Let’s Not Forget about the Blue Ribbon Proposals – A Challenge to and Response from the Task Force, by Pr. Rossow

Topics come and go on the blogosphere. I am starting to get a feel for the curious ebb and flow of opinion floating around the “interweb.” It has been weeks since we have spoken of the BRTFSG (Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance) on this site. For the sake of the Gospel we ought not forget about it. President Kieschnick’s task force is pressing on with a re-do of synod that would centralize power and remove the decisions of the  denomination farther and farther from the everyday clergy and laity of Walther’s beloved synod. (Some day I hope to do a comparison between the structure proposed in the BRTFSG and the current polity of the ELCA that has brought us such stellar decisions as gay clergy and full communion with the United Methodists. The similarities are striking.)

Several weeks ago I e-mailed the Blue Ribbon Task Force and asked them to consider publishing the pro/con notes from the four layman’s survey site. Their response was predictable and sad. They say that it is not their role to offer reasons why a proposal might be good or bad. We believe that just putting the proposals out there without any commentary however, means that institutional inertia will favor the proposals. Sadly people have a tendency to think that whatever comes out of a committee is a good thing. The other problem with that is that so many of the proposals look innocent enough on the surface but without any explanation of the implications, again the institutional inertia will tend to carry them through.

I have simply asked that a fair and balanced approach be provided to help delegates think through these things more comprehensively as is done on the four layman’s survey.

I will say this for the chairman of the task force, Rev. Robert Greene. He has been very professional and respectful in the numerous e-mails we have sent  back and forth which has called out of me my best behaviour. Thank you Rev. Greene, now please reconsider and publish the pro/con comments.

We encourage you to go to the four interested layman’s website and voice your opinion on the proposals. Sometime in the near future we will ask them if we can publish the results here. You can also see the results so far by signing in and taking their survey.

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.


Let’s Not Forget about the Blue Ribbon Proposals – A Challenge to and Response from the Task Force, by Pr. Rossow — 12 Comments

  1. They say that it is not their role to offer reasons why a proposal might be good or bad.

    Then President Kieschnick’s Task Force has not been doing what they say here. For, indeed, they have offered lots of reasons why, in their view, their proposals would be good. But they have not given, nor have they allowed any space for, differing views.

    A well-thought-out debate should offer both “pro” and “con” arguments. That’s the best way to have free and open dialogue and to arrive at consensus and acceptable results. This they have not done. They have not posted their proposals in a form that can be copied-and-pasted for discussion in other forums. They have not posted any arguments against, only arguments for, their proposals. They have not posted any of the comments they have received. They have not posted the survey statements or the results of the surveys.

    All in all, President Kieschnick’s Task Force has done a very poor job with the process, not to mention the content of the proposals.

  2. The Task Force may not offer an opinion of the validity or usefullness of particular proposals within their blue-ribbon bomb, but our Synodical President has no difficulty vocally promoting the entire package. Indeed, President Kieschnick manages to put the “bully” back into the pulpit when the topic is the Blue Ribbon baby.

  3. Maybe I’m missing something…but how is a Blue Ribbon Task Force assigned with a task which is to study a problem and present a solution manage to view themselves as officially not allowed to have an opinion on that self-same matter? Come again? Isn’t that the point of a Blue Ribbon Task Force?

  4. Are you aware that there will be meetings to drive this proposal in December and January? This from a memo from Rev. Larry Krueger, Assistant to the Synod President:

    In December 2009 through February 2010, following the election and certificationof 2010 convention delegates, the president of the Synod, the chair and vice chair of the floor committee for Synod Structure & Governance for the 2010 Synod Convention, and select members who served on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on SSG will conduct a number of regional caucuses for 2010 delegates and other district leaders. The 2010 convention delegates and district leaders will have opportunity to review the final BRTFSSG report to the Synod and provide valuable feedback for the convention floor committee as it considers the report, along with other input, e.g. convention overture and general comments, in preparation for its work of crafting resolutions for consideration at the 2010 Synod convention. Participation in this process by 2010 delegate and other district leaders will continue the input process that was established by Pres. Kieschnick following the 2007 Synod convention to help foster consensusthroughout the Synod regarding BRTFSSG recommentations.

