Speaking of “Glory Bound” Get a Load of this Report from Southern California

(Editor’s Note: We thank Brian Thomas for submitting this comment today and thought it deserved a broader audience than our comments page.)

Pr. Rossow,

We on the left coast have just experienced (unfortunately) what these men from Water’s Edge have to offer by way of preaching as their “Missions Pastor” (Travis Hartjen) led the Pacific Southwest Distric Youth Gathering this past weekend in San Diego. I can say that it doesn’t seem much different than what our friends in Texas are dealing with. Here are a few of my take-aways:

1. There was a clear and unecessary wedge driven between head knowlege and heart knowlege emphasized in all four sessions with our speaker. Pietism of old is alive and well. I quote, “What the world needs is not more knowledge about God, but to experience God through your deeds.” In other words, forget the creeds kids, worry about feeding the homeless. Should we feed the homeless? Of course. At the expense of preaching the clear message of the gospel? Nope. Why not do both? [This was not said]

2. The “worship band” hailed from one of our not-so-confessional SoCal churches and played the top 20 CCM Dove award winning hits almost exclusively. Most of these songs emphasized, yep you guessed it: I, you, me, and we giving some lip service to God or Jesus. I have no problem with rock music as I am a musician that plays in a rock band here in San Diego. But I DO NOT play it on Sunday in my church. Everything has its proper place. Looking at the authors of the songs offered at our DYG I found them to be: Anabaptist, Pentecostal, and always Arminian. Thankfully, they did play one hymn, “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” and I sung it with gusto!

3. The Sacrament of the Altar given on the last evening was very upsetting. The presiding pastor did his least in jeans high-fiving the speaker and band to at least go through the motions of his office by reciting the words of institution, but the blood (in this case grape juice in little cups) were set on cafeteria trays with the juice spilled everywhere! The elements were handled disrespectfully, in my opinion. Was the table closed? Well…you be the judge. On a projector screen was the following disclaimer, “If you believe in the saving power of Jesus, then you are invited to partake.” This is a youth gathering of over 400 kids. I am an elder at my church. I know all of my kids have been baptized, catechized and confirmed and are regular communicants at my church. But I’ve got to think that many larger youth groups rightfully invited friends from school and elsewhere that have not been baptized and do not rightfully “discern” the body and blood of the sacrament. More could /should have been done to ensure that God was worshipped with reverance and good order.

Lastly, I will say that I am an adult convert to Lutheranism. I was formerly in pastoral leadership at a church that went the way Emergent. I left that church for the LCMS at great cost to my family’s friendships, finances (I was on staff) and reputation. Why would we hide our Lutheran distinctives from our youth (or anyone else, for that matter)? It is Higher Things for our church youth from now on.

I know there are a lot of strong churches in Texas, but the kind that produces this sort of event should not be allowed to call itself Lutheran. Oh wait! They don’t. They leave that out of their name altogether as market demographics show that 25-40 year olds prefer the name “Community” or “Edge” or “Epic” or some kind of “wood” in their name.

Sorry for the long rant, but I can’t expect our district office to listen since they were the one’s to put this thing on.

“In peace let us pray to the Lord…Lord have mercy.”

Brian Thomas

Elder, Grace Lutheran, San Diego, CA


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.


Speaking of “Glory Bound” Get a Load of this Report from Southern California — 91 Comments

  1. Steven, when you start out your post with an insult, you fail to communicate anything of what you really want to communicate, unless you want to show your own sin.

    There are few things in your post that concern me…
    With regards to working with youth – the Holy Spirit works best with youth, using the things that the Holy Spirit uses, the Word and the Sacraments (and nothing else). I do not know Travis, he may be a humble servant of Christ in teaching youth, I don’t know. I do know that anything good that comes through him is the work of the Holy Spirit.

    With regards to communion. Wrongfully partaking in the Sacrament brings judgment upon someone. That is Biblical.
    Your description of a neutral reception is not biblical and thus is false. There is either beneficial eating and drinking or harmful eating and drinking.
    As a pastor I teach closed communion because I want to teach the full doctrine of Christ, which includes closed communion. Closed communion exists because God instituted it that way.

    Luther did not seek to change, but to reform. That is, he wanted to return Christianity to its original purity. You bring up pennance, which Luther did reform. He removed the false use of satisfaction, the requirement of enumeration, and all of the Roman Catholic works-righteous understandings of it. He did not do away with the confession/absolution, but retained it for the sake of the absolution, which is a great comfort to vile sinners.
    You try to compare our traditional ways to those of the Roman Catholic church at the time of Luther – and I must say Steven you couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no works-righteousness hidden away in the traditional worship of Lutherans today. Everything is focused on the Giver and the Gift. We are hearers, receivers, beggars holding out hands of faith to catch the gifts as God gives them through His pastors. In Luther’s time, people did things because they thought that by doing them they were saved. Luther sought to remove anything that stank of works-rigtheousness, and to some degree he did (all of us are works-righteous by nature, so it creeps into our thinking all the time).
    There may be another “GOOD” way, but I would ask, why is there a need for change? I have asked people to answer some very simple questions in my posts, and I have yet to hear a response. All I see is just more shouting at one another.
    Lutherans are very distinct. We alone have the true doctrine of the Bible. That is not to say that other church bodies don’t have portions of truth (and portions can save as well, since it is God’s work through the Holy Spirit to save). LUTHER did not want external unity – He wanted purity in doctrine. Unity in doctrine is the goal, the rest comes in line. Since you used the word Adiaphora I thought you would understand the relationship between doctrine and unity. There is not one other non-Lutheran denomination that believes exactly as we do. Just because some denomination cites Ephesians 2:8-9 means that they believe it. Rome does, and they certainly do not believe as we do. A Calvinist ends up needing to show God’s grace by trusting in their experience of grace. A Methodist redefines grace, and looks to a decision that received salvation for security. There are vast differences, but there are Lutherans in every denomination (because God brings people to the truth through the teaching of the Spirit through the Word).

