BJS Authors practice real church growth in their parishes

November 28th, 2012 Post by

Over the past year, the authors of BJS have increased a lot, but another thing has been increasing as well – the size of the authors’ households and consequently our parishes.  No, we haven’t veered off the narrow way of Word and Sacrament to find methods and manipulations to sheep steal or anything else – we have simply been who we are in the vocations that God has placed us.  Most of us are husbands and fathers and pastors also – and there is one thing that God does through husbands and wives to grow His Church, He gives the blessing of babies.  And babies in this case have been plenty among our author pool.  And these babies have been quickly brought into the family of God through the watered Word of Holy Baptism.  Along with that, a number of our authors have received blessings from heaven which have yet to be seen with their eyes.  Right now there 9 children that have been recently born to our authors’ households or will be born in the not too distant future (Pr. Juhl, Pr. Ramirez, Pr. Hull, Pr. Riley, Pr. Mark Preus, Pr. Hinton, Mr. Paul, Mr. Andrew Preus, and myself).

This is meant to be a wonderful occasion to give thanks to our Triune God for being faithful to His Word (Gen 1).  And as these little ones have been/will be brought to the waters of Holy Baptism we see that faithfulness of the Triune God again (Mt 28; Titus 3; Rom 6; John 3; etc).  Over and over God has shown faithfulness to us.

After thanking God of course thanks is also due to the faithful mothers who bore these children and care for them from conception on.  Thank God for faithful women, faithful wives, and faithful mothers!

These little blessings from God come with some great responsibility as well, for they are the next generation of disciples who need to be catechized in the Word of God using the Small Catechism.  Bible, Catechism and Hymnal will be the tools used in raising these little Lutheran blessings.  Thank God for such great gifts to accomplish such a task and His promise to be present along with us in the Way.

What a blessing children are to parents and to the Church!  As we struggle churchwide with changing demographics, remember our Lord’s faithfulness to His Word.  As we struggle to purge the leaven of church growth, “bait and switch” evangelism methods/manipulations, remember that one of God’s chief plans involves children and catechesis.

 

 


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  1. Lumpenkönig
    November 28th, 2012 at 12:50 | #1

    You have just presented the case why seminary tuition should be free. Without crushing student loan debt, Lutheran pastors could more easily afford to have six children. With God’s help, I hope it comes to pass.

    Are engaged Lutheran couples counseled by their pastors to have children? Years ago, I attended a wedding ceremony at a Roman Catholic church. I remember the priest strongly encouraging the bride and groom to have many children and to raise them Roman Catholic. Such encouragement was given during premarital counseling and during the ceremony.

    Children are indeed a blessing!

  2. November 28th, 2012 at 12:54 | #2

    @Lumpenkönig #1
    I suppose the question about couples being counseled by their pastors and having children, I suppose it varies by pastor. I know I teach the blessing of children and parental responsibility to teach them and raise them in the faith, and I also speak against the sinful motives that have made ungodly views of children be the norm in our culture.

  3. revaggie
    November 28th, 2012 at 14:01 | #3

    When I was at the sem we jokingly referred to this as Lutheran Evangelism.

  4. John Rixe
    November 28th, 2012 at 14:42 | #4

    This is such great news!

    L: To grant all women with child, and all mothers with infant children, increasing happiness in their blessings; 

    C: We implore You to hear us, good Lord.

  5. November 28th, 2012 at 15:00 | #5

    @revaggie #3

    Growing the Church the old fashioned way…

  6. November 28th, 2012 at 16:16 | #6

    Babies are awesome. TW

  7. November 28th, 2012 at 16:21 | #7

    Kind of a random question, but it’s on the subject of babies: what do you say to someone who says, “Pastor, I get the value of being a dad, but I just don’t have skills to conducive to being a parent. My dad wasn’t around, and I don’t have any good examples and can’t think in a midset that puts others first. I’m afraid I’d be a terrible parent and that my kids would grow up hating me, and I couldn’t face them if they grew up to hate me.” Thanks.

  8. Walter Troeger
    November 28th, 2012 at 16:22 | #8

    Great Article above. Every member of the New England District who voted at their district convention for the Transforming Church Network to be the method of growing congregations should take the time and read this..

  9. Lifelong Lutheran
    November 28th, 2012 at 16:29 | #9

    @Todd Wilken #6
    Sure, babies are awesome but they grow up pretty quickly and they don’t always stay in the LCMS even when they are raised properly in LCMS homes, even if their father is a pastor. So having babies to grow the church is a lame idea, if you ask me. (Which no one did.)

