We Prayed for President Kieschnick in Church, by Pr. Rossow

We prayed for President Kieschnick in church on Sunday as we do many Sundays. We prayed that God would grant him wisdom to be a godly leader in the synod. He is the LCMS president and deserves the respect of the office. But that does not mean that we think that he ought to continue as our synod president nor that we agree with everything that he stands for. We agree with many things that he stands for but we also have concerns about where the synod has ended up under his leadership.

We decided not to nominate President Kieschnick for synod president because the synod has struggled so much during his presidency. The synod has struggled to spread the Gospel around the globe. We have called numerous missionaries home because there is no money to support them. Even though President Kieschnick subscribes to the Book of Concord – this is one of the things we agree with him on – we have not seen the theology and practice of the Lutheran Confessions to be a hallmark of his presidency. Instead, non-Lutheran ideas of worship, evangelism, and leadership have become the hallmark of his presidency. We all know how hard it is to maintain pure doctrine in the parish these days. The same is true in the synod. We have Concordia professors teaching evolution and pushing for women’s ordination. We have pastors who are participating in unionistic services. We even know of a LCMS congregation that has a gay activist as a music director. We and others have contacted the president’s office about these things and nothing has been done about them.

We would like peace and harmony in our synod and yet President Kieschnick has been at the center of controversy after controversy. In his first two tenures of office he approved an enormously high number of delegate exceptions in districts that supported him. He was also at the center of the Yankee stadium controversy and most recently the synod’s California-Nevada-Hawaii District is unadvisedly suing to gain control of the property of a congregation in the San Francisco Bay area and it is the LCMS corporate lawyers who are handling the lawsuit. We do not like the lax approach to doctrine and practice and we do not like all of the controversy that follows President Kieschnick.

We will continue to pray for President Kieschnick, that God would bless his leadership but that does not mean that we think he should be re-elected. We pray for him because we want the synod to be godly and thrive and we think that his nine years as president have been sufficient for the synod. We believe it’s time for a change and that would answer another of our prayers.

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

We Prayed for President Kieschnick in Church, by Pr. Rossow — 35 Comments

  1. “Instead, non-Lutheran ideas of worship, evangelism, and leadership have become the hallmark of his presidency”
    Prayers for repentance and faith are also in order, then; as for us all.

  2. I became Lutheran at a time when we had a really bad president and a really bad governor, and it always rankled me a bit when we’d pray God’s blessing on such awful and destructive men. With time, being Lutheran has given me a respect for office, or at least a veneer of such, and so I am thankful as we pray for those in office both within and outside the church. And the worse they are, the more vigorous my prayers for them.

    Sigh. I have so far to go.

  3. It becomes increasingly difficult to pray for those who abuse their relationships with us–no matter who that person may be. But God I don’t think says to pray only for those who make you happy. If that were the case, then most pray lists would be extremely short. All of my pastoral life I have prayed not only for the leaders here in the States but also for those around the world. God has allowed all governing authorities even though most do not serve Him or even know Him. I shall continue to do so–even should it happen that President K is re-elected for another term. But at the same time I am praying heavily that God will grant to the LCMS different leadership.

    A final thought–I have never understood why if one does not do the liberal thing with the liberal you are a hater. But if the liberal side continues to choose not to become more conservative–they are never called haters??? But I nevertheless still would continue to pray for them and for a change in their hearts.

  4. I am of the opinion that we should be praying for our leaders at every available opportunity. Not just when things are not going our way or the direction we would like but always praise God for the good, ask God to help with the difficulties. Lift them up in prayer.

  5. Couldn’t disagree with you more.

    “The synod has struggled to spread the Gospel around the globe.” During his tenure we have invested as a synod in the Ablaze! movement. The whole purpose is to share the Gospel. During my time in the church this has been the most intentional evangelistic effort of our church I have witnessed. Pres. Barry’s 3-10 initiative just didn’t get going.

    “We have called numerous missionaries home because there is no money to support them.” Pastors and congregations have elected to not support mission work of the synod by not sending funds to synod. Rather they have choosen their own avenues of support. Congregations are autonomous so that’s a decision they can make.

    For me, we will not have a perfect president that meets everyone’s expectations and cow-tows to each faction’s issues. Do I agree with everything our synod does through the direct leadership of Pres Kieschnick? No. But I know him and I trust him. He’s going to make the decisions that he believes is best for the synod based on the Scriptures and the confessions. I like you, pray that he is able to do that.

