“Not a consolidation of power”?

In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch yesterday, President Kieschnick defended his restructuring plan, saying, “This is not a consolidation of power.” Instead, he argued, “this is about how operations, missions and ministries can be accomplished more efficiently and effectively.”

Yet in the “confidential” report that I told you about, President Kieschnick’s consultants said it wasn’t clear that a more centralized organization would solve any problems or make for a “leaner and meaner” organization. Among several reasons listed, they wrote:

There does not appear to be any disorganization or overlap occasioned by the number of distinct boards providing supervisory direction for Synod executives. Even in areas where there is a significant need to work together-notably, missions and human care-there appears to be good working rapport and accommodation in the areas where the two functions meet and carry out similar outreach efforts.

It would seem that President Kieschnick’s own consultants did not find evidence that the Synod’s program boards lacked efficiency and effectiveness. What’s more, at the end of that page (page 32), it says:

In summary, it is not clear how the leadership of the Synod executives would be more cohesive, more compelling, or better organized under a Synod president than under the current board structure.

So what about President Kieschnick’s denial that the task force consolidates power? Let’s go back to the consultant’s report. In a portion dealing with different possible changes to synod structure and governance (page 88), the consultant warned against too much centralization:

The centralization of power and authority on the office of the president could certainly be viewed as anathema to the history and traditions of the LCMS. Certainly a number of study participants commented on the intrinsic distrust of a centralization of authority within the LCMS. This observation did not surface to any substantial extent among the advisory panel members. However, one advisory panel member believed this model placed too great a concentration of power in the office of the Synod president, and was particularly concerned about the communications function reporting to him. Overall, advisory panel members did not feel this model would gain the support necessary for adoption.

I’m going to show you two charts. This first one comes from the consultant’s report and it is a chart showing a recommended structure change:

Consultant Org Chart


Okay, this second chart is what Kieschnick’s Blue Ribbon Task Force proposed:

Structure Chart BRTFSSG

Note that — despite the warnings and recommendations even from these consultants — all lines of authority for Synodical programs go to the President in this second chart.

When I served on the Board for Communication Services, President Kieschnick wanted greater control over our operations. Among many examples I could cite, he actually interfered — halted — a call issued to a pastor by our board! Under restructuring, it would be even worse. He would have total control of Communications — and all other program boards. No voice but his own would be heard in all operations at the Synodical level. If that’s not a consolidation of power, what is it?


Comments

“Not a consolidation of power”? — 38 Comments

  1. probably worth while to point out that, under the president’s plan, even though the named of the two Commissions elected by the convention (yellow) make it appear that they will have control over the two offices of the same names (in green), there is not actual connection. The commissions report to the president and have no actual authority over anything. I can not think of a more dishonest, sleazy, underhanded way of doing business.

  2. What President would want all that? It looks like it would be a nightmare to hold that job. And high paranoia would seemingly exist.

  3. “There does not appear to be any disorganization or overlap occasioned by the number of distinct boards providing supervisory direction for Synod executives. Even in areas where there is a significant need to work together-notably, missions and human care-there appears to be good working rapport and accommodation in the areas where the two functions meet and carry out similar outreach efforts.”

    Yet all we heard at the regional gathering was about “silos,” how these distinct boards have trouble working together under the current structure, and so we must change it. The relationship of World Missions and World Relief was cited as a specific example. But this report seems to say the opposite.

    “The centralization of power and authority on the office of the president could certainly be viewed as anathema to the history and traditions of the LCMS.”

    Ya think? But that is what Recommendation 18 (among others) would do: vastly increase the power of the synod president.

    “This is not a consolidation of power.” Translation: This is a consolidation of power.

  4. “This is not a consolidation of power.”

    From Wikipedia
    The Big Lie (German: Große Lüge) is a propaganda technique. The expression was coined by Adolf Hitler, when he dictated his 1925 book Mein Kampf, for a lie so “colossal” that no one would believe that someone “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”

  5. Here is an interesting article: http://www.robinwoodchurch.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/the-end-of-the-national-church-corporation-post-denominationalism

    This quote from the article: …”they (national groups) have advanced to their level of incompetency: they became politially and economically unmanageable … there is no point in any effort to “renew” them.”

    This must be what our “new” synod structure would be all about. They think we are totally failing as a church body. We can’t attract enough people, they think, and we are “dying.”

