Letters From The “Becoming Lutheran Research Participants” To Lutheran Pastors And Journeying Evangelicals

August 30th, 2013 Post by

untitled-1416933-mAs many of you know, I have been working on a Major Applied Research Project over the last two years examining the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought. After examining over 700 surveys, I decided to construct two letters from all the research participants’ suggestions/recommendations.  The first letter is to Lutheran Pastors who are presently receiving these former Evangelicals.  The second letter is to individuals currently traveling from American Evangelicalism into Confessional Lutheran thought.  In constructing the letters from the research participants I used actual phrases from the surveys; therefore, think of these letters as a collective voice. Enjoy these pleas!

Rev. Richard

 

Dear Confessional Lutheran Pastor,

As you receive former Evangelicals like us, we humbly ask that you be patient with us. While it may not look like it, we have been through a lot to get to your church. To you it may look like we are high maintenance, which is absolutely true. We will be high maintenance at first, but once we are catechized we are certain that we will be your biggest advocate for the Lutheran theology you preach and teach. Therefore, please don’t assume that our questions are meant to challenge you. Don’t assume that we know the basics, we often don’t. Please hear our questions and then explain everything; please teach us. You can be theological with us. Not only do we need your patience, but we need you to remain steadfast to your church’s confession. Please don’t water Lutheranism down. You can preach the Law strongly to us and the Gospel more strongly still. Be Lutheran and don’t be ashamed of this! We don’t want Evangelicalism. Teach the liturgy; teach the Small Catechism. Point us to Christ crucified for that is what we all need. Thank you in advance for being our shepherd.

In Christ,

The Becoming Lutheran Research Participants

 Dear Journeying Evangelical Friend:

As you journey into Confessional Lutheran thought we want to tell you that you are not alone. We have gone through this journey and want to tell you that it is worth it. Indeed, it is difficult and it takes time. If you haven’t already, be prepared to feel ignorant as you struggle to unlearn what you were taught in American Evangelicalism and as you are catechized into Confessional Lutheranism. Hang in there and be patient. If you haven’t found a Confessional Lutheran church and a Lutheran pastor, do this as soon as possible. Don’t try to do it all on your own, there are many Lutherans out there that are ready and able to help you. Study the Word, study the Lutheran Confessions. Read, read, read, and listen. Ask questions. Be bold in your learning. Cling to the Word of God, your solace is there. This journey can seem scary but the Word of God is unchanging, even if your comprehension of it is changing. It’s worth it; the Gospel in its clarity and Jesus taught in simplicity is worth it! Remain steadfast.

In Christ,

The Becoming Lutheran Research Participants

 

To learn more on this subject, CLICK HERE or CLICK HERE.

 






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  1. August 30th, 2013 at 15:20 | #1

    You need to get this out to every Missouri Synod pastor you can, Matt. Particularly the part about not being ashamed about being Lutheran.

  2. Stef
    August 30th, 2013 at 15:33 | #2

    Therefore, please don’t assume that our questions are meant to challenge you. Don’t assume that we know the basics, we often don’t. Please hear our questions and then explain everything; please teach us.

    Amen!

  3. Martin R. Noland
    August 30th, 2013 at 19:10 | #3

    Dear Pastor Richard,

    Thanks for your research and an excellent post!

    As a conservative-confessional Lutheran pastor, I would much rather teach a JEF (Journeying Evangelical Friend) than a “lifetime Lutheran” who can’t understand why the Book of Concord doesn’t agree with his or her lifetime beliefs.

    I’ll only share one case, but have many examples. I had a “lifetime Lutheran” member (in her early 80s) many years ago, raised in an LCMS parsonage, who thought I was a Roman Catholic because I taught that “baptism is necessary.” When I showed her that phrase in the Augsburg Confession, and explained the difference between necessity and absolute necessity, she thought the AC was wrong or the translation was wrong. I didn’t pursue it beyond that.

    Pastors often can’t convince such “lifetime Lutheran” folks, but they do have to be patient with them. Still, it is a real joy to teach the teachable, especially for those of us trained to be teachers (I’m a B.A., CU-River Forest-IL, Elementary Education, 1979).

    Thanks again, Pastor Richard!

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  4. Diana Frost
    August 31st, 2013 at 08:17 | #4

    Dear Confessional Lutheran Pastor,

    Sometimes during the life of a “lifeltime Lutheran”, things become sticky and unclear. Perhaps what we were taught as children is not what our current pastor is teaching us. It could be that we have been influenced by evangelical radio, friends, books, or other media. Sometimes life stinks, we are hurting deeply, and, in our sin, we lash out at the church and its teachings. We are not intentionally trying to be difficult, but need clarification, understanding, and someone to be patient with us. Please don’t think we are unteachable. We don’t mean to be a burden.

    Lifetime Lutheran
    Diana

  5. Rick Bryant
    August 31st, 2013 at 09:06 | #5

    As one of the participants in Pastor Richard’s surveys, I can honestly say that the letters convey my exact thoughts. Thank you for all the time and effort that you put into this project!