    I am not sorry for this correction. It is needed. I would invite you to interact with the discussion surrounding the songs of our Youth Gatherings.

    Blessings as you seek to learn more about serving the church as a DCE.

  2. Steven Bobb (#50): You are so true. This “lose the youth” is nothing new .. we have lost our youth for generations; many come back when they reach the stage in their lives where they are looking for the Lord. I know I did.

    Old Fogies always try to have programs that relate to the youth — I’m sure the youth say they enjoy them, but among themselves they call them lame. We will never be able to out-perform the world.

  3. I am sorry that I came out with that statement, I understand that may itself have been stumbling block to this community. But it frustrates me that people seem to emphasize that there is only one way to do things in worship when there are many alternatives. I apoligize again about Luther, he did want to purify the church. As far as your comment on the change of worship style Pr Sheer, it is not that we need to get rid of traditional worship or change traditional worship, but the style of worsihp itself was created to reach the people of the time the hymns were written. I have done much study of worship since my specialization id Worship and the Arts. Luther himself wrote a hymn to the tune of a popular bar song of that time in order to hopefully bring those bar drinkers to the faith, therefore through that example we should consider other forms that may bring others in the world to us so we can bring them the saving message of Jesus Christ. He also was radical when he put the bible in the language of the people and then utilized the printing press to spread the word in the language of the people. See Luther understood the context he was in and tried to bring the Gospel message to the people in that context, why dont we try to do the same and consider the context that we are in. It is much different than that of the time of Luther. I think Paul did this really well in that each letter was presented differently but contained the same message, Paul I think knew that he was writting to a certain audience and therefore altered the way the message was presented in order to reach the people to whom he was writting. Now I agree that the message of the Gospel that we as Lutherans have should NEVER be altered in any way, but the content can stay the same and yet the message be presented in a way that reaches the audience in the context we are in, this goes the same with worship style.

  4. P.S. Thank you for your encouraging words as I strive to finish my studies and enter into the ministry. I am greatly appreciative of it.

  5. Comment #53:

    It is an oft-repeated myth that Luther used bar (drinking) music for some of his tunes. But it is simply not true.

    The misconception probably arises from the musical term “bar music” meaning music that has sections which are repeated (indicated by bar lines dividing the sections). Here’s a Wiki link on “bar music”:


    Here’s another link dispelling the assertion that Luther used popular or drinking tunes.


    I don’t post it in order to promote the larger (anti-CCM) argument being espoused by the site, but because on this particular question the information/documentation seems to be fairly accurate and thorough and in line with my understanding of this question.

    I am not an authority on music history, but my husband is, and hopefully he will weigh in with a little more detail than I can provide. But in the meantime I thought it important to address this incorrect assertion as soon as possible.

  6. Steven: Where did you learn this untruth (and I quote you):
    ‘Luther himself wrote a hymn to the tune of a popular bar song of that time in order to hopefully bring those bar drinkers to the faith…’
    Probably the same place I did. Well, please name that tune.
    That just isn’t so. (You’ve been Snopes-ed)
    He didn’t simply aim to make it more relevant, did he? You have to be honest here and see that indeed he didn’t. Accessible, yes, for the purposes of teaching doctrine and Biblical truths; not just to make people want to sing. It wasn’t the music he wanted them accessing, but the Word. What better way to steep oneself in the Word, than with the aid of rhyme and meter and tune.
    Hymns serve the serving of the Word; not the tastes of the singers.
    Please, this is so old and tired (something like myself!), it’s hardly worth refuting anymore. Worship-style is not adiaphora; the elements of worship are, but the style is not. The ‘style’ is Gottesdienst: God serves. How do you retain the Divine Service–receiving and responding to God’s Word–when your aim is to serve yourself?

  7. “And these songs were arranged in four parts to give the young–who should at any rate be trained in music and other fine arts–something to wean them away from love ballads and carnal songs and to teach them something of value in their place, thus combining the good with the pleasing, as is proper for youth” (Martin Luther, “Preface to the Wittenberg Hymnal,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 53, p. 316).
    Okay. Not Snopes-ed but googled.
    Luther was much more careful than to ‘woo’ unwilling people through his choices of music. So drop that argument straightaway, please.

