Bulletin Insert Sample for BJS National Conference

In case you haven’t thought of it for your church, here is a “bulletin insert” that I put in my church bulletin this and next Sunday.

If you have a contact person at your church who knows about BJS and can answer questions directly, change the last sentence to put “Contact ((your name here)) or go to …” at the beginning of it.

There is discussion whether the third word below should be “Confessional” or “Conservative”; use whichever you want to.

A New Conservative Lutheran Group – The Brothers of John the Steadfast is a national/local organization that hopes to start Book of Concord reading groups in congregations across the country. They are holding their first national conference, Feb 13th and 14th, at Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville. Pastor Todd Wilken from Issues, Etc. and Chris Rosebrough from Pirate Christian Radio are the speakers; Northern Illinois District president Dan Gilbert will be preaching at the Vespers service on Friday. Take your wife and have a great Valentine’s day trip to Chicago this year! Go to https://steadfastlutherans.org and click on the “National Conference” button in the right sidebar.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.


Bulletin Insert Sample for BJS National Conference — 13 Comments

  1. I understand “conservative,” but it comes with all sorts of political, social and economic overtones that aren’t appropriate. Might we do better with “orthodox” or “confessional,” the former describing the topology of what we believe, the latter describing the source and detail?

  2. Phillip: I think the “old fuddy-duddy” is probably the biggest to me. Someone who is unwilling to even consider new options. As I think you’ve said previously, in your church you make use of new music in your services, but only as long as it is confessional. So you have an open mind and aren’t sticking to the past just because it was the way we’ve always done it.

    I’ve changed the bulletin announcement to change it to “Confessional”, but this is a good discussion. Which SHOULD it be? I would like to hear from others about this issue.

  3. Many folks who want to conserve their Grandfathers’ church know what “confessional” means. Many others, though, who come to our churches because of good preaching and liturgy, don’t know what “confessional” means. But they know what “conservative” means. And they want to conserve the doctrine and practice of the church.

    I agree that we are first “confessional”, not “conservative”. We are not trying to repristinate some sort of historical ideal here, but promote the living voice of the Gospel. But we are also profoundly conservative, becuase we seek to conserve and protect something precious: the Evanglical Lutheran Church. In other words, and more to the point, we are about conserving the Gospel.

    One could call us “Gospel Conservationists”.

    I know “conservative” is relative. If I were in 1970’s South Africa, I would have been a political liberal, for instance. But that is not our context. In the context of the LCMS, we are a conservative men’s group.

  4. Phillip,

    I suppose if I brought a coworker to church who knew nothing of Christian parlance, he might think that “conservative” meant supporting blue laws and banning porn on the internet. If he was from the south, he might think it had to do with keeping the races separated. If he was Presbyterian, he might think it had to do with abstaining from beer. If he was from New England, he might think it had to do with balancing the federal and state budgets.

    These may be good or bad objectives, but they are not about what BJS is about. BJS is about conservatism as in “holding fast to the teaching of the apostles,” particularly as exposited in the Book of Concord. If I understand correctly.

    That was my only concern.

  5. If he was from the south, he might think it had to do with keeping the races separated.

    Nice, South bashing and Canada bashing on the same day!

    How about: “If he was from the south, he might think you believed in states’ rights instead of a massive federal bureaucracy robbing everyone of their freedom, such as one finds pushed by the corrupt northern and eastern states”?

    “Conservatism,” for Missouri Synod Lutherans, is the support of Jerry Kieschnick and those like him. As Erling Teigen writes (in “Confessional Lutheranism versus Philippistic Conservatism,” in Logia: A Journal of Lutheran Theology Reformation/October – Vol. 2, No. 4, Pages 32-37):

    Conservatism can also stand for a mind-set that tends to value the status quo most highly, so that one can only be moved in a different direction by bulldozer or cataclysm, never by theological study or intellectual honesty. Adherence to the Reformation spirit would seem rather to dictate that the Reformation is not static but dynamic, and always stands ready to reevaluate itself and to make mid-course corrections. That does not mean that the Confessions as the Lutheran understanding of Scripture need to be “reinterpreted” for a new age, but it means that the teaching and the teachers of our churches need to be reevaluated always to see whether or not their teaching is in accord with the Lutheran Confessions[…].

    While conservatism can be construed as a desire to preserve that which is good, it doesn’t necessarily work that way. The fundamental nature of conservatism is to preserve power structures and status quo. That, in fact, is the fundamental nature of bureaucracy, and not any less of church bureaucracies. The “chureaucrat” has to preserve the power structure within which he intends to function, for without the trappings of power he is lost.

    Business and bureaucracy are fundamentally conservative in that sense, and the more our church leaderships pattern themselves after the business world, the more conservative they will become. To think of ourselves in terms of “conservative” strikes me, then, as dangerous, and a stance that has taken us down the wrong path. Not only is it a stance which identifies us with stances that belong to the kingdom of the left hand, but it is a stance that locks us into a mode that is unhealthy.


  6. Pastor Stefanski,

    Great post. Thanks for standing up for the South. And also for reinforcing my point that we are first and foremost confessional before we are conservative.

