President Kieschnick’s BRTFSG and President Obama’s Health Care: Similar Trajectories, by Pastor Rossow

January 26th, 2010 Post by

I have heard numerous people over the last year suggest that President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon proposals and President Obama’s Health Care Plan have striking similarities. Now that we are seeing President Obama’s plan unravel and President Kieschnick backing away from certain aspects of his plan the uncanny resemblance cannot be avoided.

Here are some of the similarities I see:

Both are about Ideology – This has not been discussed much but at the heart of it all, the Blue Ribbon proposals seek to remake the synod in the image of your local church growth congregation where the input and ideas of the average member are restricted in favor of a ruling board of directors. Just as President Obama’s health care plan is the product of an ideology of big government, President Kieschnick’s proposals are the product of a church growth ideology. In numerous instances the Blue Ribbon proposals eliminate the voice of the people and increase the roll of centralized planning in the hands of the synodical president. We will give examples of this under our fifth comparison below.

Neither Brings about any Real Cost Savings – President Obama asserts that his health care plan will bring cost savings but a serious number of pundits have actually made legitimate cases that it will increase the cost of health care for most people. Likewise, the BRTFSG asserts that a major reason for making structural changes in the LCMS is to save money. Why has the BRTFSG not created any forecasts of exactly how much will be saved? They haven’t because any savings will be insignificant. The savings are just not there. The LCMS treasurer has already gone on record to say that the effect of the proposals is budget neutral, i.e. they bring no real change in our finances one way or another.

What’s the Rush? – All watched and wondered why President Obama tried to force health care reform through by last September and when that failed by last Christmas. (His critics assert it was for political reasons.) Likewise, many are watching the proposal of sweeping changes to the synod and wondering why President Kieschnick is going so fast. Entire districts are petitioning President Kieschnick and the synod to slow down the Blue Ribbon process by submitting overtures to that effect for this summer’s convention but President Kieschnick and the Task Force are ignoring this sentiment and pressing on. If these changes are so important, it only makes sense to present the completed product to the convention this year and then let the synod and its congregants unpack the proposals and discuss them for the next triennium so that we can come to a reasoned, reflected decision.

Where is the Bi-Partisanship? – Critics have pointed out that President Obama has locked out the Republicans from the health care plan and cut all sorts of back room deals while all along claiming that the health care process is transparent and bi-partisan. We hear the same from President Kieschnick’s task force. It is indeed his task force. He appointed them all and when one looks down the list what is crystal clear is that there are no representatives of a traditional, liturgical approach to church. The task force members, almost to a person, are sympathetic to President Kieschnick’s church growth ideology. The process has also been highly controlled. People who have attended district conventions and now the regional gatherings where the proposals are being presented are coming away with the impression that the task force is not listening to the folks in order to adjust their plans, but are listening in order to decide what will fly and what will not fly. They seem more interested in having successful proposals than actually adjusting what they are proposing to accommodate criticism and different approaches.

Both are about Centralized Control – The Obama health care plan would bring one sixth of our economy under the control of the government. The Kieschnick Blue Ribbon Proposal brings an inordinate amount of control under the president of the synod and other centralized power. Just as church growth congregations are x-ing out their voters assemblies and putting control of the parish in the hands of a board of directors, likewise the Blue Ribbon proposals take control out of the boards elected by the synod and puts synod programs under the direct control of the synod president. Currently circuits nominate and elect their circuit counselors. Under the new proposals the district president nominates the candidates. Currently circuits choose their own delegates to the synod convention but in the proposals the district president and district convention can choose the delegates. There are numerous other power grabs in the proposals that we do not have space to describe here.

Overall, the similarities between President Obama’s health care plan and President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Plan are uncanny. We pray for one more similarity. President Obama’s health care plan is slowly unraveling due to a populist tea party revolt. We can only hope that LCMS Lutherans will put their coffee cups down and pick up some tea bags of their own and unravel the misguided plans of President Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon proposals.

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  1. anon
    January 26th, 2010 at 09:27 | #1

    Both are bad ideas.

    Both will lead to electoral gains for the other side of the aisle.

  2. Zant
    January 26th, 2010 at 10:28 | #2

    Actually, you’re forgetting that initially Obamacare was supposed to be rammed through back in JULY. But yes, this is a pretty fair assessment.

