The LCMS Council of District Presidents (COP) has chosen to view a functionally non-Lutheran LCMS parish as a model for others to follow. You can click here to read the story from the LCMS newservice. After you read it you can come back to this post and I will explain the basis for my bold assertion that they are viewing a functionally non-Lutheran parish as a model for the rest of us.
Here is the quote from the story that identifies Carmel Lutheran Church and Pastor Luther Brunette as a model to look at for what the church ought to do in the post-church era.
As part of its “Ecclesiastical Leadership in a Post-church Culture” working theme, the COP heard Cook, an assistant professor of practical theology and director of distance curricula at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a presentation by staff of Carmel Lutheran Church in Carmel, Ind., which has planted four congregations and formed two satellite ministries since 1989.
If you take some time to peruse Carmel Lutheran’s website you may notice what I noticed. (I did not read every last single word of the website but I looked in quite a few nooks and crannies. If my characterization can be proven wrong please let me know so we can set the record straight.) The website basically describes a contemporary American protestant “evangelical” church. Why do I say this? Because of the things I find and the things I do not find.
Here are the things I find:
- An emphasis on transformed living
- An emphasis on discipleship
- Contemporary worship
- An emphasis on the Word but in a funamentalist manner devoid of sin and grace/law and gospel
- An emphasis on caring for and meeting people’s needs
- The ministry of everyone
- “Sports ministry”
- Beth Moore materials are used in women’s Bible studies
Here are some things I did not find:
- The words “Christ crucified”
- The word “cross”
- The word “baptism”
- Any mention of the Lord’s Supper beyond the monthly worship schedule
- Any mention of sacraments
The LWML was mentioned prominently on the website and in the bulletins and newsletter but with the manner in which the LWML has embraced contemporary worship that no longer means as much as it did in the past. This reminds me of Pastor Wilken’s thesis about LCMS exceptionalism. Many still embrace the institutions of “LCMSism” but they do so uncritically. This church’s website which reveals a parish that is more American protestant than genuinely Lutheran demonstrates and the fact that it is held up as the pathway to the future is quite disturbing.
Maybe after reviewing this church and pastor and the manner in which they “do church” the Council of Presidents, who are to be chief amongst us for discerning doctrine and practice, will issue a warning against entering the post church era in the manner of Carmel Lutheran.