Another Reason for Optimism – Unintended Consequences from the Structure Votes, by Martin Noland

Another reason for optimism is that much of the Blue Ribbon Task Force was REALLY occasioned by the growth of district bureaucracy, i.e., full-time district presidents, executives, and their staff. And the regionalizing resolutions will help stop that and put the districts “out of their misery”!

The regional vice-president proposal, although poorly conceived, is actually a two-step process to eliminate the district offices. When the process is done, we will only have five full-time regional presidents, with some staff, throughout the US. All the present district presidents, executives, and staff will be looking for full-time jobs. The district president position will either be staffed by a retiree, or by an unpaid volunteer. This will free up lots of district funds, that will then flow to the national office coffers. This will solve the national office financial crunch, eventually, maybe, at least that is the hope.

What I am surprised, though, is how all the district presidents are on board with this regional restructuring. Don’t they realize they are watching while their own ships are scuttled? Do they think they will be spared, because the President is their friend? How many of his “friends” has he abandoned? These District Presidents will join the list of “hard luck cases.” You need to shake their hands, if you are a delegate, and thank them for their service, because you won’t see them at the next synodical convention, at least not on the district’s expense account.

So if the delegates vote in favor of “regionalization,” all the conservative complaints about “district bureacracy” may finally be heeded! That is the upside on that one!

Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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.


Another Reason for Optimism – Unintended Consequences from the Structure Votes, by Martin Noland — 27 Comments

  1. As I said, in #86 (can we imagine?) of Desire for Change Apparent…

    You are, as always, a balm here. Thank you.


  2. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
    Matthew 28: 19 – 20

    Saved BY grace… THROUGH faith… FOR good works.

    Regardless of the outcome of the convention, Christ will still be seated at the right hand of the Father… we will still be covered in grace… and the millions IN AMERICA AND BEYOND who don’t know the good news of salvation will still need to hear the word more than ever.

    Please don’t lose focus of that in all of this…

  3. OTOH,

    “The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised.” – George Will

  4. When over-spending, not lack of income, is the source of a financial crunch problem, an increase in income will never solve it.

  5. This does not make any sense. You are saying that the structuring proposals will end the practice of paid/full-time district presidents? How soon until these measures are put in place?

  6. Thanks Dr. Noland for making this so CLEAR. Some are not and have not done their homework!

  7. My guess is that the regions will be added to the existing structure without eliminating the districts.
    The regions are too large to do what the districts do.

  8. I’ve often thought that the district level rather than the national synod level is where the sticky wicket is located. Synod president does not directly oversee pastors or parishes.

  9. I am amazed at how quickly these sweeping changes have been passed with what seems to me to be so little debate and so much confusion. I want to know what impact all of this change will have on my home congregation and on the seminaries that supply our pastors. I don’t feel personally affected, yet, other than the sadness I feel for my pastor who has faithfully served in this synod for many years. I am also saddened as I watch the Divine Service and devotions and see how much of the synod has been transformed into a contemporary charismatic good time rock ‘n’ roll version of the Lutheran Church I grew up in. I have apparently led a very sheltered life in the LCMS as I had no idea this kind of worship was so prevalent in the LCMS and I have never heard the singing of so many flat notes in my life.

  10. I wonder what English and SELC folks think. Off to see if Redeemer Ft. Wayne is saying anything.

  11. Depressed Delegate @ 5: We haven’t always agreed but “Carl Vehse” is my kind of guy.

    It’s good to see we have something in common: I haven’t always agreed with Carl Vehse either.

  12. I believe the DPs have been silent because they are “made” men. They belong to the SP, and as long as the SP is pulling their chains, they will either speak the “Synod’s Word” or be obediently silent. To say that I am disheartened is a gross (no offense Jeff)understatement.

  13. @Richard Lewer #10
    My guess is that the regions will be added to the existing structure without eliminating the districts. The regions are too large to do what the districts do.

    I will be very surprised if DP’s are eliminated. And I suspect they will be, too!

  14. What does Mr “Kebas” think about all of this? He’s been rather silent as of late.

    Are you out there?



  15. In order for a corporation to survive it must go where the money is and adapt to the amount of cash it can procure. Thus Synod, Inc. has been forced to take over LCMS WR &HC and the districts. It is simply a matter of survival for the corporation. It will be interesting to see how long the benefactors of LMCS, Inc., our Lord and His Church, will allow the company to survive.

