The Saga of a Return to the LCMS Only to Find it Hijacked ““ Part I, by Carol Wysocki

(Editor’s Note by Pastor Rossow: 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.)

Here is the saga of my recent experience in a LCMS church.   I was the victim of a “bait and switch” in the Northern Illinois District. I thought I was joining a LCMS church and I ended up in a Willow Creek style clone church. Thank you for the opportunity to warn or alert other unsuspecting Lutherans.

I was catechized back in the day when LCMS pastors did not hold back on teaching difficult doctrines to their catechumens: like syncretism, ecumenism, and unionism.   I was taught properly. I remember the material. I drifted away from the church, and I put myself in the “unchurched” classification for a long time. In 2003, I commenced a five-year period of confinement taking take care of an aged parent.   It was during that period with a lot of discretionary time that I renewed my mind and read the Scriptures.

 When released of my caregiver responsibilities I attempted to reconnect to the church and checked into the local LCMS parish.   The LCMS is still generally reputed to be a faithful denomination. I chose the brand, not the church.   I was not acquainted with anyone in that church or either pastor. My time there lasted about 15 months and my experience began in the June 2008.

Upon completion of my re-education class in Lutheran doctrine in December 2008, I was made to pledge to join a Bible study or Small Group.   I chose Bible study. The small group idea did not appeal to me.   Small groups are not consistent with my recollection of LCMS church practices.   From that time forward I would see a lot of things not consistent with my childhood experiences in the LCMS church.

Traditional worship was familiar to me except for the big Jumbotron screen in the front of the sanctuary and an empty pulpit.   The biggest inconsistency with what I knew of the “old” LCMS was the semon content delivered to the congregants.   I kept waiting for the pastors to proclaim the full gospel and never once did I hear any mention of sin, repentance, justification, heaven, or the certainty of God’s future judgment.   Instead the senior pastor would regularly deliver a “sermonette” with sentimental platitudes and a superficial exposition of the NT reading. I began to notice there are not a lot of men attending worship, and my own husband of 37 yrs. would never sit through a “relational”, “nurturing” feminized sermon.  

 Sermons accompanied with ‘fill in the blank’ outlines are passed out to worshippers. There are almost always three big fill in the blank statements like: 
”God will bless me if I _______ and ________.” and 
”To overcome your fears, you must _______ and _____.” It is not my experience to have a pastor say, “Can I get an Amen?” for affirmation of a statement that he made during sermons or do hand holding prayers.  

(In the second and concluding post of this telling saga we will hear how the sermons are focused on good works, how Chuck Colson, George Barna and other non-Lutherans are the “mentors” of the congregation, and the “contemporary service” that has very few young people attending and other bothersome characteristics in this parish that has rejected our grandfathers’ church.)

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.


The Saga of a Return to the LCMS Only to Find it Hijacked ““ Part I, by Carol Wysocki — 9 Comments

  1. I have been in churches that use some of these very same “techniques,” as well, clearly following the WC model to the hilt. The rate at which many congregations, perhaps led by their pastors or elders, have drifted away from the confessional church and into the mold of modern American evangelicalism is astonishing. Not surprising, necessarily, but certainly amazing.

    It will be interesting to read Part II. Some of these people who follow the likes of Colson ought to probe a little deeper into his theology first … or maybe I should say “theonomy.” The single fact alone the he sold out the Reformation in order to waltz hand-in-hand with Richard Neuhaus down the yellow brick road to Rome ready and willing to sign the ECT documents for no particularly good reason (in spite of what Colson would like to have us believe, cooperative activism with one’s next door neighbor in the fight against social injustice or moral issues does NOT require us to compromise our doctrine in the process). How any of our congregations can use his material for anything other than lighting charcoal for the BBQ is beyond me. Evidently, very little is preached about what Luther (and even Calvin) had to say about the Two Kingdoms nowadays.

  2. It is good to hear someone speak up with strength and courage and stand firm on the Rock of our faith instead of stumbling around it. If churches are built on the plans and purposes of men they cannot be true Christian chruches with Gods eternal plan in their hearts.

  3. I think we need to do what Luther said and call a thing what it is. We need to begin calling out False Christs and False Prophets BY NAME and warn the flock that these devils in disguise want to destroy them and their faith. These ravening wolves dressed in pious sheeps clothing are drawing away Christ’s little ones to devour them, and for the most part we stand in our pulpits without a specific word spoken about the dangers in our day. Good Lutheran Christians listen to the likes of “Works gospel” radio broadcasts, and pop culture Christian praise music or “works oriented, feelings heavy, theologically bankrupt christian music” throughout the week without ever realizing the damage that day in and day out subjection to false teaching can have…and now it is even IN our own Lutheran churches. Once Satan is behind enemy lines, how can we oust him again without calling a thing what it is? “BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS”. Do we take this command of Christ seriously? It should be on the lips of every christian in these dark days and yet, too often, to stay politically correct, we won’t name the names of the false prophts within our own camp! We’ve brought the horse within our walls and the greeks are upon us while we sleep.

  4. Steven Bobb,
    I really don’t think it matters which one it is, it is the fact…it is.. being done. We have a Willow Creek partner church here 11 years ago. We went for 11 Sundays, until my father visited w/Mum. He sat me down, & gave me what for, about, what he thought of that church! Needless to say, it was the last Sunday we attended. Booming business, no substance. They almost expect blood type, ss#, bank account info, & doc’s on first born. Unless you have no issue w/signing an oath, or what they call a covenant. I did, ‘nough said.

  5. “certainty of God’s future judgment”

    To be honest, I can’t recall hearing this in any of the various churches I’ve been to over the years. Most sermons are “you’re a sinner / God has forgiven” variety – but the notion of a certain judgment to come is oddly absent.

  6. Slow to anger, doesn’t mean absence of. Quick to save, doesn’t mean all inclusive. I tend to agree w/Don. Until we call things & deeds by the name or term they deserve, this will continue to grow, not just continue. It does take the courage of Joshua & David, but our Lord is capable of much (when we are walking by Faith). We know what Luther & Walther called this, & what they would call this, were they here. Why those in high places don’t, is quite beyond me.

  7. Can anyone explain to me what is wrong about a pastor providing a sermon outline to worshipers? I, for one, find it very helpful in recalling the content and direction of the teaching. Since most sermons are highly forgettable, this to me is a useful tool. Filling in the blanks is now a sign of heresy?? And the use of a projection screen and attendance at small group Bible studies is heretical??

    Do you people ever think about what you write?

  8. @Rich #8

    As one who has experienced the “fill in the blanks” (FITB) kind of sermon, I lean toward the “listen only” type. For me, FITB had a tendency to go to the lowest common denominator, if I can use that term. It also was–for me–a distraction, as I found myself trying to outguess and anticipate the pastor. I know of people who hate them and those who like them. I have come to the point where I prefer to let the scripture readings flow over me, without reading along (even tho they’re printed out) and the same for the sermon. That way, I’m able to focus on the words I’m hearing. Sometimes I take notes, also. I don’t think FITB is necessarily heretical or “wrong”–it seems to me to be a bit superfluous and distracting. I think it can be safely said that FITB sermons are 100% adiaphora!

    Your last question is a good one, and deserves our consideration and response. I believe the tendency to treat our comments as conversation sometimes leads us to forget that once we’ve posted, we can’t take back what we’ve said (written, that is). I think caution is in order–there’s a couple of things (at least) that I wish I could take back. ‘Nuff said?


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