The LCMS In Her Own Words – Leadership has Replaced Faithfulness

(from Pr. Rossow) In this column we will be passing on extended quotes from various LCMS communications from around the synod. The intention is to establish that the LCMS has moved away from its historic Lutheran and Confessional character. Here is some advice sent out recently by one of the deployed staff of the LCMS, Northern Illinois District. My commentary follows.


Take-Away Tip for Leaders


Chris Widener has written an interesting booked titled, The Art of Influence: Persuading Others Begins With You. He outlines a number of rules of influencing others. Among them are the following:
Living a Life of Undivided Integrity
Followers “do expect their leaders to admit and correct their mistakes; mend the cracks in their integrity, if you will. Left unchecked, eventually a lack of integrity erodes the trust that is needed between a leader and a follower.”   Jesus simply said, “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’, ‘No.'”   (Matthew 5:37)  
Always Demonstrate a Positive Attitude
People respond to optimism. As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, “Despite whatever brutal facts we face, we have an unwavering faith that we can and will prevail in the end.”
Consider Other People’s Interests as More Important Than Your Own
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”   “The greatest among you will be your servant.”   (Matthew 23:11)
Don’t Settle For Anything Less Than Excellence
Dwight L. Moody said, “We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining – they just shine.”  


For Reflection

— Do you try to live everyday with a sense of integrity?
— Do you believe the best days in your church or organization are yet to come?
— Are you genuinely interested in other people?
— Are you settling for “good” instead of “great”?


The good news is that because of God’s grace through Jesus Christ in our lives we begin every day anew.  My prayer is that you will make the most of today!

— Jack Giles, NID Mission Facilitator – Groups Ablaze!


This article was in the August, 2008 edition of the NID Parish Resource Connection (



On what is the emphasis placed in this article? It is on leadership. Do you realize that the word “leadership” is only used once in the New Testament in a prescriptive way (ESV)? That hardly supports the reams and reams of paper being used in the LCMS these days to promote and teach the concept of modern, corporate leadership. Based on a review of the material coming out of LCMS Inc. in the last few years you would think it is the most prevalent teaching of Scripture! Can you cite a single prominent work of Luther or Walther on leadership? I can’t, and I have read countless more volumes of Luther and Walther than Jack Giles has.  I can name hundreds of titles on leadership by non-Lutherans and DCE Giles makes sure to quote two of them for us and for good measure he throws in one of the most prominent non-Lutheran protestant leaders of the last century, Dwight Moody. This is the Dwight Moody of the Moody Radio Network that took the Lutheran Hour off its syndicate several yeaars ago because of its preaching of the sacraments!


Did you notice that this article sounds more like Robert Schuller or Dale Carnegie more than it does like St. Paul, Martin Luther or C.F.W Walther? Did you also notice the overwhelming pietism and legalism of the article?


At least DCE Giles tries to rescue his secular and legalistic  musings on leadership by sprinkling a little Jesus on it in the closing line but it really doesn’t work. This Christ-seasoning” is a typical example of how the church growth practitioner uses Christ. The forgiveness of sins is not the heart and sole of his/her work but is sprinkled on to help us reach some other  legalistic goal, in this case being people of integrity (another term that is not Biblical) and good leaders.


Leadership has replaced faithfulness as the leading character trait for pastors in LCMS Inc. If we had more space here we could talk about why that is so. In short, leadership is touted because it takes courage to take a bunch of basically conservative Lutheran laymen and thier congregation and turn them both into non Lutheran, American evangelical protestants.


This is the LCMS in her own words. She is leaving her moorings and is running off to chase non-Lutheran and unscriptural theologies of glory. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident as we will demonstrate over the course of this column.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.


The LCMS In Her Own Words – Leadership has Replaced Faithfulness — 19 Comments

  1. I stopped reading where the advice references “your church or organization.” This advice is applicable to anybody leading anything — the American Indian Cultural Club, the Edith Piaf Forever Organization, etc. etc.

    But articles like this are simply one of the modus operandi of those Synodicrats who think that leadership is going to make the churches with LCMS in their titles flourish, grow and bring in more souls (and their money).

    They have forgotten that the Spirit leads. At least, that’s how it appears to me.

