What President Kieschnick needs to do Now, by Pr. Klemet Preus

(This is the final post in this series on “Lawsuits Among Christians.” For the whole series click on Pastor Preus’ name on the Brother’s Cafe.)


As indicated in my recent blog something happened on December 2 of which the entire synod needs to be aware. A legal opposition was filed before the secular authorities against certain Christian men. This action, according to President Kieschnick’s understanding of I Corinthians, is a sin. Who did it and how should the president respond?

Let’s think by analogy. I’m a pastor. Let’s say that someone in my church – we’ll call him Joe – did something which others thought was potentially harmful to the congregation. Let’s say that there are some lawyers in the congregation who filed a legal matter against Joe and that I, as pastor, was completely unaware of the disputed matter. Let’s then say that all sorts of people got mad at me since I am the pastor and there are people filing legal matters before the secular courts on behalf of my congregation. Let’s say that the press gets a hold of the story and members of the church are angry that the press is making us look bad. Let’s say that it turns out that some congregational funds have been spent on this ill advised action and people are demanding to know how much was spent. Let’s say that not only have the congregation’s funds been spent but that many dollars were spent by Joe defending himself against this action.


Now, I’m the pastor. What should I do?  


What would you think if I wrote a letter to the whole congregation saying that lawsuits are bad and that I didn’t do it? It’s not my fault. Would that be an adequate response? Would it even be relevant? Hardly.


Here’s what I should do. First I should talk to Joe. I should apologize to Joe for the embarrassment that this action has caused. I should assure Joe that I will defend him and speak well of him just as publicly as those who questioned his integrity had spoken. Then I should send a letter to the entire church assuring them that Joe is a fine Christian man.


Second, since it was official actions of the congregation which forced Joe to defend himself with his financial resources, I should work behind the scene to see if it was possible to provide some type of financial restitution for Joe.


Third, I should talk to the lawyers and instruct them as to the application of I Corinthians 6 in the life of the congregation. I would tell them that they represent a Christian church which does not file actions before the secular authorities against other Christians within the fellowship. I would scold the lawyers for their litigiousness. And I would let the church know that such litigiousness will not continue to characterize the church.


Fourth, I should talk to my chairman, head elder, trustees and just about anyone who might possibly have talked to the lawyers. I should ascertain how it could possibly happen that the one who sets the moral direction of the congregation can be completely unaware of actions done on behalf of the whole church which have clear moral implications. Once I find out who authorized the lawyers I should talk to them and make them absolutely guarantee that they understand the impropriety and possibly immorality of their actions and promise not to do it again.


Finally, I should assure the church that this action was against the Bible and that it will not happen again. I should apologize to the church that such an action could take place without my knowledge and I should promise that in the future I would be more aware of what was going in the church I was supposed to be leading.


That’s what I should do. Is that what you would expect from a leader?


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.


What President Kieschnick needs to do Now, by Pr. Klemet Preus — 5 Comments

  1. I hate to be a wet blanket, but I don’t understand what this kind of talk is supposed to accomplish. It’s like a whiney kid who goes on and on. It won’t do any good.

    President Kieschnick isn’t going to apologize. He sees no reason to do so. The lawsuit against the LCMS was wrong, because of the Bible. The lawsuit against Todd and Jeff was not wrong because they were being a pain in the ass and Prez K was only doing what any good chief executive should do, which is to get people who are being critical to shut up. Didn’t work out, but it wasn’t because there was any Biblical principle involved, it was because a bunch of malcontents made a big issue out of it and in that case you cut your losses and wait for the next time to shut them up. No sin involved, so why are you guys going on and on about apologizing? And the good thing is that these malcontents, and Todd and Jeff have no real power over you because you’re the chief executive.

    Apology is an admission of weakness, and weakness is deadly in an executive. When people demand an apology, the way is simple: you come up with plausible reasons for what you do and either you act like you want to work things out (but then delay and politely stonewall) or you just ignore the problem until it goes away. You might find yourself a Scooter Libby whom you can sacrifice if there is somebody willing to fall on the sword for you, but if not you just take the high ground.

    So now you know. There won’t be any change on Kieschnick’s part. Do what you’re going to do, but you’re not going to convince him any more than you’d convince George W. Bush that the war in Iraq was immoral or than you’d convince Barack Obama that embryonic stem cell research is unethical. Live with it.

  2. Ahh Bubbles. We are just a bunch of little malcontents. Little ants in great big corporate world of LCMess Inc.
    But it only takes one ant in your underwear to get you moving.


  3. What role does the President of the LCMS have with regard to the Office of the Keys?

  4. Some would snarkily point out that, “Well, Synod isn’t church.”

    I can’t help but remember that J. Kieschnick is, as he himself avers, “not a theologian.”

    So what a caring, well-intentioned pastor or congregational leaders would do is probably not really of any interest to the top ‘crat at Synod, Inc.

    (Sorry to sound bitter. I just find it hard to abide a bully in any situation.)

  5. Bubbles: I tell you what this is trying to accomplish – it is giving a coward a chance to repent and be a man.

    So we are living with, but Christian love requires us to call an erring brother to do the right thing.


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