    @Lumpenkönig #1
    Really, they could “easily afford to have six children”. Where do you get the number six? Why not ten or twelve?

  10. November 28th, 2012 at 17:11 | #10

    Lifelong Lutheran :
    @Todd Wilken #6
    Sure, babies are awesome but they grow up pretty quickly and they don’t always stay in the LCMS even when they are raised properly in LCMS homes, even if their father is a pastor. So having babies to grow the church is a lame idea, if you ask me. (Which no one did.)

    Someone has to have the babies, why not Lutheran lay people and pastors? Lutherans raised in confessional Lutheran churches are at least as likely to come back to a Lutheran congregation than the unchurched who find a Lutheran congregation and stick to it. Of course the point is God gives the growth or the faith for people to remain in the congregation.

  11. Pr. Donofrio
    November 28th, 2012 at 17:46 | #11

    Please keep breeding like rabbits, I need someone to be paying into Social Security when I retire in about 20 years. :-)

  12. Jim Hamilton
    November 28th, 2012 at 19:32 | #12

    I wasn’t raised in the church. I was baptized (thank God) at three weeks of age, but my parents didn’t take me to church (other than occasional Christmases) and really didn’t know very much about the religion (which probably made them pretty good Christians by the standards of the Episcopal Church). Anyway, my wife and I are raising our daughter in the confessional Lutheran church. It is truly amazing how much she has learned already (she’s almost 3). I’m so happy that God brought me into the Lutheran church and so incredibly grateful that my daughter will grow up taking for granted knowing things that were a complete mystery to me until my late twenties. Having babies and raising them to know and love God and truly understand the tenets of our faith is a wonderful thing.

  13. Adam Koontz
    November 28th, 2012 at 19:41 | #13

    @Pr. Donofrio #11
    Pastor, I know there is a lot of disagreement between Lutherans these days about these matters, and I’m familiar with Pr. Cwirla’s take on it, too. I’m sorry if people who disagree with you have been overbearing or just too much in the past, and often when we believe something fervently and are literally staking our lives on it, passion and partisanship overtake joy and peace in the Holy Spirit. But please don’t be mean about it, even though you are joking. If you believe the “breeders” to be mistaken, don’t be sarcastic about it. For any wide variety of reasons, the world hates the teaching that children are blessings, so life is only made harder when within the church we find not love and admonition from the Scriptures but sarcasm.

  14. Pastor David Juhl
    November 28th, 2012 at 19:42 | #14

    @Lifelong Lutheran #9

    This individual is correct. There is no guarantee that a pastor’s child(ren) will remain in the faith as they grow older. Perhaps we know PKs who have turned their back on the Lord and even their family to walk the broad way of the world. All the more to pray for our children, especially the children of a pastor, that they might remain faithful to death, in order to receive the crown of life.

  15. November 28th, 2012 at 20:52 | #15

    @Lifelong Lutheran #9

    You wrote:

    Sure, babies are awesome but they grow up pretty quickly and they don’t always stay in the LCMS even when they are raised properly in LCMS homes, even if their father is a pastor. So having babies to grow the church is a lame idea, if you ask me.

    You might not be aware of this, but your reasoning is the classic Anabaptist argument against infant baptism. And, Anabaptists are lame.

    TW

  16. November 28th, 2012 at 21:49 | #16

    I agree with Pastor Wilken. Anabaptists are the complete opposite of awesome.

  17. LW
    November 28th, 2012 at 22:22 | #17

    @Lifelong Lutheran #9
    Having babies grow the church is no more lame than bringing adult converts into the church. Christian babies are no less part of the Body of Christ than adults.

  18. LW
    November 28th, 2012 at 22:26 | #18

    Congratulations to all of these families.

  19. November 28th, 2012 at 23:01 | #19

    @Derek Johnson #7
    Derek,
    I would suggest to that man that there are others who can help us learn such things, chiefly God’s own Word, which does say many things about fatherhood and gives some examples as well. On top of that, the vocation of father is a God-pleasing one which is filled with opportunities for good works to the neighbor (wife and children). Also, God wants to bless households with children and His blessing and promises are more than our fears (which are actually sin). Adam had to learn how to be a dad without an example.

    This is also an area for the church to shine in its life together. Other dads can help the new dad learn about being dad. We are all in this together.

  20. Pr. Donofrio
    November 29th, 2012 at 00:58 | #20

    @ Adam

    Dude, lighten up, no one is persecuting you, at least I’m not. I stand by my words, I need more people paying into social security when I retire, those darned Boomers are hogging all the government money.

    I think someone has a little 8th commandment issue – not assuming the best of others, now go to confession.