    It seems to me that the controversy that “follows” the president comes from a small, vocal minority that would like to return to the halcyon days of synod strength and uniformity in the 1950’s. Many churches were started in that decade, primarily due (in my opinion) to the people of the “greatest generation” as Tom Brokaw called them. The same people who built our country into a superpower also built churches.

    The longer I serve the more I believe the statement, “Adapt or die.” The people not in our church pews couldn’t give a hoot about “confessions”, they are looking for people who will engage them with love and truth.

    I’m not trying to inflame here; I enjoy the challenging and insightful articles and comments. It’s just that sometimes I don’t want personal opinions to go unchallenged.

    I’ll check in again next week to listen.

  6. Bo,

    Could you please show from Scripture where it says “adapt or die?” I have never seen this attitude in Scripture. Instead I hear Jesus say “if you continue in my word you are truly my disciple” and Paul saying “I passed on to you what I received from Christ.”

    You are making my point. President Keschnick are all about adapt or die and not about the truth of Christ and his word at all costs.

    Also please comment on this: does leading the synod to a point where we are shrinking the number of missionaries and facing a financial crisis the result of this philosophy of adapt or die?

    President Kieschnick has led the synod for 9 years and has tried adaptation after adaptation and we are dieing. Hmmm… Not only is it not a Scripural approach to church, in his hands it is a failing policy.

    Reagan asked of the country – “Are you better off after four years of Jimmy Carter?” The same question needs to be asked about our synod 9 years later.

    Might I also add that it does the supporters of President Kieschnick no favors when folks like you drop little bombs and then say you will check back in, in a week. What is that about? I hope you will return immediately to see the response to your comment and defend yourself.

    TR

  7. @Bo #5

    Unfortunately too many of the people in our church pews “couldn’t give a hoot” about confessions. They just want to call a coffee & gossip hour “Bible class” (if they show up at all).

    I pray for our bureaucracy to walk the walk, not just mimic “the talk” a few months before every convention. And for the beginnings of a change, because it will only be the beginning.

  8. @Bo #5

    Unfortunately, Ablaze does NOT equate to evangelism. making a critical contact and chalking it off the list does not build up the church nor does it create faith to tell someone “Jesus loves you.” Real evangelism is done INSIDE the DIVINE SERVICE where the Word is preached for us to listen and where we receive the benefits of being God’s people, namely Christ’s Body and Blood. This does not occur with Ablaze.

    Ablaze leaves out two critical components, teaching and Baptism. I have heard the argument that Ablaze is fulfilling the Great Commission. This is incorrect because of the missing components. You cannot have the Great Commission without Baptism and teaching ALL things Christ has commanded.

    This is why the Ablaze movement is such a huge waste of money that could go towards keeping REAL missionaries in the field instead of calling them home and in their place, sending non-pastoral laymen into the mission field, who cannot bring the Sacrament and Word to the field because they are not called rightly to do so.

    All this waste of money and calling real missionaries home has been brought to us by the current leadership. This is what needs to be changed.

    To get back on topic, we also pray for the Synodical leadership every Sunday that faithfulness be restored and a right Spirit renewed in all of us.

    Kiley Campbell
    2010 Convention Delegate

  9. @Bo #5
    Bo,

    In my congregations over the years I have always prayed for the Synodical Presidents, the District Presidents, the circuit counselors and pastors, teachers etc. of the LCMS. I continue to do so even today. However, while I was in the Texas District I did not trust President K. and I still do not trust President K.

  10. Bo,

    About the Confessions. It appears that perhaps you are a pastor type of guy, such as many on this list. I do wonder why you make your statement about the confessions. I find in them great reading material and so do the people where I am currently. Many lay people do not read the confessions because all too often pastors never mention [sermons, Bible studies etc] or because pastors themselves never read them. With humbleness, I would be bold to suggest that perhaps you should start making use of them in every way you can.

  11. @Pastor Tim Rossow #6

    Could you please show from Scripture where it says “Are you better off after four years of Jimmy Carter?” I have never seen this attitude in Scripture. Instead I hear Jesus say “if you continue in my word you are truly my disciple” and Paul saying “I passed on to you what I received from Christ.”

