So this Church-Growther and this Liturgomaniac Walk into a Bar…; Micro Koinonia Project Coming to BJS, by Pr. Rossow

February 29th, 2012 Post by

So this Church –Growther and this Liturgomaniac walk into a bar… Well, it isn’t quite like that but it is close. It’s not a joke, it’s not a bar and it’s not really a church-growther and a liturgomaniac but it is about a pastor who espouses many church growth principles and a pastor who espouses the liturgy sitting down to talk to see how far apart they are and how close they can get, and doing it all for the world to see here on BJS.

One of my friends and colleagues is Pastor Mark Schulz from Trinity Lutheran Church in Lisle, Illinois, the next suburb over from me and my church, Bethany Lutheran in Naperville, Illinois. He and I have been in the same circuit for over ten years, had coffee together through the years, given each other grief about how we “do” church and also shared some life experience together. I had the pleasure of teaching religion/confirmation to his son Christian for two years at our day school here at Bethany.

We had lunch together today and agreed to have an online discussion about our similarities and differences and invite the BJS crowd to chime in via the comment section.

We will start out with each of us giving a summary view of what goes on in our churches and the principles that we use to guide those activities. Then in consequent postings we will critique each other’s practice and principles. We are not sure where it is headed or how long it will go on but we are both really enthused about having it out on line here and seeing where out little Micro-Koinonia Project ends up. We hope and pray it will be a blessing for our beloved Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.






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  1. Kari
    February 29th, 2012 at 21:12 | #1

    I look forward to following this discussion. Hope we can all learn together.

  2. John Rixe
    February 29th, 2012 at 21:15 | #2

    Hoping your efforts are focused on a consensus that about 85% of us can accept. We don’t need another rehash of stale arguments.   This can be a tremendous pilot project, and your attempt is much admired and appreciated.

  3. SKPeterson
    March 1st, 2012 at 08:28 | #3

    I think that beyond simply having the discussion, this may point the way toward defining the “essentials” of Lutheran worship and the range of practice that may be called adiaphora. If this works, and I pray that it does, I hope that it might be used as a model for other circuts and districts throughout the LCMS.

  4. Johan Bergfest
    March 1st, 2012 at 09:28 | #4

    Pr. Tim – kudos for the conversation and a suggestion.

    Effective collaborative problem solving begins by defining the issue from the perspective of commonalities and then “building a bigger middle” as a foundation from which to address issues in dispute. Defining issues by the differences, is a formula for conflict and “solutions” that look more like winners and losers. If you want a solution that serves the Body of Christ, I’d suggest that the former approach is the preferred. I think this logic applies especially to disputes among Christians. When we sit down together, in Christ’s name, to discuss difficult issues, we need to open ourselves to be a “voice for the Spirit” and open ourselves to hear the “voice of the Spirit” in the words spoken by others in the conversations.

    “Church-growther” v. “Liturimaniac” has a humorous ring to it. But, for the purpose of your dialogue, I just engaging the serious discussion from a different place.

  5. Rev. James Schulz
    March 1st, 2012 at 09:43 | #5

    I would suggest as a springboard for discussion John Pless’ essay “Divine Service: Delivering Forgiveness of Sins.”

    http://www.ctsfw.edu/Document.Doc?id=275

  6. Tim Klinkenberg
    March 1st, 2012 at 10:20 | #6

    Mark Schultz rules…he’s a fine pastor…loves his people…works hard…keeps peace…and is orthodox

  7. Old Time St. John's
    March 1st, 2012 at 10:28 | #7

    I hope that you don’t limit yourselves to figuring out the essentials vs. adiaphora, but also thoroughly review the advantages and disadvantages of a fairly uniform practice throughout our Synod and with the larger Church, and what is and isn’t crucial to establishing such a uniformity, out of love, as the Confessions say.

  8. Sue Grabe Wilson
    March 1st, 2012 at 10:39 | #8

    @ Old Time St. John’s #7
    Gee, I see you’re entering this with an open mind.

    I think it’s a great idea and hope that we can begin to see the good in each, and the weaknesses in both; perhaps giving pastors around the country a better understanding of each other.

  9. Old Time St. John’s
    March 1st, 2012 at 11:23 | #9

    Sue Grabe Wilson :
    @ Old Time St. John’s #7
    Gee, I see you’re entering this with an open mind.
    I think it’s a great idea and hope that we can begin to see the good in each, and the weaknesses in both; perhaps giving pastors around the country a better understanding of each other.

