I recently got an email from an older member who asked me why our commitment to the synod in our annual budget is shrinking. I wrote him the following response. (It is edited a bit for sake of clarity for a larger audience.)
I understand your point. I was the last hold out on the staff and board of elders for reducing what goes to district/synod.
It made more sense in the “good ole days” when our giving to synod actually went to the things the synod originally intended them to go toward: missions, educating pastors and teachers, and a very small and efficient bureaucracy.
Today, instead we have a huge, bloated bureaucracy and all the money for the Concordias and for individual missionaries is raised by the institutions and the individual missionaries. Our own member who is doing missionary work overseas on behalf of the synod, has to raise every single dollar of his support. He does not get a penny from the synod. (The synod does provide an executive and administrative umbrella to support him and other missionaries.)
Believe it or not, the money that we designate as district/synod goes to the district. They determine how much actually goes to the synod office. In the estimate of our pastors and elders they are not using what we give them wisely. Our district uses the money we give them to pay for programs that are contrary to how church has been done in the LCMS for its entire history. Our district uses this mission money and mindset to support a “happy clappy” church that was just recently started a few miles from River of Life, Chanahon which is a thriving parish that is on the move and does church much like Bethany and not in the way the district prefers. That is one of the reasons we are passionate about supporting River of Life and have committed $30,000 to them over the next three years to help them move out of the store front and into their new church building.
Getting back to our total giving to our district, the pastors and elders actually calculated what a small, efficient bureaucracy would cost, factored in our larger size, and determined our district commitment along those lines although we are still being a little generous at that.
I could write a lot more on this. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Note: This year we gave $18,500 to district/synod and an additional $17,000 to various mission groups and we support our Lutheran Day School with about $250,000 a year from our offerings.