    I have no kids, just the way that my life panned out – no one’s fault.

    I am glad that you guys are willing to have dozens, my retirement and I thank you.

  21. Dies Irae
    November 29th, 2012 at 07:07 | #21

    In some churches you still find the “You are now entering the Mission Field” sign over the sanctuary exit. The appropriate place for said sign is over the entrance to the parents bedroom.

  22. William M. Cwirla
    November 29th, 2012 at 08:51 | #22

    ” …and I’m familiar with Pr. Cwirla’s take on it, too.”

    Woah! How did I get sucked into this? For the record, I delight to see that the creative Word “be fruitful and multiply” is having its creative way in so many of our households. I am even more grateful for those who have been given a large number of children to make up for those of us who have not been given such gifts from God. Their fecundity bears witness to the power of the creative Word that calls light out of darkness and continues to fill the earth with all manner of living creatures. And while I believe that “church growth” is primarily focused on the unbelieving and unbaptized who are already walking around in this world (at least as I read it in the NT), I sincerely pray that all these babies be brought to the regenerating and renewing waters of Holy Baptism and be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord by devout fathers and mothers.

  23. November 29th, 2012 at 10:03 | #23

    Pastor Donofrio, my husband and I are not breeding like rabbits. We are breeding like Christians who have graciously been given the gift of a fruitful marriage. Please understand that it is much more difficult and less funny than it looks, and that constantly being treated like people who rode the short bus to Evangelism School is wearying. Forgive me for the weakness that short circuits my sense of humor about such things. I hope the sweat of my children’s brows makes your retirement more comfortable.

  24. Mary
    November 29th, 2012 at 10:17 | #24

    I had a delightful conversation the other day with a younger woman from my church. She made the point that many of the families in her age group were having 3-5 children and were very happy about it. I agreed and think it’s fantastic that so many dedicated Lutherans are having babies and bringing them up in the ways of the LORD! My boomer generation mostly had the “perfect number” two. I have four, so had many strange looks from people.
    Think of the impact we can have on our culture and the lost people out there. We should be the ones having more children than the pagans. I guess there is no worry of that though with the mentality of the “world” about the burden of children.

  25. Mrs. Hume
    November 29th, 2012 at 10:34 | #25

    The pro family message is really important for teens to hear as well. There is so much pressure on our young people to produce worldly success. They need to know that they won’t be looked down on in the church for prioritizing family and they should not be pressured even subtly to have fewer children. By holding out small well to do families as the ideal, the world sets a standard and we need to counter that message at home. Our children need to know that having a larger family is good rather than feeling that parents, pastors, church agree with the world that it is preferable to have fewer so those few can have more material possessions, opportunity or whatever it is we think we and they will have more of if there are less of them. The message of fewer is better is very strong coming from the world and silence is complicity.

  26. Mrs. Hume
    November 29th, 2012 at 10:36 | #26

    Okay, I just have to say that little buddy at the top of the post is just the cutest thing ever. Good job picking that picture.

  27. November 29th, 2012 at 10:40 | #27

    Donofrio played the 8th card.

    What’s next? Will Rossow start a small group?

    The “breeding like rabbits” characterization might be misunderstood as saying there is something sub-human or animalistic about human procreation.

    But I’m sure that’s not what Pr. Donofrio meant.

    8th commandment KEPT. Now I’m ready to be elected DP. You may all address me as “Bishop” from now on.

    TW

  28. Kathy L. M.
    November 29th, 2012 at 10:52 | #28

    As a homeschool mom, I’ve known some post-millenialists (Presbyterian/Reformed types) who felt that having lots of kids somehow contributed to their eschatology. They would say something like, “Do the math.” I was bothered by this because I often see God in the Bible working “more” with fewer people, so He would get the credit and the glory.

    Am I off in my thinking here?

  29. Holly Scheer
    November 29th, 2012 at 10:57 | #29

    Mrs. Hume- that baby is our fourth child who was born a month ago, today. We think he’s pretty cute, too!

  30. #4 Kitty
    November 29th, 2012 at 12:49 | #30

    @Dies Irae #21

    In some churches you still find the “You are now entering the Mission Field” sign over the sanctuary exit. The appropriate place for said sign is over the entrance to the parents bedroom.

    o.O

  31. wineonthevines
    November 29th, 2012 at 13:44 | #31

    I know of one very small congregation in which a young couple has 3 children with one on the way. That, for the time being, is the only “church growth” taking place in that place!

