Many people have scratched their heads and wondered how the largest American Lutheran denomination, the ELCA, could violate Scripture so blatantly by approving actively gay and lesbian pastors in their church. The primary reason is that they forsook the inerrancy of Scripture in the last century. That is the theological explanation for it. The political explanation is a little different and should put the fear of God in the LCMS delegates next month at convention. The political explanation is that the ELCA operates with a convention model very similar to the model proposed by President Kieschnick’s Task Force on Structure and Governance.
The ELCA church wide assembly has fewer than a 1,000 delegates. That’s a small number for denomination of 4 million members. And those delegates are not elected through ELCA congregations but selected by the hierarchy. The political cause of the recent apostate decisions of the ELCA assembly are due to the small number of delegates and the bureaucratic manner in which they are selected. The proposals by President Kieschnick’s Task Force would do the same thing in the LCMS. The Task Force proposes for the LCMS a smaller number of delegates (650 which is nearly one half of the current 1,250) and that they be chosen by the district convention and not by the congregations and circuits (see pp. 27-31 of the proposals). In addition to this, President Kieschnick’s Task Force, in Proposal #18, is encouraging the LCMS to get rid of the boards elected by the people and replace them with commissions that report not to the convention but to the president. This is a drastic change that puts governance in the hands of fewer people and puts the LCMS in harms way.
When viewed historically, the Task Force proposals reflect the narcissistic arrogance of the “me generation” that does not want to participate in church and wants to let someone else do it. The Task Force is trying to streamline the governance of the synod, which is fine, but they are doing it by truncating the democratic model that has characterized the LCMS and has been its strength. The delegates to this summer’s convention should resist approving a new structure that lets “someone else” do it. Caving in to that pressure will not make the LCMS stronger but will make it weaker and risk the same type of manipulation that has gone on in the ELCA church wide assemblies of recent years.
Why are we changing what is not broken. For over 150 years the LCMS has been a leader in crucial areas such as missions, worship, doctrinal instruction, parochial schools and the like. We have gotten there with a grass roots governance model based on the average person in the pew knowing Christian doctrine and caring about his synod. The Task Force proposals put the power in the hands of a much smaller group that is not elected by congregations in circuit caucus meetings but by the districts in convention.
We are not opposed to saving money and increasing efficiency. Efficiency can come by cutting out spending and programs. We are opposed to efficiency that comes by putting control in the hands of very few which increases the opportunity for manipulation and decreases the number of grass roots voices of Scripture in the LCMS.