Here is a quote from a recent Ablaze newsletter. It is written by an Ablaze worker in the Philippines (LCP).
The LCP has 92 churches, many of which are mission stations, and 26 ordained pastors
with an Ablaze goal to establish 100 new churches by the 500th anniversary of the Reformation
(October 31, 2017)!
The newsletter I quoted from was reporting and rejoicing in laypeople being taught to evangelize. As the quote says The Lutheran Church Philippines has 92 churches, 26 ordained pastors and “Ablaze Philippines” is starting 100 new churches. Here is the interesting angle on Ablaze and how it all ties together with so many of the comments on this site recently about the lack of funding for our seminaries and the faulty SMP program.
Ablaze is so concerned about reaching its goal of starting a gazillion congregations by 2017 that they are by-passing the godly process of training pastors well and starting churches only with trained pastors. The church is watering itself down with church starts without pastors and SMPs (specific ministry pastors – a short cut into the ministry with little residence time at the seminary, like getting your MD through correspondence classes) to the extent that we will end up one day with a very weak church that is not able to withstand the flaming arrows of the Evil One.
We need to slow the Ablaze train down so that we can redirect our resources and reorient our efforts to teaching well qualified pastors and then starting churches with those pastors. But it will objected that we do not have enough pastors to start churches. In that case, then, we need to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He send workers into the field rather than tilling fields with inadequate equipment. When our children start to put the cart before the horse we instruct them to slow down and be patient. Ablaze reminds me in so many ways of an impatient, antsy prepubescent that just needs to slow down and grow up a little. As a matter of fact, the whole race to re-make the church in the form of the culture (contemporary music and Hawaiian shirted clergy and the like) also looks to me like a teenager church. We need to grow up in the teaching of the Lord so that we are not tossed to and fro by the waves of unsound teaching. We need to give up this quest to be a titillating church that tickles the fancy of adolescent tastes and grow up into the mature church that God wishes.
Our congregation recently gave several thousand dollars to the Luther Academy to support an exciting new opportunity in Indonesia. And what was that opportunity? It was the opportunity to better train pastors in Indonesia who want to be more confessional in their Lutheranism. That is truly on-fire work. May our synodical leaders recognize this practical error of starting churches without well trained clergy and stop putting the cart before the horse.