    That said, and Bubbles’ red herrings aside, I think there are many contexts, including this one, where the adjective ‘conservative’ is valuable and effective for confessional Lutherans. Yes, I know the guy who is conservative, but not really confessional, will balk at me playing my conga drums or my accordion during the Divine Service, no matter how sensitively and appropirately they might be played, so I get your point about the conservative temperament working against refromation in business and bureaucracy. But far more lay people ‘get’ how we ‘do’ church as a confessional congregation (traditional liturgy, Biblical preaching, pure doctrine) when we describe ourselves as ‘conservative Lutherans’ than when we use other adjectives.

    This is not to say that ‘confessional’ should not be used. It should be used often! Sometimes there is even a place for ‘orthodox’ – even though many get sidetracked by the overtones THAT word resonates. It is just to say that ‘conservative’ is a good word and a good thing – in both kingdoms – just so long as it is not applied in the wrong context.

    And conserving our Lutheran confession for the sake of the Gospel is definitely the right context, IMHO!

  7. We should choose our words carefully. They carry freight. Conservative or confessional? Both are helpuful and both can be misused. “Confesional” is subject to the same abuse as “conservative.” After all, Jesus First consders themselves to be confessional as does President Kieschnick, so that is really a wash.

    Let me tell you the rationale behind using “conservative” and then you can tell me what you think of our use of it.

    First let me say this, on average we refer to ourselves as confessional. That is the preferred term. When addressing the middle of the road folks in the Missouri Synod, particularly the laymen, “conservative” communicates far more what we are after than “confessional” does. That is why we chose it in this context.

    At a booth at a conference or in a bulletin insert, if we say “confessional” there is a certain amount of readers who will understand what we mean, those who know what “confessional” means. In that same setting, those who will know what “conservative” means is a set larger than those who know what “confessional” means and also includes those who know what “confessional” means. Therefore, in trying to reach the laymen of the LCMS and the mushy middle we are better off using the term “conservative” because it will communicate to more people than “confesional.”

    The people who know John the Steadfast and read our website know that we are confessional. (BTW – it is a lot of people. 20,000 unique visitors since July. About 2/3 of the people who walked past our booth at Fort Wayne had been to our website.) The people who do not know anything about John the Steadfast will be more drawn in by the word “conservative” than the word “confessional.”

    Maybe I am wrong? Let me know.

    Pastor Rossow

  8. Let me put it this way: I think “faithful” is a better word.

    You are right that “confessional” is generally not understood. “Conservative” also has negative connotations–especially in areas where it is taken to mean “Republican.” (There are any number of folks I know who are pro-life and gun-toting, yet (have) vote(d) almost a straight Democrat ticket, because that is their ‘heritage’…and if I speak of being “conservative,” I’ll simply alienate them with my ‘Republicanism’.

    Now, someone will say that claiming to be faithful is to claim that other positions are unfaithful.

    To which I say: “That is correct.”

    Faithful Lutherans cling to Scripture. They do so, especially, through their clinging to the Confessions. In accord with the Confessions, they are ‘conservative’ of things that are not necessarily even familiar to them or ‘of their age’. They do not repristinate to an age,per se, but to a standard of doctrine and practice that often seems related to a certain age simply because certain men in that age/those ages did a good job of clinging to that to which we cling and putting it into practice. On the other hand, we allow to drop other things of that age, so that we are, in fact, quite liberal by the standard of that age…and we are glad of that when so doing better displays faithfulness to Scripture.

    Thus, I prefer “faithful.”

    BTW, I don’t think Bubbles was trying to do anything untoward; she simply spoke from a perception, just as we do with Canada or other places. If anything, the South today is over-sensitive because of the constant harangue of comedians and politicians, in spite of the fact that we have more real integration than is found in many other places. [I have another paragraph to add, but I don’t think one could understand the tenor of Harrison, Arkansas in 2009 without living here; we stand more accused both internally and externally than just about any town I know, and yet 90% of the town is as tolerant of anyone as can be, with the other two 5% factions yelling at each other in such a way that it looks to outsiders as if the 90% were also involved…]


  9. Again, no offense was intended (and what do we sinners have to be offended about) and apologies if I have offended.

    An interesting discussion, thanks guys.

  10. No need for anyone to apologize except for maybe me.

    We are all seeking to be faithful to our Lord’s word and sometimes we will disagree with each other.

    Gee, I just used the word “faithful.” Good point Pastor S. It is a good word. Maybe it is time to switch. As a bright man once said, “He who determines the question wins the argument.” Likewise, maybe he who sets the terminology wins the argument.

    Pastor Rossow

  11. A man who brags about being “no theologian” is only “confessional” when it suits his political ends to say that.

    ***usFirst is by their label not “confessional”; if they were, they’d change their blasphemous political party name.

    I much prefer “confessional” to “conservative” because “conservatives” often mean, “I’ve got mine and I’m going to hang on to it by fair means or foul.”
    [Perhaps Confessional should be capitalized, to encourage a question about the meaning of the term?]

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