  12. Kevin,

    “Are you better off after four years…” is not a Scriptural point in and of itself but the unstated part of the question is? I assumed that people would understand that I am asking: “Is the LCMS better off Scripturally after nine years of President Kieschnick?”

    Thanks for helping me clarify.

    TR

  13. Although I’m not there every Sunday, I think we pray for President Kieschnick almost every Sunday at Trinity-Millstadt —just like we pray for President Obama and (then) Governor Blagojevich.

    We don’t have to agree with our leaders to pray for them; in fact, disagreement with them ought to be greater motivation to pray for them.

    TW

  14. I read recently a wonderful story about a Lutheran missionary to Indonesia(?) that resulted in millions of new believers. The same thinig is happening in Tanzania today. Meanwhile, in the USA church attendance hovers around 20% and might be 1/2 that number by 2050 if present trends continue. The one thing we haven’t tried (as a Synod) is Scripture, Confessions, and excellent Liturg/Hymnodyy. Hmmm, might just get some people interested.

  15. Bo :
    “We have called numerous missionaries home because there is no money to support them.” Pastors and congregations have elected to not support mission work of the synod by not sending funds to synod. Rather they have choosen their own avenues of support. Congregations are autonomous so that’s a decision they can make.

    But that is what our Synod has asked us to do. “If you want to support the work of a missionary in Africa, you will have to give the money directly to/for him – we don’t budget for that any more but have gone to a direct-funding model.” “If you want to support the training of pastors at our Seminaries, send your money directly to them, we have eliminated them from our budget and gone to a tuition-driven funding model.”

    I find it very disingenuous for Synodical officials (and while this includes the current administration, this policy/practice goes back decades and decades, at least through the Kuhn, Barry and Bohlman administrations), I find it very disingenuous for Synodical officials to claim that “congregations are not supporting missions because they aren’t sending money to Synod.” Of course they aren’t! Synod is no longer doing with that money what the congregations have been sending it in for. The congregations are supporting the mission work of the Synod, by supporting those missions directly – that is what Synod has asked us to do. Why are officials so surprised by that?

    The congregation I serve gives about 20% of the total offerings received for the year for District/Synod missions. They have maintained that level of giving for quite some time. Our district utilizes about 35% of those gifts for work within the district and forwards about 65% on to the Synod. They have maintained that level of giving for quite some time, as well. Back in the 1970s, that money was used to run the Synodical headquarters, pay missionaries’ salaries, make significant contributions to the Seminaries and colleges of our Synod, and fulfill all of those other functions of the Synod listed in Article III of our Synodical Constitution. Now, while we continue to give our 20%, and the district forwards on its 65%, we are being told that those gifts no longer cover the objectives listed in Article III of the Constitution, they just cover the costs of supporting those objectives (promotional materials, secretarial, communication and fundraising services, etc.). If you actually want the work detailed in Article III to be done, you have to give more. And if you don’t keep up the exact same amount that you are giving to Synod, then you don’t support the mission work of Synod.

    So, in a sense, the statement made by Bo is true,

    Pastors and congregations have elected to not support mission work of the synod by not sending funds to synod.

    Pastors and congregations have realized that sending funds to synod does not support the mission work of the synod, so they have chosen to support the mission work of the synod by

    choos[ing] their own avenues of support.

    And that is the underlying cause of the financial woes of our Synod.

  16. But back to the topic of the original post…

    Back during the first Gulf War, I had some members challenge me because our prayers included petitions for Saddam Hussein. “I know we are supposed to pray for our enemies, Pastor, but I’m really having a hard time with that one,” said one couple (whose son’s best friend – and practically their adopted son – was stationed in the Iraqi theater at the time). But it was a great learning moment for how easy it is when we like the leaders, and how difficult it is when we don’t.

    My favorite illustration of the point (and it may be apocryphal, but powerful nonetheless) is how baffled the SS was with Pastor Dieterich Bonhoeffer. He would pull no punches in his sermons, railing against the sinfulness of the philosophies of the Third Reich, then would come down out of the pulpit, stand before the altar for the Prayer of the Church, and pray, “We thank You, Lord God, heavenly Father, for Your servant, Adolf, whom You have given to lead our land…”

    We ought always to pray for our leaders, for they are God’s servants to us for our good, even if we they do not do the good for us that we think they should.

