Jody Walter, A North Wisconsin Pastor Writes to His Flock about the Synod

From the Desk of the Pastor –  July, 2010

Dear Friends in Christ,

We’ve come to the moment when the future of our church body will be decided. I do not over exaggerate this. We are at a time when American Christianity is in crisis. Particularly hard hit are liberal mainline Protestant church bodies. Many of them are bleeding members so rapidly, that the date the last member leaves can be calculated – its close at hand. I’ve heard 2017 for one fairly large church body, in the 2020’s for some others. Some of this is demographic. The members had fewer children, so as they die off they leave fewer behind. Some of it has to do with the fact that mainline liberal Protestantism has nothing to offer people who are truly struggling with issues of sin and death. It also has to do with the fact that people see their churches increasingly controlled by church bureaucrats, and they as members are blocked from having any influence on the direction of the church.

The LCMS is the one old mainline Protestant church that is not liberal. Lutheranism is unique in that it has two large church bodies. In other confessional families the conservative churches are secondary churches, that is a fraction of the size of the large, liberal one. So there is really only one large Presbyterian church body, one large Methodist church body and so forth.

Up through the presidency of A.L. Barry, numbers wise, we didn’t look much like the liberal mainline churches. The average age of our members was quite a bit younger, and our membership was not moving too much in either direction. Since President Kieschnick has become president, the rate of decline in membership has increased sharply. A number of pastors and congregations have left the LCMS…

The question then before us is whether we will follow our liberal brethren in the path of church body destruction or whether we will choose a different path. The proposals of the Blue Ribbon Task Force would make our church body look very much like a liberal mainline Protestant church in terms of our structure. It would take away many of the options of influence available to the grass roots of our church. This would only accelerate the decline. Funding of the synod would take a huge hit. This new structure would cause us to begin to eat our selves. By that I mean that we would have to begin to sell off assets, such as college campuses, just to pay our day to day bills. Bankruptcy of the national church could come very, very quickly.

What are the answers? One is demographic and cultural. The Christian Church will likely be smaller in the U.S. in the decades to come than it has been in the recent past. So to a certain extent, declines are to be expected. But how can we minimize this or even counteract it? Focus the church body upon the Word of God. A church body in the Word and driven by the Word will have a message for a dying world. It will become the place to be. Keep it and make it even more to be a grass roots church body. Let the Word come down to the people and let the people respond to the Word. Their industry, creativity, skills, and talents can accomplish far more than we would ever imagine. But first we must make all these things captive to the Word of God. Then God’s work will be done among us.

In  Christ,

Rev. Jody R. Walter

Psalm 119:1204-105 – Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

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.

Comments

Jody Walter, A North Wisconsin Pastor Writes to His Flock about the Synod — 21 Comments

  1. > The question then before us is whether we will follow our liberal brethren in the path of church body destruction

    Destruction. Destruction of the prospects of doctrinal harmony initiated by Dr. Barry; destruction of the synod’s finances; destruction of institutions of the synod.

  2. > This new structure would cause us to begin to eat our selves. By that I mean that we would have to begin to sell off assets,

    Not to grind the ax, but the opening salvo has already been fired with the self-financed sale of KFUO-FM to a heterodox group who promote Benny Hinn among others. KFUO-FM ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KFUO-FM http://classic99.com/ ) will go off the air at 10 pm July 6, after running since 1948.

  3. Signs of the times in the news today: “Greece starts putting island land up for sale to save economy”
    What will LCMS put on the auction block tomorrow?

  4. Oh, how I do wish, every Pastor, on either side of this horrid fence, would follow suit!!!
    STNAD BY WHAT YOU BELIEVE, IN OR OUT OF THE PULPIT, IF YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU DO, SAY WHAT YOU DO, BE WILLING TO TELL THOSE WERE YOU HAVE BEEN PLACED!!!!!

    So many of my older relatives & younger ones, have NO CLUE what is occurring, nor the gravity of this convention. “I don’t care what ‘they’ do, I’m not leaving.” or this, “I don’t care what ‘they’ do, it won’t effect MY congregation.” Ignorance, can only be pleaded once. I know who I have spoken with, those, may not & cannot plead ignorant. Understanding is not acknowledging, let alone submitting. If you love where you are, what you believe, and what you say, then choose & stand. Christ gave no other choice. Men rationalize, Christ does not.

