More on KFUO’s budget

I found out a little bit more about the KFUO budget situation. Recently we discussed how odd it is that the 2008/2009 budget for KFUO would increase over the previous year. Remember that BCS Executive Director David Strand claimed that he fired Todd and Jeff and canceled the Synod’s only nationally syndicated broadcast program for some bizarre concoction of financial and programmatic reasons.

The primary causes for the budget increase are, apparently, an increase in costs charged by the LCMS Foundation for fundraising and an increase in overhead costs (G&A) charged by Synod, Inc.

It’s pretty awesome that the Foundation could do such a horrific job with fundraising and still get so much money to do it. But whatever. Let me explain the overhead charge. Basically, the Synod controls the back office and assumes that each department has the same needs for phones, copiers, human resources, etc. So they charge each department a set amount for each employee they have. Somehow, the fundraising and G&A for KFUO increased by over $200,000 for this year.

It’s important to understand how shrinking support from districts plays into this situation. The unrestricted assets (aka “surplus”) of Synod has gone from $7 or $8 million in the early 2000s to nothing today. And congregations tend to target their giving to missions, human care, seminiaries, etc. Back office support is not what people usually earmark their donations for.

Particularly when people outside Synod, Inc. are paid very low wages and people within Synodical headquarters are paid absolutely insane salaries.

Probably the best thing that could be done to increase the funding of Synod, Inc. by congregations and districts would be to align the salaries of the elected officials and bureaucrats at Synod, Inc. with the local district pay scale. It is nothing short of a scandal that there are salaries of $140K and up at Synod, Inc. David Strand, for instance, makes a six-figure salary that most of us would envy.

About the kitchen remodel at KFUO. Supposedly this is being done with grant money. It’s an interesting investment for this particular time — not only because of the, uh, programmatic hemmoraghing but also because many people would like to sell the (Classical) FM license.


More on KFUO’s budget — 30 Comments

  1. Who actually determines salaries, budgets, etc? Is there no board of some kind to ensure a “checks and balances” of sorts? I’m a fairly recent convert and can’t understand how the papacy of K. and politics have worked their way into this organization so deeply. It’s as if a cancer is spreading!

  2. When we have modest size parishes (ie. 50-100 baptized) struggling to pay their full-time pastors living wages (especially on the coasts where the cost of living is simply ridiculous,) it is unconscionable that midwest lifestyle pencil-pushers can be receiving 140K that comes from the SAME collection plates. For 140K/year we could put 2-3 full time pastors into Philadelphia city churches that currently stand vacant. In a city where there is virtually no Lutheran presence, we could take that same money and support one full time pastor in a mission-outpost in the heart of the city, including buying a building in the UPenn/Drexel U hub of intellectual commerce and public square!

    I guess I could say I’m outraged. But I’ve grown too cynical for that. And this after a mere two years in the Ministry. I have striven from day one to give our beloved Synod (now Inc.) the benefit of the doubt. I’ve wanted to be a “synod man.” But to do so, I’d just have to close my eyes and tell myself “there’s no place like home” over and over again 24/7.

    If and when we ever get another theologian in the office of the Presidency, I pray he has the werewithal to do the thankless work of returning this dear communion to a policy of small-government. It may be only a civil matter, a matter of the left-hand – but the first article is still a theological realm. It is the realm of man’s righteousness – a place where we all WILL be judged, specifically, IN TIME, by our neighbors, and by the fruit of our actions. As we sow, so we reap.

    For all our talk, we are not sowing missions. We are sowing office workers. Where we ever got the idea that less full-time pastors and more full-time administrators would help the laity grow the Church, I just don’t know.

    Maybe: “Now in those days when the disciples were decreasing in number, a complaint by the enthusiasts arose against the Lutherans because their praise bands were being overlooked by the COW. And the office of the President summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up serving tables to preach the Word. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men, women and children of upper-middle class repute, in need of larger mortgages and desiring to send their children to expensive colleges, whom we will will pay to tell others who are untrained and busy with their regular vocations to do this duty for us. But we will devote ourselves to mission-mindedness and to the Ministry of “how-to” manuals.” And what they said pleased at least half the gathering, and they chose…[too many]. These they set before the gathering, and they prayed but wouldn’t dare lay their hands on any of them because ordination is an adiaphora deligated to the Seminaries. And the Word of God continued to decrease, and the number of the disciples divided greatly in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. And a great many of the young adults joined larger baptists churches, while the rest gave themselves over to new-age thinking and a pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.”