    Sue, your post assumes several things that I don’t think are quite right. It assumes that the worship issues in our Synod are primarily the result of misunderstandings–but I don’t believe that that is correct. I actually think that it is primarily the result of different emphases/priorities, which is why I talked about uniformity of practices as an addition to essentials vs. adiophora. It is interesting that this addition (not substitution, if you read carefully) prompted you to imply that I don’t have an open mind. I, too, think that the discussion is a great idea.

  10. March 1st, 2012 at 11:58 | #10

    Pr Rossow, thanks and congratulations to you and Pr Schulz for commencing this.

    @Rev. James Schulz #5

    “Divine Service: Delivering Forgiveness of Sins”

    I hope it will not be unproductive for me to toss out a thought that has been nagging me. The more I think about the term “Divine Service” and what it means, and the phrase “worship wars,” I wonder if the word “worship” preconditions the discussion too narrowly. While there is worship in the Divine Service, there is more, and the primary thrust is better conveyed by the term “Divine Service” that the term “Worship Service.” By speaking of this as a discussion about worship, have we already engaged in a reductionism at the level of stating the topic or issue that will have deleterious effects on the discussion?

  11. Rev. James Schulz
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:11 | #11
  12. March 1st, 2012 at 12:29 | #12

    The Other T. R.,

    Great point about “worship.” Will try to abide by that. I usually try to use the term “Divine service” but sometimes lapse.

  13. March 1st, 2012 at 12:39 | #13

    John B.,

    You make a good point from a soc/psych point of view. I tend to be more blunt and direct than a soc/psych approach but do appreciate that the former can deliver more unity.

    I tend to be a philosopher/first principles sort of guy and use that approach. Rather than shoot for the middle, the philosopher identifies the fundamental and true principles and then seeks to conform to them and let things be built on that foundation.

    One of the problems in our synod is that I and other confessionals take that approach and believe that it is inherent in true religion. Luther takes this approach as well. The Scriptures are the record of religious truth. It is our job to discover what they say and then conform to it. It will be interesting to see how this works. It may be that Pastor Schulz agrees with this approach (even though he “does church” in ways that I disagree with) and that may be the reason why we have found enough respect and common ground to attempt this crazy thing.

    BTW – Please call me “Tim” or “Pastor Rossow.” It is only those who know me best that are allowed to call me “Pastor Tim” and they know me well enough to never call me “Pastor Tim.” :)

  14. Jason
    March 1st, 2012 at 12:48 | #14

    @Sue Grabe Wilson #8

    He said UNIFORM, not IDENTICAL, and there are great benefits.

    Take football. All the players wear UNIFORMS. So they kind of look alike, but they do not look the exact same. Some players wear big face masks for protection, some wear lesser masks for better vision. Some wear bulky pads for pounding, some wear lighter pads for speed. All have specific numbers so the refs know who the eligible receivers are (skill players) and who aren’t (O-line). But they all wear helmets, jerseys and pants. And shockingly they are all in the same colors! Helps the quaterback know who is on his team and who isn’t, so he knows where to throw the ball to. And when they change and update their uniforms, theyall do together as a unified and complete team. And they almost always stick with the same color patterns when updating ther style.

    If I am reading too much into your post, it is because I sense the snark in your opening line, and based on the collective pattern of your posts, I have a reason for discerning what your a implying.

  15. James Gier
    March 1st, 2012 at 13:51 | #15

    @Johan Bergfest #4

    With all due respect and sincerity, this is exactly the problem … this language of “we need to open ourselves to be a “voice for the Spirit” and open ourselves to hear the “voice of the Spirit” in the words spoken by others in the conversations.” It makes us the center of and origin of the discussion and our need to open ourselves to each other’s words. It is the wrong starting point and emphasis.

    Willingness to talk and listen is important. But even more important is what we are listening to in the conversation. What needs to be opened are the Scriptures, and from that alone does the Spirit work in the hearts and minds and mouths of the people. Only that which comes from the Word of God carries with it the Spirit who speaks it and enlightens us to its meaning. God has spoken to these matters and has given more than sufficiently to understand what worship is, its essence, its essentials, its very nature from which to draw and exercise its truths and inherent blessings. And this understanding has also been faithfully preserved for us in the Confessions of the Church – and are not subject to “cultural influences.”

    So also does the idea of an “open mind” miss the mark. That too is centered not in the Word but in man. What Scriptures say of our minds is that every thought is to be taken captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), and we are to be “united in the same mind and the same judgment” (1 Cor 1:10), not allowing for disagreement or division. That unity of minds comes only from the Word and Spirit of God. That is both the starting and ending point of any discussion on such matters in the Church. The discussion can only be Christian and for the body of Christ, when it is Christ Himself who speaks through His Word.

