Quite A Columbus Day for St. Louis Seminarians – Opening Up New Worlds of Growth with Presentation by the Heterodox TCN Group, by Pr. Rossow

The following was posted in the daily announcements at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis:

Monday, October 12 from 3:45 to 5:00 p.m. in Werner.   Guest Speaker will be Dr. Terry Tieman, Executive Director of the Transforming Congregations Network and who is on The LCMS Task Force on Church Revitalization. Dr. Utech has requested that ALL 4th year students attend this presentation since some of them may be called to churches that have plateaued or have declining membership.   This presentation is open to all on campus.

As we have reported and taught on this website the Transforming Congregations Network promotes the heterodox teaching that the church can be revitalized by secular methods outside of the Word of God.

This is quite a Columbus day for the young skulls of mush at the seminary. They are being led to all sorts of dazzling new worlds of thought that are making  their conserving forefathers like Luther, Chemnitz and Walther roll in their graves. Our Grandfather’s church, except for the brief and sad chapter of Pietism, did not accept the claims that  the right parish structure  and use of the proper tecniques would  grow and revitalize the church. Folks like Terry Tieman and President Kieschnick, well intentioned as they may be, are leading the church back into the false teachings of pietism, errors that the church has already rejected.

Our own columnist Scott Diekmann, who also runs his own blog (Stand Firm) has posted a great series on this site demonstrating  the problems with the Transforming Churches Network. Click here for his column (page down to his May 30 column and the previous 8 posts for the series) or  click here for the pdf of this same excellent series.

This is a sad, new day of discovery for the LCMS, as these false new worlds are opened up to unsuspecting seminarians.

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.


Quite A Columbus Day for St. Louis Seminarians – Opening Up New Worlds of Growth with Presentation by the Heterodox TCN Group, by Pr. Rossow — 35 Comments

  1. Hmm…if only there were some bright, enterprising young seminarian/professor that could attend this seminar, so that they might bring back reports, or pictures, or even a copy of the presentation itself…

  2. Here we go again–more poison tentacles from a non-Lutheran source. I tried my hand at “Lutheranizing” TC on Scott’s website. When I was finished it wasn’t very TC-ish, but I was trying to Transform Transforming Churches–you know TTC! Check it out.

    I hope someone from that neck of the woods can go and hear the latest bogosity from Church Growth central. I’m reminded of Klemet Preus review of Hunter’s “Confessions of a CG Enthusiast.” There, he quote Hunter’s formular (D + Rx) HW + PG = CG, where Diagnosis plus Prescriptions x Hard Work Plus the Power of God = Changed Church. This is the same stuff. The Power of God is merely added to our Hard Work, which has been muliltplied by someone’s Diagnosis and Prescription. It’s all about us. Oh, yes, let’s not forget the Power of God, folks! Now our seminarians are getting Church Growthized. And the Synod, which seems to be plateaud and declining, is using a version of TC prescription, via massive By-Law and Constitution revisions, the touchstone of TC’s process. Hello? Is anyone listening out there? You think there might be a connection? When does this circus appear in Fort Wayne–as PT Barnum said, “There’s one born every minute.” I hope that, if it does appear at FW, a few of us can go. Have your questions ready.

  3. There is no question that many congregations are “plateauing or in decline.” BUT (and I have not heard this question “solved” in the old and, I think, right way by our leadership for about 30 years now — if it has been addressed, did I miss it? I’ve lately been asserting that the Lord is testing, for the purpose of strengthening/refining, us individually and as congregations/synod.) . . . what if the Lord is TESTING “plateauing” and “declining” congregations? Or Synods? This is so much different from the Lord presenting us with a problem to which we might apply our collective “creative problem solving skills.” What if the Lord wants to chase us back to His Word and His Sacraments, and teach us and the members of His congregations to value His gifts above all else? What if He is calling our leadership to teach new pastors to be “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” (1 Peter 5:7 KJV)? What if those who are supposed to know the right answers are deliberately (God forbid!) ignoring God’s clear Word and our Lutheran Confessions? What if, frightened or enamored by the changes in our culture, we are failing a test of faith which is intended to strengthen His holy Church? Kyrie eleison.

  4. Allan,

    I have been reading and teaching a lot of the prophets in the last few years. Your words match theirs. TCN’s words match the business gurus (the last generation anyway – the church is always a generation behind on this stuff and makes us look foolish in addition to looking pagan) and their words match the Methabaptocostals.

    Thanks for being so prophetic and for being a good ‘ole conservative, that is, conserving the word of God as was the Apostle Paul (see I Cor. 11:23a).


