A Guessing Game – Which Church is President Kieschnick Referring to in His Soon to be Published Book? by Pr. Rossow

Click here and you can see that President Kieschnick is about to publish a new book. It has an interesting title:  Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Birth, Growth, Decline, and Rebirth of an American Church. For Pastor Weedon’s take on this click here.

It makes one wonder what American church he could possibly be referring to since the statistics of the LCMS during his administration are so dismal. As Mollie reported last week, in the last ten years or so the membership of the synod has fallen by 7%, adult confirmations have fallen by 53%, missionaries in the field have been cut back by 57% and the synod has grown an eighteen million dollar deficit.

In light of all of this I suggest we try to guess which American church President Kieschnick is writing about. Is it the WELS? ULMA (which has more than doubled its number of congregations since its inception)? Or maybe it is some non-Lutheran church growth denomination the principles of which  President Kieschnick and his men have been promoting  for the last ten years? I would love to hear your theories…

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.


A Guessing Game – Which Church is President Kieschnick Referring to in His Soon to be Published Book? by Pr. Rossow — 78 Comments

  1. Todd (#13) – I don’t know about Billy Graham, but I do remember specifically hearing Hank Hanegraaff referring to the LC–MS as a “sleeping giant” on his radio program sometime in the mid/late ’90’s. I used to listen to his program off and on, but haven’t heard him at all recently.

  2. Perhaps it has not been as publicized as other releases to deflect criticism that it may be part of an effort to be re-elected. With a quiet release it could be argued that maybe having his first book released 6 months before a tough re-election is just a coincidence and its not a big deal. A lot of fanfare for the release would definitely draw heavy criticism given the timing of the release and the relationship of the author to the publisher.

    It will be interesting to see his argument for the rebirth of the LCMS. It seems under his administration the synod has dealt with decreasing membership, money and doctrinal adherence. I do not believe any of these problems began under his leadership but they certainly don’t seem to have improved at all.

  3. Dennis,

    I don’t know if it was a secret. I had heard about the book mid-summer, but not from CPH.


  4. Todd, might I suggest that you and Jeff find someone from outside the LCMS to review the book on Issues, Etc.? I can imagine that a lot of your “in house” regulars might either be a little reluctant to criticize it (and its author) publicly, if criticism is called for, or likely to be seen as unobjective and automatically prejudiced against the book.

    Offhand, I can think of two guests you’ve had in the last few months who could probably do a great job — David Jay Webber (ELS) and Daniel Deutschlander (WELS). But there are plenty of others out there — maybe even someone from the LCC?

  5. To quote Buford T. Justice:

    “There is no way, no way”…Pres. Keischnick wrote this book on his own. He could not have had the time to write it. He is too busy out politicking around selling the BRTFBS…

    Look for help from his friends at Geez-uz First. One might even find phrases and topics and theological novelties already in published writings by some of their finest theologians. Charlie, Vernon, and the gang.

  6. According to Google, Billy Sunday called the Episcopal church “the sleeping giant”; Billy Graham called the Methodist and Lutheran Churches and “the West” “The Sleeping Giant”; Robert Hudnut called the laity “The Sleeping Giant”; Gordon Lewis called the church “The Sleeping Giant” (in the context of Walter Martin awaking the church to the dangers of cults); Napoleon called China “The Sleeping Giant”; Father James Bertalucci called Rome “The Sleeping Giant”; someone with the FCC called UHF TV “The Sleeping Giant”; John Hagee has called Christian Zionism “The Sleeping Giant”, and numerous political prognosticators have called the Inited States “The Sleeping Giant”.
    So, it is fair to call the LCMS “the Sleeping Giant.” Because eventually everything gets called “The Sleeping Giant” by someone.
    For that matter, my car could be “The Sleeping Giant.” I hope that, given the extreme cold tonight, it still wakes up tomorrow morning to take me to church.

  7. I think its also worth noting that even though it can be very easy to lampoon the new book and the task force, doing so on a public forum is likely less than helpful for achieving unity in the synod.

  8. @Alex #55
    Thanks, Alex. I have joined in some of the “fun”, but you make a valid point, and I’m putting a lid on it. I do believe, however, that the task force should receive thoughtful criticism, and this forum has led the way. We need to continue to speak out on that issue.

  9. Once Waking the Sleeping Giant is actually published, of course, there may be another lampooning ball game. As for the BRTFSG and their recommendations, lampooning season is year round, because lampooning these serves as a unifying movement in the synod.

  10. The alarming rate at which Adult confirmations have fallen (53 %) must be examined. It may be the case that this indicates an increase in open communion, in which case there is no real practical need for an adult to be catechized or confirmed. Hence this indicates not just a downswing in converts, but also a decline in orthodox praxis.