    I can tell you a church body that would not even LOOK at these things: The Eastern/Western Orthodox Church. Their liturgy, doctrine, and practice will not change to accomodate the world. They are somewhat small, but they believe they are built “on the Rock.” Nothing needs to change. Except for speaking English, their liturgy goes all the way back to St. John Chrysostom.
    I don’t know the year. Lately, they have been picking up quite a few frustrated Evangelicals.

    I attended their Saturday night Easter service (3 hours long). Afterwards, a parishoner approached me and asked if I was Catholic? I said I was Lutheran. He told me that Martin Luther wanted to join with the Orthodox when the Catholic Church put him out, but he couldn’t get communication to the Bishop at Constantinople in those days. He also told me that the Orthodox are closer to Lutherans than to Catholics. (He said he was told this by Peter Gilquist who is now an Orthodox priest.) If we get too crazy, there are options! . . .

  6. Does anyone see anything missing in the second chart? How about the Word of God and congregations. The Gospel assumed is the Gospel denied.

  7. I could have told you in two seconds that the organizational chart from the consultant’s report was not going to see the light of day. Why? Notice where the Board of Directors is with relation to the Synodical President. Isn’t it also interesting that the consultant’s chart shows “The Word of God,” but the task force’s chart does not?

  8. How can the members of the BRTF committee read a report like that and then stand by and defend what they produced in their Final Report?

    Early at the regional gathering Pres. K said in his remarks, rather emphatically, “There are NO hidden agendas!” It struck me as odd, why be so defensive? I wondered if there was something else going on. Apparently there was/is.

  9. Power is not taken, but given, as the 19th century sociologist Stuckenberg wrote. Congregations and pastors have been giving up power for decades. They wilt before the authority of synodical bigwig, but do not tremble at God’s Word. The results are not exactly shocking at this point. I hope the LCMS will toss out the apostates and root out the heresies of Enthusiasm. The Book of Concord has not been tried and found wanting. It has hardly been tried at all.

  10. Does anyone have a chart of the current structure for comparison? I believe there was one printed in BJS at one time, but I can’t find it. The second chart’s line from Convention to President through chief mission officer to seminaries is interesting.

  11. I never noticed this before, but under the new organizational chart the BOD has no authority over the mission of the church? The CMO, Comm for Ntl Mission and Comm for Intl Mission all report to the President, who reports to the convention. It looks like the BOD only has authority over “maintenance” functions of the IC.

  12. What I find even more interesting than the proposed direct flow from “chief mission officer” to “seminary” is that it says SEMINARY, not seminaries.

    The consultants’ chart clearly had both seminaries. The BRTFSSG chart DOES NOT. I think in poker they call this a “tell”.

    I think they got ahead of themselves.

  13. Abby :Here is an interesting article: http://www.robinwoodchurch.wordpress.com/2009/11/24/the-end-of-the-national-church-corporation-post-denominationalism
    This quote from the article: …”they (national groups) have advanced to their level of incompetency: they became politially and economically unmanageable … there is no point in any effort to “renew” them.”
    This must be what our “new” synod structure would be all about. They think we are totally failing as a church body. We can’t attract enough people, they think, and we are “dying.”
    I can tell you a church body that would not even LOOK at these things: The Eastern/Western Orthodox Church. Their liturgy, doctrine, and practice will not change to accomodate the world. They are somewhat small, but they believe they are built “on the Rock.” Nothing needs to change. Except for speaking English, their liturgy goes all the way back to St. John Chrysostom.I don’t know the year. Lately, they have been picking up quite a few frustrated Evangelicals.
    I attended their Saturday night Easter service (3 hours long). Afterwards, a parishoner approached me and asked if I was Catholic? I said I was Lutheran. He told me that Martin Luther wanted to join with the Orthodox when the Catholic Church put him out, but he couldn’t get communication to the Bishop at Constantinople in those days. He also told me that the Orthodox are closer to Lutherans than to Catholics. (He said he was told this by Peter Gilquist who is now an Orthodox priest.) If we get too crazy, there are options! . . .

    There are plenty of other options besides that. This is a confessional Lutheran website, not a recruitment board for the Eastern Orthodox.

  14. On Page 76, the consultants had even more language disagreeing with what the Blue Ribbon Task Force eventually proposed in terms of consolidating power. Here it is:

    “In our judgment, this centralization of function of the International Center seems to have little merit other than the surface appeal of the concept itself. It is also not in keeping with the LCMS aversion to hierarchy.

    Additionally, centralization or consolidation seems to fall short in directly benefiting congregational mission.