    My rejection of CW is not about having a “closed mind” or one in which I have failed to open myself to the Spirit’s voice in “other’s words.” But rather because my mind is held captive to the Word and that brilliant light of the proper distinction of Law and Gospel, something that is often lost in the discussion of worship.

    Contemporary worship comes from a flawed and often times fatal misunderstanding of the Gospel itself, and its power to convert and save. CW (by definition of those who utilize it as a church growth methodology from which it originates) blends this Gospel Word with human sciences and arts of “persuasion” to move people toward a religious experience, feeling, and hopefully a conversion encounter with Jesus. Blending in Word and Sacrament in order to Lutheranize it does nothing other than to confuse the matter and lessen the means of grace by the well-intended but flawed notion that Word and Sacrament needs something else in order to be effective. Here it is wise to hear the words of Jesus … a little leaven leavens the whole lump. This meas that the Gospel itself becomes compromised to the point of being Law – and even lost as people find their affirmation of faith not in the Word and Gospel, but in religious experience.

    Contemporary worship in a nutshell is about feeling good. Period. It serves the craving and embraces the worship of natural man and his desires for and proclivities toward the god of this age for entertainment and sensuality (stimulation of the bodily senses) … felt needs of the flesh over the true needs of the spiritual man. Been there. Done that. It is based on and teaches a flawed theology of original sin and man’s free will (not to mention how God actually works and is present in Christian worship).

    I am not saying that those in the LCMS utilizing CW are purposely teaching false doctrine and undermining the means of grace … but that such theology is inherent in the worship since this form of worship, adopted from those with a different understanding of the Gospel (American Evangelicalism, ect.) is precisely based on those false understandings. In other words, what worship is based on also teaches what it is based on. You cannot divorce doctrine and practice. Lex orandi, lex credendi – the law of prayer is the law of belief.

    Also … CW is designed to attract those who are “not Christian” into the worship of the Church, and that by means that are of the “culture” and not of the Church. Christian worship is for Christians – to engage and sustain them in the holy Word and things of God for their spiritual life in the forgiveness of their sins and the strengthening of their faith and the blessing of God’s presence with them in Word, Sacrament, worship and life. When worship is then geared toward the unbelieving, it then changes the very nature of worship itself – confusing worship for “missions.”

    I look forward to the proposed discussion and hope that it will be conducted on the only and sure foundation for all Christian matters – Christ and His Word. May we all have ears to hear the Spirit through the Word and once again put away all cultural and human pretenses and be “united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

  16. Rev. Clint K. Poppe
    March 1st, 2012 at 14:51 | #16

    I would like to offer a question for the two of you to ponder; “What is it that makes worship distinctively Lutheran?” I look forward to the response from both perspectives.

    Thanks, Clint

  17. Rev. McCall
    March 1st, 2012 at 15:57 | #17

    @James Gier #15
    Can liturgical worship not also evoke feelings or emotions? I know many people who get just as big an emotional high when they hear an organ as folks who do when they hear a praise band. I think questions about emotions are good for this discussion. Are we allowed to feel good in church (whether liturgical or contemporary)? Is it wrong to be a Lutheran and feel good while worshiping? If a CW service evokes emotion yet the constant teaching of that church does not teach people to place their trust or hopes in emotions can those two tensions exist? Or if we believe emotions are not good, should we structure our church services to minimize any type of emotion whatsoever? You get the idea.

  18. Mark Schulz
    March 1st, 2012 at 16:48 | #18

    Wow – so many interesting comments already!

    I’m looking forward to this as well. Primarily because I have a huge amount of respect for “Pastor Tim” (couldn’t resist – ) and for the ministry at Bethany, even though it is very different than what we do at Trinity.

    Interestingly, when I mentioned that respect to Tim, he had an interesting response. If I remember correctly he said, “That’s part of the problem. If you respect how we do ministry, one would expect you’d be doing ministry that way.”

    I think this is a perfect example of what we might accomplish in this discussion. I had no idea that mindset existed – and think there actually might be something buried under the surface there worth exploring. Should respect = behavior? Hmmm. And if it should, then maybe I don’t really mean it when I say I respect “confessional Lutherans”. (I’d love to talk about that term sometime – as I’m not willing to surrender it.) Or maybe we mean something different by “respect”?