    From the Acts of the Administrators, chapter 6, verses 1-7.

  3. It appears that this same mindset exists in a lot, maybe most, large “Christian” organizations. This week I’m leaving one Christian company in which management receives increasingly fat salaries while the rest of the staff receives no salary increases. I’m entering seminary and so will ultimately be working for another organization (LCMS, Inc.) that does the same.

  4. And, President Kieschnick’s Restructuring plan calls for an entire new layer of highly paid bureaucrats! Plus Kieschnick-picked boards and department heads!

    Money AND power!


  5. When I was studying in Australia, I was told that there was a standard pay scale for all clergy in the LCA, so that the synodical president received the same salary as a parish pastor with similar experience. One result is that pastors are not tempted to leave smaller parishes for larger ones because of a salary increase.

    Not being an LCA pastor myself, I can’t say for sure how all the details work and how the non-salary benefits compare.

    Does anyone know if LCMS DPs are typically paid at or above district scale?

  6. I remember working in St. Louis about 14 years ago and making a delivery to a large office park across HWY 44 from the International Center. Upon the visit I learned that the building had been purchased by the LCMS. I thought it was pretty neat that I belonged to such a prosperous church denomination which could afford to invest in area real estate and be a landlord to businesses while growing to a point where they would fill it with their own corporate leaders.

    There may be nothing wrong with our church denomination owning an office complex, but 14 years later my conscience is bothered by the priorities of our synod. I don’t pretend to know of any specific corruption in our synod, but I do know that we are all poor miserable sinners to whom corruption comes quite naturally. If we don’t keep corporate corruption in check in this synod, it seems we are on a track to become a type of Gotham Synod where lawlessness, dishonesty, and greed rule the day. I don’t think any of us want to become the the Lutheran Church Gotham Synod.

  7. Ross wrote: “I don’t think any of us want to become the the Lutheran Church Gotham Synod.”

    That horse is already out of the barn.


  8. Pastor Wilken,

    Yes, I suppose it is.

    Can you tell I recently saw The Dark Knight? I read a post somewhere else referring to this line from the movie. It was referring to the Joker and goes something like, “Some people set a city on fire just to watch it burn.” I couldn’t help but relate that to how our Synod has been set Ablaze(tm) and how the unholy trinity wants nothing more than to just watch a group of Christians originally brought together by their common confession of Christ and His cross, burn.

  9. Pastor Todd (& others)

    Then what do we the laity do to put the Inc. back on the right path? We recognize the problem, but what can realistically be done?

  10. Kevin in Indiana–
    In the other thread from giving the synod a report card, Pastor Rossow promised that possibly Pastor Simcak down in Texas might assist with this. And/Or Pastor Baue would be posting something soon where he calls us all to arms.

    I’m glad that I’m not the only laity member crying out for a “practical” approach for laity to take to address problems in our synod.

    If we’re patient, I’m sure Pastor Rossow is a man that remembers his promises…..
    Isn’t that right, Pastor Rossow? 😉

  11. Heartbroken,

    I have not forgotten. Pastor Baue has had his call to arms reviewed by some very significant folks around the synod and has sent the final verson to me. I am currently travelling on vacation and am supporting the site remoteley and also with the help of Cheryl Magness (Cantor Phil Magness’s wife). I may wait until the end of next week to post it, once I get back and give it the proper intro and follow-up.

    We are also having a good discussion amongst the steering committee on how to make sure that we are edifying as much and more than we are critiquing. That should result in some more types of columns/features that will equip and encourage us all to fight the good fight in the LCMS.

    Thanks for your patience and do not hesitate to remind me again – I take every comment on this site very seriously and get a lot of strength from all you guys!

    Pastor Rossow

  12. Kevin asked, “Then what do we the laity do to put the Inc. back on the right path? ”

    Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say.

    I don’t think LCMS Inc. can be put back on the right path.

    “LCMS Inc.” refers to the entrenched bureaucracy of the LCMS, to the those synodical and district officers who think that the congregations exist to fund the bureaucracy, to our leaders who believe that they know better how to spend your congregation’s offerings than the your congregation does, to those who confuse the survival of the bureaucracy with the mission of the Church.