    * From an organizational standpoint, is it a good use of time and resources to provide more direct reports to the Synod president? Synod executives stated in the interviews they have clarity and direction in their work. There does, however, seem to be a need to improve collaboration and mutual accountability. Several commented that the president’s effort to convene the corporate Synod executives on a regular basis was making a difference toward this end.
    * A broader and more significant problem with this approach has to do with the role of the Synod president. The president is the leader of the entire Synod, not any particular function within it. All parts of the Synod, other than the congregations and Concordia Plan Services, report to the Synod president. To all other entities, he has constitutional authority for supervision regarding doctrine and administration. Therefore, having members of the International Center report to the Synod president would divert his attention away from the Synod at large and diminish what most Synod members believe to be his proper role-that of a chief vision caster and encourager of LCMS congregations.
    * In our judgment, the most compelling reason for not adopting this strategy is its profound irrelevance to the majority of congregations in the Synod. Such a direction might resonate with some at the convention, but it would be viewed as “much ado about nothing” to the Synod at large. In all likelihood, it would further distance the national Synod from congregations. Some of the participants in our research have described this approach as a “rearrangement of chairs on the Titanic.”

    In our judgment, based on the data, this is the wrong point of focus for change.”

    The BRTFSSG paid for $500,000 worth of consultation and then ignored what they recommended. Unbelievable.

  15. @Gregory L. Jackson #9

    I see Greg Jackson has posted a link to his website. Greg, are you and Larry Darby still as one doctrinally? What do you say about MO’s traditional doctrine of Universal Justification?

  16. Mollie, please send a copy of the consultants’ report to the Rev. Dr. James Lamb, Executive Director of Lutherans for Life.

    Perhaps Rev. Lamb’s organization will issue a position statement opposing the BRTFSSG recommendations as nothing but a complete abortion.

  17. @mbw #15

    My comment is totally off-topic, but since Rev. Jackson posted a link to his website, I thought cautions were in order. He is a very intelligent, witty and at times friendly commentator, and has written some good stuff, but denies “Universal/Objective” justification (which is not Universalism in any way), while also denying being a Calvinist.

  18. @Timothy C. Schenks #13
    I’m sorry Timothy. I was not recruiting for the Orthodox. My point got lost. My husband was born and raised Orthodox and I actually recruited him to Lutheranism. I didn’t want my children raised without education from the Bible. I asked my husband if he was sorry he left Orthodoxy–he said definately not!

  19. Even the diests among the founders of the US governing sttucture understood that too much power in the hands of a few was problematic becasue power corrupts “flawed” men. Regardless of who ocupies the office of synodical Pres the suggested approach places too much power in one individual’s hands. Too deny that is either stupidity or an attempt at obvuscation. Another model called policy based governance is being used in a few parishs and it is just as centralizing and yielding nothing but greater conflict.

  20. Abby,

    That was a gracious response. You beat me to it. I was going to mention that I did not think you were trying to recruit for the Orthodox.

    Timothy is probably a little leary because there have been more than a few LCMS pastors jump ship to the Eastern church.

    TR

  21. Pastor Tim Rossow :Abby,
    That was a gracious response. You beat me to it. I was going to mention that I did not think you were trying to recruit for the Orthodox.
    Timothy is probably a little leary because there have been more than a few LCMS pastors jump ship to the Eastern church.
    TR

    Why is this? I have family that is ROCOR and have threatened to go there a few times in disgust over the LCMS, but how could a Lutheran surrender to faith-plus-works? I have had discussions with their rector on “original sin” and don’t understand how we are “merely tainted” and not totally depraved from the Scriptures. Of course, tradition is on par (and probably higher) than Scripture. I do admire how little they have changed, though.

    So I don’t get yelled at for going off-topic, the COP already has too much power with the “call lists.” I know of two pastors that were railroaded for being too outspoken for the confessional and liturgical side. Like I’ve heard at Fort Wayne, “Cooperate and graduate.” I will add, though, that if we disagree, we should do so respectfully and in Christian love.

  22. Click on http://robinwoodchurch.wordpress.com/ for discussions on all these topics.

    Disclaimer: I’m a theologically and confessionally conservative barely-on-the-ELCA roster church planter with incurable Pentecostal tendencies.

    But the blog essays are being downloaded by the (many) thousands.

    Please add your comments there–I’ll look forward to reading them.

    Love the Orthodox and the art form that is their worship.

    Can’t see the New Testament church folks recognizing most of what they do on Sunday, however, as something they started.

    It’s so encrusted with the smells and feel of Byzantium and the steppes of mother Russia, that it can hardly be the Lord’s plan A for Heilsgeschichte.

