It’s About Time: The Matt Harrison Solution, by Pr. Klemet Preus

I think it would be appropriate for me to interrupt my series of articles on Nestorianism in the LC-MS to comment briefly on one point made in Matt Harrison’s recently released piece entitled “It’s Time.” Rev. Harrison is the Executive director of LC-MS World Relief.

I can only say that it’s about time someone of stature in the synod actually says what we all know. The synod’s mission and work is crippled by the serious and ungodly theological division among us.

For seven and a half years we have been hearing that there is doctrinal agreement in our synod. We have been told that those who complain about our serious division are guilty of incessant doctrinal purification. We have been told that we only disagree on matters of practice – never mind that mission work itself is a matter of practice. We have been told that it is only in the application of doctrine that we disagree – never mind that infant baptism and the distribution of the Body and Blood of Jesus are application of doctrine. We have been told that job number one is the great commission while we borrow slogans and theology from sources which don’t even believe in the great commission.

And for these seven and on half years the synod has grown in rancor, frustration, antagonism, infighting and just plain nastiness. Further in these seven and a half years our synod has shrunk in size, vibrancy, mission outreach, the number of true missionaries overseas, mission starts, support of education, and financial giving. Meanwhile the most formidable efforts of the past seven and a half years are President Kieschnick’s failed and ill-advised fund drive and President Kieschnick’s dead in the water restructuring proposal.

What a breath of freshness it is to hear someone finally say that we have doctrinal divisions among us. And how refreshing it is to hear that Matt Harrison actually has a plan whereby we can actually address our actual divisions. I don’t know if his plan would actually work. That’s for God to determine. But at least it’s a plan. That’s more than we have seen for seven and a half years.

During the first term of my second year at the seminary I became listless and lethargic. I would sleep through my alarm clock – for hours. When I went to class I would fall asleep even more than usual. I couldn’t concentrate. I didn’t want to do anything. Finally I was persuaded to go to the doctor. He drew blood, took a throat culture and told me I had mononucleosis. I was relieved even though it meant that I would miss three more weeks of school and fall into debt because I could not go to work. Sometimes when a person is sick and undiagnosed it is comforting just to hear a diagnosis even if it’s negative. I was able to understand my lethargy and I was able to get better with the proper treatment.

So today, having ready “It’s Time,” I find it strangely comforting to think that maybe finally the synod can get better. Rev. Harrison explains our chronic failure as a church. He diagnoses the problem. Better, he promises something more hopeful for the future if we address our sickness and strive to get healthy. Can we accept this diagnosis from one of our leaders? Can we follow his advice and recover our lethargy. I pray we can.

It’s about time.

(Matt Harrison’s paper can be viewed by clicking the button on the sidebar underneath the Brother’s Cafe.)

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.


It’s About Time: The Matt Harrison Solution, by Pr. Klemet Preus — 13 Comments

  1. This is the kind of leadership we need at every level of synod.

    Will we get it? The laity will decide.

    Harrison 2010.


  2. A humble suggestion for my brothers; please, not only read Pastor Harrison’s excellent paper, but print two copies. One for yourself as a reminder of our constant need to repent and one for our neighbor at our church. Donate the second copy to the church library – encourage our fellow Christians to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest these thoughts.

  3. I would like to think the restructuring proposal is “dead in the water” but doesn’t our SP have 50.5% of the votes for the next convention, too?

  4. Wow. That was awesome reading. Kyrie eleison, indeed. Everyone here should take the time to read Rev. Harrison’s treatise.

    And, I second Todd’s recommendation about 2010.

  5. Pastor Wilken,

    Perhaps I misrepresented your views (in commenting on Mollie’s posting of this report but is there any way to turn things back? You have described for months the corporatist LCMS Inc. bureaucracy that is more focused on self-preservation than spreading the gospel.

    Would it still be possible for an elected leader to change things? Is it still possible for such a man to be elected?

  6. Visiting Anglican,

    You asked two questions. First, “Would it still be possible for an elected leader to change things?”

    No. Only the Word of God can correct a church that has lost her way. The real question is, “Will an elected leader permit the Word to do so?” The present administration appears unwilling to do so, preferring corporate manipulation and a culture of fear.

    Second, you asked, “Is it still possible for such a man to be elected?”

    That remains to be seen. I hope so.


  7. I’m assuming that LCMS, Inc. can make things very difficult for Rev. Harrison, or even fire him.

    If so, this article took great courage.

  8. For the benefit of those who would like to print this paper out: Can it be downloaded in plain text, without all the ink-consuming graphics?

  9. If you go to the “Scribe” site where it was published, you can register and then download a text version. When I tried this however, the formatting was all messed up.

    Pastor Rossow

  10. Hi from the mission field – Jos, Nigeria

    Perhaps I am just getting too old – for I still remember the ‘good ol’ days when LCMS-WR (& LCMS-WM) did some extremely good work in global places like here in Africa. I served in LCMS-WM Africa for 10+ years – and saw first hand ‘front row seat’ the good times turn to an absolute horror (since about 2005 especially).

    I have only met Matt Harrison a few times at various IC-STL events. I knew Elaine Richter better. She came to visit me in Africa a few times. We were in a car on roade between Kano and Jos, Nigeria and armed robbers robbed the car ahead of us.

    I personally wrote project applications for both WM and WR – the most recent was for a water well project here in Jos, Nigeria – previous for a medical facility “Mado Health Clniic, Jos, Nigeria”. Although some exceptions – for the most part those projects were success stories. I can provide pictures taken this week.

    So what the heck happened since then – like from 2005 on? I have my theory and list.

    Is this the best LCMS can do? I beleive they can do much better – but as #5 above eludes to – there is more focus on staying in power, having a title and paycheck, and keeping the sinking ship afloat than actually going out and reaching the people.

    Is there anyone out there who is genuinely interested in doing real ‘hands in the baptismal fountain’ mission work???…..The join me!! I am here – Africa!

    Brent Friedrichs
    Persistent LCMS member…..
    Former Regional Business Manager (RBM) – Africa Region – LCMS-WM (WR).
    …now serving as independent missionary (aka. Direct Hire Missionary) – Exec Director – Mission COnsults, Jos, Nigeria

  11. Pr. Friedrichs,

    I do not find you on the roster in the 2006 Annual, nor on the LCMS “Church Workers” link. What is your current status?

  12. Walter

    I am not a pastor and have never been to seminary. There was time when I considered it. Then I became a career missionary (admin) – saw a few too many scandals involving pastors.

    Currenct Status: LCMS member. Former BM/ABM/RBM in LCMS-WM/WR Africa Region (1997-2007). I was the #2 guy for Africa Region. Partnered first with Rev. Ken Greinke the Regional Director – then Delano Meyer the AD – then Rev. Dr. Paul Mueller – the later of which also recently resigned.
    After 10 years as career missionaries my wife and I saw the direction things were headed (since it restructured in 2005) and jumped ship. My wife and I resigned from LCMS-WM in June 2007 – but opted to continue on as “Direct Hire Missionaries” to Africa and are here still.

    Presently serve Him as Executive Director of “Mission Consults” – a small org incorporated both here in Nigeria as well as in the USA (state of Iowa) as a non-profit 501(c)(3). We help a long list of other missionaries (Wycliffe, LBT, LCMS-WM, SIL, GECHAAN, Hillcrest School, and etc) with their legal problems. Immigration, banking, any legal problems, registrations, incorporations, licensing, security,…those types of thing.

    Brent Friedrichs

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