The regional gatherings called by President Kieschnick for all the 2010 Synod convention delegates begin this week in Denver. The goal of the meetings is for the President and the Task Force to convince the delegates to adopt their proposals at next summer’s convention. I remind the delegates to be very careful to not fall under the “charm offensive” of President Kieschnick and the members of the Task Force. Those who have spent a lot of time with the president attest to the fact that when he turns on the “schmooze” that he can be very persuasive. I have seen President Kieschnick at work at conferences, conventions, in a three-hour personal meeting with the two of us and five other people in the room, have interacted with him casually, have been read the “riot act” by him, and have exchanged e-mails with him.
The regional gatherings have one purpose and one purpose only: for the president and the Task Force to convince the delegates that these proposals are good for the future of the synod. The Task Force is done gathering opinions and surveying for input. They have formulated their proposals, they believe in their proposals and the purpose of these gatherings is to get you delegates to believe in their proposals.
The delegates need to consider several important points before the onslaught of presidential persuasion flows over them.
Look closely at how much authority the proposals transfers from congregations to the synod and its districts and the synodical president and then ask yourself why the Task Force keeps saying ad nauseum that they are promoting “the congregational principle.”
- The Task Force has ignored requests to air both sides of the proposals.
- The Task Force’s survey was severely flawed, not allowing discussion of the proposals before asking district convention delegates to respond to the survey questions.
- There are entire districts that have passed motions to petition the synod convention to reject the proposals.
- An entire district (Montana) has decided to skip the gatherings. They are simply sending a few representatives from the district to observe.
- The president decided on his own to call these gatherings even though the synod in convention already approved adding two days to next summer’s convention for the express purpose of debating the proposals.
- Beware that the resulting synod governance and structure from these proposals is eerily similar to the structure and governance in the ELCA that contributed to their recent votes for apostasy. (Like the Blue Ribbon proposals, the ELCA changed its structure to take the election of delegates out of the hands of the congregation and also shrunk the convention size to make for a more manageable and swayable group.)
- Recognize that the type of control being exercised over this process and the vast extent of changes that are being forced through the LCMS system in a contracted period of time are similar to the tactics being used in American politics today to bring about change with a highly managed and controlled media campaign.
- The cost for the gatherings and the Task Force has exceeded one million dollars which cost is being passed on to congregations and was also in part underwritten by Thrivent with money that could have been used for more important matters.
- The LCMS’s issues will not be resolved by addressing structure and governance but by serious theological discussion. The church is a family not a business. (See Rev. Matt Harrison’s “It’s Time” for an alternate approach to addressing the synod’s family struggles.)
Delegates, do not be taken in by the hoopla and persuasion. If you choose to support some or all of these proposals that is your decision but I rncourage you to approach these gatherings with the appropriate skepticism needed when viewing proposals that will drastically alter the family rules that have allowed the brothers and sisters of Christ in the LCMS to keep the family jewels of the holy word and sacraments as brightly shining gems for all these years.