A Dead-On Critique of the Modern Church in ULMA’s Invitation for Support to Start New Confessional Congregations

(Editor’s Note: The United Lutheran Mission Association continues to shatter the contemporary LCMS myth that you need consultants, early childhood centers and laymen trained at leadership conferences in order to initiate new mission starts. They do it the old fashioned way by simply sending out pastors to work with ordinary laymen to get the word preached in its purity and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s command. They recently put out an invitation for support for this effort, including a pithy critique of the modern church,  and are posting it here as a part of their regular BJS column. We have several confessional groups that post here and invite your group to join us as well.)

Would You Be Interested In Helping Us?

We are receiving more inquiries from confessional laity for help to establish confessional congregations.

These are people who…

  • Have had enough of the shallow entertainment “vision” of the Church Growth Movement.
  • Wish to preserve the right of the Priesthood of Believers to establish their congregations, call their pastors and work with their pastors to protect and promote Word and Sacrament ministry.
  • Have had enough of the Synodical hierarchy that attempts to define the church in an institutional manner and, instead of being an “advisory only” body, wishes to dictate and cajole the priesthood of believers and pastors into a circus like atmosphere under the guise of saving souls for Jesus.
  • Have had enough of the division caused in their congregations by pastors who divide their congregation into contemporary, blended and traditional service groups—regardless of how “conservative” the pastor appears to be.
  • Believe in the power of the Word alone to work and nurture faith.
  • Are willing to make sacrifices, to take a stand and say “no” to church models that are nothing more than a corporate approach to making disciples instead of baptizing and teaching.

The United Lutheran Mission Association (ULMA) needs your help because the inquiries are growing and, we believe, will continue to grow. Yes, we need financial help to aid in the establishment of new congregations and to call and support our Missionary at Large program.

If you would like more information or would like to join the ULMA please visit our web site,  or contact one of the member congregations listed below:

Redeemer Lutheran Church
30003 Jefferson Ave.
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082

Pilgrim Lutheran Church
2155 N. Oakland Ave.
Decatur, IL 62526


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.


A Dead-On Critique of the Modern Church in ULMA’s Invitation for Support to Start New Confessional Congregations — 21 Comments

  1. just so you know, I think the link for the mission society at the bottom of the article is broken … at least it didn’t work for me.

  2. I’m concerned about the language of “priesthood of believers” [sic – “royal priesthood of the baptized”] being taken into the realm of rights (not a biblical way of talking). Priests have responsibilities to sacrifice and interecede – but “rights’ is an imposition into the text.

    I wouldn’t want to associate with Cascione’s “voter’s supremacy” garbage anyhow.

  3. The people of ULMA need look no further or invent a new Synod. The Church of the Lutheran Confession (CLC) is what the LCMS was 100 years ago. They were born out the Synodical conference breakup in 1960 and are currently flourishing with all the bullet points noted above. Welcome home!

  4. “Amen” to Rev. Bauer’s comments.

    A question: When this website describes something as a “confessional group” what standard is used to decide this?

  5. “Amen” to Rev. Bertram’s “Amen” to Rev. Bauer’s comments. This post caused me to break out in a rash. Luckily, I still had a few pills left in my “hyper-Euro” bottle, and after hurredly swallowing them down, saying ten “Hail Marys,” and celebrating a private mass, I am back to my “sacerdotal” self. Pshew! That was close! 🙂

  6. Rev. Bertram et al,

    I agree that voters assembly supremacy is not the Biblical view of polity. The only supremacy in the church belongs to Christ.

    Having said that, I would encourage you to go to the ULMA website and review the constitutional guidelines for mission congregations. I might phrase things a bit differently if I were writing the constitution but there is no notion of voters assembly supremacy in this document.

    I would encourage a discussion of things that ULMA has officially put in writing rather than things spoken by people associated with the group.

    How does this website identify a confessional group? We would consider a confessional Lutheran someone who subscribes to the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions because they are in accord with the teaching of Scripture. The critique of contemporary Lutheranism in the post above makes it clear that ULMA is not just nominally confessional like so many LCMS congregations we know of.

    This is not a simple matter and so an extended discussion of this topic here would be beneficial for the Brothers of John the Steadfast and all our readers.


  7. As a layman I sense the tension between confessional Lutherans who see the congregation voters assembly as the supreme authority in the Church and those who see their pastors or bishops as the supreme authority. Both, of course, recognize that ultimately Christ is the Supreme Authority in the Church.

