Can the Burgeoning Go-To Place for Lutheran News Afford to Not Take itself too Seriously, by Pastor Rossow

That headline is just an excuse for a “dumb” Iowa boy like me to use the word “burgeoning.” Actually I am opening up a very serious thread of conversation with this post and I hope you will chime in with your comments.


To “burgeon” is to grow and expand rapidly. We have done that here at the Brothers of John the Steadfast. We just went on line last June 25th on the Commemoration of the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession and already we have over 200 members, 11 chapters in the US and Canada and have started or catalogued over 30 Confessions reading groups around the world. Our most successful venture has been this website to which over 30,000 different people have logged on. We are averaging over 1,100 unique visitors a day and probably have from 4,000 – 7,000 people who check in at least once a month. Thank you to every one of you for helping us “burgeon.”


“Burgeon” comes from the Anglo-French word for “bud” or “bloom” and from the Late Latin word “burra” which means “fluff.” So, are we the rapidly growing go-to place for serious Lutheran news and commentary or are we a fluff site of sarcasm and fun? The answer is “yes.” We are both. We offer serious news and commentary but we also do not take ourselves too seriously. Attempting to do both means that we will sometimes disappoint on either end of the spectrum. It also means that we have to be careful on the fluff side that we do not cross the line of sarcasm into bitterness and personal attacks, thus compromising our character


Our writers are careful to stay in those bounds but sometimes our commenters cross the line. We have a liberal policy about posting comments on this site. (We hope it  is the only liberal thing about us.) We encourage our commenters to refrain from personal attacks. We rarely delete comments but will seek to be more conscientious as we continue to grow.


Another issue that has come up is the matter of endorsing a candidate for the LCMS presidency. I mentioned in a post earlier this week that we have not endorsed anyone. I got a helpful comment on that post. The commenter stated that it would be unclear who the endorsement is coming from if indeed we did endorse someone. Would it be from the editor, an editorial staff, the steering committee, the board of directors, the dues paying members, etc.? These are very good questions. For that and other reasons we may never endorse a candidate. What we will keep doing is talk about the pros and cons of those being bandied about as candidates for the LCMS presidency. We will do so based on the principles and goals of the Brothers of John the Steadfast (promoting the Lutheran Confessions, promoting Confessional Lutheran new media, upholding the historic liturgy, promoting the office of the ministry, promoting men as heads of the household and leaders in the parish, etc.). If we ever do endorse a candidate we will make it clear from whom the endorsement is coming.


As always let us know what your thoughts are on all these things. Overall, we have been very impressed with the support we have received from you and the high level of theological and personal integrity of our members and all who read this site. Thanks to those of you who took the time in the last few days to call to our attention to the responsibility we have as the “go to place for Lutheran news and commentary.” I cannot wait to see what burgeons next out of this wonderful branch of Christ’s body called the Brothers of John the Steadfast.

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.


Can the Burgeoning Go-To Place for Lutheran News Afford to Not Take itself too Seriously, by Pastor Rossow — 31 Comments

  1. Well said. Here’s to a future full of lots of clever commenting without any personal attacks.

    And I have to agree, “burgeoning” is a fantastic word.

  2. Why would there be a problem with this site endorsing a candidate for Synodical President –as long as everyone knows where it’s coming from?

    For myself, I’ll take every opportunity I can to do so: Matt Harrison, 2010!


  3. Pastor Wilken,

    As you know and I am sure it is part of what is behind your comment – there is nothing wrong with politics in the church. Politics is simply what happens when two or more people are in a “polis” (city, community, group, etc.) It is inevitable. The only question is will you have good politics or bad.

    This site can endorse a candidate and may. Because we represent a group of 200 members, we have to have a transparent and representative manner of doing that. We may or may not do that but we will certainly keep exposing good and bad traits in folks who are being considered for the position.

    As far as I am personally concerned, I know of no one who knows LCMS politics as well as you and if Harrison is your guy he’s my guy as well. He is certainly a good fit with what BJS stands for.

    Thank you for your forthrightness and leadership in the LCMS. You make it easy for a group like BJS to support an effort like Issues, Etc.

    Pastor Rossow

  4. Pr. Rossow,

    Thank you and your hard working crew for keeping up on this website and for promoting our Confessions through reading groups, etc. I pray God will continue to bless the Brothers of John the Steadfast for His glory.

  5. Um, maybe I’m missing something, but who is in the conversation about running for PotS in 2010? I have only heard of Harrison and GK.

  6. Peggers,

    I have not heard of anyone else but Rev. Wohlrabe but the word on the grapevine is that he prefers to let others take on that role.

    Any congregation can nominate anyone. As far as I know Harrison and PK will get most of the nominations.

    Pastor Rossow

  7. Pastor Rossow,
    Thanks for starting BJS. I look forward to the new posts, the journal, the time spent with my brothers at our local chapter and now the annual conference. I say, “well done” to you, the writers, and everyone who helps make BJS the group it is. We as a group and as individuals are poor misserable sinners and will be until we are restored by our Lord in heaven, but lets keep walking together in humble repentance, defending the truth of God’s Word, and following Jesus as He forgives us and blesses us in His life.