    Anyway – I fully expect to take some lumps here as I share our practice at Trinity and why I believe it is Biblical, confessional, and responsible. But I DO love the LC-MS, and if it what we do here is a blessing to the larger church, I’ll be thankful.

    Plus it will give me an excuse to hang around with a brother pastor, whom I respect.

  19. Mark Schulz
    March 1st, 2012 at 17:01 | #19

    By the way – how do I get a cool picture above my name? Do I have to join BJS? :)

  20. James Gier
    March 1st, 2012 at 19:28 | #20

    @Rev. McCall #17

    Thank you, Rev. McCall for your good questions. Let me preface with this … that when I speak of CW I am doing so from its origins and purpose as that which comes from the tradition of the enthusiasts who have a very different understanding of the Gospel and Salvation and its deliverance and reception. Today that tradition is largely found in American Evangelicalism, as I’m sure you know as a learned Pastor.

    CW is used as a technique and principle of the Church Growth Movement, a movement defined in part as “simultaneously a theological conviction and an applied science, striving to combine the eternal principles of God’s Word with the best insights of contemporary social and behavioral sciences” ( Kent R. Hunter, Foundations for Church Growth, p. 23).

    The theological tradition from which this springs believes that man has free-will to make a decision for Jesus. If indeed it is a matter of free will, then that will needs to be convinced or moved or persuaded toward that decision. Employed are various rhetorical (revivalist) and emotional manipulations, including music specifically written to stir and evoke the emotions and thus to move and motivate the man to decide for Jesus … and to continue to do so in his commitment and life to Jesus. Thus the style and technique becomes the “means” of conversion and the Christian life, not God’s Word and Sacraments. In this, emotional manipulation is “an” if not “the” emphasis and goal in worship.

    Let me say this, if this is really true, that man has free-will to decide for Jesus, and salvation is ultimately his work, even if only complementary to Jesus’ work, and as enthusiasts believe, that Word and Sacrament are mere sources of knowledge and symbolical action – not true means of grace, then by all means CG and CW away!

    But it isn’t true. Because then faith ultimately would not be centered on Christ and His work, but that person’s decision and commitment. Worship would not be about Word and Sacrament as God’ work in us in faith and life, but about continually motivating and manipulating the person’s free-will and emotions to keep the decision and commitment they made to Jesus. Been there. Done that. It is not only a false gospel and worship, it is also unsustainable. And it leads only to one most unfortunate conclusion – despair.

    Thus Christian faith gets put back on the person (not on Christ), where faith is at least in part a measure of what one feels, or how one is feeling. This places emotions as central to ones faith and commitment to Christ … not Christ alone, and Him crucified, but faith emotionalized.

    In this, whether intended or not, the techniques and methodologies employed by CG and CW actually only work to convert, serve and feed, the Old Adam (which cannot happen), not kill it. This is a serious error.

    Now, that may not be the goal or intended purpose of those in the LCMS who have adopted this technique in their worship, but nevertheless, it is a technique with a very particular (false) doctrine and purpose, and when blended together with Word and Sacrament can only diminish the true means of grace and lead people to desire more the “emotional high” that is so addictive to the Old Adam. These are not a proper Scriptural “tension,” but two competing forces that have contradicting purposes.

    I am out of time. I will try to address your questions directly in a later post. Thanks again, Rev. McCall for your response.

    Peace in Christ.

    J. Gier

  21. LW
    March 1st, 2012 at 20:08 | #21

    @Mark Schulz #18
    Rev. Schulz,
    Thank you for engaging in this discussion with Rev. Rossow and the rest of us.
    As a matter of definition, when you are speaking of respect, are you talking about a formal deference and honor such as a student has for his teacher or more of an informal admiration or appreciation such as man has for his brother?

  22. Ginny Valleau
    March 1st, 2012 at 20:47 | #22

    John Rixie #2

    “Hoping your efforts are focused on a consensus that about 85% of us can accept. We don’t need another rehash of stale arguments. This can be a tremendous pilot project, and your attempt is much admired and appreciated.”

    I don’t understand what you mean by “a consensus.” Shouldn’t the efforts be focused on God’s Word?

    God’s Blessings,
    Ginny Valleau

  23. Mark Schulz
    March 1st, 2012 at 22:30 | #23

    @LW #21

    I guess the latter.

  24. John Rixe
    March 1st, 2012 at 22:40 | #24

    @Ginny Valleau #22

    You are correct.

