Is this Point Person Ready for the Battle? By Pr. Robert Niehus

(Pr. Niehus is one of our regular columnists. His column is titled “Church News Watch and Commentary.” His beat is the Chicago area, the Northern Illinois District and the church at large. His posts can be found on the Regular Columns page.)


Some of you may have heard that on Reformation Sunday yet another LCMS congregation has closed their doors.   As reported in a news release by the Northern Illinois District, on 28 October 2008.   Hope Lutheran Church, Park Forest Illinois has conducted their last worship service as Hope Lutheran Church.   The article goes on to report that the church property has been given to the NID and that the Mission Facilitators for the Northern Illinois District were instrumental in developing a new plan for a new mission at Park Forest.


Part of this “new plan” was to work with the congregation’s director of Christian education, Christine Rechsteiner, who has become the “point person” for the emerging mission, which is called “Celebration Ministries” and was birthed on the day Hope closed.   The LCMS church work roster shows Ms. Rechsteiner listed as a Commissioned-DCE with a major in Psychology and a minor in Theatre/TV Arts.   As I read the article I found myself stumbling at trying to understand what a “point-person” was.


Reflecting upon my days as a soldier, I remember with great respect and revere the job of a point man.   For those of you who do not know what a point man is, let me explain.   The point man’s responsibility was to lead his troops on a patrol or reconnaissance.   He was the first man in a tactical formation and he was to be in a constant high state of alert while watching for the enemy, trip wires, mines and anything else that could potentially harm or destroy him or his troops as they made their way through the jungle.   The patrol would watch the point man intently knowing that to stay alert was to stay alive.   The point man provided leadership, and was held accountable for success or failure.   All eyes were on the point man as he led his troops in silence night or day with hand signals that all the troops new by heart.   In combat, the point man’s responsibilities are both humbling and at times overwhelming.

Now for Celebration Ministries.   Is a point person as described by the church growth entrepreneurs at the NID the same as a point man?   This I cannot answer. (I wish they would provide a glossary of terms for their articles)   A search on Merriam –Webster confirmed my suspicions as it had a definition for point man, but none for point person.   The definition for point man read “One who leads a patrol.”   The American Heritage Dictionary defined point man as 1)   A soldier who is assigned to a position some distance ahead of a patrol as a lookout, or (2) A man who has a crucial, often hazardous role in the forefront of an enterprise.  

Will Christine as “point person” lead the church militant in Park Forest through the battlefield fending of false teachers and wolves?   Has Christine been given the responsibility to lead the soldiers of the cross at Park Forest through unchartered territory?   Will Christine know the enemy and his deceptions when she sees them?   Does she understand that the enemy seeks to kill?   I do not have the answers to these questions, but am convinced that this is yet another attempt to promote women’s ordination through the back door of the LCMS.  

As the leadership in the NID promotes it secret and creative agenda, I continue to see laymen preaching, open communion practiced, ordained LCMS clergy participating in Gay Games, joint ecumenical services, and now a point person assuming the duties of pastor.   What’s next?   Come Lord Jesus!   Your comments are always welcome.


Rev. Robert M. Niehus

Christ Lutheran Church, Oak Park Illinois

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.


Is this Point Person Ready for the Battle? By Pr. Robert Niehus — 14 Comments

  1. Good questions Carl. I suppose Niehus could contact these people but he would just get an answer in typical, synodical “beuracrateze” that would not answer the real question.

    There is certainly much that a layman could do by way of organizing such a project but Niehus’s point seems to me that this is just another example of “everyone a minister” and trying to label the work of the unordained as ordained work. It confuses the issue of the office of the ministry. More clarity in the use of language is needed from our synodocrats.

    Pastor Rossow

  2. So, I sent an e-mail to all three persons listed in #1 with the simple message:

    Would you please read the post and reply on line? Your input is sorely needed.”

    Maybe we will get a response. Maybe someone else will ask the same question.

  3. I think you should also send an e-mail to Kent Hunter and Theodore Jungkuntz, so that they could also respond to allegations of heresy as well.

  4. The NID also had another church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, close in November. Immanuel had been in existence for 135 years, in what is known as South Chicago.

    The congregation of 42 baptized members (39 confirmed members) had no debts, had sold off its school, but still could not meet expenses of maintaining the church in what the NID referred to as “a very ethnically diverse area.” Is that like a “mission area”?

  5. It is interesting to note that Ms. Rechsteiner does not even have theological training–only degrees in psychology and theatre.
    I wish someone would explain to me why theologians are not promoted in our church. Why are non-theologians leading Christ’s church?
    Perhaps I overlooked the fact that it does not call itself a church anymore….just “celebration ministries”.

