Pastor as CEO and now LCMS President as CEO; BRTFSG Org Chart for Synod Unveiled, by Pr. Rossow

Last week we shared with you the troubling news that heterodox consultants were a driving force behind the Blue Ribbon proposals for restructuring the LCMS. That was not known prior to the release of the final report. What has also not been seen is the new organizational chart for the synod. President Kieschnick unveiled this at a recent meeting of the staff at the International Center.

What is striking about this org chart is how much authority has been rerouted to the president. Under President Kieschnick pastors in the LCMS have become less like  caretaker of souls and more like the CEO of the congregation. Now the restructuring proposal makes  the synodical president  more like the CEO  of the synod and less like the supervisor of doctrine and practice. The former is a business role, the latter is a churchly role. The church needs to be the church and not a business.

The church is the family of God but with President Kieschnick the church has become  a business. For sure the church needs to use sound business principles in conducting its business but that does not mean the shepherds become managers and CEO’s.

This new structure also undermines the role of the laymen in the LCMS. The most striking change in this new structure is that the service programs of the synod do not report to boards elected by the pastors and laymen of the synod in convention but now report to the synod president who is no longer chiefly a supervisor of doctrine and practice (as the LCMS handbook describes the office) but has now become the chief peddler of programs and advice. This is just one of the examples of centralizing power in the Blue Ribbon proposals. We will bring you more examples as we draw closer to the president’s million dollar caucuses coming this winter.

The LCMS needs to return to being a group of congregations where the power and authority is the preached and sacramental word of Christ. In President Kieschnick’s synod, the emphasis is on business practices, sociological principles and cultural relevance. (Click on the chart to see a larger version of it.)


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.


Pastor as CEO and now LCMS President as CEO; BRTFSG Org Chart for Synod Unveiled, by Pr. Rossow — 20 Comments

  1. At the Michigan District convention, the presenter for the BRTFSSG kept repeating the mantra “The BRTFSSG has a congregational bias.” He never actually finished the sentence – the complete sentence would read “the BRTFSSG has a bias against congregations.” Every time he repeated this mantra, I was reminded of our Lord’s temptation following His baptism where satan quoted only carefully selected phrases from Scripture to tempt Jesus.

    I was not surprised to see the same technique used on Walther’s 1872 Synodical Conference sermon. I, as a layman, can listen to Pastor Harrison’s reading of the sermon then read the actual sermon reprinted in his blessed book, “At Home in the House of My Fathers” and clearly understand the meaning C.F.W. Walther conveyed to those assembled at the Milwaukee conference. It deeply pains me to conclude my Synodical leaders are following a different father – the father of all lies. As for me and my household, we choose to follow Our Father from whom all blessings flow and in whom there is no deceit.

  2. Where is LCMS WW and Human Care on that chart? Is it and all other services absorbed in the two “offices” on mission?

  3. I would find this more useful if someone would offer a chart on the current structure to compare.

  4. Ryan kudos! We truthfully cannot weigh the change, unless a current structure chart is placed in the same format & style. I know it is VERY different, but we need that to compare! We laity, are long past the point of “naive trust”. We are now “show me” people. I need a comparison, to be able to truthfully conclude a point.

  5. Schadenfreude,
    To delight, take joy or advantage of: another’s ignorance, error, or pain.
    This chart, proves what PK has said all along, “I am no theologian”. No kidding. The men in charge & authority of the LCMS Synod, are no theologians. They are schadenfreuden. The know the ignorance of the laity & those who hold Divine Office. They know it, take advantage of it, and further their own agendas by it.
    Thus, they are schadenfreuden.

  6. The President appears to be accountable to no one, except the convention, which he controls.

    While this chart represents a stunning consolidation of power in the person of the President, this is how President Kieschnick has been operating already for eight years. No one has been willing to stop him so far, so why not make it official?


  7. Is anybody uneasy about the seminaries reporting to the “Chief Mission Officer” aka Missions Czar?

  8. The chart is faulty. Because the SP controls the convention, appoints the floor committee chairs and thus what is brought before the synod in convention, and then convenes its execution, that is, controlling the outcome through procedures and processes he determines to be necessary and can change at will to suit the desired outcome, the SP should in all honesty, and clarity be above the synod in convention. But such honesty has unfortunately long dissipated from our political dealings.

  9. Anonymous–
    What bothers me is that “seminary” is in the singular.
    Are they planning on closing one of the seminaries? If so, which one?
    And why should a seminary[ies] report to someone who is not a theologian?

  10. Well, you could always put term limits in. Altho it’s not the perfect solution, it does tend to limit the potential for complete control. Lord Acton had it right: “Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely.”