  5. Pastor Wollenburg, awesome synopsis. Just hypothetically, what if this isn’t a test, what if this is what Christ & the Apostles said would come? What if the Lord has begun to separate the wheat from the chaff? If you look, in every mainline protestant denomination, most are fighting the same things, almost…almost, line item by line item. Here in the US & abroad. If the lies are the same, if the plans & directions are the same, if the false solutions are the same, if it is “another” Christ being taught, that we do not recognize, in Voice or Teaching, doesn’t this then qualify for what was spoken in His Word? We, who see these things as false & as lies, as heresy, heed them not, but look at the numbers, most are & embracing the fact. Those who search for the newest, most “feeling” based, the most “culturally relavant” a social gospel based, (deeds first, not faith first), would that not qualify for what Christ & the Apostles warned us to watch out for? None of us can see or truly know what is in the heart, soul, & mind of a pew sitter, or Pastor for that matter. However, our Lord can & does, so should this be the case, the separation I mean, would we or should we be doing anything different? Per individual member, congregations, district, or synod? If so, what would that “different thing” be?

  6. Ah yes, TCN. Their materials are, to be incredibly simplistic in my description, troubling. Talk about destruction. One question on a survey asks the pastor if he is willing to vacate his Call to that congregation if the membership does not increase by a certain percentage over a certain number of years. I don’t have the survey and other materials in front of me, but to the best of my recollection, there was nowhere any talk of maintaining a Word & Sacrament ministry, all church growth business. If you haven’t seen their materials, find a way to get your hands on it.

  7. If you want to see “their” materials look on “our” website–LCMS.org. Or should I say “LCMS-aaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh!

    “Their” materials have become “our” materials–hook, line, and sinker. And yes, Ryan, you are correct about pastors vacating their call if things don’t work out. I’ve heard it also put that perhaps they are not a “good fit” for the TC model, and so should vacate their call.

    TC should come with a warning label–“WARNING. TC MAY BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH.”

  8. One might come away with the impression that LCMS, Inc. has a low view of the Office of the Holy Ministry:

    Recall many full-time pastors from foreign missions
    No Ordained staff at KFUO
    Expand Distance Education (DELTO/SMP)
    Require a pastor to resign his Divine Call if he doesn’t “perform” according to man’s expectations
    Overemphasize pastoral leadership among other qualities of the man, the office, and the congregation

    Anything else?

  9. I pray that our seminarians will have the wisdom to see TCN for what it is and reject it soundly.

  10. “Anonymous”–of course, there’s more: How about closing the seminaries and doing pastoral education via “Divinity Schools” within our Concordia system?
    We’ll save a lot of money, and perhaps an occasional soul.

  11. Interestingly enough, I managed to stop a church growth person in his tracks a few years ago. I was serving as an elder in a Calvinistic Baptistic congregation. One gentleman sent an email to the elder board stating that “the church is dying.” I stopped him in his tracks by freely confessing that the church as we know it is dying. Then I asked him if he was referring to the arrested development of Western Christianity since the advent of the man-centered methodology of the 2nd Great Awakening or if he was referring to something more closely pertinent to our local congregation.

    Yep, it stopped him in his tracks. He just didn’t know how to proceed with his requests that we have revival meetings, a youth club, and try to have a hip and casual worship service.

    Sadly the other elders didn’t quite get it either. I guess that’s why I’m a Lutheran now.

  12. I hope this doesn’t mean that there are plans afoot to downplay the importance of beer as well. I just don’t think I could take that.

  13. Rev. Brondos, that is one awful link. No scripture citations, but we do hear from Rick Warren. I could not watch more than a couple of minutes–too painful.

  14. Ug… Coffee & a doughnut, then a prayer, Rick Warren, ug… Sounds alot like the last LCMS church we were at. The saddest part of all… it is Pastor’s teaching this drivel, and they know better than this. Rick Warren? Try Jesus Christ & Martin Luther. They aren’t as popular, & ya won’t pack the house, but, at least they tell the Truth. Nasty stuff this.

  15. Right on, Dutch. Nasty stuff indeed.

    You’ll be happy to know “Wee Ones” is almost done, er, re-done, er re-re-done.

    How much are we spending on those testimonies. Oh, I forgot–testimonies are a means of grace. How could I forget??!!

  16. Johannes, great!!! Wonderful how timely that article is becoming isn’t it?! One of the things that erk me the most (there’s quite a bit that does) w/TCN & Emergent Christianity, is, as long as you have the “outward missional, Dudley Doright good deed doer, got the feeling of” appearance of Christ, that outward appearance, now makes you a Believer. Hello? Just because I walk into a mall, doesn’t make me a store, does it? I have met some outwardly “great” believers, who do not understand the Holy versus Mercy concept, let alone what faith w/o deeds really truly means, apart from the Word, apart from the True Christ, no matter what that good deed is, it is chaff to Him. They have taken the beauty of “do these things in secret & w/humility” and made a showy slip shod version of it, i.e. utter arrogance. They cut a rather spiritually dark figure indeed. This business takes on a “spiritual creepy” factor, at least for me.