  32. Mrs. Hume
    November 29th, 2012 at 13:54 | #32

    @Kathy L. M. #28

    I know what you mean about some placing an exaggerated and weird significance on having more kids for God. That is turning it into a work, don’t you think? Rather than seeing children as gifts we receive, they sound like they think they are doing something for God instead of just receiving what He is giving. I think it is creepy to make it like some kind of contest or another. Some people can’t have more kids for various reasons that are none of our business and we shouldn’t assume that those who can’t have many or even any are somehow less. My concern is that our kids are assuming that we agree with the world’s position that larger families are not as “good” as smaller ones. I don’t want my kids to get the idea that I expect them to stop after two or three at the most. If we don’t affirm the value of receiving what God would give them, then we are wrong.

    I don’t my kids to internalize some unspoken rule before they even consider being open to more children. When nearly everyone you know or see has two kids, you see that as normal and can internalize that without thoughtful consideration or prayer or study.

  33. Kathy L. M.
    November 29th, 2012 at 14:54 | #33

    @Mrs. Hume #32

    Yes, Mrs. Hume, I know exactly what you are saying…it’s like some people see having lots of kids as a work that they do for God. I would also use the word “creepy” when people talked about helping to usher in the kingdom by outnumbering non-Christians.

    I also agree, as in other things, there should be a balance. You wouldn’t want your kids to feel that they should have more kids as a work or merit, but neither would you want them to limit their family based on our culture’s values.

  34. Mrs. Hume
    November 29th, 2012 at 18:04 | #34

    Kathy L. M. :
    @Mrs. Hume #32
    Yes, Mrs. Hume, I know exactly what you are saying…it’s like some people see having lots of kids as a work that they do for God. I would also use the word “creepy” when people talked about helping to usher in the kingdom by outnumbering non-Christians.
    I also agree, as in other things, there should be a balance. You wouldn’t want your kids to feel that they should have more kids as a work or merit, but neither would you want them to limit their family based on our culture’s values.

    Exactly! Perfectly stated!

  35. Pr. Donofrio
    November 29th, 2012 at 21:59 | #35

    How does one put the best construction on anyone saying that they are ready to be a DP? I’m so conflicted. @Todd Wilken #27

  36. helen
    November 30th, 2012 at 07:02 | #36

    @Pr. Donofrio #35
    How does one put the best construction on anyone saying that they are ready to be a DP?

    We could do worse than Todd Wilken… but I hope he would keep his present job.

    Now that the topic is down in the mud, I am just waiting for the sour grapefruit to complain that pastors with larger families will expect a raise! :(

    @Mrs. Hume #34
    I would also use the word “creepy” when people talked about helping to usher in the kingdom by outnumbering non-Christians. [--Kathy LM]

    They haven’t read their Bibles, have they? Or looked around the world.
    Christ said we’d be few. Relatively speaking, we are.

  37. November 30th, 2012 at 10:05 | #37

    @Pr. Donofrio #35

    How does one put the best construction on anyone saying that they are ready to be a DP? I’m so conflicted. @Todd Wilken #27

    That is @Bishop Todd Wilken #27, if you don’t mind!

    Now, where’s my free lunch? Concierge? Concierge?

    TW

  38. November 30th, 2012 at 10:11 | #38

    @Pastor Joshua Scheer #19
    Thanks Pastor Scheer

  39. November 30th, 2012 at 12:28 | #39

    It really is fantastic that so many pastors here are blessed with large families.

    I would like to point something out though: If we truly are against abortion should we not be increasing our families with adopted children? This may get a bit works righteounessy, but I don’t intend it to be.

    There are multiple arguments for for adoption, some worldly some not.

    On the worldly side is the environmental argument that the people responsible for bringing another consumer (person) in to the world are responsible also for all that that person consumes, wastes, and pollutes. However, by adopting those same people can reduce the amount of consumption and pollution on the planet. Stewards of the earth? Perhaps not?

    This may be a bit less worldly: We get very upset with abortions, and with homosexuals adopting. If we took up the slack perhaps this would be less of an issue? Adoption is also a way for those who are childless, for whatever reason, to participate in the joy and the responsibility of child rearing.

    That also goes to one of theses of this post, that being Church growth. Although I took this idea with a little bit of tongue in cheek (I thought the article came more from a place of sharing a bit of these pastor’s personal lives with the rest of us.) there is something to say about bringing up children in a traditional Evangelical Catholic home, but this should not be limited by our fertility. Once again this goes back to adoption: Adopting the heathen born in to our earthly family as well as the family of Christ is such a blessing.

    I do not mean to detract from the joyful blessings bestowed upon these pastors. Please forgive me if I have.