    Did you know that anybody can lead a “ministry”?
    I just clipped an article in my local paper this last week about the dog ministry in a local northern Illinois elder care facility [I believe it was the Lutheran Home for the Aged in Arlington Heights, IL.]

    Could somebody please tell me how dogs, who cannot even talk can somehow bring Christ to the elderly?
    If it is simply meant for therapy, then why not call it therapy? It is not ministry unless it proclaims the gospel of Christ.

    Just goes to show that “mission work” has finally gone to the dogs!!!

  6. Notice the difference here between fraternal conversation and trolling: Carl Vehse suggests follow-up questions to the DCE and District in question, precisely because there are questions Pr. Niehus says he can’t answer. So getting more info seems appropriate, and the sources in question would obviously be the best place to start. Hopefully we’ll all find out more about what the NID is doing.

    But then the anonymous troll suggests that Kent Hunter & Theodore Jungkutz be contacted as well. This apparently because they have been criticized as neo-Nestorians by Pastor Preuss in another article. The Troll thinks he is making some great point, but, living in hiding he cannot see that there is no good analogy here: in the first instance, there is a report ABOUT what some people are doing that leaves questions unanswered; in the second we have books written BY people that state their positions quite clearly and do not leave questions unanswered. Totally different situations.

    It must be funny living in Anonymous’ world. He apparently cannot agree with any negative critique of anyone’s writing or positions unless that person is asked about it (and then agrees with the critique?). Civil elections must be incredibly hard on him, as well as the competing claims of advertisers. And then what to do with historical figures? I guess Zwingli, Arminius, and even Joseph Smith are off the hook in his mind – since they aren’t around to “clarify” their positions againt charges of false teaching.

    Or, in Troll World, does this sort of standard only come in to play when Troll doesn’t like what is being said?

  7. Re: #3, following is the response received from Keith Haney:

    If you have a question please feel free to contact me personally. I would gladly clarify. Christine is not serving in any pastoral roles. We have area pastor’s serving this new mission.

  8. Re: #8
    following is the reply to all which I made:

    Rev. Keith Haney, et al.
    Would it be possible for you to reply to the post at the web site of the Brothers of John the Steadfast? Clarification is needed and if you are the folks involved, why not ? Public activity would bespeak public communication. Please advise.

    I am hoping for a public reply to the original post. We shall see. Pr. Rossow is blind copied on all communications as I also have a legal restriction disclaimer on my e-mail and must authorize use.

  9. “We have pastors serving this new mission.” (see #8 above)

    Why is a pastor not the point person?

    Good work Steven.

    Pastor Rossow

  10. Re: #9
    A quick reply-

    From: Keith Haney
    To: STEVEN L BOBB ; [email protected] ; Keith Haney ; [email protected]
    Sent: Friday, November 28, 2008 9:58 PM
    Subject: RE: Ms Rechsteiner, Rev. Keith Haney, Rev. Dr. Marty Haeger

    Matthew 18

    and my next request:

    Now you are hiding behind scripture. A public activity has been established by the NID. A new mission. Questions have arisen. This is not a private situation but a public one and public activity requires public discussion. No one is accusing anyone of anything, but merely having questions which regard to a public activity.
    Whenever someone attempts to cut off discussion with “Matthew 18” then I begin to wonder, is there more going on here…

  11. I remeber just before I left the LCMS for the now heading in the same direction WELS that I had asked my pastor why a a man named Gary Norton from the PLI was having a say in what we are doing as a church? His answer to me was that he was not telling him what to do but he is my “facilitator”. My question to him was but what about your vocation as a pastor isn’t it your job to lead this church in worship. I did not get an answer to this question.

    This looks like the same thing only on a different level.They are moving the people in who are only concerned about one thing and that is and I quote the same pastor at the church I went to, ” Butts in the Pew”.

    So I guess we can forget about salvation and only be concerned about marketing and manipulation to feed the coffers and falsely be all things to all people.

  12. May I also say that I think this all starte when the church lost it’s identity and decided to repress and destroy the liturgy as we know it.

    This seems to be a basic trend of church bodies that once held to Gospel and are only social action organizations. You would think that people would see this. I sometimes wonder that if this is the product of the lack of desire to see truth and ignore the signs of those trying to kill it around us.
    I pray that the Lutheran Church will one day grasp hold of Faith Alone and Scripture Alone and adhere to the confessions . Once the disease starts it spreads and what is being done by these people is the spreading of psychological manipulative rot!

  13. Re: #11
    I sent my request/reply to Pr. Haney on the 29th of November and have yet to recieve any further word. Can anyone tell me why it is permissible to quote Matthew 18 (in public matters) and then act as if the questions have never been raised?
    I guess a problem does exist with the way things are being done and with the theology behind the practice in the NID.

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