  8. As one of those commentators who occasionally “crosses the line,” I appreciate your cautions, and I’ll try to be more careful in the future. But let’s face it, the political/theological situation in Synod for the last eight years fairly cries out for parody, cynicism, wit, satire, and, yes, occasionally, sarcasm.
    Actions and events do not occur in a vacuum. Nor do positions, be they theological or political. They are attached to PEOPLE, people. And, as such, they, the authors/promoters of such are fair game.
    Maybe we do need to “lighten up.” Maybe we don’t. I don’t think so. The future of Confessional Lutheranism in the LCMS is far too serious a subject to warrant the “kid glove” treatment.
    Maybe the “Snark Patrol” needs to lighten up, too?

  9. The snark patrol may have been harsh and not above the fray itself, but they do have a point and I pray it is well taken. While there are disturbing things going on in the name of LC-MS that are anything but Lutheran that needs to see the light of day, this site and many of it’s members seem to embrace jumping on the negative in an unloving manner. I believe a collective place for the confessionals to gather and gain strength in solidarity should be based on the positive and not the negative. I propose that for every church or program focused on that is not preaching Christ and is doing damage in His name, a corresponding post should promote a church that is doing it right or promote a mission that needs support.

    It’s amazing to me how many good confessional churches there still are, but so many don’t know about them because the word doesn’t get out! The common misconception is that there are no faithful churches in the CNH district based on the publicity of a good number of churches that have forgotten their confessions, but there just might be an equal number of solid confessionals out there. If not, we should teach in a loving manner those that are wrong and continue to pray for the misguided. But always remember there still is a remnant of the faithful and praise the Lord for that with shouts of joy, IRL and online!

  10. Heidi,

    It is a good point to highlight the positive along with the negative. We have been doing that from the beginning. It is why we have run the liturgical series, the Book of Concord readings and the steadfast parish series. The latter can be found in each of our quarterlies which are cataloged on the “Organization” page of the website.

    Pastor Rossow

  11. “Snark Patrol”. That’s great.

    While fighting for the faith is indeed important, I doubt it’s impossible to try and not fall into complete passive aggressive form during Lent. Or is it?

    I’m glad someone brought this up here, because the site has become at times almost a chore to read. Which defeats the original purpose, I imagine.

  12. I admit that’s true, and my point didn’t include that I recognize you do promote good things going on. (I was typing on my iPhone at a hockey game 🙂 As I remember, that was the sole purpose in the BJS group.

    A more refined and succinct point would be to say that the good promotions are not as prominent on this site. And frankly, it is the blog posts or columns that get the views and are easily read via the RSS feed, which exacerbate the problem. I’m suggesting that there be more posts that promote the good, like the “Aware of an Idol” post is.

  13. Heidi,

    Overall, in the first nine months of our existence the negative has outweighed the positive. That is because in those first nine months we have had an incredible amount of negative news, e.g. the cancellation of Issues, the immoral fight to challenge Issues trademark application, Concordia RF profs signing a Bill Ayers petition, the Blue Ribbon power grab, a gay activist direecting the Lord’s song in Washington, not to mention that garden variety church growth theology of Ablaze and nearly everything that comes out of the president’s office.

    When there is no such hot negative issue, we are quite a positive site. I would encourage you to peruse the BJS newsreel on the Regular Columns page, reveiw the confessions reading group ticker, etc. and you will see that we have promoted many positive things on this site.

    If the synod were to miraculosly take a turn toward a more confessional character our positive stories would increase dramatically. If you new me personally you would know that I am a glasss 90% full guy. All of this critique is not second nature to me but in the theologically environment we are currently in, these things are going to dominate.

    Thanks so much for your participation in all of this and I can assure you your comments are taken to heart.

    Pastor Rossow

  14. Lutheranluci,

    I wish this site was not a chore for you to read. Can you expand on that comment. It would be helpful for us to better understand this phenomena so that we can improve the site. I realize that you are only one person and your experience may not be universal but if you can share some more it may help us as we build for the future.

    You can post here or you can send me an e-mail at [email protected].

    Thanks for your input.

    Pastor Rossow

  15. SNARK WARNING. If your piety (or ego) is sensitive to Snark, DO NOT READ. The word “snark,” and forms thereof will appear frequently.

    I’ve read the blogs on both sides of the “snark” issue.

    Snarkiness doesn’t seem to be the issue. Ego does.

    Blogs on both sides are snarky when it suits them. Good. Read Luther, the king of snark. Snark, but do not sin.

    The real issue seems to be ego. Whose comment was criticized on whose blog? Whose post said what about whose other post? Who snarked who? The drama.

    But, most importantly: Whose blog (or list of blogs) will be the go-to place for Lutherans and want-to-be Lutherans?

    With all due respect and Christian love, get over yourselves.

