Graphic Fun and Games with Kieschnick and Harrison Papers Reveals Profound Differences, by Pr. Rossow

There is a website called Wordle ( that allows you to submit a document and it will turn it into a graphic featuring the major words of the text. The interesting thing is that it weights the words according to how many times they are used. The more a word is used, the larger graphic it gets. It will make sense once you look at the attached examples. (We thank J.J. for giving us this idea.) What happens when you submit two recent papers on the future of the synod, one from President Kieschnick and one from Matt Harrison, to this test? More on that in a moment.

The point of this little exercise is that it makes obvious what is important to the author. For instance, we have all heard Pastor Wilken point out that sermons need to be about Christ. You could submit the text of your pastor’s sermon to this “werdle” exercise and see if it is really Christ-centered.

I thought I would try it with one of my recent posts. Because it was about “Rick” “Warren” those words were the largest. I was pleased to see that beyond that some of the other big words were Gospel, Christ, kingdom, faith, preacher, etc. Here is what the “wordled” version of my post looks like.

Here is where it gets really interesting. Both President Kieschnick and Rev. Harrison have written about the desired future our synod within the last few weeks. Rev. Harrison wrote “It’s Time” and President Kieschnick wrote a memo to all LCMS congregations concerning the synod’s goals for ministry and mission up to 2010. So it is a fair test. Each has written about where the synod needs to go.

Here is what Matt Harrison’s document looks like when it is “wordled.”

Notice that the words that are used the most and thus are the biggest are mission, Word, church, God, doctrine, Christ, etc.

Here is what President Kieschnick’s memo looks like when it is “wordled.”

Notice that the terms that come to the forefront are words like commissions, departments, targets, corporate, entities, etc.

The difference is literally visual. One text features word, church God, doctrine, and Christ and the other features commissions, departments, targets, and entities. One is churchly and God-centered and the other is corporate and business-centered. We invite you to pay close attention to the words of both men as the LCMS spends the next eighteen months considering who will lead this synod in the future. Listen carefully to their words. Words carry freight. Words mean things. When God chose to communicate to us he used the Word made flesh and the Word recorded as inspired by the Holy Spirit. We here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast pray that the synod will choose a churchly man and not a corporate man to lead our denomination.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger view

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.


Graphic Fun and Games with Kieschnick and Harrison Papers Reveals Profound Differences, by Pr. Rossow — 13 Comments

  1. Very few internet ‘toys’ get this from me: that is so cool! I threw the paper that I was supposed to be presenting at the Confessional Lutheran Free Conference in Burnsville, MN today (couldn’t go…our airport was iced over for two days, plus the CAT 41 Command Center has been without electricity and surrounded by/covered by decimated trees for the past 48 hours or so), and was happy to see that my “Guilt by Association” had the effect of “The Footprint of Church Fellowship.”

    Of course, any one paper or article could look unrepresentatively good or bad, so we will all do well to do as Pr. Rossow says and keep plugging stuff into this graphic tool so that trends can become more apparent.

    EJG (ice storm refugee)

  2. Pastor Stefanski,

    “See,” Jesus,” “God.” Can’t do much better than that!

    Pastor Rossow

  3. Way kewl!!!

    However, all this talk and revealing of the POTS theological weaknesses and LCMS Inc. mindset will not make one whit of difference to the POTS and his allies. He has spoken, resistance is futile, you WILL be assimilated.

  4. I’m rather content with the outcome:

    It rendered it with the Church in Jesus Christ! Yes, I’d say you should be content! I just wish it would have added a tail to your perfect fish!


  5. The difference in the Wordle’s of these two gentlemen is striking. One is about emphases and targets, commissions and departments. The other is about God and unity, mission and Word. Which would you vote for for our next Synod President?

  6. I’m sorry Quinn but there is just not enough about committees, entities, and mission in your sermon. 🙂

    Seriously, it is great to see words like Jesus and forgiveness so prominent. Your people will be blessed by this sermon.

    Pastor Rossow

  7. Thank you, at the last moment, though, I decided to change the focus of my sermon to the corporate polity of the local congregation, and ow they must slavishly obey the Church Growth movement.

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