    The Synod, on the other hand, refers to the faithful pastors and congregations that still walk together. They are already on the right path.

    What are the laity to do? Remain faithful to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions. Require that your pastors remain faithful to God’s Word and the Lutheran Confessions.

    Will the synodicrats of LCMS Inc. try and discourage you? Yes. Will they try to convince you to fund their boondoggles and bright ideas? Of course. Will they threaten if you refuse? Yes. Will they call you names and give your pastor a hard time? Probably. Will they cut off their bureaucratic benevolence? Maybe. Will they accuse you of thwarting the mission of the church? Definitely.

    Faithful preaching and hearing of the Word, faithful administration and reception of the Sacraments –that is the only right path; not the blind bureaucratic alley of LCMS Inc.


  13. “What are the laity to do?” Pr. Wilken

    Three words: Post Synodical Lutheranism.

    It is time.

  14. Pastor Todd,

    Is there no current mechanism for getting the
    “scoundrels” out, and using our synodical funds to further the stated goals of the LCMS as you documented in the other thread? Does the power of Synodical leadership automatically corrupt those in authority?

    Lord have mercy, I pray not!

  15. Pastor Wilken,

    I concur with what you’ve said. It seems that Kevin and I still want to try and see if there are any in “LCMS Inc” that can be brought back to faithfulness. Or, if we could reclaim the bureaucratic structure somehow to make it serve the Synod again by cleansing it.

    I had asked in my previous post:

    “Could one of your ordained members put together an article on the Synod’s structure, so that laity become knowledgeable on what they can do to fight for the Synod? What powers do laity have other than being a delegate and voting in conventions?
    How and when are Synod leaders elected? How can they be voted out?
    How can Synodical by-laws be changed if they do not support our missionaries, programs, etc.?
    We need to be trained how to fight for our Synod if we want to save it.

    It is good to give the Synod a report card. But now that we’ve rated it–what sort of remedial steps can we take to improve these grade scores?”

    I stumbled across the following article by Pastor Gallup the other day that seems like a good start towards what I was looking for:

  16. Heartbroken,

    It just so happens that there is an article in the works by Pastor Martin Noland on this very topic. It will appear in the next issue of the Steadfast Quarterly (due out Sept. 25) as well as on this site.

    Cheryl Magness, Steadfast Quarterly Managing Editor

  17. Heartbroken wrote: “Is there no current mechanism for getting the “scoundrels” out, and using our synodical funds to further the stated goals of the LCMS as you documented in the other thread? Does the power of Synodical leadership automatically corrupt those in authority?”

    Good questions.

    “Is there no current mechanism for getting the “scoundrels” out?” Sadly the current mechanism is mostly controlled by the “scoundrels” themselves. In fact, under President Kieschnick’s Restructuring Plan, the current mechanism would be brought completely and directly under presidential control, with no checks nor balances.

    “Does the power of Synodical leadership automatically corrupt those in authority?” That’s a touchy question. Not everyone, I’m sure. But a precious few survive with their spines, their principles or their priorities intact.

    Don’t get me wrong, the laity shouldn’t give up. That’s precisely what the current leadership at LCMS Inc. wants the laity to do.

    On the contrary, the laity should stay in the fight. But the goal shouldn’t be reforming the bureaucracy. The goal should be remaining faithful and holding a largely-unaccountable leadership (whoever it may be) accountable to Scripture and the Confessions. They may have been able to escape human accountability by gaming the system. But, whether they believe it or not, they remain accountable to God and His Word.

    Oh, and I almost forgot: Harrison 2010! That couldn’t hurt.


  18. Actually, it was Kevin in Indiana that wrote:
    “Is there no current mechanism for getting the “scoundrels” out, and using our synodical funds to further the stated goals of the LCMS as you documented in the other thread? Does the power of Synodical leadership automatically corrupt those in authority?”

  19. “Then what do we the laity do to put the Inc. back on the right path? We recognize the problem, but what can realistically be done?”

    The laity can actively participate in their voters assemblies and circuit meetings that will elect delegates to district and synodical conventions.