    I am certainly no authority on this subject and I will do well to search and further study the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions on this topic, but my inclination is to say there should be checks and balances on the part of both the voters assembly and pastors. In my lifetime I have seen both groups go astray of God’s Word. That being said, I was taught a system where a faithful pastor, having been called by a congregation, leads Christ’s people under the authority of God’s Word. Our pastor’s deserve the respect given them in their office. Pastors, who in the stead and by the command of Jesus forgive our sins, act as Jesus acts toward His Church. He is the head of His bride. In the same way pastors lead us, the bride of Christ, and are willing to lay their lives down for us. I believe they daily do this in their service of Christ’s Church without hardly a notice of it from most people.

    I am not sure how the service of bishops and the like worked historically and I am not ready for another pope, but I would like to learn more from the esteemed pastors and brothers who read this site and who are willing to share more of their knowledge on this topic.

  8. I’m really not worthy of the alias, am I? I do admire the guy, though, and am proud to call myself Lutheran.

  9. “Junker Jorg”: “As a layman I sense the tension between confessional Lutherans who see the congregation voters assembly as the supreme authority in the Church and those who see their pastors or bishops as the supreme authority. Both, of course, recognize that ultimately Christ is the Supreme Authority in the Church.”

    Such tension on this issue between Lutherans, particularly in the Missouri Synod, is curious if those Lutherans’ claims to being confessional include subscription to the “Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope”, which dealt with this specific issue. Approved by the officials and theologians gathered at Smalcald in 1538, the Treatise, written by the same author as the Augsburg Confession and the Apology, clearly states:

    11] V. In 1 Cor. 3:6, Paul makes ministers equal, and teaches that the Church is above the ministers. Hence superiority or lordship over the Church or the rest of the ministers is not ascribed to Peter [in preference to other apostles]. For he says thus: All things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, i.e., let neither the other ministers nor Peter assume for themselves lordship or superiority over the Church; let them not burden the Church with traditions; let not the authority of any avail more than the Word [of God]; let not the authority of Cephas be opposed to the authority of the other apostles, as they reasoned at that time: “Cephas, who is an apostle of higher rank, observes this; therefore, both Paul and the rest ought to observe this.” Paul removes this pretext from Peter, and denies [Not so, says Paul, and makes Peter doff his little hat, namely, the claim] that his authority is to be preferred to the rest or to the Church.

    Furthermore, the Missouri Synod has reaffirm the clear doctrinal statements of the Treatise by establishing C.F.W.Walther’s Kirche und Amt, as the definitive statement under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions of the Synod’s understanding on the subject of church and ministry, to which all pastors, professors, teachers of the church, and congregations are to honor and uphold as the official position of our Synod on church and ministry and teach in accordance with them.

    In fact, the tension can be explained by the fact that Walther’s theses and support for the Treatise’s position are not honored and upheld by some within the Missouri Synod, who instead pine for and advocate a different and heterodox view of church and ministry expressed by Wilhelm Loehe.

  10. Layman “Junker Jorg”: “I’m really not worthy of the alias, am I? I do admire the guy, though, and am proud to call myself Lutheran.”

    Well, “Heinrich Fischer” and “Gustav Jaekel” are still available for confessional Lutheran lay use as a nom de plume, or a nom de guerre, as the case may be. Sorry, “Carl Vehse” is already taken. 😉

  11. Re #12; and yet in their infallible wisdom, Synodical bureaucrats have created the Dispute Resolution Process that flouts all of the above by placing some panel above both the pastor and the voters.

    Synod, Synod, uber allis!

  12. The DRP was approved, to their shame, by the 1992 synodical convention, and probably propagandized prior to the convention by the Bohlmann and his gang, similar to way the Blue Ribbon papal bull is being promoted prior to the 2010 convention.

    But the real load of papal bull was issued by the CCM in January, 1992, declaring that the SP, in his decisions was above his ecclesiastical supervisor, the COP, and the Praesidium, and that only the convention, of which the SP was in charge as chairman, could depose him from his chief executive office. Ironically, that is what the 1992 convention did, but they (and all subsequent conventions) failed to overturn that 1992 CCM opinion. That opinion was later used to pull Kieschnick keister out from the ecclesiastical lawnmower in Dec., 2001, following his role in the Yankee Stadium syncretism debacle.

  13. You can see great wisdom with our LCMS forefathers with giving one pastor and one laymen, one vote each in our synodical conventions. Why? They knew their history and learned from their own mistakes. For instance, they knew about the abuses of the clergy and state run church. On the other hand, many of them, especially Walther himself, experienced the pietistic, lay led church and its problems. I myself have just begun learning about church history and own history in the LCMS. One thing stands out with me very clearly, there is nothting knew under the sun!

