Great Stuff Found on the Web — Brian Yamabe on LCMS official services from the LSB

Rev Fisk has once again generated an excellent video. This one shows a problem with Worship services in the LCMS and other churches which led Brian Yamabe to write this overture. Brian would like to see it “bubble up” as an idea from the grassroots and hopes that many would submit it to their circuit convocations, districts and to synod.

Watch the video, then read what Brian has to say below.



One comment came in from a high schooler that is interesting to read:

This is terrible. As a senior, I see this narcissistic paganism in my own “Lutheran” highschool.  Its so terrible when all kids like me need to hear is that, “yeah you have messed up. worse yet you’ve incurred God’s wrath. But Christ took bore that wrath for you in his own person. Your sins are forgiven and you are righteous. Go in peace.” The last thing sinful high schoolers need to hear is that their emotions, decisions, and “being on fire for Jesus” is what makes one right with God.

Pastor Fisk replied:

Thanks for the comment, and thank you for the honesty. I’m always amazed when I talk to youth, how many of them see through the charade. If only we could convince the adults…..



Now, from Brian Yamabe on his blog


Overture to Floor Committee on Theology and Church Relations

I’ve seen enough oddball services held at various LCMS gatherings. Many people have been offended by these cooked up orders of service. Sure some are offended as a matter of personal preference, but some truly take theological issue with the services. As we all know there is no order of service commanded in Holy Scripture, but it is quite clear from them and our confessions that worship should be orderly and peaceful. To that end I am going to submit the following overture to my district and the national conventions; You know “bubbling up from the grassroots” and all. If you have any suggestions to strengthen the wording, please feel free to leave a comment. I know we’ve go a couple of years, but this kind of stuff will drift out of my mind by then if I don’t put it down now.



To Use Lutheran Service Book at Services During Official District and National Gatherings

WHEREAS, God, in His 3rd Commandment, places an expectation upon us to worship Him; and

WHEREAS, God calls us to the Divine Service such that He might distribute His gifts to us; and

WHEREAS, AC XXVIII.55 states, “… that all things be done in the churches in order, and without confusion”; and

WHEREAS, Article III.7 of the Constitution states, “Encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice, but also to develop an appreciation of a variety of responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith;”

WHEREAS, 1998 Resolution 2-12 commissioned a new hymnal to be produced, 2004 Resolution 2-03A approved Lutheran Service Book, and 2007 Resolution 2-03A thanked the Commission on Worship for its work on Lutheran Service Book; and

WHEREAS, Nearly 70 percent of all LCMS congregations have adopted Lutheran Service Book (2010 Convention Workbook pg. 46); therefore; be it

RESOLVED, That for the sake of “love and tranquility” (AC XXVIII.55) all services during official District and Synodical gatherings use an order of service out of and as it is outlined in Lutheran Service Book.


Be sure to follow more of Brian Yamabe’s writings here.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at


Great Stuff Found on the Web — Brian Yamabe on LCMS official services from the LSB — 20 Comments

  1. Fisk,

    You are in the zone man. Great video!


    That is an excellent overture, spoken in love. President Elect Harrison may not have the authority to change the worship in a given parish but he will have the ability to set the worship for the LCMS convention. That will go a long way to fulfilling the goal of your overture. And in the long run, his gentle but firm leadership will lead more and more parishes to forsake the culturally determined worship style they have chosen and return to worship that is more in keeping with the Lutheran Confessions.

    With young leaders like you two, there is great hope for the LCMS!


  2. Outstanding video presentation, Pastor Fisk! I will show this to our Elders.


    Pastor Poulos

  3. I’m sorry I watched the video right before lunch. The “so-called soul food” served at the Youth Gathering has spoiled my appetite for physical food. Thank God, I can be refreshed at the Lord’s Table tomorrow and get the sour taste out of my mouth and mind.

    Is there a video of the Higher Things Conference that I can view to counteract the footage from the Purple Palace Productions?