    I’m very interested in something mentioned on this site about the possible restructuring of the Synod (into what I think Brother Wilkin calls “Synod, Inc.”) where congregations will have to meet certain obligations to be able to use LCMS in their titles?

    This is, bien sur, probably not the place to bring it up, but it certainly sounds alarming and something many readers would like to know more about.

  2. As a friend in the Episcopal Church says, “Theology is a second or third language to many of our bishops.”

    Scripture’s language is a foreign language to our “leader” and to the Ablaze! program.

    This shows the theological shallowness and direction of the Ablaze! program: Start with the wisdom of the world, end with an “honorable mention” of Jesus.

    But, at least this is more substantive that 1VP Dieckelmann’s periodic “Fan Into Flame” emails. They read like they were written by a committee of consultants (at $400 an hour).


  3. This leadership language, no matter which district it comes from, always points to the self instead of Christ. At least, as Pastor Wilken points out, it mentions Jesus, many of these emails fail to do even that…

    I’m also noticing more and more of these email coming from folks with minimal theological training. This mirrors what I see on mission boards as well.

  4. “Leadership” is talked about to obscure the fact that our “leaders” are ~driving~ synod in a direction no thinking Lutheran wants to go.

  5. I don’t really appreciate the mention of Jesus slapped on at the end (I call it “slapping on a happy Jesus tag”) at all. He mentions that we begin each day anew in Jesus. This could be most charitably in the light of daily baptism. However, whenever I hear non-lutherans use this phrase, it’s usually either in reference to cheap grace or to extol us to Pietism.

    The prayer immediately following the mention of Jesus makes me (me, subjectively) feel that the grace of Jesus I may have just been offered is wiped completely away. What if I don’t make the most of this day? And what if I can’t tomorrow and the day after that? Please keep praying for me, but will your prayer that I make the most of this day ever be answered on my part with anything but a “no”? (I’m sure God always wants us to make the most of everyday).

    If you’re going to give me grace, give me grace. Straight up, right in the kisser, no holds barred. Trust it to strengthen faith, from which all good works spring.

  6. Helen, in corporate speak; leadership is not looking back but always forward. In a large corporation, those who talk or pine for “the before times” usually don’t last long. Thinking Lutherans under this model are walked to the door as well.

  7. I think it’s interesting. I don’t find any of the advice particularly offensive. Some of it is pretty good. But it is ONLY man’s wisdom.

    What I find offensive is the way we are always trying to “baptize” man’s wisdom with Bible quotes. If the Synod wants us to learn leadership (which is not their job at all, but if) then why not actually quote and cite pure leadership sources? The version of “Christian Leadership” being panhandled in Evangelicalism is like shopping at a second-hand clothing store for your prom-dress.

    What is betrayed is our complete lack of a theology of vocation and of the two realms. Leadership is good, but it is not equivocal with faithfulness. A pastor must be a good teacher (and one cannot teach without leading,) but this mandate from Paul only serves so far as the teacher teaches that “doctrine” which is handed on.

    The greatest question I have is, if we always strive for excellence, what becomes of the Cross and Cross Theology? Does not the cross teach us that excellence in God’s eyes is being “given over as sheep for slaughter.” It is precisely NOT achieving our earthly plans and goals, but having no present or future hope beyond the crucified Christ himself.

    Of course, one can say that “knowing nothing but Christ and him crucified” is the excellence for which we must ever strive. Fair enough. But contextually, is that a “best construction” on this philosophical movement, or a pure glossing of reality for the sake of avoiding, yes, the cross of persecution for the name of Jesus?

    Two cents, as always.

  8. Pastor Rossow – Looks like Northern Illinois District is right in step with the Missouri District. The front page of the Feb/Mar 2008 MO District Newsletter ( gives us examples of three “transforming” congregations in MO District; they are “transforming” in the following ways:

    > Mount Calvary, Brentwood, Mo: The church “leadership” [is this what they are calling the Elders, Officers, Church Council nowdays?] read Alice Mann’s book called “Raising the Roof…” & they have now restructured their ministry & are finding ways to assist in the community. [Do a little web research & you will find that Alice Mann is “Rev” Alice Mann.]

    > Emmaus, St. Louis, Mo: The Pastor has told the congregation that “liturgy, evangelism & community service” are the focus of the congregation. They are also working through the Jim Collins book “Good to Great.”

