What do the nominations numbers mean? Part II

I am analyzing the mistakes which President Kieschnick has made in the last nine years which lead to his poor showing on synodical nominations. Last time we looked at his apparent inability to recognize and address our theological divisions. The second mistake President Kieschnick has made is to have theology take a back seat to administrative goals.


Every leader wants to build on his strengths. I do. So I really can’t fault President Kieschnick for wanting to focus the attention of the synod on administrative details. This is where his strengths lie. He is a detail guy when it comes to bylaws, parliamentarian procedures, how to lead meetings, and the minutia of leadership that typically cause most of us to suffer the “eyes glazed over” syndrome.


But what are lost in this style of leadership are the rigorous theological discussions which have historically characterized our church body. We just aren’t talking too much theology these days.


The upcoming convention is a perfect example. Normally as a convention approaches the driving issues of the synod are theological. We talk about worship and about what the hymnal should look like. We talk about what it means to be a pastor and how our pastors are trained. We talk about the sacrament; how often it should be offered in the congregation or what criteria should be employed as we seek to find consensus on who should be invited to our altars. We discuss the role of women in the church and how best to confess and practice the truths of God in a pluralistic and increasingly pagan culture. Historically the seminaries have submitted overtures of a theological nature. These set the theological agenda for our church. We attempt to address our problems theologically. In decades past we have discussed these articles of the faith: predestination, objective justification, the inerrancy and inspiration of scripture, the nature of confessional subscription etc.


But look at what is before the delegates at the upcoming convention. Two days of discussion over 22 proposals all of which have been set forth by a task force appointed by President Kieschnick which was to deal with administrative stuff. And this is after the delegates were told to attend one of nine two day regional meetings geared to inform and instruct them about the upcoming administrative proposals.


The agenda of the church these days is simply not theological anymore. We are focusing more and more on the minutia of administration and it is not healthy for us. Some one said that the last three year cycle has been the greatest example of ecclesiastical naval gazing in our synod’s history. At our last circuit meeting we spent an hour and forty minutes talking about the administration of the synod because that is what our synod is discussing these days. I went home strangely disquieted. Are we so united on doctrine that we can spend an entire convention ignoring it?


Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that President Kieschnick is ignoring our theology. During his nine years he has convened meetings of the synod’s elite to discuss our theological differences. But it is not in his game plan to dedicate an entire convention to it. Nor will he present a systemic approach to resolving theological issues. He leads with his strengths and we see the results.


And there is little doubt that throughout her history the church has never resolved theological issues or furthered her mission through bylaws or administrative tweaking. In our circles over the last couple of decades our constant attempts to further our mission through by-law change have rendered these bylaws almost impossible to decipher.


The synod is tired of this. This weariness is reflected in the nominations for president. We need a theological approach to the life of the synod.


Next: Why did this obsession with administrative details happen?


What do the nominations numbers mean? Part II — 9 Comments

  1. The ideal constitution of President H.C.Schwan (1897):
    1. God’s Word and Luther’s teaching shall rule as regards all spiritual matters;
    2. In all other matters, we shall be ruled by love.
    (At Home in the House of My Fathers, p. 565)

    We truly cannot see the forest for the trees.

  2. Klemet,
    You wrote: “The agenda of the church these days is simply not theological anymore.”

    And yet, it was during president Kieschnick’s presidency that the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) approached the LCMS in hopes of discussing together that which divides these two church-bodies. That would have been discussing theology. Two confessional church bodies with similar–if not the same–hermeneutical principals, turning to Holy Scripture, and seeking common truth from God’s Holy Word, and an opportunity to discuss what is understood and why, with room for constructive dialogue (granted, this was early in Kieshcnick’s presidency). The response: The Wisconsin Synod was turned down this request. The LCMS has been mutually involved with the ELCA to a degree, in some shared ministries, meanwhile, the Zeitgeist redirected the ELCA to a renunciation of Sola Scriptura through the decisions made at their 2009 Churchwide Assembly (CWA).