  8. To comment on Susan, I have heard this from not only my mother(who is a pastor’s kids and has multiple pastors on her side of the family) but also from atleast one other pastor/professor at Concordia Austin. As far as your comment on Worship style, you are correct that worship is meant to serve God, but that can be done in contemporary worship. I think there is a huge misconception that contemporary Christian music is all about serving oneself when it is merely a tool for communities to worship our loving God. Now there are some contemporary Christiansongs that have false messages and are not truly biblical but there are songs that use biblical truth just as well as hymns out to. Chris Tomlin, a contemporary Christian artist, has revised many popular hymns and put them in a more contemporary music style. Should those songs be condemned. If we really want to be literal about the music style that is used in our worship then we should join the Church of Christ and not use any type of instrumentation. My point is that the musical style of the early church of the book of Acts is never mentioned. Much of this is due to the fact that the early church met in secret and therefore could not use instruments because they could caught by the governing authorities. This is the contextual knowledge that goes against the doctrine of Church of Christ and therefore is why I disagree with their doctrinal stance on this.

    In conclusion this will be my final post as I have no time to keep my attention on this post. I have projects and papers to do and I need to focus on my upcoming internship and I need to focus on the ministry that I am in. I hope and pray that all of you will be thoroughly blessed by God in your life and ministry. And although we may have many differences on this matter I look foreward to meeting you all one day in heaven.

    Pray for me and pray for God’s ministry that the word is spread throughout the world and that His name is praised everywhere.

    God Bless!!!

  9. I comment #53, it is said that, in essence, music is used to reach the people. I submit that the music in worship is to TEACH the people. If we look at the CCM lyrics Pr. Scheer listed, what do they teach? They certainly did not teach Christ crucified. Although some lofty words were used to a god, one cannot say that it is the True God of the Bible.

    Lets look at the lyrics for “All Who Believe and are Baptized” Hymn #601 in the LSB.

    All who believe and are baptized shall
    see the Lord’s salvation;
    Baptized into the death of Christ;
    They are a new creation.
    Through Christ’s redemption they shall stand
    Among the glorious, heav’nly band
    Of ev’ry tribe and nation.

    With one accord, O God we pray;
    Grant is Your Holy Spirit.
    Help us in our infirmity
    Through Jesus’ blood and merit.
    Grant us to grow in grace each day
    That by this sacrament we may
    Eternal life inherit.

    What does this teach? Who is the subject and who is running the verbs? Can the youth understand this?

    This song teaches that being Baptized into Christ’s death will see salvation. A clear reference to Romans 6. Christ is the subject as it is his death that brings redemption. Yes, the youth, even my youngsters can understand this. There is no mistake who and what this song teaches, regardless of who listens to it.

  10. Comment #58:

    Since the “bar tune” myth is so pervasive, it is understandable that your mother and many Lutheran lay people have heard it. But it is truly discouraging to hear that there are pastors and professors who are so uninformed as to have not only fallen prey to it but to have had a hand in propagating it. Again, the historical record speaks for itself, and we do well to deal in facts rather than hearsay.

  11. Congregational singing should be accompanied by whatever instrument as a means of leading and keeping everyone in tune, but not to overpower the parishioners (OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE NEVER BNEEN IN A CHURCH WHERE THE ORGAN(IST) OVERPOWERED PEOPLE. This is my problem with the electric guitars and drums. (NO MORE THAN AN ORGAN OR TRUMPETS, ETC) There is a proper place for them; I just don’t think the sanctuary is that place. (AND THAT PLACE WOULD BE?)

    At best–what we can say is this–Luther taught us about indigenous worship–worship that met the needs and cultural context of his day (16th Century Germany).

    Church music has played a vital role in the church for hundreds of years and is still continuing to thrive though there have been many drastic changes. As composers have developed new styles of music, the church has gradually welcomed many of them into its services and ministry. As Bach said, “To God alone be the glory.” No matter how we praise the Lord or sing unto Him, that motto ought to be our goal when worshipping God.

  12. Steven at 58: This statement is neither what I said nor hold to:
    ‘that worship is meant to serve God’ (quoting you)
    God does not require nor desire our service to Him. Our Divine Service is God serving us. God meets us in the litrugy and gives to us through that liturgy; that’s the purpose of the service: for us to receive, and then to give thanks and praise.
    From that concept (or ‘style’), all else in Lutheran ‘worship’ flows.

  13. “Martin Luther,”

    You try to rationalize your liturgical novelty but it just does not work.

    How do you explain the fact that Luther’s worship has more in common with worship in the church 500 years before his day than your preferred style of worship has with your predeccesors only 30 years before your day?

    You can try to pretend that this is an issue of indigenous music but that is just not the case. The changes in church music are not drastic. The changes in church music have been subtle and have come about slowly. The changes in church music today are drastic and are happening much too fast for the church to properly vet them.

    Pastor Rossow

  14. Susan R,

    I thought the exact same thing as you when I read #58. It just goes to show the point that is trying to be made on this site and others. There is a harmful ignorance of the liturgy in our synod.

    Here is Stephen, a student at one of our synodical schools, claiming to be educated on this subject, lecturing us, and yet he does not even understand the fundamental notion of the “Divine Service.”

    As if that weren’t enough, as is typical of a liberal (moderate, church-growther, choose your label), once the facts show them to be wrong, they simply drop out of the discussion.

    Pastor Rossow

  15. PR: The changes in church music today are drastic and are happening much too fast for the church to properly vet them.