    I would have to think that plan A for the salvation of creation would have to look at least something like one of Paul’s house churches…

  23. @Charles Henrickson #21

    Turn on, tune in, drop out?

    Mollie,

    It seems that the consultant offers plenty of critique. Does it address specific proposals, or just the proposals in general?

    Additionally, the flow chart suggests that the consultant has a different proposal for restructuring that’s different from the BRTFSSG, yet also different from our current structure (e.g. the addition of a director of the International Center independent of the synod president). Is there reasoning behind these suggestions in the report?

    At our regional gathering for the BRTFSSG, the question was asked of President Kieschnick, “What problems have you encountered in your years as president that the proposals will solve?” His answer was along the lines of: I’m tempted to say render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s [stewardship], but the real reason is the lack of accountability.”

    I wondered to myself, “Who is not being accountable to whom, that the solution is to restructure an entire synod?”

    It’s clear that the first flow chart does not give “lines of accountability” to the SP, and so doesn’t solve what President Kieschnick suggested was the problem

  24. @mbw #27

    One more thing. We don’t need blog posts for doctrine!

    What doctrine is that which says that “We don’t need blog posts for doctrine!”?

    If you look in that post and one of the comments there from a Calvinist you will detect from that Calvinist that Calvinism equates the Atonement with Justification. Does that not ring a bell?

    UOJ does the same, it equates the Atonement with Justification stating that at the Atonement all have been Justified. See Brief Statement 1932 Article 17.

    LPC

  25. The Shadow of that Hyddeous Strength
    Sax Myle and More It Is of Length.

    Sir David Lyndsay, from Ane Dialog,
    describing the Tower of Babel

  26. This whole issue of the BRTFSG is about Devilry and it has a serious point concerning those it touches.

    It is all about, ” Who is the Greatest…”, and how Jesus was teaching His Apostles that the Kingdom of God is not like the world’s Vision of Authority.

    That he who would be first must (imperative), be the Last and he who would be the highest, must be the servant of all.

    As a little child does not seek preeminence or to be first in all things so also with the Apostles.

    This is why the Devil was cast out of Heaven in the first place.

    We have one Father and one Lord and one Teacher and it behooves us to critique any Synodical Proposal as to Structure and Governance, to it’s further purpose of who really rules and governs the Church and who can and cannot be called to account to the Word of the Master.

    There is always Devilry going on in the Church and in every congregation, but what we want is the rule of God in His Word and we leave That Hyddeous Strength to those who have given themselves up to having, persuing and taking it.

    Christus Deo Gloria

  27. @L P Cruz #28

    > What doctrine is that which says that “We don’t need blog posts for doctrine!”?

    The same doctrine that rejects cranks in synods consisting of themselves.

  28. Pastor Tim Rossow :Timothy is probably a little leary because there have been more than a few LCMS pastors jump ship to the Eastern church.
    TR

    Bingo. There was another one from a nearby town not too long ago, after which the DP licensed the vicar at that congregation to adminster Holy Communion because I guess the members didn’t want to take Communion at the ten other LCMS congregations a few minutes away. One error followed by another.

    Even LCMS laymen are doing it. I’ve been told that a distant cousin of mine descended from several generations of LCMS pastors going back to the log cabin seminarians in Altenburg is now an Eastern Orthodox priest.

  29. mbw :@mbw #15
    [Rev. Jackson] denies “Universal/Objective” justification…

    That’s really not it. Pr. Jackson believes that Christ died for us all (Universal or Objective Justification) but of course we have to believe for it do do us any good (Subjective Justification via Means of Grace). Those he admonishes believe this as well. What’s being denied? Tell me where I’m wrong–I’m not a pastor.

  30. @Deacon Brian Hughes #31
    As a little child does not seek preeminence or to be first in all things so also with the Apostles.

    I’m generally in agreement with the rest of the post above but I wonder how many two year olds you’ve been intimately acquainted with, Deacon!

    IMHO, our SP is behaving exactly like a two year old. “I want it.” “I want it now!”
    “I want to be the center of attention.” “I want it more because you are telling me I can’t have it!”

    [And then there were those two Apostles… but that gets blamed on their mother, one place.] 🙁

  31. Of all the threads I have read, this one is the most confusing. I have absolutely no idea what most of y’all are talking about. I do know this–the BRTF’s proposals are awful, and Carl Vehse’s logo says it all.

    One more thing–Unless this information about the BRTF gets to the delegates in a winsome and positive manner, it won’t do much good to blog about it here. So whaddya say?

    Johannes

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.