means by which He accomplishes that mission. Creativity becomes counterproductive if it results in the neglect of the Means God has given. I speak of the Means of Grace: The Proclamation of the Word, Preaching and Teaching, Baptism, Absolution, Communion. Why would I seek to create or implement new and different means, unless I thought that these were insufficient?

  2. This is sort of off topic, but has the Ablaze! counter stopped or has it always been updated periodically? I noticed that the date on the counter right now is March 17, 2011.

  3. “CSP was in line with the same thinking because the DCE community is very tight, and directors all consulted with one another.”

    Directors? Are the directors pastors? What sort of background qualifies someone to train the DCE’s who will then teach the young people of our synod?

  4. @Pastor Tim Rossow #96
    Hey Pastor Rossow, I like your cat. :-)

    Since I am indeed but a padawan, I’m curious to learn what vocabulary you would recommend one should use (instead of “church planting) when one’s goal is to go to a place where AC VII is not taking place and to start doing it?

    Thank you,
    Mark Hunsaker

  5. DCE’s are trained at our colleges. I would hope those teaching Bible and Doctrine classes have proper training themselves preferably Pastors

  6. @Johannes #91

    Johannes…thanks for the link. I went and watched that video and it made me think of one of Rev. Fisk’s videos where he proclaims: “BAPTISM = JESUS.” :-)

  7. Young Jedi Mark,

    In the old days new parishes were done by the local congregations and they were called daughter churches. The advantage to that over synodocrats sitting in an office and “planting” an idealized parish according to felt needs is significant. “Daughter” suggests that there is a family and older siblings to look after the new parish and help it get going. It is also started in line with the local parishes instead of in competition with them as happens so often with “planting.” Just a few thoughts – all I have time for now.

    TR

  8. @Pastor Tim Rossow #108

    Cool! I came from just such an environment and–Lord willing—seek to participate in such an activity in the future. Thank you for sharing!

    Blessings on your services!
    Mark

  9. @Mrs. Hume #110

    Youth Specialties has been an integral part of the Emergent Church movement. Emergent guru Tony Jones is still tied to Youth Specialties as far as I know and according to his blog.

    The link to Willowcreek.com on that Concordia web page is just “precious.” Some wonder why our Concordias have problems.

  10. @Mrs. Hume #98

    No, I do not remember doing any critical analysis of educational materials. Faith Incubators seemed hot at the time. Also, the Twin Cities are the hoem base for Youth Encounter (notice how they are not LUTHERAN Youth Encounter anymore…) and their Captive Free bands. Like I said, legends in their own minds. I guess the theory was DCE’s could “Lutheranize” anything. Except maybe CPH materials. It seems to me there has always been a low buzz these past 20 years that I’m cognizant of that CPH puts out crap. Personally, I’d rather start there, hoping doctrinal review has already done some of the work for me so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch. Call me funny….

  11. @Rev. Mike Mathey #100

    I “washed out” of the program after a year and a half. By then it was my 8th and 9th years of college. I started in Engineering and changed majors and transferred in. Being so heavy in math and science I was grossly deficient in humanities. So even though I was only a year younger than the youngest second-career student and thought like them, I was effectively coming in a second year sophomore. So I was already worn out. And then I ran into Steve’s philosophy. Mine wasn’t totally compatable. Steve felt that leaders should replicate themsleves (carbon copy was the implied). I was more like each according to his or her gifts. There were times where I felt all of my life’s experiences were invalidated, which doesn’t help me justify why I should bother learning anything futher. I got tired of always being “wrong,” even when (especially when) I was right. (I got backed up on being right once, not that it mattered) A couple of friends asked if I would return to finish, but I knew I never could with Steve around. I had some other “troublesome” classmates that tired and didn’t get far. But I’m okay with that. My life has taken some interesting turns, and I have some other options that may open up. Sorry for the rambling. I guess I am saying I didn’t come out of my expereince at CSP as “Wow, this is the best ever!”

  12. @Mrs. Hume #104
    “Directors? Are the directors pastors? What sort of background qualifies someone to train the DCE’s who will then teach the young people of our synod?”

    The program directors are, of course, seasoned DCE’s! The classes that specifically taught theology were done by professors who were ordained pastors, but that doesn’t balance against all of the other stuff that would be presented in DCE-specific classes. Again, there are some DCE’s out there who are confessional, but they are in a definite minority.

    Jason,
    You might know my wife. She had just returned from internship during the 98-99 year. Her name was Deb Marks at the time.

    Had to keep this one short. It is Good Friday, after all!

  13. “Are the directors pastors?”

    From its wording this question asks if the directors in the DCE programs currently hold divine calls as a pastor of a congregation.