    The delegate should be selected on qualifications to be a delegate not as a reward for his church attendence record. It will ultimately mean voting to enforce membership requirements and removing some pastors and congregations from Missouri Synod membership. “If you can’t stand the heat…”

  20. A couple articles of some interest perhaps:

    The Three Walls Preventing Reform of the LCMS

    “On the Reform of Our Own Christian Estate: A Historical Review of Luther on Dissent and Reform”

    A Catechism on the Dissent Process in the LCMS

    State of Confession, Trinity Lutheran, Herrin, IL

  21. I hear all the comments about what the laity can do and I fully support what has been said. Problem is, I can’t even get our congregation to post information about the new Issues Etc. website or programming. They have dug their heels in and refused to listen. So much for laity input. They would rather I just shut up.

  22. Gayle,

    Oftentimes it’s hard to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness. I commend & encourage you on your efforts to ‘shut up.’ 😉

  23. If a confessional Lutheran, by grace alone is miraculously elected next time around, we must realize that we do not have the luxury of time. We cannot be that presumptuous. We will not turn around the entire barge (to quote an analogy of AL Barry).

    A faithful synod president who is faithful to Scripture, the Confessions, and the liturgical practice implied therein, will not be able to be “nice” and do what needs to be done. He cannot worry about being re-elected. We will have to understand that this isn’t about the bureaucracy but about the marks of the church in the congregations that are members of synod.

    To remain a confessional Lutheran in the bureaucracy these days one must go into it unabashedly confessional but also irrepressibly stubborn and willing to moment after moment resist the generic protestant erosion evident in our synod in three ways (charismatic, crypto-ELCA, and “company man” [synod is right no matter what synod does]).

    We also need someone with thick enough skin that he can be subject to criticism not only by liberals or fundies, but also from staunchly confessional Lutherans. Otherwise the office may consume the one holding it. It is a “ring of power” that one only bears for limited purpose.

    We don’t need 19th century repristinators. Walther and Loehe can both be helpful but we’re desiring to be confessional Lutherans in the 21st century. Let’s get back to Scripture and the Confessions and then let the 19th century fathers sit where they may. Our purpose is not to get back to 1950s LCMS or whatever “golden era.” That is Romanticism. LCMS romanticism is no better than Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox romanticism.

    We learn from our fathers but don’t simply engage in mechanical quotation theology. We preach (predicare) and confess. We have already become victims of multiple layers of resolutions, official positions, CCM rulings and CTCR documents on top of Scripture and the Confessions. A pastor’s ordination vows are very instructive and simple in that regard. This certainly parallels our catechesis these days – layer upon layer on top of Scripture and Catechism. There are three books Lutherans need – Bible, Catechism, and a sound Lutheran hymnal (with liturgy).

    More important than who we elect to head the bureaucracy is to back up faithful pastors who preach, catechize, and officate in the Divine Service when they need it, whether they are well known or not. To be sure all of them are also sinners, and perhaps can say or do things better often, but if the laity do not back up these faithful men who serve by Word and Sacrament, there may not be anywhere to go among us, even when we are two or three synods within one logo, health plan, etc.

  24. Post #1 asked: Who actually determines salaries, budgets, etc?

    A few months ago, I was perusing the LCMS Inc. website and ran across an article that said they were setting the upper management wages based on market wages for similar career positions in order to attract and keep well qualified people. I could not find the article I read, but here is an article from the Reporter from September 2006 that explains the Synod wages – unfortunately, they do not seem to care if pastors are paid by the market rates.

  25. Who actually determines salaries, budgets, etc?

    It sounds like the answer is, “the market decides.” The salaries seem pretty high for a nonprofit church organization, though. I knew a director of a not-for-profit agency who made $50,000 a year. I know a lot of physicians who make less than $135,000 a year. I know Fortune 500 mid-level executives who make less than $80,000 a year. A lot of megachurch pastors don’t even make Synod executive wages. I hope these Synod executives are earning their salaries by putting in at least 60 to 80 hours a week like their wage earning counterparts.

    And then of coarse many of our pastors are forced into living a life of poverty even though they never made a vow of poverty. I am sure a lot of faithful pastors would gladly take half of the Synod executive pay scale as long as they could stay in the pulpit and serve at our Lord’s alter.

  26. The suggestion to align the Synodical salaries to District salaries is a bad idea. District officials are among the highest paid folk in the synod. Pastors in parishes are among the poorest paid just above teachers, I suppose. What should be done is to calculate District salaries according to what pastors and teachers are actually paid divided by the number of folk reporting, Thus the District and Synodical executives and presidents would be truly reflective of actual salaries are not not according to guidelines that are out of wack with the average worker.

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