  5. A Pastoral Letter to
    Pastors of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
    From President Jerry Kieschnick
    July 24, 2009


    Caucus schedule

    Release in October of the final report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance (BRTFSSG) will allow members of congregations of the Synod nearly nine months to read, consider, review, and discuss its recommendations before the 2010 Synod convention begins July 10 in Houston. Also, each delegate to the convention and a number of district leaders will be invited to one of nine regional caucuses in December, January, and February to review the final task force report. The chairman and vice chairman of the convention floor committee on Synod structure and governance, select members of the task force, and I will conduct the sessions.

    Those being invited to attend the regional gatherings include:

    * voting delegates (lay and clergy);
    * district presidents and vice presidents;
    * five additional members of each district board of directors, selected by the district; and
    * one or two commissioned advisory delegates, as decided by each district.

    The delegates and district leaders will review the BRTFSSG report and provide feedback that the floor committee can consider as it works with the report, overtures, general comments, and other input in the process of preparing resolutions for convention consideration. All this continues the input process that was established to foster consensus throughout the Synod regarding BRTFSSG recommendations.

    Here are the dates, locations, and the districts assigned to each gathering location:

    * Dec. 4-5 in Denver – Rocky Mountain, Montana, Wyoming, Kansas (western circuits), and Nebraska districts.
    * Dec. 11-12 in Detroit (Dearborn, Mich.) – Michigan, Indiana, English (northern circuits) and Ohio districts.
    * Jan. 8-9 in Madison, Wis. – North Wisconsin, South Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, and SELC districts.
    * Jan. 15-16 in Minneapolis – Minnesota North, Minnesota South, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa West districts.
    * Jan. 22-23 in Boston – New England, Atlantic, New Jersey, and Eastern districts.
    * Jan. 29-30 in Newport Beach, Calif. – Pacific Southwest, California-Nevada-Hawaii, English (western circuits), and Northwest districts.
    * Feb. 5-6 in Atlanta – Florida-Georgia, Southeastern, and English (southern circuits) districts.
    * Feb. 12-13 in Dallas – Texas, Oklahoma, Mid-South, and Southern districts.
    * Feb. 19-20 in St. Louis – Missouri, Kansas (eastern circuits), Iowa East, Central Illinois, and Southern Illinois districts.

  6. The cost for lodging and meals, while in attendance at the caucus, will be covered. Travel to and from the caucus and other incidental costs will be the responsibility of the district. A district may manage those expenses as it chooses. I hope this information is helpful as this process moves forward.”

  7. Although they are not quite as high profile as the BRTFSSG, we should not lose sight of Revitalizing Congregations, whose offspring are Transforming Churches Network (TCN) and Natural Church Development (NCD). The lynchpin of TCN is a major revision of the congregation’s bylaws and perhaps constitution to the Accountable Leadership Model, which takes the pastor out of his study and into the CEO’s office. NCD also has a structure component, and altho I have not seen any specifics, it seems as tho not-so-minor structural changes are portended. I have first hand accounts of pastors surrepticiously rewriting their congregation’s constitutions even tho they are not doing TCN or NCD! As one person told me–“My pastor wants to be the CEO.” This person had never heard of TCN. What is so insidious about this is its very close relationship and similarity to the structure changes being pushed by the BRTFSSG.

    I’m not the first person to notice this relationship, but I have not seen any allusions to it on BJS. As I am very much involved in combatting TCN, I’d appreciate input from the Brothers and Sisters out there, anecdotal or otherwise.

  8. Pastor Rossow–

    Now, that IS scarey!

    I will be watching this space very frequently for help with TC. I wonder if anyone out there has had any experience with Natural Church Development. In its own way, it is just as dangerous as TC.

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