    I have the go-to place for Lutherans and want-to-be Lutherans:


  16. If you have to ask, you’re already taking yourself way too seriously. Embrace non-necessity. Trust Christ.

  17. Looks like my “friend” Ed took on a new name, “publicola”. (Sitemeter and time stamp tracking is fun, Ed.)

    Anyway, Pastor R, I will email you soon in detail about this, and I will even give you a summary of the emails and messages I have gotten, without names. First of all, my main comments were not for this site, but for a whole nuther group. With this place, I do support the work going on here, as my church is one Confessional place that I do hope survives. Yet just like the other letters you have gotten, lately it’s been a bit of a stumble with regards to maintaining the Lent idea.

    While I have no desire for anyone to over moderate comments here, I’m questioning this LCMS confessional group I have fallen into, and if anything will ever be constructive. Or if the whole idea is to constantly be in flux and eating each other.

    So that is the “why bother” attitude I have. I’ve been in this denom for 5 years, and it seems to have been one thing after another, everything always being the ultimate show down. Please keep in mind, converts like myself usually have no Lutheran family, maybe a few friends, so it could be on a bigger scale I see “everyone” as falling into the devils work. Not sure. Oh, and if you don’t know why writings, I most certainly am a sinner too. 😉 Which is why I gotta not give the devil the toolbox for all this.

    Thanks for listening, blessings to all.

  18. Publicola,

    Just so you know, we have no egocentric need to be the go-to-place for Lutheran news and commentary. We just thought it would be a good thing to have and that it would serve our Lord and his Gospel. We have very little ego here which is why we constantly promote other groups. We want to see TAM. ULMA. TCL, LCA, ALC, etc. all thrive. We take comments from people like Cwirla and Stefanski and post them here and direct people to their sites. If we were in competition we would not promote others. Our goal is to serve the Church in humility with our web-site and our organization.

    Pastor Rossow

  19. Pastor Rossow,

    Perhaps you misunderstood my comment.

    My point is not that this site is ego-driven. My point is that under all the accusations of “snark,” “snarkiness” and “snarkification” are bruised egos.


    I’m sorry you have come to the fold of Missouri, only to find the synod slowly self-destructing and split down the middle. Surprise, there are sinners on both sides.

  20. Publicola, you are the perfect example of the angry Lutheran, who I have no idea why you are angry. Is it because the synod is so sacred to you? You have picked me out, and have suggested that I am unaware of sin. What is the point of this, and what are you hoping to achieve? And where have you seen me say I am without sin?

    Do you just hate converts in general, and would you like the synod to be of more pure blood or something? What do you want?

  21. Publicola,

    I did misunderstand your point. Thanks for the clarification.

    Pastor Rossow

  22. LutheranLucciola,

    You have misunderstood my comment. I apologize for not being clearer.

    My sorrow over your predicament as a convert to Missouri is genuine. I really am sorry that you have come to this fellowship while it is disintegrating.

  23. LutheranLucciola,

    Also, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that you are unaware of your sin. From what I’ve read, you seem fully aware of it.

  24. LutheranLucciola writes:

    I’ve been in this denom for 5 years, and it seems to have been one thing after another, everything always being the ultimate show down.

    I was brought into the LCMS in 1981. Your experience of the past five years was my experience for most of the 24 years I spent in the LCMS…and the fact is: for most pastors in the LCMS, no matter how much ‘ultimate showdown’ talk there is, it never really comes. It’s like, “Tomorrow…is always a day away.” All of the shifting and rumbling that you see tends not to get anyone out of their holes, but only to settle the dirt in around them a little bit tighter. Thus, there are those who thirty years ago would have left immediately if today’s LCMS had suddenly been thrust upon them, but who now simply seem thankful that the tide has erased the former lines in the sand so that yet another can be drawn. Look back sixty years, and that’s even more the case. Yet more, eighty.

    Now, perhaps that is snarko supremo…but that is my observation: the false teachers grow ever more refined and those who wish to teach truly end up retreating (though they manage often to make some really good things to use wherever the war isn’t really going on).


  25. “We take comments from people like Cwirla and Stefanski and post them here and direct people to their sites.”

    That’s probably your first big mistake. ; )

  26. Any open discussion on the Internet will attract its share of sarcasm, negativity, over-the-top anger and unfair attacks. Read any political blog with comments, or sports blog, or the comments on your local newspapers’ website.

    Christians should be above all this, but we’re not. I would say, however, that these boards often maintain a higher tone than most.

    This activity is for mature Christians only. If your blogging activity causes you to sin by hating your brother, then cut it off, at least for a while. A blogging fast during Lent might be beneficial for some people. Spend some more time on your vocations, including your family.

    I confess that I have sinned through some angry and disrepectful comments I have posted. If I do so again, I rely on this community to call me to repent and apologize as appropriate.

  27. As far as the candidates for LCMS presidents go, I sicerely hope that we can find and support a confessional candidate. The mistake that was made in past elections is that there were too many conservative or confessional candidates, that resulted in the watering down of the election. Hopefully, this time we can get behind one strong confessional in this election. The last U.S presidental election was properly dubbed as the most important election is history, this upcoming electoin for LCMS president is in my opinion the most important election for the future of the LCMS!

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