In the past year I have heard LCMS liberals/moderates/church-growthers essentially say “Just go away” to the LCMS confessional internet commotion. On three different occasions in three different settings and in three different ways I have heard them say “Why don’t you just stop all this internet stuff and just be a pastor to your flock.” There is some sage advice in this comment which I will discuss below but the fact that I am hearing this in many different ways from different folks in different contexts leads me to believe that it is more than sage advice; it is their futile way of trying to get rid of something they cannot control.
This is a common theme among the other side. They really do not know what to do with all these new avenues of confessional communication and so they just try to demonize it all by saying “Don’t you have more godly things you should be doing?” The confessional internet force is incapable of being controlled by their usual maneuvering and control of the LCMS political system. They are frustrated, just as liberals are frustrated with the tea party movement in American politics. It is a grass roots, sometimes underground, slippery-as-an-eel, but powerful as a bull in a china closet sort of thing that they just can’t get their arms around to squelch and control and so they say “Shouldn’t you just be taking care of your flock?”
There is of course more than a grain of truth in what they are saying. The internet can take pastors away from their god-given tasks of preaching, teaching and administering the sacraments. In my case, I try to keep a good balance. Even though I am the editor of this site and try to read all of the comments, there are some times when that is just not possible and I never have as much time as I would like to jump into the fray of the discussion strings. I also have other hobbies that I like to pursue and so there is not a lot of free time for internet chatting. Pastors, let’s make sure that we keep our internet time in perspective when it comes to balance with administering word and sacraments.
Maybe the liberal/moderate/church-growthers are confused because so much of their pastoral time is taken up with reading the latest leadership website, writing a new mission statement for their latest courageous adventure, attending the latest John Maxwell seminar or even reading the latest book that says that the liturgy is the up and coming new wave of excitement in the church. (I am hearing that interesting musing once again.) I guess they are just too busy with the most recent trend to be worried about defending the purity of the Gospel through internet discussion. Maybe they also don’t understand that for some pastors, discussing and defending the faith on internet forums is one of their chosen hobbies. That actually doesn’t seem like such a bad hobby.
Confessional pastors on the internet helped bring about tea-party like reforms to the LCMS in the last political go-around, all the while doing a bang-up job of catechizing their members and delivering the forgiveness of sins to them. Will we just go away and take care of our parishioners? Yes and no. We will keep delivering the forgiveness of sins to our parishioners and teach them the pure Gospel, but we will not go away.