  16. @Henry Bimpage #18

    > Thus Synod, Inc. has been forced to take over LCMS WR &HC and the districts. It is simply a matter of survival for the corporation.

    This seems very astute on your part. The intra-corp debt from general fund to WR/HC and other funds is now gone, right?

    But like selling out 62-year-old KFUO-FM to non-denoms, it’s a one-time bump. Then what?

    And those who gave to the respective ministries (FM, WR/HC) are now hurt and offended.

    Do they really think that people who designated money for WR/HC are now going to maintain and increase their giving?

    I believe they do think that, because they are looking at numbers, like business people and bean counters. Similarly, I think they are counting on real Lutherans to keep doing all the unenumerable good works produced by the Holy Spirit through His pure Word. But it doesn’t work that way.

    The parasite is in serious danger of killing the host, or at least driving it off.

  17. Watching the convention progress has been an intersting experience. I liken it to volleyball. On one side of the court are those that are more liberal and hell bent on change at all costs, then the other side being more bent on preserving the Synod as was handed to them by the previous generation. Those hell bent on change know how to play the game; just when deep and passionate debate begins, someone calls the question, kieschnick sighs relief and the axe is driven further down the solid piece of wood that once was lcms, splitting it even further. 51 to 49, roughly was the outcome of 8-08a. Sad day for lcms to be sure, but as one pastor told me, at least we are still orthodox on paper for the time being.


    ps, pr rossow i will try to find u in the morning.

  18. What was this “can’t find a PRO” thing going on today, while CONS are waiting to speak?

  19. I must have missed something, because I have not seen anything suggesting that restructuring is going to be abolishing the districts.

  20. Dear BJS bloggers,

    Some folks have misunderstood me. I was not saying that “districts” were going to be abolished. “Districts” means a geographical grouping of LCMS congregations. We will always have “districts.”

    What Resolution 8-07 proposes to change is the function, number and configuration of districts. And this will affect the number and size and personnel at “district offices.” Here is the original proposal in “The Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force,” page 25:

    “a special task force to . . .submit to the next Synod convention a recommendation with respect to function, number, and configuration of districts, including the impact on funding the national Synod. . . . The recommendations should include a transition plan for any property and personnel changes.” With much more verbiage, this is the essence of Resolution 8-07.

    If you read this in the context of “Report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission” (July 2006), especially page 20; and the “Response of the President of the Synod” to the BRTFSSG (Dec 2009), especially pages 4 & 6; you will see that the effect of Resolution 8-07 is to downsize the “fiscal footprint” of the district offices on the revenue stream that goes from congregations to national offices.

    If nothing else, the phrase “any property and personnel changes” clearly targets the “district offices” for downsizing, one way or another.

    No district office will be exempt from this scrutiny and potential for downsizing. I said it is a two-step process, because this convention, if it passes 8-07, will authorize the task force to propose a plan for downsizing, and then that plan will go to the 2013 convention for implementation.

    The regional vice-presidents and staff will replace some of the functions of current district presidents and staff, and this will, I suspect, eventually move in the direction of the Region-Synod structure found in the ELCA.

    Other things you need to read are Overture 8-51, which the Floor Committee brought into the Task Force proposal, about the merger of Districts; and the previous discussion of the Task Force on this topic (e.g., DVD Presentation to Theological Convocation, August 20, 2008, section 14 and slide 15B).

    Sorry, if I was not entirely clear in my discussion of these matters.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  21. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    I have been looking for documentation which said or implied that regional staff would eventually replace district staff. I can’t find much, so maybe that was an early “trial balloon” of the Blue Ribbon Task Force. What I found was Pres. Stoterau’s talk about “pooling of resources for more efficient networking and administration” (DVD Presentation to Theological Convocation, Aug 2008, page 5). But I am sure that I saw the same idea in the documents specifically talking about the pooling of personnel resources between district offices in a region.

    So there is some confusion there, at least in my mind. Is the pooling of resources that Stoterau talked about a “regional” thing (i.e., between two or three neighboring districts) or a “regional” thing (i.e., based on the new “regionalization”)? I can’t find an answer for that. It doesn’t matter at this point, as I see that the convention adopted 8-07, and the whole issue will now rest with the Special Task Force anyway.

    My main point, which should not be forgotten, is that the “district offices” will be downsized, in one way or another.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

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.