    This question is different from a question such as “Are the directors ordained?”

  14. @Carl Vehse #117

    I just meant to ask whether they ever were pastors. Like maybe pastor for 10 years and then hired by the university to be a director of the DCE program, or something like that. My concern is that well meaning people study to work as DCE’s and assume that what they are learning to do is what the congregations and pastors expect them to do and reflect the best practices as endorsed by most pastors and congregations. However, it seems possible that the practices may only reflect the preferences of a handful of directors. Do I misunderstand?

  15. At St. Paul, Steve Arnold was the DCE director, a long time seasoned DCE. All our Theology (THY) classes were taught by pastors. (David Lumpp taught my OT and Confessions, Daniel Jastram for NT, Steve Stohlmann for Our Living faith) Religion classes (REL) could be taught by others, which Steve did, like Intro to DCE and DCE Practicum. Also had other teachers/educators/professors for some of those. (Dr. Rhoda Shuler for Luthern Worship) I found my limited experiences to be a lot on factual, trying to give Lutheran perspective. Touched on but don’t remember being impressed upon the relationship between us as DCE’s and our pastors. I never made it to internship to get that experience, or obviously the post-intern senior year to debrief and such. I personally liked and greatly respected the pastors who taught me.

  16. @mames #82
    I too have changed my view pastors. Certainly there are good ones and bad ones. The bad ones have embraced the church growth and Pastoral Leadership Institute.

    The CG zealots don’t get it. They are starving their flock that they are to nuture and feed. This is very very bad. Through their actions they are saying God’s Word is not enough. Funny that they think we have to do something to God’s Word. God’s Word is timeless. Nothing required of man. Why can they not get this? Even a dumb lay guy gets it. Preach The Word and the Holy Spirit will bring the congregation members. Focus on The Word not the glitz. If the CG bunch is so sure this is God’s will then I say step out on your own and leave LCMS. Start your own congregation and see how that goes but leave the authentic LCMS alone.

    To other commentors thanks for the suggestions on the Dallas side of DFW; I’m on the west side of DFW. Through this site we have found 3 LCMS congregations as possibilities. All are pretty far away. Maybe one of them would sponsor a new daughter congregation.

    Last thoughts are: the CG congregations might hit a financial pothole as members find out they are not being fed. You can take all of the power away from the congregation members and put in the boards. But, members can and will vote with the money that they are to be stewards of.

    Texas

  17. @Concerned Seminarian #113

    Mr. Seminarian:

    I wanted to follow up on this on this thread, but the news from Minnesota South has kind of taken over.

    Not speaking for Rev. Hojnacki personally, I would still like to comment since my posts (#81 and #87) were on this particular discussion over Rev. Greg Bearss’ presentation, and why it was objectionable.

    You mention that Rev. Bearss refers to the means of grace (Word and Sacraments) in his presentation, and you imply that therefore he should be above Rev. Hojnacki’s critique. (As a reminder, Rev. Hojnacki said (#101), “The Lord has not only given to His Church the “mission” (or “purpose,” or “goal,” etc.), but also the Means by which He accomplishes that mission. Creativity becomes counterproductive if it results in the neglect of the Means God has given. I speak of the Means of Grace: The Proclamation of the Word, Preaching and Teaching, Baptism, Absolution, Communion. Why would I seek to create or implement new and different means, unless I thought that these were insufficient?”)

    Mr. Seminarian, the concern is not that Rev. Bearss ignores the stock, common phrase of “word and sacrament”. The concern is also not that Rev. Bearss doesn’t use words or baptize people or give communion. Rather, the concern I think Rev. Hojnacki and myself share is that this seminar has treated God’s Word as being insufficient in reaching the lost, that it is inefficacious unless a rock band makes it effective to people, and that a pastor who continues to use the historic Lutheran liturgy is inside a box, doing only a “cookie cutter” ministry, and not meeting people where they are at.

    The problem with this type of thinking is that the Biblical theology of the Word of God is being denied. Heb. 4:12 says that the Word of God is “living and active.” This event’s presentation treats the Word as “dead and inert” unless man dresses it up and makes it as relevant to the unbelieving world as possible. The Word then simply is seen as dead information, given to people in the most appealing way so that they might make a free choice with their will to accept Jesus in their heart. This is quite different from the Lutheran understanding of the Word of God. This is pure Pelagianism and Arminianism. It is not Scriptural.

    Therefore, what this event has presented is actually a different means of grace, which is dressed up in the same name as the Lutheran means. Both are called, “The Word.” But they are not the same thing. The Word from this presentation is seen as inert and dead information. The Word that Lutherans teach is living and active, efficacious when and where the Holy Spirit wills. This, I think, is where Rev. Hojnacki was coming from when he said that new means of grace were being invented to supplant the God-given means of grace.