  17. @Rev. Roger D. Sterle #11
    Pastor Sterle:

    You are so right about Pastors ignoring the Confessions throughout the synod at large. I’m a lifelong Lutheran, most of which has been spent in the LCMS, and until I arrived at my current congregation I had never heard of them. I knew what the small catechism was because of confirmation training (to refer to it as catechesis would be giving it roo much credit) after which we put it away and never referred to or opened it again. So many Pastors seem to think that they have more imprtant or relevant topics to preach on, and don’t seem to think the laity can or cares to understand the confessions. As you say, so many of them just don’t seem to be very well versed in the confessions themselves. How sad to have such a rich treasure at our fingertips and not even know or care that it’s there…

  18. @Bo #5

    Bo:
    You wrote: “‘The synod has struggled to spread the Gospel around the globe.’ During his tenure we have invested as a synod in the Ablaze! movement. The whole purpose is to share the Gospel. During my time in the church this has been the most intentional evangelistic effort of our church I have witnessed. Pres. Barry’s 3-10 initiative just didn’t get going.”

    Bo, when the ABLAZE movement first began, I felt the same way. I was so glad to see synod invest in intentional evangelism. I was excited. I was glad to have the opportunity to send additional offering contributions directly to ABLAZE! that the Word might get out.l

    Since then I have attended an ABLAZE! event sponsored by the Northern Illinois District which amounted to little more than joint Pentecostal worship done poorly. In the stadium where we were gathered, we were not even given the opportunity to sing one hymn together. We were given some kind of gimmick like a colored glowing bracelet or something, and music was provided by a rockandroll band, which obviously had not thought to have a sound-check. The emphasis was on what we do for God, not what God has done for us. When I had another opportunity to come to another NID ABLAZE! event, I knew better than tom waste my time with such a worthless waste of money. What good is tailgating and passing out ABLZE! promotional garbage with its logo plastered on it? I have been a chairman of Evangelism before, and this event was not about reaching the lost for Jesus. It was about constructing a facade around the LCMS to try to make it look ‘hip’ and ‘with it.’ Even that was done poorly.

    I know of a congregation which faithfully worships, seeking God in Word and Sacrament, and making use of various settings of the Divine Service. On more than one occasion, ABLAZE! refused to do anything to help this LCMS congregation reach their neighborhood with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead, the ABLAZE! money was wasted on larger congregations which wanted to try “innovative” “Contemporary” worship services to bring in all the young people. My own congregation was one of the recipient congregations who received such grant money. And yet, years later, we have less people attending these “Contemporary” worship services, and more attending the Traditional service (which unfortunately is not all that traditional–they play around with the wording of the liturgy all the time, rather than letting us use the front of our hymnals). i repeent of having given money to ABLAZE! I am a Lutheran because I believe the Confessions are Biblical and are a faithful interpretations of Scriptural teaching. I have seen far too many ‘Lutheran” churches of the LCMS stripe who care very little for the Confessions. Some manipulate the Word of God to make it say what they want it to say. I wish they would get rid of the “LCMS” on their signs and literature because of truth in advertising. We need sound doctrine (teaching). We need the Holy Scriptures. We have been blessed with the Lutheran Confessions. We dare not dispose of these treasures to try to attract more people. All the people in the world filling our pews/chairs is worth nothing if we have disposed of the true God and His correct teaching. It’s not too late to go back to Lutheran Christianity!

  19. Praying for those with whom we disagree has a rather interesting effect–it seems to change our attitude towards them. I once had a co-worker who was for me a very difficult person. It was hard to pray for him, but as I did so, my attitude changed–I still disagreed with him, but I could pray for a change of heart in both myself and him, I could pray that he would be a faithful employee, I could pray for his spiritual welfare, I could pray for his family, and the list seemed to grow with time.

    I have often seen Presidient Kieschnick portrayed as an evil man, and as the “enemy.” He is neither. He is the President of the LCMS, and whether the difficulties he encounters are of his making or not, he needs our prayers. Each of us can make his/her own list, but there are many things for which we can pray, and we ought to get at it. We may still disagree with him and his policies, but withholding our prayers for him is not truly an option. “Pray for your enemies” (or “pray for your opponents”, if you will) is not a suggestion.

    j

  20. @Bo #5

    “The longer I serve the more I believe the statement, “Adapt or die.” The people not in our church pews couldn’t give a hoot about “confessions”, they are looking for people who will engage them with love and truth. “

    Bo,

    I don’t know about you, but I am not a life long Lutheran. I spent 18 long years of my life in atheism before God crushed me with the law and raised me to life with His life giving Gospel. Since the time God has given me faith I have read the Book of Concord from cover to cover, thirsty for any knowledge about our Lord that I may receive.