    God moves in strange ways does He not? And by the way, people (including myself) “give up” when they realize that a nod is as good as a wink to a dead horse.

  16. #49 Steven: Not buying the “experience” and “good works” emphasis for the youth of our day. Again, my Mormon neighbors in their false attempt to earn God’s favor will always beat me in that game. Maybe I’m not pious enough, but I will continue to emphasize the objective work of Christ and I pray that will continue to be our Pastor’s message week after week not only for the “youth” of our church, but for all of us old(er) folks, too, because I am often weak, forgetful, and like the rest of Adam’s progeny prone to trying to help Christ crucified and risen with his salvation scheme by inserting my pathetic efforts. What is interesting is that the majority of the youth that attended this event at our church saw through all the pomp and circumstance. I thank God that our Pastor, Deaconess, and parents have indeed catechized their children well in the faith. They do have a heart for, and love the lost, but they realize that to be an adequate instrument of Christ in sharing the faith once delivered it is going to be attached to doctrinal (objective) truths.

    On the topic of adiaphora I think you are missing the point of Augsburg XV. Here it stresses that those usages which have been established by men “are to be observed which may be observed without sin and which contribute to peace and good order.” I’m sick of Lutherans trying to turn this article into a blank check as if they can insert anything they like into the service by flying the “adiaphora” banner. Take a look at a copy of the Lutheran Service Book. A very nice feature throughout the liturgies and hymns is the scripture references in small italicized font. Why do I mention this? Because although the NT may not stress a particular “style”, Jesus is clear that worship be conducted in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24). What we find is that our worship is saturated with the truths of Scripture. Yes there is room for diversity and variety, which is why we have multiple services, prayers, a lectionary and church calendar, and hundreds of hymns, chants and antiphons written throughout the entire church’s existence. Is there room for our generation to contribute to the liturgy by writing prayers and songs? Most certainly! But the content has got to be on par with that of our forefathers, and the musicianship has to be of high quality working with and supporting our heritage rather than fighting against it. It is here that I feel the contemporary songs listed fall short.

    #60 Martin Luther: Don’t jump to conclusions so fast. We have had a substitute organist filling in this past month and in his first service with us he cut loose and opened up the volume to the point that parishioners could not hear themselves, so yes, I’ve experienced this, too. As the Music Director I ensured that this did not happen the second week he played, explaining that even though he was a marvelous musician (in fact this guy is like the Jimmy Hendrix of organists) his role is one of accompaniment and not as soloist. Thankfully, he understood.

    You ask where I believe the place for electric guitars and drums is? Anyplace that concerts are held, of course. I play in a fairly popular San Diego rock band, so I have nothing against the style or the instruments. But in this setting people are coming to be entertained and enjoy music, not worship their Triune God and receive his gifts of grace and forgiveness. Style is not neutral! And I believe our shift to CCM in our churches has had the adverse effect of taking the consumerism of personal music preference that we experience in our normal lives and brought it willy-nilly into our Sunday Divine Service, so that church is now a place I come to be entertained, and if the music doesn’t scratch my particular itch, or the pastor isn’t as funny and entertaining as Leno and Letterman than we’ll just try the place down the street. I suggest our youth (and adults) are not leaving the Lutheran church because we are not relevant or seeker-sensitive. It is because we have stopped being distinctively Lutheran! When there is no longer a difference between [insert name] Lutheran Church and Calvary Chapel down the street, they decide to just attend Calvary Chapel, because well…they are frankly better at doing the church growth thing than us. It is an authentic representation of their false understanding of worship. When we stand fast worship in “spirit and truth” the Holy Spirit does wonderful things since He works through the means of grace to convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgement (John 16:8)

  17. One quibble with Brian Thomas’ point at 65 (and it isn’t just his point; I’ve read and heard it made repeatedly, here and elsewhere), and I paraphrase: that our youth et al leave the Lutheran church because there’s no longer any difference between the Lutheran congregation and the [fill-in-the-blank].
    That may be true in much of the USA, but I don’t think that’s what’s driving them away in droves here in the South (or maybe just in our neck of the woods). Indeed, our own congregation has more adult converts to Lutheranism who remain faithful attendants than cradle-Lutherans. So many of the latter have left because we’re not enough like other churches; because we are so disctinctly Lutheran in practice. They’re bored with it. They prefer that which their next-door neighbors are touting: bigger, noisier, glitzier services, more programs, more stuff thru the week than our little parish can possibly support; more prominence in the community (these parts are saturated with Southern Baptists, rather more conservative Methodists and Episcopalians, and various Presbyterians.) They have after-school programs and sophisticated youth programs with salaried youth workers; they have workshops for marriage and families, with outside ‘experts; they have gymnasiums and workout rooms; they have doctors and lawyers and local civic officials in their congregations; they advertise on cable TV; they keep folks busy and their pastors in the newspapers, etc. And they keep growing, largely thru those extra-church activities and services. And they build-build-build constantly.
    Also, they don’t ‘waste precious time’ etc. with things like doctrine and hard religious terms like Triune God and liturgical service and closed communion (that’s a real turn-off, when family members come and aren’t welcome at the table; it seems to show a lack of Southern hospitality, as though we were withholding Grandma’s cornbread dressing from hungry strangers).
    We don’t whip people into a frenzy with praise songs or songleaders or something that the youth group cooked up involving dance steps or synchronized flags, or children’s sermons or children’s church or anything other than a liturgical service on Sunday morning and midweek, choir practice, Sunday School, LWML, and that sort of thing.
    We don’t rely on our pastor to make news or make church policy; we don’t have a Worship Committee that ‘helps’ him plan services; we never–and I mean NEVER–stray from a liturgical service with communion (when Pastor’s out of town, it’s Matins; no communion). We don’t stray from our LSB for hymns; we don’t stray from the litrugical order at all. We are distinctly Lutheran, and it’s killing us, numbers-wise. Families with children are nearly gone; young adults are marrying outside the chrch and going with their spouses, and many among us grumble that we’re not doing all we could do to ratchet up the numbers. It’s very sad.
    So, our dilemma is not that we’re no different, but that we’re SO different. Yet we’ve been here for 50 years now, and have hardly made a dent in the Southern fabric.
    I’m grateful for what we have, and wish this situation weren’t so. I don’t doubt that, when our current pastor retires, many among us will clamor (and lobby) for something more fashionable and crowd-pleasing.
    They will have a fight.