    Another thing: I have noticed for some time that Lutheran people who favor contemporary worship treat this music as if it were a sacrament in and of itself. It seems to be that the most heartfelt music (with or without words) gives the worshipper a direct connection to God. With this direct connection, the worshipper can find escape, sustenance, hope, and new life. The problem is, it is a man-made means of grace. And it pushes the Christ-instituted sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper to the side. Where is the focus at a contemporary worship church? The pulpit, font and altar? Or is it more likely on the band, the screens, the stage? I have witnessed one church that demolished their baptismal font so the praise band could have a place to stand, because they didn’t want to stand in the back. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen screens covering up the altar, and the pulpit (if there is one) not being used. I’m not saying that there is a Biblical Law to use them. But I am saying that if these focus on the Christ-centered means of the preaching and the Sacraments, to scrap them in order to focus on something else is detrimental and does not fit the Lutheran understanding of the faith.

    Sometime if you want, I have a paper I wrote on Biblical considerations that are not being addressed in the contemporary worship debate. I’ll send it to you if you email me about it.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

  18. @Rev. Robert Mayes #122

    Pastor Mayes,

    I pray your celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord was joyous! Please remember, my purpose here has always been to report on the facts. It is my responsibility to note that Your statement here does not line up with them:

    Rather, the concern I think Rev. Hojnacki and myself share is that this seminar has treated God’s Word as being insufficient in reaching the lost, that it is inefficacious unless a rock band makes it effective to people, and that a pastor who continues to use the historic Lutheran liturgy is inside a box, doing only a “cookie cutter” ministry, and not meeting people where they are at.

    So, in an effort to clarify what actually took place at the seminar, I can assure you, as I did before, that what you say above is NOT what Pastor Bearrs did at the seminar. In fact the notion of worship practice/style/substance was not brought up at all during the seminar. There was no call to do any of the things you say here.

    The Scriptures were never treated as insufficient! Instead, we spent time studying passages including Luke 15:1-32 and Matthew 25:31-46.

    As I stated before, the focus of the seminar was on how to go OUT to the community, to bring Jesus to the community. “Jesus” means the Word in written, spoken and sacramental form.

    Blessings!
    Mark

  19. @Mark Hunsaker #123

    Mark: Blessings to you this Easter-tide, too. Somehow, this week after Easter was just as hectic as Holy Week for me. Sigh. Maybe next week will slow down.

    I did want to respond to you about this comment (even if you and I are the only ones still writing on this thread). I am glad to hear you say that Greg Bearss did not bring up the discussion on worship at all in his presentation. I think that you and I would disagree, however. The very mention of “contextual” ministry is a misnomer. Bearss practices non-liturgical worship, and so does the other presenter. These men are held up as model examples of this so-called “contextual” ministry and thinking outside the box.

    And here is where my earlier post comes in. The whole premise behind contemporary worship is that the Word of God is insufficient. That is, if a pastor has a church service with liturgy, hymns, a sermon and communion, that’s thinking inside the box and his church won’t relate well with what’s going on now. It will be too old-fashioned, too sacred, too different, it won’t get people excited enough, it will drive away the youth and eventually the church will die. Hence, the perceived need for “contextualizing” worship to fit where unbelievers are at now. But as a student of history, I recognize that this has been practiced earlier in history, almost exactly in the same spirit, by just changing a few terms and a few practices. Such contextual worship follows very closely the blatantly false theology of Charles Finney, with perhaps less direct condemnation and no longer making people sweat on an anxious bench. But the same spirit resides in it.

    You want to know how to go out to the community, that you might confess the faith? Fine. It’s a good thing to learn. Just realize that God is the One who sends people your way that you might make the good confession, and that happens generally in my experience at times when you have not intended to do mission work. Had a guy at the grocery store that I knew. I asked how his dad was, who was new to town and in our nursing home. Next thing I knew, he was asking me to speak to his dad because his dad was looking for inner peace. Or at my new charge at the gas station, I was talking to the woman behind the counter that I had just met. When she found out that I was a pastor, she asked if I did baptisms because she wanted her son to be baptized. Neither of these were Lutheran, neither were regular church-goers, neither were people I was trying to win. God just gave an opportunity for me to speak with them about it. Sometimes I think we try to make it too hard (setting up seminars so students can think outside boxes, and inviting church growth disciples to lead that seminar, for one). Instead, just pray to God that He will send someone that you can confess the faith to, and He’ll gladly answer it. And make sure the faith that you confess is the true Biblical faith, and not the false teaching of Charles Finney.

    In Christ,
    Rev. Robert Mayes
    Beemer, NE

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