  3. January 26th, 2010 at 10:47 | #3

    Zant – I thought there was a third one. Thanks for reminding me.


  4. January 26th, 2010 at 10:47 | #4

    Anon – You are correct. I wrote this piece so that some who have not drawn your proper conclusion may begin to see the light.


  5. Johannes
    January 26th, 2010 at 11:41 | #5

    Health Care, BRTF’s, POTUS, POTLCMS, whatever. No matter who occupies the “Oval Office” in whatever organization, it’s instructive to discern their respective attitudes toward power. Their willingness (or reluctance) to wield it to further their ends, however “noble”, should serve as a warning to us all. Lord Acton had it right: “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

    When any politician talks about “The American People” beware! And when any Synodocrat talks about “Our Congregations” be-the-same-ware!

    Johannes, the Suspicious

  6. January 26th, 2010 at 12:51 | #6

    “President Kieschnick’s BRTFSG and President Obama’s Health Care: Similar Trajectories”

    A better expression was used by columnist George Will to describe attempts at subtrafuge by Obama and the Democrats to push through “0bamacare.” It also applies to the BRTFSSG’s smoke-and-mirrors tactics on convention delegates.

    Surely any such trickery would be one brick over a load for some hitherto servile members of the Democratic House and Senate caucuses, giving them an excuse to halt their party’s Gadarene rush toward the precipice.” [Emphasis added]

  7. Heartbroken
    January 26th, 2010 at 13:56 | #7

    Oooo! I like tea. :-)

  8. Heartbroken
    January 26th, 2010 at 14:00 | #8

    But I suspect many LCMS Lutherans drink out of beer steins, Pr. Rossow. ;-)
    Speaking of which, do we have the BJS Conference parties planned for Friday night yet?

  9. jim_claybourn
    January 26th, 2010 at 15:35 | #9

    Time for us all to go back and


    or listen to:

    Pastor Harrison’s paper – “It’s Time”.

  10. jim_claybourn
    January 26th, 2010 at 16:19 | #10

    “Neither Brings about any Real Cost Savings”

    the only real savings that I’ve seen would come from going from a 3 year to a 4 year convention cycle.

  11. Henry Bimpage
    January 26th, 2010 at 16:32 | #11

    I am also reminded of Rahm Emanuel’s quote, “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste, it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”

    One of the reasons given for structural change was basically that LCMS, Inc.’s financial crisis requires the change. Thus this is an opportunity to do ‘important’ things we would otherwise avoid like take autonomy away from congregations and give more power to the synod elite.

  12. January 26th, 2010 at 16:35 | #12


    It was good meeting you at Ft. Wayne.

    The four year cycle does save some money but at the expense of losing control. I am not deathly opppsoed to a four year cycle but we need to be honest in that lengthening the time between conventions grants more power to synod inc. because it is one more year more without the delegates exercising oversight. Also, the money saved is to congregations and not synod inc since it is the congregations that are assesed for the conventions.


  13. Johannes
    January 26th, 2010 at 19:40 | #13

    @Henry Bimpage #11

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #12

    Brothers–the way bureaucracies work, even the four-year cycle won’t save us a dime. Whatever “savings” may be realized on paper will be used for Blazing away at something or another. We could reduce the total number of delegates to two–one pastor and one layman, and there would be no savings. We could hold the conventions totally on line, and there’d be no savings. It’s not about money–it’s about power, the ultimate intoxicant.

    Forget the savings angle–it’s a smokescreen. I mean, where there’s A Blaze–there’s smoke. Get it? Heh, heh, heh…. and it’s A Blaze smoke inhalation that’s getting to all of us. So get out your smoke detectors…

    Johannes, the smoke-free

  14. Johannes
    January 26th, 2010 at 19:43 | #14

    Oops. I should have responded to Jim Claybourne #10, as well as the others. Sorry. Must have been the smoke.

    Johannes, cough, cough……

  15. Michael Mapus
    January 26th, 2010 at 23:29 | #15

    JUST SAY NO!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. helen
    January 27th, 2010 at 14:53 | #16

    @Pastor Tim Rossow #12

    But the delegates at convention have not “exercised control”. Resolutions, even at the district level, are not brought to the floor for discussion.
    Something has got to separate the SP from 100% control of the convention, so that all voices may be heard.
    The “Blue Ribbon….” is the last way to accomplish that.

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