  18. You know what…I will get back into the discussion because I am disgusted by the comment made by Pastor Rossow on #64. I cannot believe you claim to put a tag on me calling me a liberal. Whether or not I am a liberal or not I can’t believe that that one who is a called or ordained servant of the Word would dishearten me by your statement. I did not say that I was the most knowledgable as I am still studying and don’t have as many years of life experience as others in the group. I speak of what I have learned in class and through my life experiences and I realize that I may be wrong on certain accounts and I accept that and try to learn the truth on the subject.

    As far I have been taught, communities of believers(congregations) gather together in order to encourage eachother in the faith and DO make corrections in faith and doctrine but in a loving matter in order to encourage them to strive for a better knowledge of their faith. Therefore it is truly disheartening that I am being rebuked by a called servant of God whom should strive to love as Christ loves us. Now I know that you just like all people make mistakes and sin and need forgiveness.

  19. cont…

    I need guidance and encouragement just as you do. Therefore I will be praying for you and your ministry and I hope that you will do the same for me and anyone in a public ministry role around the world. Thank you all for your time and for listening to me and I wish the best to you all in your constant faith walk with our Lord Jesus Christ.

  20. First of all, shame on all for continuing to shout at one another. Statement after statement meant to hurt or harm the neighbor. Martin Luther in #61 you fall into the temptation I mentioned earlier, of going tit for tat about worship… Electric guitars too loud… organs too loud… Look honestly at the claims made and make a reasonable response without shouting.

    Steven… thank you for being humble enough to admit to the wrongs I suggested. As far as Luther and being a radical, Luther reformed the church to a point, and then stopped. The ELCA uses a slogan “a reformation always reforming” which is drastically wrong. That is why they do not like the Formula of Concord so much, because it says that this is the truth, it does not need further refining or purifying. One of the main differences between the more liberal Lutheran Church bodies and the conservative one is that the liberals follow a pattern of “reformation always reforming” and the conservatives “conserve” what has been passed down (from Christ, Paul, early church, Luther, Chemnitz, Walther…). Luther was no radical. He did things like translating the Bible into the language of the people because it was biblical to do so (therefore part of the reforming – purifying doctrine).
    As far as contextualization goes, what if the society you live in practices orgies, drunkenness, and sexual promiscuity on all occasions. Do we contextualize the Gospel to reach them? Do we then try to talk about Jesus in sexual terms? Do we describe Him as a pimp or drug dealer. I have already heard clergy refer to the Holy Spirit as a bartender – blasphemy. By no means do we go that far. I know that this takes it to extremes, but I have never seen a limit to the arguments of contextualization “for the sake of the gospel”.

    There are borders that we must keep. I am not saying that instruments used in worship are a part of that border, but what an instrument represents may be a part of that border. If an electric guitar represents “rock n roll” (named so as code for sex)… then maybe we should think twice before using the instruments of such perversion. An organ clearly means “churchly” today (or carnival maybe). Acoustic guitars may have more neutral meaning. Does anyone understand what I am trying to point out here?

  21. I for one am sickened that upon trying to reasonably look at some lyrics for a contemporary worship song and have some pointed questions answered by advocates of BOTH worship styles, that the conversation has again degenerated into shouting and yelling. Everyone love your brother enough to actually talk to them honestly without raging assumptions and accusations. For one, we all have an accuser already and he would gladly see us all bicker on and on without change or repentance. It does no good to the church to keep shouting. As Rev. Harrison suggested in his “It’s Time” article, we need to seriously sit down and have honest discussion and MUTUAL repentance.

  22. I agree with Pr. Scheer, #70. I personally like both some contemporary songs as well as the traditional hymns. But I do have an issue when the contemporary worship band is playing with elictric guitar to the point that the music overpowers the congregation. It is disruptive to me and I think causes distractions and issues with others to others as well. I have experienced this recently to the point where I almost left the service. If contemporary Christian music is considered in worship I think it should be with more of acoustic guitars which as you mention Pr. Scheer that they are neutral and can be used affectively.