    Did I give “a hoot about ‘confessions'” prior to being brought to faith? I had not heard that there were any confessions up until that time. But had a Lutheran engaged me with our confession of faith, I can assure you that I would have been brought the truth.

    As for people not sitting in church pews seeking, or looking for people to engage them with the truth and love, I think that is a deeply mistaken view handed to us by church growth marketing gurus. Consider the following Scripture,

    “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” —Romans 3:10-12

    When I was dead in sin, I was not seeking God’s truth. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I hated God and His Holy Word (Romans 8:7). Romans 8:7 is not an idle speculation for me, since I had no desire to hear anything about God. If you had given me the chance, I would have tried to “deconvert” you from the insanity I believed you were living with your faith.

    Living in Seattle, as I do, I was not alone in my hatred towards God. There are some people in this city overrun by paganism who do seek “truth”, but it isn’t the truth of God’s word. These people don’t “give a hoot” about church growth programs, seeker sensitive initiatives, or any other program some think they can design to put the Gospel into their comfortable laps. What these pagans need to hear is solid Law and Gospel, and then it is up to the Holy Spirit to do His work in their hearts. Don’t kid yourself. An Ablaze!â„¢ program isn’t the “trick” that brings people to repentance. In fact, there isn’t a trick or program that can bring people to repentance.

    What we need is the unadulterated Gospel preached. We need solid Word and Sacrament ministry. We need congregations who will dare to use the Holy Bible and the Lutheran catechism as their tool for doing mission. Let the Baptists have Ablaze!â„¢ back and give us a refund. As Lutherans we have the gems from God that brings comfort to sinners. Let’s use them.

  21. Many years ago I made a business deal with a friend(?) who never fully repaid the substantial amount of money that I loaned him. No contract, no paperwork…he was my friend. I trusted him. It hurt me, but I continued to pray for him. I wanted him to be successful…because I wanted my money back! I thought that I had finally put the episode behind me when one day I was passing by the building where he used to have an office. The hard feelings came rushing back, so I prayed that God would help me to forgive and forget. “I don’t know why this happened, Father, but I want Your will to be done.” Immediately, a quiet voice said to me, “Maybe I meant for him to have it.” Whoa! What? In all the years this was on my mind, that thought NEVER occurred to me. Obviously, because I’ve written about it here, I still occasionally think about the matter, but I’m at peace with it now. Was it the Holy Spirit speaking to me? I’m convinced it was. Do I still pray for my friend? Yes, indeed. But I now add, “May a blessing far greater than I could have ever imagined come from his stewardship.”

    BTW–I don’t loan money anymore. If I’m able, I’ll give it away…but no more loans. And, if my old friend showed up on my doorstep tomorrow with a wad of cash for me…sure, I’d take it. And, thank God for it! (Stranger things have happened, I guess.) May His will always be done.

  22. From Bo:

    “The people not in our church pews couldn’t give a hoot about “confessions”, they are looking for people who will engage them with love and truth.”

    Why are the “confessions” and “love and truth” put in opposition. The best way to “engage them with love and truth” is to teach the Lutheran Confessions, since that is what they are all about.

  23. @Pastor Tim Rossow #13

    If you want to be given the benefit of the doubt about quoting things not in Scripture, even though everyone knows that Reagan is a great defender of the Lutheran faith, then you should have given that benefit of the doubt to Bo. You made my point to the T.

  24. @kevin #25

    @kevin #25

    As long as we’re quoting former U.S. Presidents, George H.W. Bush once said, “A new wind is blowing.” I guess that means we CAN pass the BRTF, since this isn’t our grandfather’s church anymore. I sure would miss the traditional polity, though, with the SP having more limited powers, but I guess I’m just too retro: a stick in the mud. With the passage of President K.s monumental plan, synod will have “change we can believe in…” even if some of us can never believe in such change. It will be like having Bishop M. Stephan as our Herr Pastor all over again! (We could always go back to Saxony…)

    Nevertheless, no matter who becomes our SP in 2010, let us pray for him, for synod, and for Lutheranism in North America and across the world. God knows best, and can use whomever He will for His purposes. May God in His mercy keep His church in the palm of His hand. May He keep us from straying from the faith, and from becoming what we should not become. May He raise leaders and call them to positions of authority to help us at this pivotal time. “Our God, our Help in ages past, Our Hope for years to come, Be Thou our Guard while troubles last And our eternal Home!” (Isaac Watts, 1719).