  17. Does anyone know if there any similarities or conections between TCN and NCD (Natural Church Developemt)? What little I have looked into it, they seem to be of the same mind set. TCN seems to be more aggressive than the other. Is NCD just a primer for the more intrusive TCN? I would appreciate the feedback.


  18. MM, oh boy does NCD look like TCN. The only difference is, that is an international group. EU mindsets are different than here in the US. So that concept (TCN, SHAPE, etc) have to be tailored for Europeans. A European (not all most) have very different concepts of church, fellowship, community, etc, than we do here in the US. NCD & TCN seem to be the same thing, just geared for international versus US national. Anyone else have a thought?

  19. MM, I forgot to ask, and I am kind of afraid of the answer, this hasn’t been brought into an LCMS church has it? Eeeeeek.

  20. Dutch and Michael and others. NCD is simply warmed over CG, and yes it is in LCMS churches–at least two that I am aware of. Christian Schwarz (sic?) is a Fuller grad, and has “improved” CG into NCD. He talks a lot about church “health”, but that, as we all know, is CG code for “growth.” It’s the same old same old, with a couple of new wrinkles. NCD is an adjective-based program–“Inspiring Worship”, “Functional Structures”, and “Passionate Spirituality”, among others. You get to the right level of adjective-ness in eight areas, and voila! Your congregation will grow. So get to work on those adjectives, folks–and, if you’re fortunate, all your hard work, based on NCD’s analysis and prescriptions, will be blessed by the Holy Spirit adding some power, and there you have it. NCD costs a lot more than TC, and takes a lot more personnel. It’s not for a small congregation that’s plateaud or dying, but for a larger congregation that’s plateaud or dying. You figure it out. Just don’t forget–you gotta work, work, work!

    I’m waiting expectantly for a full report on the St. Louis TC presentation. Did any of our readers attend? I’m breathless with anticipation….

  21. I know y’all are dying to know all eight of NCD’s quality characteristics. Here they are, without comment, from a paper I wrote some ago. You can come up with comments of your own, I’m sure:

    Christian Schwartz outlines the eight Quality Characteristics (“QC”) he has identified as critical to “successful” churches:

    1. Empowering Leadership
    2. Gift-oriented Ministry
    3. Passionate Spirituality
    4. Functional Structures
    5. Inspiring Worship Service
    6. Holistic Small Groups
    7. Need-Oriented Evangelism
    8. Loving Relationships

  22. Dutch,

    Yes. You can read about some it at the Ohio District website. There are churches in the Ohio District currently going thru NCD or TCN. NCD seems to be the more popular one at the moment. Our current DP unfortunelty inherited these programs from the previous admistration. Once things like this gain traction, I know it’s very hard to reverse the trend, especially from the top down. I personally believe the best way to combat this, is to educated, make known and warn from the bottom up. Using sites like this and others to communicate, give seminars at churches in districts within the larger district and simply yelling from roof tops. The idea is to get the laity to reject this and let it wither on the vine, then outlaw it. I know this should be the job of DP’s and pastors, but I think there is a culture of “let’s just get along at all cost” mentality in our synod. I catch myself getting caught up in it from time to time. What I have read about the climate in the synod prior to the St. Louis Seminary walkout, that is, not dealing quickly with the issues at hand. This reminds of me our current times. As it was then, hopefuly will be now, the laity will have to rise up and stop this dead in it’s tracts.

    We are all beggars

  23. MM & Johannes,
    I was afraid of this, intended caps coming: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! Yes, I DO mean caps, yelling in my mind, & virtually. THIS IS VILE, DISGUSTING AND SAD! Ya know, I have to say, when I read this stuff, the more details that come out, knowing full well, this does in no way, shape, or form, lead people to Christ, it leads them AWAY from Christ, I think of Matthew Chapter 18, here, verses 5-7. I may be 40, but I am still a little one to Christ!!!! This cgm, emergent christianity (caps are due them, no grammar rules w/them) offer that same OLD LIE…peace & safety. False peace & false safety. It is simply a HUMAN version, of what HUMANS think peace & safety & freedom are & are found in. Which, is nothing, nothing, like the Peace, Safety, & Freedom found in Christ, His Word, or True doctrine. Spurgeon & his contemporaries of all denoms, fought this in the late 19th century, again in the 20th w/the modernist movement, and again, here we find ourselves in the post modernist movement. Isn’t it ironic, that all tailoring & tweaking of Scripture & doctrines, to fit countries, areas, congregations, & individuals, must depend upon “culture & the age” & again…it isn’t working (ck stats) but, the Word, His Word, is perfect, for all, everywhere, no matter where, no matter what “age”? ELCA, is upfront when they deny inerrency, LCMS…actions speak volumes, & they are, & is fast becoming the church of Laodicea, we should not forget what happens to that church. Individuals, both member & congregation may not, but the powers that be most certainly are.
    I am truly thankful, for BJS, my “theological no spin zone”. May He be merciful & slow to anger. Beggers yes, inept & abstaining, no, by no means, no, In Christ, always, the only peace, safety, & freedom we have.