    “It is possible to unify 85% of the synod in doctrine, practice, and mission, I’m convinced.  No one group in the Synod has moral hegemony or superiority.  We are all pure sinners in need of pure grace.  Our fundamental problem is unbelief.  We do not believe the Word of God actually can and does unite us.”  – Pastor Harrison, It’s Time

  25. LW
    March 1st, 2012 at 23:06 | #25

    @Mark Schulz #23
    That’s what I figured. In that case I can understand how your respect or admiration for Pastor Rossow and his congregation do not necessarily correspond with like minded behavior. However, if your respect for them were based on the authority which directs their behavior than I could see how respect = behavior.

  26. John Rixe
    March 1st, 2012 at 23:20 | #26

    @John Rixe #24

    I respect and learn from the folks that post on BJS.  However, I wonder if many of them fall into the 15% instead of the 85%.  (no offense intended)

  27. March 1st, 2012 at 23:31 | #27

    To Rev. McCall, @17, I recommend the following article: http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/reuningluthermusic.pdf

  28. March 2nd, 2012 at 06:15 | #28

    @John Rixe #26

    “I wonder if many of them fall into the 15% instead of the 85%.”

    “Them”? This is a divisive comment, hardly explaining everything in the kindest way or encouraging healing.

  29. Win
    March 2nd, 2012 at 07:29 | #29

    Here we go again! My apologies to the rest of you who may be more on top of things. I hope that before the discussion begins, you will define your terms. I read Pr. Louderback’s quasi-definition of CoWo (“best of CoWo” on the “failed resolution” thread), which I found disturbing. However, a concise thorough definition is still needed. Included in the definition ought to be the assumptions underlying CoWo. Having had plenty of experience with CoWo, I believe the attitudes and assumptions that lead to “doing” CoWo have much to do with its use. For instance, Pr. Louderback’s use of the term “Jargon” when referring to liturgical worship says much about his attitude. You can look up the definitions of this loaded term, and it will be very revealing as to his personal attitude/assumptions at least. And based on my experience, the attitudes of many CoWo practiitoners. Perhaps Pr. Schulz is an exception, and I’m granting him that.

    I await with baited breath.

  30. Ron Beck
    March 2nd, 2012 at 08:28 | #30

    I will be looking forward to this discussion with anticipation. MAY IT BE FREE OF ANY EUPHEMISMS!

    What is using God’s name in vain? Using God’s name in vain is — A. Employing any name of God uselessly or carelessly (“My God,” “Good Lord,” Jesus Christ,” etc.) Gee is a euphemism for Jesus.

  31. Rev. McCall
    March 2nd, 2012 at 09:13 | #31

    @James Gier #20
    Thank you for your response! If I read your responses right you are making the correct assertion that CW is designed with the purpose to elicit emotional response whereas emotion in liturgical worship is perhaps a side effect but not the focus. I buy that. I think the knee jerk reaction we have sometimes though is to say, “It elicits emotions therefore it must be CW or church growth and therefore it is wrong.” We (CPH) published a separate LSB with all the music in guitar chords. Is that wrong? Is a guitar designed to elicit more emotion than an organ? Are soaring choral arrangements designed to elicit emotion any less than a bass guitar and drums? We often look at the result (emotion) and say that therefore the process must be wrong or related to CW or church growth. If I have a church full of people who get emotional highs from liturgical worship is that any worse or better than a church full of people who get an emotional high from CW even if both pastors had no intention of eliciting that response?

  32. March 2nd, 2012 at 09:36 | #32

    @Win #29

    Pr. Louderback’s quasi-definition of CoWo

    I was actually not going to comment on this thread — I try not to wear out my welcome, believe it or not — but I want to say that I was not giving a definition of CoWo on the other thread. Some asks “Where is the line?” And I responded with what I thought a few best practices would be.

    As far as the term “jargon” goes, I don’t use it in a pejorative sense. We use jargon all of the time — it works well for short-hand. I use jargon. You’ll notice the jargon in the “quasi-definition” thread where I speak about absolution — and because the term was not understood (because it is jargon) I had to re-explain what I meant.

    So, jargon with those who understand it is not bad; jargon with those who don’t is not helpful.

    Mark Schultz, my namesake, God’s blessings on this journey. Good luck, it is a tough crowd here. :)

  33. John Rixe
    March 2nd, 2012 at 09:39 | #33

    @John Rixe #24

    “We must finally make the time and effort to finally come to a broad consensus on who we are and how we shall live and work together.”  – Pastor Harrison, It’s Time

    The 15% (including both sides) are usually the most strident and vocal.  This makes it tough to get anything done.