    And I think just as you stated that if something represents a symbol that may be detrimental to others. We should always consider what a object may represent to the people and make sure it does not cause issues so as to keep peace and unity.

    Thank you for your input Pr. Scheer. I will definately take it to heart and try to remember the new knowledge I have obtained from your input.

    I am truly sorry to all that I may have argued with and may have caused discension amongst.

    God Bless you all again in your areas of ministry and my prayers are with each one of you.

  23. I will say to Steve, thanks for being humble enough to listen. I must admit that I a lot of times do not listen as I should. Often with posts, it is must easier to read the first few sentences and assume to know the rest than to actually read it all.

    Let’s start listening to one another, shall we? Let’s lay aside our sinful pride that causes us to assume to know what the other person is saying. So, with that, I would invite all to engage in the discussion concerning songs selected for our youth events. See posts 46 and 48 for what I am talking about. Steven, I would certainly ask you to engage the discussion with these two posts.


  24. Martin Luther wrote:“God moves in strange ways does He not?”

    You seem to be saying that God is responsible for the recent wholesale changes in church music.

    How do you know that these changes are God’s doing? Do you have bible passage? A direct revelation from God?


  25. I do not have any way of proving that a move to CCM is God’s doing any more than you might in showing me how is is His will that we use LSB or whatever. God still speaks to His people today–and the manner and mode He chooses is entirely up to Him. For some reason (call me liberal)–He speaks loud and clear through what you refer to as CCM. For those whose “heart language” is a litugical divine service, I say “God bless you…I am happy for you.” It just isn’t me–or others for that fact. To say we must go one way or another helps no one.

  26. “Martin Luther” – Why not actually discuss it on doctrinal basis instead of personal preference. I use LSB in the congregation I serve because it is Scriptural and doctrinally correct.

    You are right in that God still speaks today. But you are at most insecure in understanding how. How can there be any comfort from things that are not bound up in the promise of God?

    My “heart langauge” is sin. See my post earlier about the corruption of the human heart. I need things in the language of God – His Word. I need something that is not bound up within my feelings/emotions, after all those things are too often used by my Old Adam to lead me into sin. What I need has to come from outside of me – hence the use of a set Divine Service liturgy. It is not my heart language, but it is precisely what my sin-ridden heart needs. The very fact that the liturgy is “foreign” to me is both humbling (puts the sinful heart in its place) and comforting (God comes from outside of me in a solid way) at the same time.

    We shouldn’t say you MUST go a certain way. But I would ask which is the better way? The way of the heart with feelings and emotions and questionable doctrine OR the way of God’s Word coming from outside in pure doctrine.

    I would invite you to engage in my questions concerning songs used for youth and why CCM or Liturgy.

  27. Well said, Pr. Scheer.
    Thinking back on my post #67, about the situation in my own church, I think the exchange between Martin Luther and Pr. Scheer demonstrate exactly what the problem is; I see why people leave liturgy. Not because it’s boring or old, and not simply because it’s not what they want.
    They don’t like it because it’s not about them. It’s much easier to treat the divine service as if it were a pep rally or an inspirational event or a first-rate show, geared for their listening and even participational pleasure. Plus, it’s much easier to desire it if everyone else’s church has it.
    It’s too hard, I think, to go to church and use primarily the ears, and it’s too hard to simply listen to what God says, when we ourselves ‘feel’ we have so much to say–to express–ourselves.
    We just don’t want to shut up about ourselves. We just can’t get over ourselves. We not only want to run the show, but to be the show.
    We don’t need golden calves when we have ourselves as idols.
    It’s that clear to me now.

  28. Martin Luther wrote: “I do not have any way of proving that a move to CCM is God’s doing any more than you might in showing me how is is His will that we use LSB or whatever.”

    If you can’t show from the clear Word of God that wholesale changes in church music are God’s doing, then don’t say that they are.

    Martin Luther also wrote: “God still speaks to His people today–and the manner and mode He chooses is entirely up to Him.’

    No, “We ought and must constantly maintain this point, that God does not wish to deal with us otherwise than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. It is the devil himself whatsoever is extolled as Spirit without the Word and Sacraments.”

    God still speaks today –through Scripture. That is the only way he has promised to speak to us. If you are hearing new messages that allegedly come from God apart from Scripture, I strongly suggest you ignore them.


  29. Steven,

    You are a big boy now. You are in college, the main point of which is to teach you how to think. When you make assertions as you did in comment #49 that I and others are close-minded people and then quote a myth (the thing about the bar songs) to make your point, the people you are engaging will rebuke you and correct you.

    Calling you “a liberal, a church-growther, or whatever” (notice I humbly acknowledged that I did not know exactly what stripe you belong to) is not unloving. You clearly demonstrated by your words that you disagree with Mr. Thomas’ critique of the SoCal youth gathering. He used detailed analysis and you used slander and a myth. Whatever you are it is not a confessional Lutheran.

    I appreciate all the “lovey-dovey” talk on this string and the need to be patient with one another and to try to listen carefully to what others are saying but let’s not think that we are somehow sinning against one another when we rebuke and correct. If this is sin then Jesus is guilty of sin with such phrases as “white-washed sepulchers” and the Holy Spirit is likewise guilty of sin for moving Paul to rebuke the Galatians as “fools” in Holy Scripture.