  14. Has anyone figured out the current dispute resolution process? An absolute disaster.

  15. “Carl,”

    You can’t make “the Church” in the Treatise on the Power and Primacy into “the supreme congregational voter’s assembly.” Historically it just won’t hold water. Where in post-Reformation Europe do we see a regional church set up w/ that sort of polity?

    Considering the recent fruits in theology and praxis of our democratic LC-MS polity (“lay-ministers,” “Ablaze tm.,” acceptance of heterodox liturgies, etc.) I am confused by the ability of some otherwise Confessional brothers to miss the prophetic quality of Pastor Loehe’s: “We fear, certainly with a perfect right, that the fundamental strong mixing of democratic, independent, congregationalistic principles in your constitution will cause great harm, just as the mixing of princes and secular authorities in our land has done.”

    I’m not suggesting that we try to get the democracy genie back in the bottle, but if doctrinal matters are being decided by a majority vote of the Synod in convention, it’s time to stop and ask ourselves “how did we get here?” And, in the freedom afforded by the Lutheran assertion that church polity is an adiophoron, “where should we go from here?”

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  16. Something needs to be done to steer the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS) away from the Church Growth movement and all its gimmicks. Just ask people in your congregation what “The Book of Concord”is, and see how many even have a clue. It is NOT too much to ask people to study Scripture while working through the Lutheran Confessions, but not only are people ignorant of the Confessions–so many of our members don’t even know their Bibles! I have known people in our congregations who attend the brand name (LCMS) yet simultaneously believe in false teachings including Decision Theology and Pre-Millenialism (that’s what they get on tv and at their Christian bookstore). Pastors who should be building up the congregation, teaching them the Word of God, and equipping them are too busy looking at ways to increase the numbers in their congregation, and while much celebration follows a new-member Sunday, nothing is said to the congregant membership regarding the back door losses, as that would be focusing on the negative.

    I don’t even recognize Missouri anymore, when churches which should be calling a second pastor are instead calling DCEs and DCOs to help with the church-growth game plan. I hate going to a church that advertises rock concerts and yet can only feed milk instead of meat when it comes to the study of God’s Word. Can instruments other than the organ and piano be used effectively in Christian worship? By all means! Bring in the brass on a festival Sunday, and supplement musical arrangements with skilled woodwinds, and on occasion, even classical guitar–Luther himself played a lute. But keep worship the Divine Service, and not Christian entertainment. We do not need to copy the church down the street, and neither should we desire to: “God’s Word is our great heritage and shall be ours forever…” Oh, that God will keep us from trading our heritage for loud instruments on a stage and egocentric, shallow, and repetitive songs. If one must hear CCM, they can play it on their radio later, rather than blasting it through speakers in the nave of a church.

    There was a time when it wasn’t too hard to find a Lutheran church: The church sign, and the church’s name in a phonebook or a newspaper’s worship directory were usually a fairly good indication. Now even the name “Lutheran” has been emptied theologically by those who insist upon using the name without truth in advertising. Others have nice, new hymnals in the pews whose pages rarely see the light of day as songs foreign to Lutheranism are projected in lyric-only format on a wall or movie screen, and the congregation is expected to sing rhythms that seem too complicated for the “worship leaders.” The front of the hymnal is ignored because a “creative”service was thrown together to be different (for the sake of being different?) and my church bulletin has grown to a thicker wad of paper as a result of printing out each worship service (in lieu of the front of the LSB). If we are so into trying to reach the un-churched, than why are we so focused on turning away faithful Lutherans who no longer recognize their church as Lutheran, at least when judged on the basis of praxis? The gimmicks rarely reach the unchurched as it is–although it may attract some church-hoppers from the Christian church on the other end of town. Then how are the lost being reached with the life-saving Gospel? How are lives being changed for eternity? May God have mercy upon us! May he rescue us from this dangerous possible future that threatens to wrest us from Biblical teaching, and may he use us to truly reach those in need of hearing the Gospel while not neglecting feeding His sheep. We need not apologize for being Lutherans. Is it too late to going back to Lutheran worship?

  17. Some–if not most–resentment toward change in LCMS is due to: 1. Worshipping the false idol of tradition; comfort with the way we always have done things. 2. Pastors who want to be behind their desks and be unaccountable. Be like Paul and do whatever it might take to spread the Gospel. Just say’n…

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