Teach, Confess, and Organize, by Pr. Charles Henrickson

The Brothers of John the Steadfast are all about “defending and promoting confessional Lutheranism,” and so am I. That’s why I joined. That’s why I’ll be attending the BJS conference next week. And that’s why I’ll be blogging here at this site. I hope to contribute at least one column a week, maybe more.

First, let me introduce myself. I am baptized. I am ordained. I’m the pastor of an LCMS congregation just south of St. Louis. As far as Issues Etc. is concerned, I’m an active supporter, occasional guest, and longtime “friend of the show.” Enough about me.

Now as to what I plan to write about in this blog. I can sum it up in three words: Teach, Confess, and Organize. Those are the three main tasks I see facing us in the challenge of “re-Lutheranizing” the Missouri Synod. Let me expand a little on each.

“Teach”: By this I mean to teach, positively, the truth of God’s Word. “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Pastors and laypeople alike need constantly to study and learn from the Scriptures and Confessions. And what a treasure we Lutherans have in the catechisms, in our liturgy and hymnody! Making good use of these resources is how we grow strong and fruitful in our faith. By the way, I’m happy to see BJS promoting the reading of the Book of Concord. We have a group in my congregation doing just that this year, meeting every week to discuss what we’ve read. So I will be sharing some insights I’m gaining as we go along.

“Confess”: By this I mean to confess the truth over against error. The church and her pastors need not only to be able “to give instruction in sound doctrine” but also “to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). And sound doctrine can be contradicted by unsound practice. When unhealthy, less-than-Lutheran practices are condoned, defended, and even promoted by those in synodical leadership, we need to call them on it. We should work to correct errors that have intruded in our synod. The care of souls and the glory of Christ demand nothing less.

“Organize”: By this I mean to organize politically. There, I said it! The “P” word! And I’m not ashamed or embarrassed to use it. “Politics” is a good word. It simply means to take care of your polis, working through its structures and channels–the “polity”–for the greater good. Politics is inherent in any human organization (including every church body), wherever and whenever there are group decisions to be made. And so members of the Missouri Synod–pastors and congregations–have a duty, a responsibility, to seek the good of our church body. Working through our polity includes doing things like nominations, elections, overtures, resolutions, and delegates. It involves writing, speaking, showing up at meetings, talking to people, persuading, and “networking.” It takes place at the congregational, circuit, district, and national levels. I’ll be writing about all these things, offering practical suggestions on how to use our polity to advance the cause of confessional Lutheranism in the Missouri Synod.

Teach, Confess, and Organize. This is part of the mystery of being in Christ’s church, isn’t it? Christ himself will build his church (Matthew 16:18), yet somehow he uses our feeble efforts in the process. Ora et labora! Pray and work! “Lord, keep us steadfast in Your Word!”

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