  24. Just ask what were the fundies doing 15 years ago and that will be the new thing for the LCMS evangelism gurus. And even at that it is yet another system that ignores or disbelieves the efficacy of the Word of God, has Baptism on the side, and where doctrinal integrity isn’t on the radar. Spener and Francke live on in the LCMS.

    BTW, get the book by V.E. Loescher from Northwestern Publishing House if you want to know about the un-Lutheran nature of Pietism.

  25. QUOTE: “Christian Schwartz outlines the eight Quality Characteristics (“QC”) he has identified as critical to “successful” churches:

    1. Empowering Leadership
    2. Gift-oriented Ministry
    3. Passionate Spirituality
    4. Functional Structures
    5. Inspiring Worship Service
    6. Holistic Small Groups
    7. Need-Oriented Evangelism
    8. Loving Relationships”


    Sounds strangely like the Pietists, Andreas Bodenstein von Karlstadt, or what passes for a corporate team-building retreat agenda.


  26. What this, emergent, cgm, business application, human means & weight, social gospel, however, you choose to term it or explain it: is denial of the Holy Spirit. In all this drivel, you render Him non existant, ineffectual, and capable of nothing, & forgetting His charges, while teaching humans, they are worthy of His Authority & thus can do & be like Him. Look at how a “Christian” is defined by tcn, ncd, Fuller U, Saddleback, Mars Hill, Willow Creek, or whoever, look at how they define our “responsiblities”. Are those ours, or are they the Holy Spirit’s? What, boiled down, they are really doing, is taking what belongs to the Holy Spirit, denying His Worth, Holiness, Ownership, & Authority , & in doing so, they deny Him. You deny Him, in any way, shape or form YOU DENY THE TRINITY. We are TOLD to “not grieve the Holy Spirit”. Do ya think this stuff might be doing just that????!!! Why, knowing, full well, how God Himself defines all this, would anyone, pewsitter, Pastor, or Synod, encourage let alone TEACH, anyone do this? It flies in the face of Luther, the Word, & the Trinity Itself! For my part, I do not want, to be encouraged, taught, or it be demanded of me, to take anything, ANYTHING, from the Holy Spirit, He is worthy of our praise! If you take a long hard look at what this is, all the puzzle pieces put together, what it does & what they teach: where is the “we should fear, love & trust God, so that we may…”? Nowhere. Just because the Lord is quiet or still, doesn’t mean He isn’t working, or has Synod departed from what they teach & preach? If their actions are any gauge, they have.
    -caps totally intended-

  27. @Pr. John A. Frahm #30

    1) *make certain that dynamic oratory reigns, not Law & Gospel exposition*

    2) *take the Hgauk Spiritual Gifts test as a congregation*

    3) *use all the right wide-eyed, Christianese buzzwords*

    4) *make certain that it looks nothing like an archaic, boring, traditional building*

    5) *emotion-driven, repetitive praise choruses a-plenty, please*

    6) *high-school cliques, redux*

    7) *supplant genuine need-oriented evangelism… from the pulpit*

    8) *committee-approved curriculum to follow*

    NO THANK YOU!!!!!! 😛

  28. Wylder…
    The more we all write it out, the worse it really looks. Spot on, NO THANK YOU!!!!!!!
    How glad are we all, that the Promises of God are not based on human emotions!!!
    Way to go!!!

  29. Sadly, Terry does not come from outside the LCMS. He was an LCMS pastor in Little Rock, AR and then missions – evangelism director of the Mid-South District. It seems that the only ones who are considered worthy of holding up as examples and leaders from our midst are those who follow similar ideas.

  30. Klemet Preus in his review of Kent Hunter’s “Confessions of a Church Growth Enthusiast”, quotes Hunter’s formula:
    “(D+Rx)HW + PG = Changed church. This means diagnosis plus prescription times
    hard work plus the power of God will lead to change in the church.”

    Transforming Churches’ formula is similar: (D + Rx)PCEO x HW – M/G = New Disciples. This means diagnosis plus prescriptions x Pastor-as-CEO x Hard Work without the Means of Grace = New Disciples only. Where is the power of God that Hunter includes? The Means of Grace is missing, so the power of God has been neutered. And the present disciples? TC doesn’t tell us. All the “God Talk” notwithstanding, TC is just warmed-over CG.

    I’m still hoping we’ll get a report on the TC presentation at St. Louis.

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