I am a rational and propositionally based Old School Lutheran and I plan to stay that way
(Editor’s Note by Pastor Rossow: For Part I of this post click here. Carol Wysocki is a lay-woman from the Chicago area. After enduring the saga detailed below she began doing countless hours of research into the loss of the traditional Lutheran church. She has as business background and has noticed that a lot of warmed-over corporate trends are being followed in the church. We are hoping that she will be able to take the time and expand on each of the significant points below so that we and others can benefit from her study on how LCMS leaders, pastors and layman are hi-jacking the historically strong Biblical and confessional church and turning it into a feminized, trendy community determined by market forces and cultural preference.)
The associate pastor is a high energy, pacing, verbally gifted speaker. His messages have an clear emphasis on good works. He has redefined the word ‘serve’ to mean that one is involved in church activities, particularly community outreach for the “unchurched”. I have reservations about the new interfaith project for interim overnight housing of the homeless. The laity is enthused and I hear the statement, “Isn’t it great? Lutherans and Catholics together!” Yes, things have changed.
The pastors are both graduates of Stephen Ministry leadership training in St. Louis. I believe it is the source of the small group program that was started in this congregation prior to my arrival. Both pastors are admirers of prominent evangelical hucksters like Charles Colson, Beth Moore, George Barna and Max Lucado. Because they esteem these individuals I suspect that the doctrine in this church is “file cabinet doctrine”. Biblical Lutheran doctrine was learned at the seminary but is now filed away. The historical denominational principles are for show; but it is not as if the congregants and the pastors actually believe them or act on them in their own lives.
Over the summer I attend a Saturday evening contemporary service. It is poorly attended and there are no young people among the roughly 25 worshipers. The music reminds me of new age performance art and was presented from the front of the sanctuary. It was a perfect accompaniment to the Robert Schuller- like sermon, and is memorable only because of the stultification factor.
I attend a second Bible study after services over the summer. The class was discussing a recent George Barna book “Grow your Church from the Outside In”. I join them for one session and I have not returned. It is of no consequence to me how the “unchurched” view the “churched”.
August 2, 2009 is a memorable day because the associate pastor announced prior to the service that he is glad to be back from New Orleans. He stated he had an enjoyable time attending the ELCA Youth Convention the prior week. I discover that Jay Bakker was one of three keynote speakers at the event. Jay Bakker (son of Jim and Tammy Fay) is a self proclaimed “Outlaw Preacher” and Gay Affirming Emergent Church enthusiast. I did speak to our associate pastor the following week and he assured me he was only there to observe and no youth from our church were present. I mentioned this matter to the senior pastor a couple weeks later after Bible study class. He claims to have no knowledge of it.
The regular Bible study class I attend is not remarkable except for the pastor’s near obsession about “gossip”. He mentions this quite often and at length.
In late August, I discovered that the local LCMS church that participates with my church in the previously mentioned interfaith project is on the Willow Creek Associates list. About the same time I receive a postcard notice from my church Board President and the associate pastor that a new program is set to launch a six week class titled “What If Our Small Group Made a Difference” on October 4, 2009.
On September 19, I submitted to my pastor my objections to the small group program about to start. I did not ask for an opinion on that matter until he had time to review it. I did ask for him to preach the whole unvarnished gospel of Jesus Christ. I wanted to hear about sin, repentance, and judgment. He refused me and stated it was “Rude” to do that.
On September 24, the pastor and I ‘dialogued’ about small groups again. I was not satisfied.
On October 4, I presented myself to the Board of Elders. I came prepared with a grievance statement and supporting materials to again object to the small groups program. I made the statement that I believed this to be a church growth operation in play, by proxy through the sister LCMS church.
Two weeks later I attempted a follow-up call to the head elder, and the newest elder on the board returned my call. My grievance still stands.
In my concern over this matter I took the time to learn a lot about group dynamics and social psychology. I studied Peter F. Drucker (the business guru who is one of Rick Warren’s mentors), and also Dr. Kurt Lewin who developed the techniques used on American POW’s in Korea. I spoke to Martin Bobgan (University of Minnesota, B.A., B.S., M.A; University of Colorado, Doctorate in Educational Psychology) from Psycho-Heresy Awareness Ministries in California, and corresponded with psychologist Dr. Tana Dineen, PhD from Toronto, who authored “Manufacturing Victims“. The dialectical praxis used in small groups is a vehicle to corrupt Lutheran minds to accept a defective theological worldview best defined as the relational Stewardship Ethic.
At the close of my meeting with the elders, a note was given to me. The paper it was written on contained the talking points for the next small group meeting for October 11. It would be the confirmation of my worst fears. Four tasks were stated: “This week’s verses, Prepare and Obey, Meditate, Reflect and Share”. The key word would be Meditate. I do not ascribe to the pagan mystical practice of meditation. I am a rational and propositionally based Old School Lutheran. I plan to stay that way; my relationship with that church is done.
(Editor’s Concluding Note: So we ask, where is the ecclesiastical supervision in this congregation? The District President in Northern Illinois, who is by synod policy the “bishop” in each district (see section 4.4.5 of the Handbook), i.e. according to the definition of the Bible the supervisor of spiritual matters, is an advocate of small groups and the use of Church Growth techniques as described above. Because of the “file cabinet” approach to Lutheran doctrine the pastors are able to give the right answers when interrogated but their practice does not match up with the doctrine they have filed away upon graduation from the seminary. The LCMS will continue to drift into mainstream American Evangelicalism if this crisis of supervision is not addressed.)