How much has/will the Restructuring Cost? 7/21/08

July 21st, 2008 Post by

(from Pr. Preus) The Synod brought James May home and our church’s presence on West Africa has been virtually lost. We have withdrawn most of our international Word and Sacrament missionaries over the last few years simply because we can’t afford them. This makes us all sad. And the synod chose to discontinue Jeff and Todd from Issues Etc. That made me outraged. What a travesty – we are forced to cut back on vibrant missions.


It makes me a bit frustrated too because I have to believe that we could support these missions if we tried. Of course that would mean cutting something else. Hmm, what could we cut? I have a thought. Let’s cut the Synod’s restructuring plan. How much does it cost?  


Well let’s think.


I want to figure out how much money we have spent and are projected to spend deciding whether or not we want to restructure ourselves. The following are the expenses which, I figure, should be included in the analysis.


First you have the time at the convention which is measured in the hundreds or thousands of dollars per minutes of convention time. You have to include the time at the last convention and the time which is scheduled at the upcoming synodical convention. At the last convention it had to be at least an hour. At the upcoming convention it is projected to be 6 times that. So figure the convention cost per minute and multiply by 420 for the seven hours of convention time.


Word on the street is that each district convention will be asked to allow for three hours of discussion on this topic, so you have to take the cost of running a district convention, calculated how much that is per minute, multiply that by 180 minutes and then by 35 for the number of districts.


Then you have to figure how much it costs to fly all the district representatives to the meeting in August which is taking place this year in Phoenix. That’s probably 150 -200 people or more spending money for airline tickets, hotels and food for three days.


Probably the greatest expense is the cost of consultants which is probably deep into the six figure mark.


OK, this is the easy part. Next you have to compute the cost of the typical meeting of the district presidents, calculate how much their meetings cost per minutes and multiply it by the number of minutes dedicated to this discussion among them. You have to do the same for the Board of Directors and any other synodical boards which have placed the topic on their agendas. These are not small amounts of time. In its July board briefs the BOD tells us that “several hours” of time were dedicated to listening to a report from the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod’s Structure and Governance.


Further, it is planned that the district Boards of Directors will dedicate time on their agendas for a discussion. This too, costs money and you multiply it by 35.


Then there are the many, immeasurable man hours which will be spent and have been spent with synodical and district administrators, parish pastors and congregational leaders simply mulling and chewing on the various options. Admittedly this is difficult to calculate. I would even have to factor in the time it took me to write this little piece and the time you are spending reading it.


Then there is the time already spent by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod’s Structure and Governance as it organized, met repeatedly, developed instruments by which to get feedback from the synod, made presentations at various District Board meetings and pastors conferences etc.


Keep in mind; this is money we will spend even if we decide to do absolutely nothing at all. And, again, word on the street is that people close to the current administration are worried that nothing is precisely what will come out of this endeavor. But if we do change our structure there will be costs associated to that.


I would ask two things. First, if there are people with more patience and precision than I who could provide actually numbers here I think it would help us put things in perspective. So you careful types, have at it.


Second, and this is rhetorical, which do you think is more consistent with the mission and ministry of the church of Christ – spending money on restructuring or supporting missionaries?

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  1. July 21st, 2008 at 10:12 | #1

    Pastor Preus,

    Great post.

    But you failed to factor in the greatest cost of the restructuring proposal: What if it passes?

    Consider a future synod where:

    …the president hand-picks the Secretary, Treasurer and the Board of Directors;

    …district presidents are even more powerful than they are now;

    …another layer of costly bureaucracy is sandwiched between the already-costly synod and districts;

    …congregations are taxed per capita, and larger congregations are given more votes as compensation;

    …congregations that have concerns about “the convention mandated mission of our church” are invited to leave;

    …the laity are considered to be just so many checkbooks to fund the corporation (despite the lipservice paid to the “person in the pew”);

    …biblical concern over doctrine and practice is called “distraction” and “sitting in the barn rearranging the straw;”

    …where our leaders call for unanimity in synodical programs, but refuse to call for unanimity in doctrine and practice.

    These are the real costs of synodical restucturing.

    And consider a future synod where the synodical president can act with impunity and answers to no one, except a convention he controls –oh wait, we already have that, don’t we?

    The future is now.

    This proposed restructuring isn’t about “funding the mission;” it’s about funding Synod Inc., the corporate bureaucracy and keeping the lights on at 1333 Kirkwood.


  2. Califiowan
    July 21st, 2008 at 12:46 | #2

    It’s been 50+ years since I failed Calulus III. However…figuring salaries only…
    Let’s assume that the average DP’s salary is $100,000. (That may be high or low, I don’t know where the numbers are.) That rounds out to about $11.40/hour. 7 hours of Synod convention time, plus 3 hours of District convention time, plus 8 hours of preparation for the Distict Convention, plus 72 hours in Phoenix, times 35 DPs equals $35,910.
    I believe the SP’s salary is something like $165,000, or $18.80/hour. 7 hours of Synod Convention, plus 72 hours at Phoenix, plus 12 hours of preparation for Phoenix equals $1,711 at bare minimum.
    These numbers may be high or low, and remember, they are SALARIES ONLY.
    The mind boggles! It’s a corporate boondoggle and Pr. Wilken is right on.
    Kyrie eliison!

  3. July 21st, 2008 at 13:25 | #3

    Rereading the The Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission, the irony is a thick as grandma’s grits.

    The Report chides the entire synod: “It’s time the LCMS got back out into the fields of our Lord’s harvest instead of sitting in the barn rearranging the straw.”

    But isn’t the proposed restructuring of synod BY DEFINITION “sitting in the barn rearranging the straw”?


