Decreasing Missions in the LCMS, by Rev. Bryan L. Hopfensperger

Convention delegates recently received “Delegate Letter #10” from Jesus First. In the last paragraph of the article entitled “Kieschnick Has Earned Re-election” author David S. Luecke writes that “…a vote for someone other than Gerald Kieschnick is inevitably a vote for less mission in the Synod. The issue is as simple as that.” In 1971 the LC-MS counted 356 career missionaries overseas. Today we have a mere 29. Missionaries today are required to raise their own funds; whether when home on furlough or via sending out mass-appeals from the mission field. It could be said that this is a sad result due to the significant drop in the dollars being remitted to the Synodical coffers by member congregations. Might it not be said that the increasing bureaucracy (and related salaries) could partly be to blame? Might it not be said that the exorbitant amounts of funds being misdirected to unnecessary programs, movements, etc. could be partly to blame?

The number of missionaries, though, is somewhat of a ball-and-cup game. It seems that every man, woman, and child in the overseas mission field (no matter what their function) is considered a missionary. College students eager to take a trip to see the world are considered missionaries. Financial gurus staffed at overseas mission stations are considered missionaries. With this rationale, it can be touted that the number of missionaries has increased significantly! Isn’t the mission of the Church always Word and Sacrament ministry through the Office of the Holy Ministry? Isn’t this what the Lutheran Confessions state in Articles 4 and 5 of the Augsburg Confession…

[Art. 4] Also they teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight. Rom. 3; Rom. 4.


[Art. 5] That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ’s sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ’s sake.

Luecke’s comment that “…a vote for someone other than Gerald Kieschnick is inevitably a vote for less mission in the Synod” certainly pulls at the heart. But even a mere scratch of the surface shows that Pres. Kieschnick’s tenure has not done much to support the mission of the Church either.

Rev. B.L. Hopfensperger
St. John & Trinity Lutheran Churches
Washburn, IL 61570

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