    This convention ought to be one heckuva donnybrook!!

    Maybe it will be covered on C-Span?

  11. Term limits won’t matter much if SP and 1VP candidates are elected jointly as running mates. When the SP gets term limited, his hand-picked running mate becomes the default “incumbent.”

  12. Anonymous has put his finger on a significant point. Paradigmatic of recommended changes in the Bylaws is the procedure for electing the 1st vice-president of the Synod at a synodical convention. After the president has been elected, he selects from the list of 20 vice-presidential nominees the 5 nominees that “he believes most compatible with his style of leadership and vision for the Synod” (proposed Bylaw (Aren’t these, after all, the most important qualifications for the 1st VP?) From the 5 hand-picked nominees, the convention then elects the 1st vice president. The president would thus be more assured to have a like-minded man as part of his administrative team. This proposed change in synodical elections would minimize the potential for dissension or disagreements, or even honest differences, in the upper echelons of synodical administration. Such obstacles, as we know, can easily impede the smooth running of an organization. If, perchance, the theological checks and balances possible in the present electoral process also fall by the wayside, is that not a small price to pay for a peaceful climate at the IC?

    It behooves all members of Synod’s congregations to read through carefully the proposed changes in the Constitution and Bylaws in the documents provided on the Synod’s web site and to convey their concerns and wishes to the delegates to the 2010 convention.

  13. Time to leave this monstrosity before it devours us. If the congregation is the center of the church and the “old” synod, then it is time to take them out of the “Northern Kingdom” and head the the “Southern Kingdom” in the manner of the Levites. If we stay, we have only our souls to lose.

  14. Those who study this document need to look at the whole big picture–put it all together. Then you see where it’s really going, and you can make informed decisions. Many parts-one big picture. Ugly

  15. We are becoming “evangelicalized” by Reformed consultants who learned thier organizational skills from failed secular programs that even the secular figured out a long time ago do not work. Management by objective, E Myth Manager, continuous change model, etc. they are all buzz words used by corporations like GM and Chrylser and look where it got them. We are not to be a reflection of a secular business model, we are to inform the world of Law, Gospel and Sacraments and of the way people really should treat each other. There is no greater business model that that left to us by Christ as servant/ leader; we used to call this churchmanship. These men now in contol of the LCMS leave me to question thier faith and thier motives. We cannot go down that path with them.

  16. I’ve often wondered who or what was the model for the current troubles in LCMS. Other than the obvious sinfull nature of man, I see the prototype in the Unionism Kaiser Friederick Wilhelm of Prussia. Our responses as confessing Lutherans to our current situation seem remarkably similar to our forebearers. The Reformed element of the assault on the Confessing Church is very apparent. Unlike our German forebearers we are far more free to resist these influences. We should avail ourselves of this opportunity to be the confessing Church in a faithful way.

  17. I agree with Gary’s first post. Synod chart should look like this: Synod at the top, with a sub-title: All the congregations of the LCMS. There should be three categories under it: 1) The teaching and training of pastors (Seminaries), 2) The training, establishment and support of missionaries (Missions), and 3) The certainty of Scriptual soundness. Below those three, the board of directors. No mention of SP or VPs. They work under the board of directors. There should be Chief Mission officer, Chief Education Officer, and Chief Doctrinal Advisor, all answerable to the board of directors, and ultimately to the congregations. Then we could move the Synod office into a much smaller and less expensive building: six to ten offices and a conference room. Simplistic? Ya, you betcha (as Minnesotans say).

  18. The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance
    Final Report

    The title is symptomatic of the verbose filibuster contained therein. What is this task force thinking?

    In 2005, Rev. Kieschnick as LCMS President properly asked for a review of his delegation of authority, much like we laymen ask of our BOD. Almost all public BODs also give numerical business metrics to achieve and in the case of LCMS, spiritual guidance parameters are also appropriate.

    After waiting nearly 5 years, we now get a document written in convoluted terms drawn from an equally complex questionnaire.

    Pastor Erwin Kurth of Ft. Wayne summarized this same synod mission statement in one digest size page in his 1944 book, Catechetical Helps (see pages 164, 165). This is now a 50 page document. Is this progress? Me thinks not!


    If one took the recommendations to review at a national meeting, it is likely impossible to achieve a proper hearing as the document is poorly drafted. It doesn’t follow numerical I, II, III, 1, 2, 3 consistency, but rambles on and loses focus, then drifts into not keeping Sections and Recommendations consistent.