  25. So our Lutheran Confessions become irrelevant, throw-away items and, because “people not in our church pews” are ignorant of and/or confused with God’s unconditional grace through Christ, we toss the infant flock…

    …adaptations like contemporary praise songs “Let the Praises Ring” – http://tinyurl.com/27t5g7z and “He Knows My Name” http://tinyurl.com/235lpp3 (to name only two) that don’t clearly preach who Christ is and what He’s done. How does this “adapt or die” approach preach the Gospel, feed the young flock – or any flock for that matter – and assure sinners that we are redeemed children of God because of what Christ accomplished?

    …adaptations like a two-day new member class because people interested in becoming members don’t have the time to commit to careful, thorough instruction. Nothing screams quality “adaptations” like instruction that is a mile wide and an inch deep for the sake of convenience.

    …adaptations like sending our youth, without any reservation or reluctance, to non-denominational retreats.

    I can only imagine how Paul’s letter to the Galatians would have changed had he subscribed to this “adapt or die” absurdity. Adapt or die? No, Paul taught and preached what the people needed to here because “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
    Galatians 1:8-10

  26. Pastor Tim Rossow :
    Also please comment on this: does leading the synod to a point where we are shrinking the number of missionaries and facing a financial crisis the result of this philosophy of adapt or die?
    TR

    Tim — I think you have your facts wrong. I just recently listened to a video from Tom Zehnder, the head of LCMS World Missions. I’ve read his reports. Tom Zehnder says that we’ve sent 42 full time missionaries into the field in the last three years. Does that sound like a shrinking number of missionaries to you?

    I’m sorry you won’t be able to count on me for a nimble response time this week. I am in Guatemala doing an eyeglass clinic with 11 other volunteers in Gualan and won’t be back until Sunday. I may or may not have internet access — just staying in a place tonight that has it.

    Despite all of the talk about the failings of the past few years, it seems to me that we are building more bright spots expressing our unity in the Word of God and His Sacraments, our mission fervor for reaching the world with the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, and the willingness of men and women to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel is only increasing. We should be thanking God for His bold, extravegant love in the Savior and building up one another — and getting our facts straight.

    Peace! Chuck

  27. Chuck,

    Thanks for the response and questions.

    I have this bad habit of thinking that “missionary” means and ordained person preaching the Gospel and adminstering the sacraments. Mr. Zehnder is refering to any breathing human being who can raise enough money to get sent overseas. We support a deaconess intern who teaches English as a Second Language classes and she is counted as a missionary. I would take exception to that on two counts. One: SHE IS AN INTERN and two she is not preaching the Gospel nor administering the sacraments.

    So, by definition and use of normal, traditional English, we have not sent 42 new missionaries into the field. (Please note, the use of the word “new.” To qualify as growth these ought to be new missionaries in addition to the existing missionaries.) By the quirky new use of “missional” language (“missional” by the way is not a word but is the darling semantics of LCMS world missions) Deaconess interns teaching ESL are missionaries.

    The way in which the statistics have been kept and the langauge has been changed makes it impossible for you to contradict my post with information from LCMS World Missions.

    TR

  28. Chuck Mueller :
    Tom Zehnder says that we’ve sent 42 full time missionaries into the field in the last three years. Does that sound like a shrinking number of missionaries to you?

    Well, let’s see… 42 in the last 3 years. Does that mean 42 different people in the field for the last 36 months, or 14 people on 12 month stints each year for the last 3 years, so 42 different people but only 14 in field at any given time?

    Aside from the syntactical gymnastics with those numbers – shrinking/growing requires two points in time to compare.

