Good Stuff Found by Norm: Wild Boar on “Flame Alone”

Another posting from Wild Boar that makes a lot of sense .. He’s put up an article called Flame Alone and I wanted to post it here for your review.

I just received the latest missive from the Home Office. For those who pay attention, you may remember that the last convention of our synod approved a recommendation to re-instate the “stewardship executive” and the “evangelism executive”. (Funny, I thought the executive in charge of the Gospel was the pastor, but that’s for a different post.)

Lest anyone think that the resolution was an empty one, be ye rebuked! From hence has come thither a letter from the stewardship executive!

When I first saw it, I thought the motto they had chosen was “faith alone”. I thought, “That’s a strange motto for someone who is trying to convince people that the International Center needs money.” After all, looking at it, people might think, “Right, faith alone. So we just need to sit around believing the money will come in. No need to ‘get out my checkbook’, I’ll just think faith-ey thoughts.”

Of course, I was wrong. There is no way the stewardship department is foolish enough to pick a motto like “faith alone” (or for that matter, “scripture alone”, “grace alone”, or the latest fad – the fourth of the three solas, “Christ alone”.) The motto was :

“Faith Aflame”.

The logo is awesome. Some graphic design firm really earned their fee for that one. And the motto itself is sublime. It not only ties into the “Ablaze” program, but the words “faith aflame” are the greatest euphemism for money in the history of the church. Seriously. After reading it, even I thought, “I should send money.” After all, no one wants to be accused of their flame going out. And what better way to show our faith than sending money to headquarters, to support the really important work of the church. Oh sure, the congregations are important. But we all know that the real work of the church is done in boardrooms and conference halls.

Which brings me to a strange deception that is played out in our church. Pastors are told to “get out there” and see the people. Which is kind of strange, since in most cases the people aren’t all that thrilled to see us. But when a man is elevated to the episcopacy (or should I call it “the ecclesiastical supervision-acy”?) he is taken out of the congregation, and put in an office building, far from the influence of a congregation. For you see, he is far too busy to attend to things like preaching the Gospel, or administering the Sacraments.

I have an idea for “restructuring” that is far more radical than anything so far suggested by our administration : All district and synod officials are immediately part time, with their primary duties being in a congregation. (College and Seminary Profs, and Missionaries in the field excepted.) Leave everything else as it is for now. But they must serve a congregation at least 51% of the time. (And therefore receive at least 51% of their money from the congregation as well.) I guarantee that nothing so far suggested by either side of this debate would do more to emphasize the congregational nature of synod, and to place the Gospel in the front and center of all our endeavors.

I also guarantee that three years from now, the district and synod officials would be screaming for a real reduction in bureaucracy. They would no longer have the time to do all the “important things” that aren’t preaching the Gospel. A real plan – a dare I say it – a plan that works, would be presented to the synod.

*** Before you get all high-horseish about the seminary profs, remember that our seminaries need to stay accredited. They need time to stay current in theology, and studying is the best way. “But they don’t know what is going on out there”. Believe me, they do : Sem 1 students come in with the most bizarre ideas about the church and religion. Sem 4 students come back with horror tales of vicarage. They know what is out there. That’s why they need the time to ponder, study and react to it intelligently.

Anyway, all of this is simply my way of saying : Well done stewardship department. A logo and motto to be proud of.

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