  4. If you give us HT video back it up with HT music, please!
    It is worth hearing!

    I sent Brian’s link and Rev Fisk’s to my college/seminarian grandchildren.
    They are the upcoming “church” and whether it will be more (or less) Lutheran (or even Christian) will have to be dealt with by their generation, too.

    I hope they will take an interest earlier than mine did!
    Sad to say, we took too much for granted, too long.

  5. WOW!….I saw the drum circle, but did not participate or look at the signs posted. It’s scary that those were allowed!

    “I see this narcissistic paganism in my own “Lutheran” highschool.” Sadly, this is the status quo in most “Lutheran” high schools.

    BUT, as for the bands and speakers, thankfully, they were not present at Divine Service. (at least in the manner they participated in the mass events)

  6. Am I seeing/hearing that the LCMS Youth Gathering employed a drum circle? I don’t recall seeing that particular service in LSB.

    Scarier than I had imagined.


  7. About six years ago, one of my high schoolers came up to me after attending an LCMS National Youth Gathering and said, “Pastor, I just wanted to sing a hymn, just one hymn, and we didn’t even do that; do we have to go back?”

    We have been to the last three Higher Things conferences… thanks be to God!

  8. In my first years of pastoral ministry I was a regular subscriber to Youth magazine and would read everything Yaconelli/Rice would write, and Catechism was something one had to teach in confirmation classes. The disconnect was complete. I have since repented. And since then it seems that the 60s/post-Enlightenment captivity of the Church has not been broken. This is sad. Truly our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities in the heavenly places: Prayer and Liturgy, the Word of God. I not only thank Rev. Fisk for the video and Brian for his recommendation but add to both the Amen!

  9. This stuff sounds very like what I heard in my LCMS high school, too. I wonder if that commenter and I were going to the same school? The “moralistic therapeutic deism” that was being preached (emphasis on the moralism) nearly pushed me into atheism.

    I had a hard time most of my freshman year putting my finger on what the problem was with what was being taught at my school. At first, I would go and talk to the chaplain, who was also my religion class teacher, whenever I heard false doctrine being taught in chapel- almost inevitably the speakers would talk about how they were not really a Christian until they made a decision for Jesus, and sometimes there were other issues. He would congratulate me on being able to spot that, and say that I was right, and then say he didn’t really have any control over what the speakers said in front of the chapel. But there was never any rebuttal of anything they said or any improvement in screening them. I’m ashamed now of how very quickly I gave up on doing that- I should have persisted, but it’s difficult enough to speak up at all when you’re 14 and very self-conscious.

    However, even when there was not blatant stuff like that, something felt very wrong. I could tell that the contemporary music was shallower than hymnody, but most of what they were saying was, well. . . right. We SHOULD love God with all of our hearts, and we SHOULD seek to follow His will! And we should love our neighbors, too! Can’t deny that by any stretch of the imagination.

    It wasn’t until we sang a song that only mentioned God a grand total of once but had an annoying number of first-person pronouns that I finally got it. Everything was about what *we* do, and Jesus was hardly being mentioned at all! This was near the end of the school year, and I finally went to go and talk to the school chaplain about it again. He listened, and then did pretty much the same thing he had been doing all along- gave me props, but did not show tons of concern about what was going on in chapel.

    Shortly after was the senior chapel, where a group of graduating students put on a skit. In the skit, the main characters would give in to doing drugs, having sex, looking at porn, and one other thing I forgot. After each little scene they would then walk over to “Jesus” and pound a nail into his hand or foot. I remember being ANGRY watching that. How dare they use the cross that way? Don’t they realize they’re making it toxic to the students that are listening? But the thing is, I’m sure that they didn’t. This was the kind of thing they had heard their whole lives, and it was the only Christianity that they knew. They couldn’t have fed the rest of us anything else.

  10. As a father of 14 and 11 year old daughters, this just cemented my decision to never send them to an LCMS Youth Gathering… anywhere. I don’t know if I’ll even send them outside our congregation, if this is what they are being fed by our Synod.