    This is not a battle for liturgies, hymns or history, financials, power or precidence. This is a defensable stand for the Solas themselves, the very foundation of His Bride, the Church. Our Doctrine, is based on these, if they change, YOU ABANDON THE SOLAS. IF SO, THEN THEY ARE NO LONGER TIMELESS LET ALONE INERRANT! Being corrected or chided, is so much less than judgement. Popularity, is nothing compared with what could be lost at this!!!!!

    The Solas, do not need our feeble aid (These are of Him who bought us! & have stood since before our dear Lord accended), but we do so now, do so, because they are Life to the children of Christ!!!
    These & the Trinity, Holy Spirit worthy of all praise, are still tody, Ageless & Timeless. Applicable to all for all time. Age, culture, moments, are of men. This is a pivotal moment, but His will whatever it may be, is what will be done. We are called to accept It, & act accordingly. But at all times, no matter how personal the battle becomes, no matter what may be said or done, we MUST do as Christ commands us!! My wants & will, are dust, compared to His!

    His exceptions are listed, & only His are followed. Each of us, will be judged & called to account for our OWN part, not the parts or parcile of others. I have such great grief & care for those who will in less than 2 weeks, attend this most ominous moment. They will see & hear things, about this Body of Christ that should never be said, done, or even thought of. But…we choose Him or we do not. That, if not seen by us, will be known by Him,
    our Lord already knows!
    Attendees, pray for your weaknesses, your temperments, your words & deeds. Moments in time, seen & unseen, for His Sake, these moments are made for such as these!. Those who attend, were chosen, not by any mortal, but by Him alone. What occurs is by His will alone.

    I know what I want to see & pray for, what I want to happen, and justice to be done & amends to be made. But not by my standards, but by His. Three O’s folks, the 3 O’s. If I cannot abide by His Will, knowing full well, that nothing in or under Heaven is not at His Command, let alone by HIS DESIGN, how can I knowingly pray for anything less or else?

    This is His Bride, others may defend Her honor & place, but at the end of the day, it is Her Lord, that decides. In Faith, knowing your part & where we all will be held accountable, and our choices exposed by Him & in front of Him who bought us. Him or Culture. There is really…no fence to ride, there never has been, and in His Sight, never will be.
    BECAUSE HE SAID SO, SO IT IS & EVERMORE SHALL BE!

    My our Lord & God go with you all,
    Dutch

  5. What will LCMS put on the auction block tomorrow?

    Well, maybe not tomorrow, but if the Legal Counsel for the LCMS Board of Directors, Sherri Strand, wins the lawsuit (Case No. RG07363452) in Alameda Superior Court, the CNHD-LCMS will have a nice piece of property in Oakland, CA they can sell… which could leave a tidy sum after covering legal expenses.

    Any congregation with significant property/assets and who are thinking about leaving the Synod had better first check the fine (and micro) print in their constitution and their funds/insurance for dealing with a drawn-out lawsuit. Otherwise, they may have to deal this.

  6. Dutch is right on target. At the root of this, it is a battle for the authority of the Word. It is fascinating to read Pr. Wyneken in 1852 insisting that there is no authority in the Church other than the Word of God. The question is whether we still believe in the efficacy of the Word.

  7. My Dearest Pastor Walter,

    The Lord’s Grace, Mercy & Blessing to you!!!!
    I have had the blessing, of so many Godly men, who have served the LCMS, as Sheperds, Laymen, and one or two still do (the rest dwell in His House!).
    I am sooooo thankful, that I understood you. His Will, no matter what nor how It may appear for the moment, is what we must all submit & aspire to be done. My sweet but ignorant Mum, lives in the NWD. How I wish, she was under YOUR shepherding. Please do one thing, for a child of one (like her & me), such as in your Congregation.
    Please forward this, to all your Brother Sheperds, in the NWD. My ex Uncle & preaches & my Mum & sister, worship in your your District.
    Neosho & Waupaca areas, please, send this & pray for those who go w/you & those who will wait on the decisions. My prayers & heart go with you Pastor!!!!
    Thank you, so very much, for being so bold, brave, & hold such courage.