    This site is devoted to the Brothers of John the Steadfast. Men need to be men in today’s Christian world and take the lead in expecting precision in our thinking and being willing to firmly rebuke falsehood.

    Again, you are in college now. Life is not going to get any easier. It is going to get more difficult. Theological discussion is rigourous and demanding. You say you need some encouragement. I encourage you to learn to take correction, keep studying, keep reading this website, and the cloudy thinking going on in your mind will eventually clear up and you will become a faithful worker in the kingdom. Based on this string of comments I can see you have already started to grow. Good for you. I encourage you to continue down that path. You are a long way from clear thinking at this point, but with patience, perseverance and seeking out the right teachers, you can be a part of the solution instead of a part of the problem in the LCMS.

    Thank you for participation on this website.

    Pastor Rossow

  30. TW wrote: If you can’t show from the clear Word of God that wholesale changes in church music are God’s doing, then don’t say that they are.

    I was not advocating or suggesting we have a WHOLESALE change (your words), but rather that CCM is one aspect/method of worship.

    TW wrote: God still speaks today –through Scripture.

    Absolutely–I agree. But let us not read anymore or any less into it.

  31. Martin Luther wrote: “I was not advocating or suggesting we have a WHOLESALE change (your words), but rather that CCM is one aspect/method of worship.”

    Ok, if you can’t show from the clear Word of God that any of the changes in church music are God’s doing, then don’t say that they are.

    If you agree that God speaks through Scripture alone, why did you write: “God still speaks to His people today–and the manner and mode He chooses is entirely up to Him.?

    Is this more word games?


  32. Pastor Rossow, #79, “and the cloudy thinking going on in your mind will eventually clear up and you will become a faithful worker in the kingdom.”

    It is this comment that makes me believe Steven was right about the close-mindedness of, if I may be so bold, the general mindset of those in the LCMS. There are different ways of worshiping– everyone interacts with God in different ways, some through logic, some through worship, some through serving…and to not pay attention to this and try to say the LCMS’s doctrine is the only way to worship and view God in the correct way is, in fact, close-minded.

    Relating to the topic of the heart, here’s a verse or two: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your HEART may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you…” Ephesians 2:17-18, NIV. [ed: this is actually Ephesians 1:17-18, NIV; compare though to Ephesians 1:17-18, KJV]

    You can’t tell me the ways God works, and nor can any other human. To say that God only works in a certain way dictates his character, and while the Bible says only sin can come from the heart, it also says love can too. Before we push our reverence for Him aside and debate His methods, let’s remember this.

    When youth come to a gathering or even to youth group on a Sunday night, they will all come for different reasons. They will all have different motivations, different ways to be hooked into the discussion– some need a good sermon, some need inspirational worship, some need tangible activities, some need small group time. Feelings are involved in all of these things, and while coming to faith because of feelings is dangerous, they’re still involved. Travis Hartjen is the best man I know at paying close attention to all of these variables and witnessing to youth in a way that effectively caters to all of these needs.

    Perhaps, if we weren’t so convinced our lovely LCMS doctrine was the absolute only way to do things right, our minds could be OPENED to appreciate other ways too.

    Peace to you all.
    Brian (#19)

  33. Martin Luther wrote: “No more word games with the master of word games…adios!

    So, it was more word games?

    Perhaps if you didn’t play word games, you wouldn’t have to backpedal from so much of what you say.

    Just a suggestion.


  34. Brian #83: What’s so bad about a closed mind, if what it’s closed on is truthful, useful, and serves what it was designed to serve?
    The heart is to be enlightened by the love and the will of God; by knowledge of and wisdom in Him; not open to every new idea coming down the pike.
    Martin Luther #82: Todd Wilken is a word-smith–a master of word *usage*; not a word-gamer.
    Yet another adios/I’m outta-here/taking my marbles home, without ever having engaged more deeply than in marble-throwing.

  35. Brian,

    I could really care less about the LCMS. I am not committed to the LCMS. I am committed to God and his word. It just so happens that teh LCMS is the denomination that is closer to the truth of God’s word than any other.

    I am not close-minded. I am scripture minded. Apparently you are not. You believe that God teaches you things in your heart. What if he teaches you something in your heart that contradicts what his word says – which do you choose? of course, you go with his word. That is all that we are saying here.

    BTW – Paul does not allow the knowledge of the heart to trump the knowledge of the head. There is no knowledge of the heart that is not the knowledge of the head for St. Paul.

    Pastor Rossow

  36. Brian #83: My friend no one on this thread is advocating that we are stoic robots in our worship of God, but rather we are saying that our emotions, which are prone to getting out of hand and often untrustworhty indicators of truth, must be held captive to the Word of God. St. Paul tells the believers at Rome to not be conformed to the world. How? “But be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that by testing you may discern the will of God…(Rom. 12:2). St. Peter closes his second epistle by warning his readers to not fall from their steadfastness, being led away by the error of the wicked. How should they protect themselves from this error? “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). In other words, our minds matter and it is from the Scriptures that we can determine what the will of God is in matters of faith and worship, or as Pr. Rossow put it above, that we are Scripture-minded. What is interesting is that in the Ephesians verse you listed as a proof-text for the emotional life is in fact an encouragement for wisdom and understanding. Paul does not drive a false dichotomy between head and heart, because they work together in harmony by the power of the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 1:13-14 for context). In fact, this entire chapter is one of the most doctrinally pregnant sections in all of Scripture!