  4. Califiowan
    July 21st, 2008 at 14:14 | #4

    Given the steady, and now accelerated, deterioration of the Synod since ,at least, the “Statement of the 44″ over 60 years ago, even though we thought we “won” the “Battle for the Bible” in the ’70s,a more accurate analogy may be “rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

  5. Ross
    July 21st, 2008 at 14:52 | #5

    Great points Rev. Preus and Rev. Wilken.

    It is time for laymen to stand up and say “enough”. Why do we have so many churchmen acting like they work for a Fortune 500 company? When are our synodical officials going to get out of the barn, or meeting rooms, or office buildings and into the harvest fields? When are they going to start serving their neighbors instead of acting like businessmen? If they want to be corporate executives, than let them go to the corporate world and use their gifts there. The Church has need of servants, not executives.

  6. Steven B
    July 21st, 2008 at 17:09 | #6

    Since Synod picks up the “tab” for the majority of the SP’s and others expenses, why do they receive the salary of a business executive rather than a churchman. A fair wage for the work is one thing, but no DP or SP should live better than a parish pastor, should they? Please correct the poor layman if I’m wrong.
    With all the “power” being moved upward, maybe we need to revisit the Doctrine of the Church and remember that while some may think they have the authority I don’t recall infalliblity being declared for anyone in the LC-MS.

  7. July 21st, 2008 at 20:21 | #7

    The issue with “doing nothing” is the continued level of chaos, disorder, and lack of clarity which the Synod has found itself mired in so far – which has a cost all it’s own.

    Clearly, something needs to be done, but whether a “restructured” Synod would work any better remains to be seen.

  8. Califiowan
    July 21st, 2008 at 22:03 | #8

    Phoenix Phoolishness: search.
    Assumptions: (Minimums)
    1. DP plus four district reps.
    2. SP plus four Synod reps.
    3. Round trip airfare (coach) from nearest major airport.
    4. Four nights in hotel @ $115/night.
    5. $30/day for food.
    6. $10/day for “incidentals” (cab fares, gasoline, whatever)
    Minimum: $173,000=
    Missionaries @ $25,000=7
    Yeah, I know, some people have too much time on their hands!

  9. July 21st, 2008 at 23:53 | #9

    Tim Kuehn wrote: “The issue with “doing nothing” is the continued level of chaos…” The choice isn’t between “doing nothing” and restructuring synod.

    No one is arguing that we should be doing nothing. In fact, the way to restore trust and unity is to do the very thing our leadership considers a “distraction.” Namely, finally deal with the false teachings and practices within synod.

    Of course, this would require that we do more than give lip service to our doctrinal standards.


  10. Anonymous
    July 22nd, 2008 at 00:25 | #10

    I’ve tried to bring attention to the proposed restructuring to the “people in the pews” of the LCMS that I have access to. They don’t want to talk about it and they don’t care. So should more time be spent trying to educate them about the dangers of LCMS politics, or educating them concerning the Gospel and the Lutheran Confessions? To be quite honest, very few seem to care about either. At least with the Gospel, we have the promise that it will not return empty. I’m just not sure what to do. It was love for the Gospel and the clear exposition of God’s Word in the Confessions that led me to be concerned at all, but now it seems like I’m the hare waking up from his nap with the turtle at the finish line.

  11. Jim Sarver
    July 22nd, 2008 at 07:35 | #11

    Pastor Wilken,

    Not to belabor the barn analogy to much, but it occurs to me that some rearranging of the straw is necessary to identify and remove certain ‘animal byproducts’ that will otherwise contaminate the harvest as it is brought in. Thanks for your part in the rearranging.

  12. Steven B
    July 22nd, 2008 at 07:38 | #12

    When it comes to politics, and let us be honest and call it what it is, dollars can be understood by EVERYONE. The FACT that missionaries must raise their own funds in contrast to the amount of Synod officers salaries will make us in the pew sit up and take notice. That is a great place to start the conversation about how our doctrinal standards have been abrogated. (Check the article “Mission Creep”)

  13. Helen
    July 22nd, 2008 at 11:26 | #13

    Califiowan is very modest in his assumptions.
    I can spend $30 for dinner (only) in a place our SP probably wouldn’t consider going, and without “beverages” except water.
    (“Dr.” Kieschnick, by report from one who shared the meal, dines nicely and with wine.)

    Considering that most of the attendees will be from the mid west, the airlines at least must love our synod.

  14. Heartbroken
    July 22nd, 2008 at 19:29 | #14

    Dear Anonymous,
    I just want to say…please keep doing BOTH.
    Educate your people in the pews about the Synod politics and also the Lutheran Confessions and the Gospel.
    In fact, try incorporating both at the same time.
    Try explaining how certain actions of Synod oftentimes distort or even hinder the Gospel, like the recent cancellation of Issues, Etc. or the recall of our missionaries from the field.
    Bottom line: Don’t ever give up.

  15. Gary
    July 23rd, 2008 at 15:58 | #15

    “…the president hand-picks the Secretary, Treasurer and the Board of Directors;

    …district presidents are even more powerful than they are now;

    …another layer of costly bureaucracy is sandwiched between the already-costly synod and districts;

    …congregations are taxed per capita, and larger congregations are given more votes as compensation;

    …congregations that have concerns about “the convention mandated mission of our church” are invited to leave;”

    Rev. Wilken, et al, would you be able to cite the documents where these came from? I know the last one comes from Funding the Mission. But I really like how you’ve translated the buearacratese here, and I think it is necessary to do this in order to share how devastating this proposal could be. The problem I have is that I don’t understand all the language of these documents, or the history behind them, to be able to translate them.

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