Policy Analysis Cited by Mollie Now Available Here

December 30th, 2008 Post by

The article Mollie referred to in her last post is now available on the site. You will most likely have the same love/hate response to this article as I had. On the one hand it states that Ablaze is failing. On the other hand the proposed solution for this failure is even more fire!

Read Mollie’s introduction for some background and then read the article and let us know what you think. We will also be providing some commentary of our own in the days to come.

Pastor Rossow


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  1. December 31st, 2008 at 00:44 | #1

    Hmm – well, after an initial reading of the article, I would agree, of course, with Mollie’s assessment that the author certainly does point out that the Ablaze movement does not live up to its hype and expectations. Not much of a surprise there.

    The author seems to indicate that, for the Ablaze! “movement” to succeed, it will need a leader who has a kind of personality which will “intuitively” lead, move forward, take risks, etc. This is rather frightening to me because I am sure that certain personality types will key in on that statement and will step forward to try to be just that. We have had our fair share of that, in my opinion. Sadly, much of what seems to pass for “leadership” instruction/discussion/development within Christendom these days is little more than new ways to try to manipulate people into doing whatever some “leader” required of them du jour. Where, oh, where, is the servant leadership which humbly seeks to serve Christ and our neighbor?

    When the Church has been at her best is when she has learned not to try to effect “movements” of people or ideas. The Church is at her best when she realizes that we are the baptized children of God redeemed by the holy blood of Christ. The Church is at her best when she is fed by God’s own Word and His Sacraments. She is at her best when she, fed by Christ, strives to faithfully serve Him by faithfully serving His people with His own means of grace. Others, then, see what the Church has to offer and they are drawn to her work, even as the eye, on a dark night, is drawn to the light. Humbly serving Christ and our neighbor has always been the way of the Church; when that is skewed, the Church’s mission is skewed as well. Attempts at a “movement” which will bring blessing to the Church is skewed in that it is ultimately self-serving.

    May God graciously lead us to repentance and grant us pure motives so that we will return to His ways. Then, IF it is His will, He will grow His Church to His glory.

  2. Susan R
    December 31st, 2008 at 12:27 | #2

    Our church is defintely not within a period of growth.
    So are we less than a church, less valued in His kingdom?
    We are liturgical, confessional, yet struggling. We don’t come near the growth of the Baptists with the new auditorium and work-out center, or the Presbyterians who’ve ordained their first female pastor (a very well-educated, accomplished woman) or the Methodists who’ve added an emergent-type service to their Sunday worship rotation. We’re hardly a recognized beacon of truth in a sea of deception. And if we remain faithful for 50 more years, there’s no guarantee we’ll be seen as what we are.
    Yet here we stand, but standing more endangered from the inside–from those who see what’s happening to our neighbors and not happening to us, and who can’t wait for a chance (say, Pastor retiring?) to shake-rattle-and-roll our liturgical/confessional foundation for a piece of the pie.
    The horror of it always must be that we are our own worst enemies. It’s like the old Vietnam conundrum: We must bomb the village in order to save it. We’ll rend our foundations, in order to save ourselves from obscurity and irrelevance, apparently the worst of all Hells in the post-modern age.

  3. helen
    December 31st, 2008 at 13:04 | #3

    In fact, Susan, if you are still faithfully giving a tithe to your district (thence to synod) you are funding the “shake, rattle & roll” elsewhere and eventually the rope that will hang you, too.

    Christ never promised prominence, popularity or large numbers, (quite the contrary) a fact that seem to elude our bureaucracy. But that’s in Scripture, which seems to be buried under the business management texts.

  4. Susan R
    December 31st, 2008 at 13:21 | #4

    This is most certainly true, Helen. I don’t mean a lament of our congregation’s circumstances. The lament is for those among us who, for want of numbers, would sacrifice our creed–our very soul.
    Love that last sentence of yours, by the way. Pithy.
    That tithing to district–indeed, to Synod–are bones I swallow each year. Yes, we are good little capitalists, buying our own rope.
    Unfortunately, I’ve tried to get Council to underwrite something more efficacious with those dollars. Say, Issues, Etc. or BJS; the best outreach our money could buy. But, even more unfortunately, few are aware of such treasures, darkness being so comfy and all. (geesh–it does sound like I’m begging for cheese with that whine, doesn’t it? Maybe in next year’s budget clatch, it’ll bear more fruit.)

  5. Susan R
    December 31st, 2008 at 13:23 | #5

    It’s not the lack of prominence or members I bemoan, but the lack of faith *among our members* in what we already have: our own confession, and our Christ.

  6. David Rosenkoetter
    January 2nd, 2009 at 04:17 | #6

    Hi, Susan,.

    Very well put in your two most recent posts. I once heard someone say “America is 3000 miles wide and only one inch deep.”

    Under the sway of Ablaze and similar programs, the LC-MS is in danger of continuing on the road of similar shallowness.

    I am deeply concerned about the trend toward considering the mission first and the message somewhere beyond second place. If the Ablaze craze does everything it claims to accomplish and yet fails to catechize people in the true Christian faith, it has still failed.

    Thanks be to God, our Lord’s great commission does not depend on whipping up our emotions in order to accomplish that for which Jesus declared it. It does not depend on critical moments designed to bring people to their making a “decision”.

    Jesus’ words don’t number crunch the amount of people or dollars per capita. Rather, they say “all nations”. The means of carrying out our Lord’s Commission, our Lord Himself gives us: baptizing and teaching

    Which brings me to my biggest sticking point about Ablaze, by the way. I don’t hear much emphasis on the Sacraments in much of the literature of Ablaze! It’s as if the number-crunchers-that-be do not want us to speak distinctively with people. Ablaze assumes a more general pose toward all articles of doctrine while favoring a more general, less defined “faith”.

    When our Lord commands us to “teach everything,” He means just that, everything. That includes the blessings of Baptism and the Sacrament of the Altar. One does not have to be some intellect to grasp such gifts

    I was having a discussion with some folks yesterday wherein they were objecting to the different groups which have risen up by God’s grace to teach Confessional, Lutheran theology. Well, I pointed out that such groups such as BJS, Higher Things, and Issues Etc. really are doing the loving thing–by 1. defending what many in the Ablaze thrust have lost, purity of doctrine and 2. corecting error. I agree with you. We need as individuals and congregations to support these Christ-centered organizations.

    After all, we allign with LC-MS as long as and in the areas in which the Synod remains faithful to Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, not beyo them. Unfortunately, many at ou Synod’s leadership have forgotten the late D Dr. A.L. Barry’s urge: “Keep it straight, Missouri!”

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