  34. Win
    March 2nd, 2012 at 11:20 | #34

    @Mark Louderback #32

    I’m willing to accept your intention in the use of “jargon,” and that’s how I at first understood you until I looked up the definitions. They give a decided uncomplimentary slant to the term, and, in my experience with CoWo advocates and practitioners, their attitudes toward things liturgical for the most part, (including even the seasons of the Church year), have been decidedly unsympathetic, if not dismissive. And so “jargon” has a definite pejorative ring to it. As a recovering CoWoholic, I speak from lots of experience. But I’ll gladly give you the benefit of the doubt. And yes, you did use the term “best practices”, which practices still give me pause, even though they are not strictly speaking a definition of CoWo.

    And so I still wait for the definition(s). A phrase from the world of archtecture seems applicable here: “Form follows function.” That would be a good starting point for definitions of worship, both liturgical and contemporary. What is/are the function(s) of worship, and what do these forms say about our respective understandings of said function(s)?

  35. helen
    March 2nd, 2012 at 12:34 | #35

    @Win #34
    “jargon” has a definite pejorative ring to it.

    In Mark Louderback’s mouth, I think it’s meant to be pejorative and derisive.
    I don’t know where he went to seminary, but he didn’t learn anything Lutheran there.
    IMnsvHO, of course.

  36. Win
    March 2nd, 2012 at 13:01 | #36

    helen :@Win #34 “jargon” has a definite pejorative ring to it.
    In Mark Louderback’s mouth, I think it’s meant to be pejorative and derisive.I don’t know where he went to seminary, but he didn’t learn anything Lutheran there.IMnsvHO, of course.

    Sorry, I don’t agree with your characterization of either Pr. Louderback’s intentions or his Lutheran-ness. Ad hominies don’t have any place here. (Ad hominems? Ad hominae? Ad homini? Ads hominem? Whatever…..)

  37. Jason
    March 2nd, 2012 at 13:01 | #37

    @helen #35

    Pr. Mark got his MDiv from St. Louis in ’97.

    http://locator.lcms.org/nworkers_frm/w_detail.asp?W171934

    So the internet can be good for inquiring and looking up stuff. So Pr. Ted Crandall has a point about Christ Lutheran’s wedsite having an online newsletter about Christmas Day service at the Presbyterian church. You only get one chance to make a first impression…

  38. March 2nd, 2012 at 13:34 | #38

    @Jason #37

    It’s also a lasting impression when there is no remorse from an LCMS pastor for offering his Lutheran congregation on Christmas Day (a Sunday) only a joint service at a Presbyterian Church.

  39. March 2nd, 2012 at 13:50 | #39

    If there is anyone with whom a brotherly Internet discussion can take place on this website, it is Mark Schulz. Though Brother Mark and I would disagree on many areas of practice, we can have a civil discussion about these matters, whether publicly or privately. It is this civility that is a starting point for any discussion about disagreement in our confession.

    Thank you, Pr. Rossow and Pr. Schulz.

  40. James Gier
    March 2nd, 2012 at 14:01 | #40

    @Rev. McCall #31

    Greetings Rev. McCall,

    You did read my response correctly, thank you. Yes, there can be knee-jerk reactions to things. Sometimes it is because we often don’t think first about how what we are planning to do might appear to others, and thus first discuss it with one another so as to negate false impressions and test to see whether what changes we are planning remains consistent with our doctrine, or if they are even necessary. I wish there would be more respect among the pastors to know that what we do in our parish does effect others around us. Your knee-jerk concern is a valid one.

    I see no problem with the guitar chord edition of LSB. In fact I purchased one as a gift to another “liturgical” pastor. In our own congregation we have a very gifted lute player and are blessed by his talent and settings of the hymns which are very rich, reverent, and appropriate to the text it accompanies. It is not so much the instrument, but how it is used. Timpani, bells, horns, stringed instruments and other instrumentation can very much give good accompaniment to the service and Gospel being proclaimed. Very simply, some music is appropriate to right reverent worship, and others are not. That is another discussion, but one that would be helpful, hopefully somewhere in the promised discussion.

    It is not that emotion in itself is wrong. But it is not reliable, nor an accurate indicator of the Spirit’s work or presence in worship or life. That belongs to the Word alone. Human emotion is not the target of preaching and the Sacraments – but the spirit and soul of man that only the Word can change, renew, feed, strengthen, preserve – and enable the Christian life. How much closer can we “be” to God than the Holy Supper? Yet, I do not always “feel” it … but I do know it in my heart because of what was spoken to me – the Spirit testifying to my spirit. (I know I am speaking to the choir here. I am not suggesting you neither know nor appreciate theses things – just making the point).