    As far as I can tell, not one of the respondants in this dicussion have tried to tell you “how God works”. Instead they have repeatedly insisted that we go to the Scriptures where “God tells us how He works”. It is because of this fact that the BJS makes such a fuss over this matter. If Jesus says he will be found in his word and sacrament, than why would we stray from word and sacrament?

    I guess I will own the title of being “close-minded” if it means that I believe Confessional Lutheranism holds to the correct teaching of Scripture as viewed through the lens of our symbols (Book of Concord). It is why I am Lutheran and not Presbyterian or Baptist or Roman Catholic! I guess I would ask why would you claim the title Lutheran if you sincerely held doubts about its claims? I hope the question doesn’t seem insincere, because I wasn’t born, raised, and catechized into a Lutheran family. I was an adult Calvinist serving in a Presbyterian church that came kicking and screaming at great cost. It was because of Scripture that I moved from Westminster to Wittenberg, so I will admit that I may be especially sensitive to Lutheran’s wanting to hand-over the precious deposit Christ has given us in the name of pragmaticism, relativism, or even mission!

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we don’t have brothers and sisters in other traditions, but I have no problem saying they are heterodox or just flat out wrong, because I was once wrong and I am ever greatful for the gentleman that lent me his copy of Pieper’s Dogmatics. As previously stated, Jesus and Paul didn’t have a problem pointing out error. And following in their steps, Martin Luther certainly didn’t have a problem with it, thanks be to God!

  37. Pastor Russow,

    I agree that a man needs to corrected for wrong belief and doctrine, but I think that it should be done with love and reverence for the fellow believer. Correction should be done with love and desire for the individual being corrected to gain the true understanding of the scriptures. What I felt from your comment was that I that I was worthless because I was believing something that was false, what I felt was anger and hatred. Now that may not have been your intentions but it did feel that way to me. As far as your comment about me needing to learn how to take correction your are ABSOLUTLEY correct. This is something that I have dealt with for a while and has been pointed out to me by work managers and my parents. I have a tendency to defend my understandings and actions adamantly and fail to listen to the correction that I am given. I have struggled with this and I hope that you will pray for me in this case that as I grow in my faith and understanding of the doctrine that I will better take correction.

    As far as your comment on not being a confessional Lutheran I think it is important that you know my background. I was born and baptized into the LCMS faith and have always gone to LCMS churches. When I got to high school my parents put me in a private Christian school(not Lutheran but in fact Church of God). Although I grew in faith and that growth is what led me to my studies at Concordia for DCE, I was very much influenced by the Mainstream Evangelical doctrine and understainding of the Christian faith. I started at Concordia in the fall of 2003. It wasn’t till the end of my fall semester of 2004 that I started to realize that my understaing of the faith was very different from that of the LCMS doctrine. I then sought out to discover which doctrine I thought was true. It was through relgion classes here at Concordia that helped me understand the Lutheran LCMS doctrine and I have decided through what little I know about the LCMS doctrine that it was the true understanding of the scriptures. It has really been a few years since I have embraced the Lutheran doctrine as the true doctrine of the scriptures and know little of its vastness. I do seek to know more about it and do converse with on-campus pastors about it and I truly enjoy any religion classes because I can get a better understanding of what we as LCMS Lutherans believe. I do also plan to continue my doctrinal study outside of school and when I graduate. Any guidance you all have or any pieces of literature that you think will help me in my studies would be greatly apprecited.

    Mr Thomas,

    As far as the original post is concerned, your comments about Travis Hartjen. I would like to know if you have considered Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:15-20 which clearly describes how to handle those who have sinned against you, because as I am concerned false teaching is a sin against whoever they are teaching to. Now I am not saying that you have not already done that but I am merely asking if you had considered it. Because if so you should go to Travis in private and discuss his actions and if he listens to your correction you should forgive him of his sin.

    Pastor Russow, I encourage you as well to review this part of scripture. And remember that even though those who do not listen should be treated like pagans and taxcollectors, consider how Jesus treated those who were pagans and taxcollectors.

    May the Lord bless you all!!!

  38. Pastor Russow,

    I realize now that the last comment I made really does not apply to you or the situation. Please disregard that last statement, that is solely meant to be guided towards Brian Thomas. For some reason I thought that it had significance in our discussion but I realize now that is not true.

    Thank you for your comments.

  39. Dear Pr. Scheer,

    Thank you for your invitation in the discussion about the music used with the youth. I do plan on getting into that discussion but I am very rapped up in final projects and papers I have very little time to devote to such a discussion, and I want to put my full attention and energy into this discussion as it is a passion of mine. I will hope that I will find time soon to jion in this discussion.

    Thanks and may the Love of Christ be with you.

  40. 1) Alcohol is often not contractually usable in public venues such as a hotel, at least not without paid security, which might look interesting for worship.

    2) Have any of the concerns been forwarded to any member of the planning team for the Gathering? I passed this post and comment thread along to them myself just to make sure they were not left entirely in the dark.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.