    > Holy Cross, St. Louis, Mo: The Pastor has experience growth through “loving the people & having fun.” He got himself a “personal coach” to “enhance his leadership abilities & skills.”

    Ad nauseum.

  9. The title of the linked Reporter article is given as –
    Convocation will discuss Synod’s ‘theological principles’

    The use of single quote marks around the phrase in the title suggests that the convocation is not going to discuss theological principles but what the organizers would like to refer to as “theological principles.” Reading the rest of the article further confirms that view.

  10. Carl V.,

    Good point. I was wondering that myself. The article does not say anything about “theological principles.”

    We are working on getting a reputable source to give us a heads up on what is going on at the conference. More to come on that…

    Pastor Rossow

  11. I have read countless more volumes of Luther and Walther than Jack Giles has. I can name hundreds of titles on leadership by non-Lutherans and DCE Giles


  12. Martin Luther,

    I know Jack quite well. I have known him for 15 years. He was my ecclesiastical supervisor before the circuits were realligned in our district a couple of years ago. He is a very nice man. I consider him a friend but he has not demonstrated much theological acumen.

    It is relevant for the readers of this website to know what office he holds in the church since he has been given a prominent “pulpit” in our district from which to offer guidance to pastors and laity.

    I do not consider myself better than Jack Giles because I am a pastor and he is a DCE. We each have our calling. Even so, I am quite willing to learn from anyone who will teach according to the Scriptures and Confessions that we have subscribed to, but am less interested in being taught secular wisdom in the church, and by someone who does not specialize in it. I do not feel superior to Jack Giles but none the less it is the case that in the orders of the church, I have been given more theological training.

    Now to the issues. What do you think of the wisdom he offers the church in the article I cited? We all are much more interested in that than your ad hominem attacks.

    I will sign my name again and invite you to do the same since this is such a personal issue for you.

    Pastor Tim Rossow

    P.S. BTW – You of all people, Martin Luther, should appreciate the fine art of overstatement.

  13. The “leadership training” being espoused by the NID is excellent, if you are training leaders for a corporation. No theology required. No blessings of God sought. Just growth and profitability.

  14. Dr. Rossow,

    Thanks for this article.

    Our sinful human nature always has to replace Jesus with things like leadership principles and human strength. Thankfully we have the Word of God and brothers in Christ to call us to repentance. I pray that we as a synod would repent of our sin of turning inward and trusting our own man made ideas. I can’t believe that with all of the good Christ centered theologians we have been blessed with in the LCMS things have been allowed to go down like they have. It seems there should be more outcries for repentance, but Satan is truly a powerful foe.

  15. The wisdom Jack offered is good insight and worthy tt be considered…and if we are indeed trained to be people of discernment…can we not separate wheat from the chaff?

  16. Good ‘Ole Marty Luther,

    Let me try this and see if it makes sense.

    Pastors are expected to come to the seminary educated. That is why we are required to have a Bachelors degree before being admitted to the seminary. The bachelors education teaches us about secular things like leadership. We then go to the seminary and learn how to understand and then preach and teach God’s word.

    The role of the synod according to its own objectives is to train and edify its workers in the Word of God (and care for thier physical needs: health insurance, retirement, etc.), not train them in secular/temporal skills. An educated man in Western culture already comes to the call with those skills (some better equipped than others). Even if a pastor is not a good “leader” he still can utilize the one power God has given to His church, the power to forgive sins which is the power of the Gospel, not the power of sociological, psychological and corporate skill. What pastors and laity need from the synod is support and encouragement for using the Word of God.

    I could excuse an occasional reminder to pastors to practice thier leadership skills but this is the constant droning from Jack Giles and other synodical executives. It has become the Gospel for them! I have nothing personal against Jack Giles. He is a great guy but his idea of building up the church is not in keeping with what the scriptures say is the way to build up the church and its pastors.

    I hope this makes sense and appreciate your interest in the topic.

    Pastor Rossow

  17. ML,
    Are you saying that Dr. Giles was sending chaff out of his office which acts as a representative of the NID and LCMS? And if so, shouldn’t the chaff be corrected or not sent out without correcting it to begin with?

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