  11. If the alleged quote from Billy Graham was the impetus for the SP’s upcoming book title, perhaps we can expect similar books (in addition to those from Anthony Robbins and from Jeffrey W. Robbins) coming out from other religious and cultural organizations that were also allegedly referred to by Billy Graham as a “sleeping giant”:

    Mark Millett: Billy Graham once said that the Catholic Church is a sleeping giant about to wake up.

    Grace Fellowship United Methodist Church: As Billy Graham noted, the Methodist church is a “sleeping giant” that if awakened could truly bring the light of Christ into the world in a powerful way.

    Robert P. Swierenga, “Burn the Wooden Shoes: Modernity and Division in the Christian Reformed Church in North America”: R.B. Kuiper [“Is the Christian Reformed Church ‘A SLEEPING GIANT’?”, Torch and Trumpet, Dec. 1961, pp. 7-8] sounded a jeremiad: “If Calvin College and Seminary are to continue to serve the Christian Reformed Church as pillars, they will have to remain . . . bulwarks of orthodoxy.” Otherwise, the church will lose its place as “one of the most orthodox churches on the face of the globe,” and it will belie Billy Graham’s characterization of it as a “sleeping giant.”

    Dan Wooding in “Awakening the Sleeping Giant”, quoting Billy Graham: “The Native American has been like a sleeping giant. He is awakening. The original Americans could become the evangelist who will help win America for Christ!”

  12. Personally, I hope Billy Graham did not say it. Compliments on our doctrine from folks who deny justification by faith alone are not good things.

  13. @Alex #39
    If the SP wants to print something how does it look if the synod’s own press doesn’t release it?
    [‘Bout as bad as if he wanted to call himself “Dr.” and his captive college wouldn’t cooperate?]
    Such a situation can be avoided by having SPs that are excellent theologians.

    Yes. [Both of them.]

  14. A more appropriate title might be, The Remaking of the Giant. (In keeping with Obama’s, the cryptic Marxist, statement Remaking America our own cryptic (evangelical) should finally come clean.)

  15. Billy had the fawning press at the time and we wanted to hook our wagon up. Billy Grahmn is a Christian man in need of a complete epistomolgical and theological house cleaning.

  16. This from a DP on the West Coast:

    Newton pointed out that although solid doctrine is indispensible for both the church and its Gospel outreach, doctrine can become an “idolatrous stumbling block” when Christians use it to “intentionally set boundaries and erect walls” that hinder outreach.

    “In the post-church era when the unchurched culture often seems to be culturally in charge, the church has remarkable potential,” he said. “Are we going to protect our man-made walls or tear them down, as our Lord instructed, in order to reach out in mission with the Gospel?”

    Prof. David Truemper taught the same thing. He had the integrity to leave the LCMS…

  17. @elnathan the younger #36

    3. The seminaries need a new systematics book to replace Peiper’s “Christian Dogmatics”

    This isn’t funny. Go to the St. Louis sem bookstore and check out some of the books the 4th guys have to read.

  18. @MNSREV #68
    Any time the words’ “although” and “solid doctrine” are used in the same sentence, trouble is brewing. President Newton is a great example of this, having redefined the Gospel. By redefining what it is, you no longer have to stumble over it. “Although solid doctrine is indispensible for both the church and its Gospel outreach…”

    President Newton’s redefiniton:


    Mark Nispel’s response:


  19. Jim (#49) & Scott (61 & 72), I so look forward to seeing your posts at BJS. I was blest with great Pastor’s in years past, you both remind of why I still read, care, post & fight for what we (me & my better half) knew & what we know is really & still…Good, Right, and True. Thank you so very much & the offer still stands when you make it to Milwaukee. If not here, I know, on the His side of the fence. His Blessings always,

    PS-if ya look at the title, it kind of says it all. It jumps from decline to rebirth. Ya can’t be reborn unless a death occurs, and since Christ Himself said, ‘on this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against It’, I have no clue what Dr, Rev, President, (inset title here), Kieschinick could possibly be writing on or pontificating about. I will say one thing, I don’t pay full price for books often, but this one I will. I want this, to make notes in, & pass it along. I do pray, I am given time to do so prior to the Convention.

  20. @Scott Diekmann #72
    Right on. More scarey stuff. This material should be required reading by everyone who goes to this website, and all the delegates to the upcoming convention.

    Thanks Scott–you’ve exposed a major flaw in our synod’s thinking.

  21. Jim, we are brothers & sisters here (isn’t it grand?!). We speak in truth & in love, and what I said was true. You are most welcome!

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