    He does amazing things, & I’ll bet you never thought, anyone close to you, would read & beg for such as this?!
    Insert doxology here, both for the LCMS, and your place in Her.
    In Christ, praying His blessings for you & your Congregation,
    Dutch

  8. @Paul Becker #3
    “What will LCMS put on the auction block tomorrow?”

    I think they should start with the LCEF building across the freeway from the Purple Palace. If the LCMS is going to shut down any agency it should begin with LCEF.

  9. Please forgive my ignorance, but…when last I looked,…men owned nothing.
    Is it still the Trinity that liese claim & ownership, or have they conceeded to men?
    Christ, can decided to open or shut what He Himself owns or chooses.
    He bought her.
    And us.
    Or do we or have we enabled or placed another Pope?

  10. the CNHD-LCMS will have a nice piece of property in Oakland, CA they can sell… –Rick

    @Carl Vehse #6

    Yes, but that can’t possibly benefit lcms inc. 8-^(
    SP Kieschnick has said [deposed under oath?] that CNH District is not part of it.

  11. I keep seeing tangibles spoken of in this thread…what of the IN-tangibles? Buildings & positions or property are tinker-toys.

    What will the cost be, which & that those of us stand to loose, is so much more priceless!
    Let them have the property,positions, palaces, pretense & pretext.

    As long as those I stand & support keep the Solas intact, without compromise.
    What else is worth anything besides those?

  12. Well said Dutch. However, what I have seen in practice is that the money in the LCMS follows trust and confession. Kieschnick does not have the trust of the bulk of the people who have the money and willingness to give. So in our situation, eating ourselves as I termed it, is a result of having abandoned the solas.

    If are looking for a historical precident, consider the Schmiel administration at Fort Wayne. The school nearly went bankrupt. As soon as Weinrich was in as interim president, the money started to flow.

  13. Benke acts as if there is no Left in the LCMS. I consider a Lutheran Leftist as those who worships with Muslims, Jews and Pagans in Yankee Stadium.

  14. So do we. It’s hard to forget something of that nature. It won’t go away. Unrepentance tends to have that result.

  15. My dearest Pastor Walter,
    Thank you so very much again!
    I haven’t really thought or tied my trust or confession to a checkbook or $$$$ & I pray no one that knows me ever says so. Synods & men may, but I never have. Hang statiscs, Christ has His own.

    When we tithe (Malachi 3:8-11)
    it is always (& has always been, little on) on a Congregational level. Chairs, Hymnals, Bibles (yes for the pew) materials, organs, bills, foreign field missionaries, etc. Let the world have what it values. If it cannot have it, it seeks to take it from those who hold it, it’s what the world (& those of it) does & always has. Coveting is still alive & well.

    The Lord values what cannot be held in human hands. Only the Solas & Concordia, at the end of the day, matter. Everything else is based on Them, or it cannot stand or withstand.
    What does not stand, will always be found out. Even if it does win the day, it will never win the war! Christ already has!!!!

    No gift, tithe, nor donation can prove those. No matter what. Christ alone bought it all, in a denom, synod, or individual child of Christ.
    He owns it all, He bought it all, it is His, as it belongs to His Bride. If others think otherwise, leave them to it & Him, He already knows & has His plans. (not to hurt or harm but to give a hope & a future) His Will, no matter if it is what I want or think I need, or what we here or those in Houston think, is nothing… His Will be done alone.

    I pray to accept it, whatever it may be, as His Will is best for my family, & this Synod.
    (understanding it, was never an option on my part, I just follow it) His always has been & always will be. Why? Because He loves me so much, even enough to say….
    I love you, NO.

  16. Every so many decades we “find” the same words or group of words to describe what is going on in our church, what might happen or whatever.
    Last summer the LC – MS president sent a letter to be read to the congregation. Our liberal interim pastor did not want to read it to the entire congregation so he read it to our combined summer Sunday school. Thus most members did not here about it or do not know about it.

    Now for the saying from the past; “One can coexist with cancer until it kills you!”

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