  40. Marie
    November 30th, 2012 at 14:20 | #40

    Erich :
    Adoption is also a way for those who are childless, for whatever reason, to participate in the joy and the responsibility of child rearing.

    @Erich #39

    The sad reality is that the mountain of adoption fees make adopting even one child financially out of reach for many couples. I know of fiscally responsible couples who have been saving for years and still are still not able to cover all the fees.

  41. November 30th, 2012 at 15:41 | #41

    @Marie #40

    Truly adoption can be expensive, but here’s the opening paragraph from Adoption.com’s Adoption Costs page:

    “Adopting from the U.S. foster care system is generally the least expensive type of adoption, usually involving little or no cost, and states often provide subsidies to adoptive parents. Stepparent and kinship adoptions are often not very costly. Agency and private adoptions can range from $5,000 to $40,000 or more depending on a variety of factors including services provided, travel expenses, birthmother expenses, requirements in the state, and other factors. International adoptions can range from $7,000 to $30,000. ”

    Perhaps your friends should consider adopting from foster care.

  42. Marie
    November 30th, 2012 at 17:31 | #42

    @Erich #41

    Although I haven’t researched adoption through foster care myself, my friends’ did, and in their state (in the US) there are restrictive government regulations prohibiting “forcing” any religion on the child (e.g., cannot have the child baptized), and they decided they could not in good conscience sign to those restrictions.

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that for those able to adopt it is a wonderful thing. But in our current society it is not always an option (either because of finances or anti-religion regulations) for every couple that would love to open their home to a child.

  43. Walter Troeger
    December 2nd, 2012 at 14:55 | #43

    Todd Wilken :
    @Pr. Donofrio #35

    How does one put the best construction on anyone saying that they are ready to be a DP? I’m so conflicted. @Todd Wilken #27

    That is @Bishop Todd Wilken #27, if you don’t mind!
    Now, where’s my free lunch? Concierge? Concierge?
    TW

    The free lunch your referring too is at the fancy resort in Florida….where all the DP’s go….

  44. Mrs. Hume
    December 2nd, 2012 at 16:33 | #44

    “We get very upset with abortions, and with homosexuals adopting. If we took up the slack perhaps this would be less of an issue?”

    We are tacking up the slack. In fact, that is why it is an issue. There are enough good homes competing with gays who want to adopt that the only way gays can adopt is to accept terrible terms or never get kids. That is why they want preferred status. Using standard loving stable home criteria, gays don’t qualify. Also, re abortions, there is a waiting list for newborns. In other words we have taken up all the slack. You don’t charge high fees for adoption when you have tons of kids that are costing you money. That makes no sense. Contrary to what they say, there are not tons of kids waiting to be adopted. There are tons of kids in foster care whose parental rights have not been terminated. So when you suggest adopting from foster care, what you are really saying is that people should sign up to be foster parents hoping that maybe, just maybe they will get to keep the child they are caring for. That is a whole nother ballgame as is adopting a 14 year old who has been in foster homes her whole life. And no, two lesbian mothers is not better than foster care for her.

  45. December 4th, 2012 at 09:23 | #45

    @Mrs. Hume #44

    Nowhere in my comment do I state, or imply that two lesbian mothers would be better than a child being bounced from home to institution to home to home etc…

    Neither do I suggest that a state institution or even a private one would be an appropriate apparatus to raise a child.

    Neither do I fetishize children and the family; implying that we should only be interested in healthy little infants of our own race or background to bring in to our families.

    What I do say is that there are other options for increasing the blessings of a Christian’s home through adoption of children, and not to get all works righteounessy, but it may in deed be a good work inspired by the Grace of God that we are freely given and an increase to our family in Christ.

    @Marie #42

    Your point in regard to “forcing” is a good one, and a difficult problem. I’m don’t know that I have an answer. I do know that there are children in need, and that difficulties of cost (either adoption or proper prenatal care) can be expensive, difficulties of how one may go about exemplifying the Gospel to a child when constrained by state’s rules, and the difficulties of possibly raising a child who is disabled, or not an infant should not deter us from taking up this challenge of loving.

    Once again I do not mean to detract from the joy of the pastors here. Congratulations, and abundant blessings to you all.

  46. Mrs. Hume
    December 4th, 2012 at 15:14 | #46

    @Erich #45

    Erich, I wasn’t finding fault with you or your suggestion. But I think there is just a lot of misinformation out there about kids just waiting for adoption. That is not true. That is why the price is so high. Those who control adoption can raise the price because there is a limited supply.

  47. December 5th, 2012 at 04:44 | #47

    I understand that the number of disappointed people wanting to adopt is about the same as the number of abortions performed…

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