  11. Ok then a question…

    What is good resource for Law and Gospel (and the differences therein) for my 9 and 12 year old.

    I got a copy of the new translation of Walther’s lectures at the convention, but I think it is a bit beyond my kids.

    Open to suggestions.



  12. I find in “youth ministry” philosophy (theology?) a self-contradiction, but find myself unable to accurately articulate it. Perhaps the readers of BJS can help.

    1) The individual youth is told time and time again that he is a powerful human being (because of faith or something to that effect) and his simple, decisive acts of faithfulness have the power to change the world. Thus it is taught that one individual is a powerful change agent for God. This emphasizes the *quality* of the individual.

    2) Teachers of youth act as though *quantity* and not quality are the the main criteria for success in their indeavor. So, instead of investing heavily in a small number of potential young change agents, they seek to appeal to the masses. The result is that the youth are not trained up, mentored, or taught. They are left twisting in the wind.

    The combination of these insures that none of the thousands of youth that are involved in typical youth ministry will achieve the lofty positions imagined for them.


  13. I went to the National Youth Gathering youth gathering in 2001 and I can honestly say that I don’t remember hardly anything about it.

    Sure, I remember who I went with. I remember that our Youth Leader was dying of cancer. I remember walking 2 miles to the stadium in 900 degree heat. I remember the thousands of kids. I remember our purple backpacks. I remember the concerts and one of my friend Andy’s dad taking me to Preservation Hall to see some amazing Jazz music. I remember staying up late in the hotel playing card games with the people in the next room over.

    But what I don’t remember is anything of theological substance. Was there anything there? Possibly. Hopefully. Maybe. I just don’t remember any of it. It could be that I was but a 17 year old lad more focused on fun and friendship. Or could it be that my 253 year old synod is more focused on fun and friendship?

  14. @Zent

    The high school I was referring to in my comment is Lutheran High North in Houston, TX. Its just ridiculous the damned foolishness that goes on. My two closest friends were both liberal and agnostic due to the legalism and evangelicalism that pervades Lutheran schools. Thankfully they have been made alive in Christ through the Word and the Spirit and will be confirmed at Memorial Lutheran Church by the 5th VP elect, Scott Murray January of 2011.

  15. Paul :
    It could be that I was but a 17 year old lad more focused on fun and friendship. Or could it be that my 253 year old synod is more focused on fun and friendship?</p


  16. This isn’t just a problem with our youth. I went to a LCMS church a couple of weeks ago and the opening “song” was “You’re Worthy of My Praise” – from Marantha Praise, Inc. All “I”s – no Jesus, no God, one reference to “King.” Nice that God earned our praise…somehow. There is plenty of work to be done in the LCMS.

  17. Of course, you’re over-reacting, Pastor Fisk. All that drum circle stuff is just a lot of fluff and fun with no theological significance. It gives the kids something fun to do — kind of like yoga. Just relax and don’t worry about any connections with Hinduism. All such things are what you make of them. You’re in control; they can’t control you.

    Why is it that “mass events” at YGs must be styled after low, i.e., rock, culture? Is it imperative that lighting, sound, and special effects mimic the atmosphere of a rock concert? Is it possible that no one notices the disconnect between reverent worship and blasting speakers and light shows? Is there any sense that such events could instead serve as exemplars of the best of historic Lutheran, i.e., catholic / Christian, worship practice? Are planners not aware that mass events intended to stir up emotions are historically associated with all kinds of mischief and are unlikely to provide or cultivate spiritual sustenance and growth? That is not to judge the planners’ intentions or to say that the youth attending will come home with Pentecostal proclivities, but only to suggest that there just might be more salutary ways to use the time of 20 thousand + young Lutherans.

    Since much more takes place at YGs, these comments are not intended to place a negative pall over the whole event. No doubt many good things happened in community service, smaller group gatherings, individual relationships, etc., but surely the expense and spectacle of the mass events, including worship, are open to much improvement.

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