    CG and CW centralizes emotion in its worship to elicit or evoke that very “sense” (the work of the Spirit or feeling close to God). This takes the focus off the Word and Christ, and puts it on the emotions and self. It does the same with faith.

    Now, I will say that I do oppose the new innovation in our Lutheran churches of the “praise band.” This is nothing other than taking what is a clear cultural icon and placing it in the church for purposes of not only eliciting and evoking an emotional high, but so too to attract the “culture” to the Church. The “praise band” in form (instrumentation, location, and “worship leader”), style (light to heavy rock and R&B) and “worship” mimics exactly what happens in the world at concerts. Rock bands and concerts are the worship form and style of our culture, and how our culture worships its idols. Just look at what it elicits in people. Been there. Done that. By the way Steve Miller is great in concert!

    But, to bring this “worship” of the nations around us into the worship of the Church is irresponsible and short-sighted in the least. The form and style is imported in order to attract people to the Church. And it will. Why? Because it serves their Old Adam from which it comes and the flesh’s appetite for entertainment and sensual satisfaction. It is irresponsible because it not only falls short in “denying” the Old Adam and putting him to death, but so too does it then infect the body of Christ and diverts them to self-centered faith. It is short-sighted because it looks only to the outward appearance in the growth of the Church … numbers, and fails to see that it has only served to blend and leaven the Church with the “worship” of the world around us. Please hear .. it cannot be “Lutheranized.” It only corrupts what is Lutheran.

    Rev. McCall … I’m not sure what is meant by an emotional high in the liturgical worship of the Church. There are times that I am moved, and other times when I am not. However, the Word promises the reality of what it proclaims and delivers it no matter what I feel – and therefore grants me the spiritual satisfaction and fulfillment that I need. Thanks be to God!

    I can say that what the liturgy at times does elicit or evoke in me is very different than what happens when I listen to classic rock. I have been known to head bob, air jam, and sing profusely while working in the garage. A little Rocky music when jogging, I admit, increases the adrenalin .. not to mention the performance.

    What is important is not whether emotions are evoked, but how and by what means and for what purposes they are evoked – as center or consequent. The matter is one of emphasis, purpose and source. In Christian worship, as what the liturgy is, the emphasis is God’s Word and Christ’s work for us, through which the Holy Spirit works to bring about contrition and repentance toward faith in Christ and His forgiveness, that we may also be set free from our “guilt and despair” (things that include the emotions), and enter into the joy and grace of our Lord that transcends mere human emotion to a spiritual and everlasting satisfaction of comfort and peace with God.

    In CW, from where it comes and the purpose it is used, is to appeal to the emotions by the music style in order to “evoke” a sense and experience of the Spirit and closeness to God. That is what it is designed to do as a Church Growth “technique.” But because this is oriented to the Old Adam from which it comes, it does not carry with it the same enduring satisfaction and comfort. In fact, you will find that those who practice this kind of worship need to keep moving toward the cutting edge to be relevant and keep members. Why? Because again, it is the Old Adam that is being served, and is never satisfied with the same things over and over again, which become redundant and boring. Soon many will tire of CW and need to look for new and innovative ways (or cutting edge churches) to satisfy the very thing that should have been put to death.

    By joining forces with the CG CW crowds, we are only igniting in our own people the same “natural man” appetites that will destroy true faith and elicit a false one in its place – the faith of enthusiasm. And, it will teach them, because of the doctrine behind and inherent in it, to believe differently than what they have been taught, and come to see no difference between Lutheranism and American Evangelicalism. To say that a Lutheran pastor can adopt the same (CW) and then teach otherwise is simply to say one thing and do another, in other words, to both divorce doctrine from its corresponding practice, and confuse Law and Gospel.

    Such in the end will not be tolerated. Either one has to change or the other. And what can be found is that the preaching and teaching comes to be changed in order to accommodate the CW style and form. Thus, the “divisions” among us.

    I do not believe that “liturgical” worship and CW are necessarily evoking the same “emotional high.” They are two very different “kinds” of worship, with very different emphases.

    Let me then say, it is not wrong to play the guitar in worship, or use the guitar for hymns … or lute for that matter. If something IS designed to elicit or evoke emotion then it does fit the purpose of what CW is about. I am not convinced that proper choral arrangements are written for that purpose, but for the purpose of exalting and glorifying the Word and Gospel of Christ. If that brings about an emotion, so be it, that is one thing. Bach is wonderful in this area.