    Further, it takes discussion on one section and then refers to the recommendations in other sections and back again., losing continuity.

    Any engineer, professor, English teacher, or lawyer is taught to state your recital issue, state your solution, state your verification clearly and in order.

    Obviously the committee had so many members they couldn’t agree to do this, so the document got convoluted. It isn’t operable as written.

    Lawyers Trap – Disclaimer Needed for Final Report

    Some documents are cleverly drafted by lawyers, so that people are very confused and won’t take the exhaustive time necessary to understand them. Look carefully at legal documents you sign and they become unintelligible. What is the grant, what is the warrantee, what is the remedy? Listen to medical commercials and listen to the cautions espoused on medicines they recommend.

    This Final Report needs a Disclaimer, as it may be hazardous to the Health of the LCMS, even while it is well intentioned to make the LCMS healthier.

    Consultants (Good, Bad, and Wow)

    The Final Report document doesn’t seem to cover any intended LCMS relationship with other Lutherans and thus is an insulating document. It suggests eliminating the words Missouri and Synod (page 46) and replacing them with Missions and Service. Yet the Synod is acting much the opposite, even hypocritically were we to change the name. In fact, the number of Missionaries in the LCMS has steadily declined, so now we dare say we are the Church of Missions?

    Shut Down the Schools

    As to Service, the consultant, Dr. Roozen, on page 17 recommends that we determine if LCMS parochial school(s) or the Concordia University System is more important! What planet in the universe does this come from? We could shut them both down, save a lot of money, and then be sure to change the name to Service. Wow!

    It is unimaginable that this task force had to pay money to get this advice – see the full list on top of page 17. Fortunately, the task force hired another group and they concluded and outlined a much better 4 part program

    Divide & Conquer?

    By writing a filibuster filled with circuitous lawyer traps, this document should eliminate opposition. However, LCMS folks are pretty hard headed and persistent, so let us be sure and stack the votes our way.

    First, we reduce the current national delegation from 1250 to 650 and use horseback era data from 1872 to justify the decrease. Has the task force not heard of the internet? Today, you can actually reach all 2.5 million LCMS members for comments on issues. Think every member involvement! Do you want to include or exclude? When politicians want money, they use the internet. When they want votes, they use the state primaries prior to the actual convention. (This could be done in LCMS as Circuit, District, and then National.)

    The lay delegates should pay their own way to the National Convention and LCMS staff should be held to a minimum, using video conferencing on special issues needing staff. The Ordained should have their expenses covered by the Synod for its staff, and to the congregations for their Pastors. Next we see on page 23 that the commissions have disregarded that 52% disagreed with District Presidents appointing Circuit Counselors – and so suggested District Presidents nominate counselors to be elected by the congregations. This is like vote for my counselor or write-in your own- a non-democratic election. Who wants to pay for counselors? The District Presidents and Circuit leaders need to fill that roll.

    So What Is a Plan

    Suggest the Task Force adopt the Bredholt and Epley 4 part outline for organizational changes.

    1. Congregational Focus

    Align Circuits geographically to have local clusters work on common issue, missions, and support each other. Districts would provide advice as needed.

    2. Synod Leadership

    Nurture and mentor the Synodical responsibilities and insure the Districts facilitate outreach and support the local initiatives. Provide the many central services the congregations need. The list of central services needed is endless, but the long history of the LCMS means we already have all the basics.

    3. Create International Center

    Not well defined in the outline. It need a crisp definition. A real multimedia, multinational effort is now warranted.

    4. Give Congregations More Control of the Synod

    Congregations today are very diverse and inconsistent in many practices. They don’t agree on much, yet some issues of importance are common causes. So by bringing congregations into Synod operations, they can give volunteerism support and implementation to Synod initiatives. The difficulty is working together, which is better seen by seeing both sides of the fence.


    A lot of hard work went into this commission document and generally it discuses most of the governances issues. It needs to be coalesced and reduced to the Holistic outline of Bredhold & Epley and put in simple lay person understandable actions. It can be done in 2 to 4 pages and should only include those agreed changes for presentation to the National Convention.

    Making a convoluted debate goes nowhere except to create a Wall Street Journal headline if the convention stymies.

    The time is right only when all agree! We should thank the commission for their efforts and have Synod make this an actionable document.

    The LCMS is in fact a very large corporation like structure and needs to be managed with business skills as a non-profit enterprise while simultaneously nurturing the Theology and membership through Ordained leaders.

    For example, many cities have business managers and a separate mayor. Many newspapers have business managers as well as a publisher. Different rolls, different competencies, common goal.

    In our case, Serve the Lord.

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