    My family and I have been attending a Confessional Lutheran church for almost a year now after many years of Evangelical church membership. And it is so true that we have had to un-learn so many things that we were taught in our previous church. But praise be to God, we have an extremely patient pastor that has endured our silly questions and basic lack of knowledge about the historic Christan faith during our catechism process.

    We have reached out on several occasions to friends from our previous church that have expressed frustration over the doctrine (or lack of) being taught there. So far, nobody has accepted the invitation to attend a service, or to even talk about the differences in modern Evangelicalism and Confessional Lutheranism. There has been a cost involved; lost friendships as well as being victims of the gossip and rumors as to why we left the “church”. But we will be ready when someone wants to boldly step off the hamster wheel of Evangelicalism to speak with them about the historic Christian faith.

    Thank you once again Pastor Richard for all your work!

    In Christ,

    Rick Bryant

  6. Dr. Ralph E. Spraker, Jr.
    August 31st, 2013 at 10:39 | #6

    “We will be high maintenance at first, but once we are catechized we are certain that we will be your biggest advocate for the Lutheran theology you preach and teach.”

    This was my story!

    I was a Reformed Evangelical Mutt and found a Confessional Lutheran Pastor who painfully refuted my Reformed muddled thinking. Pr. Burger demonstrated from Scripture that I overlooked whole phrases to avoid their implications (e.g., “for the remission of sins” or “participation in the Lord’s Body”).

    I was convicted to the core and soon repented of my many false baptisms and communions and turned away from my “Conversion” during a Baptist Revival to to my true baptism (in the LCA in 1957) as an infant.

    I insisted on being “Confirmed” not “transferred” since I had skipped out on those “Confirmation Classes” as a teen.

    I am now the “biggest advocate for the Lutheran theology you preach and teach.”

  7. Martin R. Noland
    August 31st, 2013 at 11:20 | #7

    Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I find it interesting that the word “teach” keeps coming up here.

    Both from personal expectations and from external expectations, many pastors have the idea that they are called only to be “preachers.” That is a monologue form of the Word; which is commanded by our Lord; and He practiced it. “He sent them out to preach” (Luke 9:2).

    But there is also the dialogue form of the Word; which is also commanded by our Lord; and he practiced it. “Teaching them to obey all I have commanded you!” (Matthew 28:20).

    Both are part of the Lutheran pastor’s job description, but not all pastors are equally adept at both forms. Those that are teachers by nature or by training welcome questions and they ask questions of their classes. They make the best Bible class and catechism teachers. No accident, then, that Pastor Bender is the head of the Concordia Catechetical Academy, when both he and his wife were graduates of Concordia Teacher’s College, River Forest, Illinois.

    You always have to ask the question whether our seminaries have sufficient coursework in pedagogy/catechesis/religious education, etc. I know that Professor John Pless has made this part of his life’s work while at University Lutheran Chapel, and now at Concordia, Fort Wayne. I know that Dr. Richard Carter at Concordia, Saint Paul, recently retired, has made religious pedagogy his forte–as has Dr. Gary Bertels at Concordia, River Forest. I am sure there are others–those are just the ones I know personally.

    In any event, Diana’s comment (#4) is worth restating: “We are not intentionally trying to be difficult, but need clarification, understanding, and someone to be patient with us. Please don’t think we are unteachable.” This applies to all folks that pastors teach.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  8. September 1st, 2013 at 23:51 | #8

    I would agree greatly with my friend, Pastor Nolan, about the word teach. From personal experience, since becoming a Lutheran in 1961, there have several pastors where we attended that have taught Bible classes, etc., well, and one very well. In other cases there have been some not so good at it. The worst case being one our pastors in the 60′s that did not teach any Bible classes, only 8th grade confirmation. That was done very poorly so I often wonder what those young people are doing now. The adults who did teach were left to their own devices about course content and context. No oversight on theology or skill of the lay teacher. It was not a good experience and no wonder that this church in hip CA was basically a social church.

    The pastors’ ability to teach in their parishes is paramount and needs to be well taught at the seminaries. Our future as confessional Lutherans depends on it.

  9. Ben M.
    September 2nd, 2013 at 01:19 | #9

    We become Lutheran, and stay Lutheran and remain faithful when we do what our lord commands.He does not suggest. He commands faithfulness to his truth

  10. helen
    September 2nd, 2013 at 08:37 | #10

    @Gene White #8
    In other cases there have been some not so good at it. The worst case being one our pastors in the 60′s that did not teach any Bible classes, only 8th grade confirmation.

    A pastor who does not teach is only doing part of his job. But teaching requires preparation, just as a sermon does. Sometimes a congregation overloads its pastor with other activities, from social director to janitor, that do not permit enough time for study. That is a mistake on the part of the congregation as well as the pastor. After preaching and the Service of the Sacraments, confirmation, instructional classes for membership and Bible classes are important for the life of the congregation.

  11. September 3rd, 2013 at 10:11 | #11

    Many in LCMS are showing by lack of doctrine and practice that they are not really Lutheran.Apply all properly begininning with faithful Law and Gospel proclamation.Each congregation must work towards this and uniformity w/o oracles and prophetesses of their own and doing anything they want. Follow approach and faithfulness of WELS -MI District

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