Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain – Despite their Claims the BRTFSG is Squelching Congregations and Elevating Synod/District, by Pr. Rossow

The Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance (BRTFGS) continues to stretch the limits of language and logic by claiming that their proposals promote the congregational principle when all the while they are squelching congregations by expanding the authority of the districts, synod, and the office of the presidency. In essence they are asking all of us plain-speaking and thinking folks from Missouri, Ohio and other states to ignore the man behind the curtain and ignore what he is saying.

The Task Force  has published a new question and answer page on the synod’s website. Here is Question E5 and its answer.

E5:  How can congregations get more involved since it seems the districts will be taking on a larger role?

All of the task force recommendations have been developed to reinforce our congregational polity. The recommendations include such items as restoring circuits to their primary purpose, broadening congregational voice by allowing commissioned ministers to serve as voting delegates to district conventions, establishing more equitable congregational representation at district conventions, encouraging the study of future district configuration, suggesting the designation of regions and electing Synod vice presidents from those regions – all so congregations are better served and more equitably represented. We encourage those who have not yet done so to review the recommendations in the task force’s final report and then contact your representative to the 2010 convention to share your opinion.

The man behind the curtain is staring you right in the face in the form of their question. “How can congregations get more involved since it seems the districts will be taking on a larger role?” What do they mean “it seems?” It is very clear that the districts, synod and synod president will  take on huge, new, larger roles if their proposals are passed. (I am preparing a chart that shows the numerous transfers of power from congregations to the district, synod and synod president in these proposals and hope to have it ready in a few days.)

Look at what they wrote in answer to this question:

  1. “Restoring circuits to their primary purpose.” What they mean here is having circuit congregations meet together for local action councils. That is a nice thought but it has been tried before and simply  does not work. How many congregation members do you know  who are already burnt out in the local parish and have time to add circuit activities to their busy schedules?
  2. “Broadening the congregational voice by allowing commissioned ministers to serve as voting delegates.” How does adding commissioned ministers to the voting roster better represent the congregation? The intention is to have commissioned ministers replace pastors. Are the pastors not representing the congregations?
  3. The Task Force is also proposing that  more delegates be given to  the larger congregations. This does not increase the congregational principle. It trashes it. The congregational principle asserts that the local parish is the fundamental element of the church. By giving more votes to larger congregations  this proposal makes some congregations (larger ones)   more equal than others.

Here is the simple point I want to make. These proposals need to be voted down. The language in which they are presented is vague and bureaucratic in nature. The logic used to support them and answer our frequently asked questions is flawed. They claim to be doing one thing (promoting the congregational principle) but the proposals actually do the opposite (take authority away from the congregation). This is bureaucratic deception. Why would you want to trust so much to this Task Force? We need straight talking leaders.

I suggest that delegates vote these proposals down and elect a leadership that will communicate with us in common sense language of brother to sister and sister to brother. The church is a family not a business.We need leadership that says what they are actually doing and does not hide behind the shadowy curtain of  inconsistent language and logic  as illustrated by their own words:

E5:  How can congregations get more involved since it seems the districts will be taking on a larger role?

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.


Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain – Despite their Claims the BRTFSG is Squelching Congregations and Elevating Synod/District, by Pr. Rossow — 7 Comments

  1. Righty-oh…. Now, I have read the questions & responses very carefully. The following caps are totally & most assurdly intended…


    Your tithes have ceased to be offerings and you have now become shareholders in a very large & TOTALLY DECEITFULL & TOTALLY REDIRECTED CORPORATION.

    “Are there no prisons, are there no workhouses?” Why yes, there are. For Missouri Synod Lutherans, it shall now be called KIRKWOOD AVE, INC.

  2. Pastor Rossow,
    Here is where the point #2 scares me (amongst other aspects). If you look up the South Wisconsin District News & Events you will see an article about “Eight congregations learn about missional/stewardship Bible study plans at “Elemental Life” workshop”. The Elemental Life, is a book written by, Joe Burnham, an LCMS associate pastor at St John’s Lutheran in Colorado.
    The problem (1 of so many) is in the description of this, SWD describes this book as based on elements of Luther’s Small Cathechism. Not when you look at Joe Burnham’s site, & read what the “elements” are. No, they are, “the elemental life uses the four ancient elements of earth, water, fire and wind to take a fresh look at historical biblical christianity.” Quote from his site about his book. Or you can listen to him personally on You Tube, psalm3003 channel. THIS IS AN LCMS ASSOCIATE PASTOR SAYING & WRITING THIS. Or, you can listen to his guest spot on Crossfeed 124. Did I say this is a commissioned LCMS pastor?
    Using the ancient elements of earth, wind, fire & water? When last I heard, those were the basic building blocks of pagan/occultic practice. So, will someone please explain to me, how Luther’s Small Cathechism & the elements/als are tied to promoting mission & stewardship? And this is unity? It is unity, a how to unite light w/dark.
    How did the report & reccomendations get in the door, the same way men like this got in…the were welcomed & commissioned. And we want to give districts & pastors like this more power & influence, (let alone those who allow this), why exactly? Seems to me we have bigger problems than just the B.B.’s report.

  3. I am praying for God’s truth to be known and that includes the logs in our own eyes as well as the splinters in theirs. It’s easy to bash the leadership and yet not keep our own hearts softened. We must be careful to do as Gal. 6:1 commands, right?

    Have you all gone privately to K. and Co., then with two or three brothers? (Matt. 18:15-17)

    If so, then what is a layperson to do? Would you suggest going to the pastors at our churches, or go to the delegates? If delegates, how does one find them?


  4. Hi there CCM,
    I wish, & have many times, wished to be able to do what you asked. Those who taught & instructed me, taught me & warned me what to watch for & avoid this, & when seen, to flee, exit stage Right, (Right hand kingdom) when I so much as smelled this stuff! I never forgot what I was taught, and those who sat in my Pastor’s 8th grade class haven’t either(quite a statement, that was ’83)!!! We understood the “chain of command” within our Synod & our congregation, why? Because it was taught to us. Open door policy for Pastor & Elder. That was then this is now.
    The problem was, for me as just a member of an LCMS church, knowing what I did, I knew my options were very few. I tried, I failed at the congregational level, but gained much in spite of that failure!!!! Unless, your Pastor, BOE, & leaders, are willing to speak all, you will not hear all. I never saw one insert on Synod, I had no clue what was going on at a Synod level, until it’s encouraging directives & tolerated false teachings/ers were brought to my door. Many do not know the impact of what is being reccomended, and most never will. You & I are quite blessed in having BJS, we hear here, what we do not elsewhere. Even thought I departed, my family depends on what I read here, why? They will not hear any of this, where they dwell. Soft hearts always, but never compromising on conviction of what is good, right and true, that is by the Word of Christ, not by the “will of the Synod”.
    In Christ always,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.