(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