    Granted– back then, President Kieschnick did graciously offer the WELS an opportunity to discuss something he knew they could not agree to: working together, even in externals, while Wisconsin and Missouri are not walking together. It seemed so thoughtful for him to reach out, yet apparently Pres. Kieschnick’s approach to working together was to overlook doctrinal differences and distinctions. From what I’ve read, that seems to be his approach to proclaiming unity within the somewhat polarized Missouri Synod: overlook doctrine, claim “unity” and fight for organizational “change” of a sort which few can believe in. And at this 2010 crossroads we have the opportunity to have more of the same? Why?

    Such “unity” reminds me of ELCA’s “big tent” approach to unity: There’s room for everyone under the tent! So, kick your shoes off, enjoy the praise bands, and think “outreach” instead of doctrine. The problem is, Jesus didn’t preach unity no-matter-what, nor did he imply that his doctrines–his teachings–were unimportant, and could be neglected or improved upon. In the garden, He prayed for unity, genuine unity, but that seems to be quite different from what today’s LCMS looks like: It’s not your grandfather’s Missouri Synod, and CFW Walther probably wouldn’t be too impressed with the new façade either. Let’s scrap the re-packaging of Missouri, and move on to constructive discussions in theology.

  3. Every leader wants to build on his strengths. I do. So I really can’t fault President Kieschnick for wanting to focus the attention of the synod on administrative details. This is where his strengths lie. He is a detail guy when it comes to bylaws, parliamentarian procedures, how to lead meetings, and the minutia of leadership that typically cause most of us to suffer the “eyes glazed over” syndrome.

    I am not so sure how much of a strength this is for him. I will grant you that my experience with President Kieschnick in this area is quite limited, but from what I have seen, he is good at quoting bylaws and parliamentary procedures in advancement of his agenda (even to the point of “eyes glazing over”) until opponents concede the point. But when he is not in charge, he does not receive correction well, even though it is according to those same bylaws and parliamentary procedures. Case in point, at our district convention, there was a resolution to wait until 2013 to consider the BRTFSSG recommendations. Despite the opinion of the chair (our 1st VP), the secretary, the assistant secretary, the 2nd VP and several of the delegates who quoted exact vote counts, President Kieschnick still stood at the microphone insisting that we had failed to follow the correct procedure (the “Behnken Rule”) in adopting the substitute resolution.

    In his defense, after he finally relinquished the microphone and we had recessed for a break, he did come back to the microphone and apologize for his previous error. I do not begrudge him raising the point of order to make sure that we followed the appropriate procedure so that all things could be done in good order. But to have taken up several minutes of valuable convention floor time after being presented with the evidence that the procedure had, in fact, been followed correctly seems to mitigate against this being a strength.

  4. What has happened is that K allows the “minors” to run the show and the “majors” to take a back seat. When folks are aligned around a core set of beliefs HOW they live out those beliefs is much easier. He APPEARS to be a very gifted strainer of knats, when in fact this gives him cover to ignore those outside our confessions and practice because, in reality, he is one of them. Sorry to say this makes him a duplicitous ba……, uh, person. 🙂 IT is impossible to have a honest conversation with a liar. Make no mistake his obvuscation is in fact a lie. He is as much a true LCMSer as Obama is an American.

  5. Helen,

    No I am from the land of stabenow and levin who are also Marxist in American garb. Theses folks have been using the constitution for toilet paper all of thier lives.

    Obama is not even half american, he is an Alinsky Marxist. I am confident that our founding fathers would have shot them all by now, for active treason.

    Hey maybe Texas could follow Arizona’s lead!

  6. Mames,

    You don’t sound like a Christian or a Lutheran. Your a name caller (“Marxist”) and ridiculous. President Obama is a great American and the founding fathers would be proud of him. Just because you disagree with someone politically doesn’t mean that they are a marxist or treasonist.

  7. Shirley,
    You really are behind on your reading! But this site is not for secular politics.
    [Preferably it wouldn’t be for politics at all, but we live in the world and the world has invaded the church.]

    I meant that his mother had U.S. citizenship.
    The crowd he hung around with in Chicago is something else.

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