I hope you will take me up on this offer to complete the above sentence. I make this invitation not so much to instruct President Harrison, although he could do worse than paying attention to the amassed confessional wisdom of BJS readers. He is going to do what he deems best and overall there is no doubt his decisions will be a blessing for Lutheranism. Rather, I offer this question to help us all continue to fine tune our sense of what is best for the LCMS and to facilitate this important discussion amongst our BJS readers.
Pastor Wilken got us going with his post last week on honesty and patience. There was a lot of wisdom shared in the post and the comments and thought it might be good to continue that discussion. I will lead off. Feel free to comment on my thoughts or better yet complete the sentence with your own thoughts.
If I were President Harrison I would…
- Meditate daily and deeply on the Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions to stave off the flaming darts of the evil one.
- Teach the principles of authentic Lutheran doctrine and practice at every opportunity available to the president.
- Resist the temptation to think of the LCMS as two (or more) distinct factions and instead focus on what it means to be authentically Lutheran and use the formerly marginal but now (due to the Task Force changes) significant authority of the office of president to lead the synod by
- thinking like a Lutheran (Christ-centered/cross-focused, Law/Gospel, sinner/saint, two kingdoms, etc.)
- speaking like a Lutheran (preaching, teaching, publicity)
- acting like a Lutheran (piety, spirituality and worship)
- Work the Koinonia program as described in “It’s Time.”
- Surround myself with authentically Lutheran associates and confidants and fill all appointments with authentically Lutheran people. These are positions of influence and need to be recognized as such. You do not appoint folks who have fundamental differences with an authentically Lutheran position in the sprit of unity. (It took me twenty years to learn this. For instance, for years I foolishly promoted men as elders who were not fully developed and not entirely authentically Lutheran and expected that they would grow into that position. It just does not work that way.)
- Spend the first couple of years teaching about authentic Lutheranism and identifying non-Lutheran practices and piety and only after that, slowly and deliberately exercise supervision in beginning with extreme cases of unscriptural practice in the LCMS (e.g. open cases of unionistic worship) and over time extend the reach of supervision to more and more situations.
- Be personal and genuine. Do not take yourself too seriously.
What I am suggesting is a slow and steady approach that teaches first and then acts. I learned this in my first call. The congregation I was sent to did not use any translation except the KJV. One can do worse than that but the congregation was also missing out on the benefits of updated translations. Within the first year I taught a class on how the Bible came to us. At the end of that class “Clarence” the emeritus elder (yes, they had emeritus elders), a staunch supporter of reading only the KJV, slowly stood up and asked the greatest leading question I have ever heard in a Bible class: “Pastor, based on what we have learned in the last few weeks is there any reason we could not use some of these other fine translations?” I taught first and then let the elders and voters act. It doesn’t always work so well but it is certainly the evangelical approach to change and reform.
There are my thoughts. Let me know what you think ab out them or better yet submit your own list in the comment section below.