    Back in 1972 (and I use that year because that is the “magical” year used by BRTF for the baseline on unrestricted contributions) when unrestricted contributions to the Synod were around $12million (equivalent in buying power to Synod’s current budget of $87million), the Synod had 128 called pastors serving in the mission field. Spending the same amount of money on all of its projects, the Synod is (granting, arguendo, that Pr. Mueller’s numbers are accurate and describing those who grow the church the way the Lord describes in the Great Commission (i.e. Word and Sacrament)) supporting 42 missionaries.

    So, is 42 more or less than 128? Growing or shrinking?

    Pastor Rossow’s statement that the number of missionaries is shrinking seems to be accurate – and it is not because of a supposed financial crunch – again, the current $87million budget has the equivalent buying power of the $12+ million they had then. The difference is the priorities that have been set by the administration(s) (this is a problem that has been a long time in coming, so I refuse to lay it entirely in the lap of a single administration).

  29. @Chuck Mueller #28
    Pr Mueller – I am curious to know how do the 42 full-time missionaries sent in to the field over the past 3 years compare to the missionaries we had in the field in past years? To answer your bolded question:

    “Does that sound like a shrinking number of missionaries to you?”

    I don’t know, as you provide no point of reference/comparison to the number of missionaries in years past it makes it very difficult to answer the question. Statements like this are really not very helpful without a historic perspective and they seem to be trying to divert attention from the painful truth of recent years.

    Likewise, (and here I am working from a knowledge of your connection with/support for Jesus First, and your apparent support of Church Growth methodologies) what is the evidence and how do you quantify (CGers love numbers don’t they?) the “bright spots expressing our unity in the Word of God and His Sacraments, our mission fervor for reaching the world with the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, and the willingness of men and women to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel is only increasing.”

    Personally, I really do not see evidence of unity in the Word of God and His Sacraments, but maybe you are better informed than I.

  30. So I guess now “everyone a missionary”, is the in thing. It is sad that one must “glamorizes” with new phrases and titles on what God has already placed His stamp of approval.
    To aid those in times of need, or in time of want, to teach English to those who want to learn, to help a person dig a well, to help plant food, to help take care of livestock, to help a person whose car has broken down, to help a elderly person cross a street, and the likes as these. is just as Paul stated, “love your neighbor as yourself” in Gal. 5. To do acts of mercy (through love serve one another) is not being a missionary, but a Christian to which Christ has freed us to be (having a good conscience towards God). So by some people’s definition a wife who let’s her adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is precious [1 Peter 3] is a missionary.
    It is sad when one must “glamorize” to get people to do this or to make it sound more important. [FC. SD, IV.38] In believers good works are signs of salvation when they are done from true causes and for true ends. That is, in the sense in which God requires them of the regenerate. It is God’s will and clear command that believers should do good works. The Holy Spirit works this in believers, and God is pleased with good works for Christ’s sake. he promises a glorious reward for good works in this life and the life to come.
    It is with certainty that one can through love serve one another and it is pleasing to God, for God Himself said so. Therefore we need not and ought not glamorize as many do.

  31. New missionaries? When I was growing up, my confirmation class was never asked to do a ‘servant project.’ Today, from what I hear, such is quite popular in many of our churches. Feeding the hungry with food is a good thing, and is necessary, especially at this tough economic time. Helping those in need with building and other such projects is admirable, and no doubt appreciated. I should know, for we have no children, hence our workforce is husband and wife, to the best of our abilities. Additional help is appreciated from brothers and sisters in Christ.

    But when people are sent out to help with such things, and linguistic training, with know training in sharing the Good News of salvation with a lost and dying world, this can hardly qualify as ‘missionary activity.’ If all of us have a missionary field in our backyard, then why are we not being trained as pastors in Confessional doctrine, so we can all rightly divide God’s Word, and rightly apply it and teach it. I have had more training in sharing the Gospel from the Lutheran Hour ministries than from my congregation’s Director of Christian Outreach (DCO), and he was educated in our LCMS school system.

    For accurate acessments, we cannot be comparing apples to oranges. Let’s not change our language to try to make statistics seem more impressive than they really are. Chuck M. said, “We should be thanking God for His bold, extravegant love in the Savior and building up one another — and getting our facts straight.” I think that last part should apply to himself as well, and owning up to his own errors of judgement and interpretation.

  32. Correction:

    But when people are sent out to help with such things, and linguistic training, without training in sharing the Good News of salvation with a lost and dying world, this can hardly qualify as ‘missionary activity.’

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