    Certainly then, we cannot necessarily judge the content or style only by what it evokes, or the result. I agree with you. It does not mean the content or process is necessarily wrong. The content or style must also be judged, if you will, on their own merits. This is the conversation we must have. To say that a pastor can adopt CW for say, purposes of attracting the lost, but not intending to evoke an emotional high in the people engaged in it, is like my wife changing our diet to healthy and organic foods, but not intending it to actually make me healthy. The point is that emotional manipulation is what CW is designed for by those who originated it. And for those who adopt it for other reasons, the inherent consequent is always there.

    Please forgive my lengthy response. I appreciate your responses and gracious patience. And thanks for the guitar chord edition of the LSB!

    Blessings,

    Jim

  41. Rev. Loren Zell
    March 2nd, 2012 at 15:02 | #41

    I am going to swim against the stream here, a little and suggest that the two gentlemen first discuss doctrine. Practice usually follows doctrine. My guess is that these two fellows are not as united in doctrine as many would assume. Here’s a few suggestions for discussion.

    1. What is saving faith?

    2. Can a Christian fall away and lose his faith and salvation?

    3. What role does worship have in the role of preserving faith in the Christian, and helping them grow in faith?

    4. Is a Christian converted by the work of men or the work of God alone?

    5. How is the Law and the Gospel clearly taught and proclaimed in a contemporary service vs. a liturgical service.

    6. Is closed communion an adiophora or should be be maintained, and what actually is closed communion?

  42. March 2nd, 2012 at 19:51 | #42

    @Rev. Loren Zell #41

    Add to those:

    7. Do seekers exist?

    8. If so, what is a seeker?

  43. TK
    March 2nd, 2012 at 20:36 | #43

    A seeker is the mouse being brought to the cat…

    @T. R. Halvorson #42

  44. John Rixe
    March 2nd, 2012 at 20:38 | #44

    @Ron Beck #30

    I’m sorry but I can’t figure out what the *euphemism deleted* you are talking about.  Are there euphemisms in contemporary services?

  45. March 2nd, 2012 at 20:50 | #45

    Pastor Marky #18,

    I love the “Pastor Tim” reference. LOL over and over again. This will be nothing less than a lot of fun and hopefully we will accomplish something good for the Kingdom.

  46. March 2nd, 2012 at 21:01 | #46

    Rev. Zell @#41,

    You are correct. If this is not about doctrine it is a waste of time. I know Win means well at #34 but with worship and the rest of spirituality, form does not follow function. Form follows doctrine.

    Win is right in that we do need to understand the function of worship but the phrase “form follows function” is meant by Le Cobusier and the other architects who espoused the phrase to be an expression of a functional pragmatism that is not in keeping with the Christian commitment to drawing forms out of the principles derived from Scripture.

    I do not know if my friend “Marky” Schulz bases his piety on function or not. The Church Growth movement is purely about function. If ti works, we do it (works equalling “grows the church”). It will be interesting to see. I am about to send my first email to Pastor Schulz will be the beginning of our search for koinonia. (of course, we have koinonia in the body and blood of Christ – this is about the pious expression of that koinonia.) More to come… (It may take us a few days to complete a round of emails so I am not sure how soon we will be able to get the first installment up. Hopefully within two to four days.)

  47. March 2nd, 2012 at 21:16 | #47

    @Win #34

    Ok, rather than “jargon” — which now has turned into jargon I guess…oddly enough — could I use the phase “technical language” to describe terms that have a specific meaning to a small group of people? Would that work out ok?

    What is/are the function(s) of worship, and what do these forms say about our respective understandings of said function(s)?

    Those are good questions, but this is not my thread. Perhaps Pastor Schultz will answer your questions. I’m trying just to observe. E-mail me at PastorQ at ShareChristArlington dot net if you’d like my thoughts. Or wait around for another thread in the future. :)

    BTW, I appreciate the words of defense in my attack.

  48. Mrs. Hume
    March 2nd, 2012 at 21:27 | #48

    Here is an interesting article from Center for United States Missions.

    http://www.centerforusmissions.com/Portals/0/pdfs/articles/errors-cont-worship-zehnder.pdf

  49. helen
    March 2nd, 2012 at 21:34 | #49

    @Jason #37
    “Pr. Mark got his MDiv from St. Louis in ’97″

    Thank you, Jason!

  50. helen
    March 2nd, 2012 at 21:37 | #50

    @Win #36

    You may disagree with my assessment, but how is it “ad hominem”?

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