Transforming Congregations Network seeks $200K

One of the many frustrations confessional Lutherans had in recent years was the bizarre official synodical support shown for programs that could hardly be described as Lutheran. One of these was the Transforming Congregations Network. You can read about some of their less-than-Lutheran practices here and here. Actually, what you should do to get up to speed is read this great introduction to the program here. The next eight entries by the tireless Scott Diekman can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Okay, so the program received some serious funding from your offering dollars. You want to give generously to your synod so that it can help send forth missionaries, train pastors and teachers, and uphold our doctrines. When it’s taking that money and spending lots of it on non-Lutheran church growth schemes, that’s frustrating. Particularly when the economy is in dire straits and church, district and synodical budgets are strained.

So I was very interested to receive this fundraising letter from TCN. Dr. Terry Tieman begins by saying that it’s the best of times — and includes some anecdotes about how people are motivated by their feelings regarding the Holy Spirit (and various other nonLutheran language) — and then he writes:

And yet, it is also “the worst of times.” The reason for this is very simple. “On October 29, the LCMS Office of the President announced that…as a result of financial issues and the Synod-mandated restructuring of ministries,” the North America Missions Department would be closed, effective December 1, 2010.1 Since we have been funded through this department, unless something changes, it appears that this action will result in a loss of $200,000 a year in funding to TCN.

I can only say that I hope that the Board of Directors and other governing entities would be making sure that our limited missions funds are not going to places like TCN. It wouldn’t even be acceptable if we were flush with cash. But we’re not. We need to be making wise, prudent financial decisions that support Lutheran efforts and doctrine.

Full letter after the jump.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

No doubt you recognize this famous quote from A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. It describes life in 1775 England and France. I would suggest that it also describes life in 2010 America. More specifically, it describes the ministry of TCN (Transforming Churches Network).

“It is the best of times!” When it comes to the revitalization of churches through the TCN process, times have never been better. Just consider the following stats:

* 420 churches in our network
* 206 consultations conducted
* 63 Learning Communities
* 30 Partner Districts

The reason that this is such good news is that most of these churches were among the 80% of LCMS churches that were previously plateaued or declining in worship attendance. Now, according to a recent study conducted for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, many of these churches are vital, growing, outwardly focused congregations. In fact, 46 churches that responded in the study, reported an average growth in worship attendance of 12% over a two-year period. There were also significant increases in conversion growth, offerings, new leaders, small groups, and outreach to the community.

Even more importantly, TCN churches report a change in attitude toward the unreached and unsaved. Listen to this quote from a brand new member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Columbia, TN:

“I remember the feeling of the Holy Spirit coming over me [that] this was exactly where I was supposed to be. I have been attending regularly since then and my life has seen so many positive changes since that day. I know Alyssa didn’t ask me to come to church with her that Sunday because she felt that I needed God in my life, she did it because she just wanted to share something with me. But, I do believe God & the Holy Spirit worked through Alyssa because he knew the only way to get me back was through her. I will always be grateful for that.”

Or this quote from Pastor David Zachrich of Tallmadge Lutheran Church, Tallmadge, Ohio:

“The Lord, through His Spirit, has opened many new doors of opportunity for the congregation, and the congregation has pledged to be faithful and obedient in accepting the opportunities to witness for Christ.” (In the past year, Tallmadge has seen an increase of 28 people per week in worship attendance, 5 adult baptisms, and 13 confirmations!)

And yet, it is also “the worst of times.” The reason for this is very simple. “On October 29, the LCMS Office of the President announced that…as a result of financial issues and the Synod-mandated restructuring of ministries,” the North America Missions Department would be closed, effective December 1, 2010.1 Since we have been funded through this department, unless something changes, it appears that this action will result in a loss of $200,000 a year in funding to TCN.

Our mission is to help equip Districts and congregations across North America to reach their communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The tragedy, of course, is that as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior, there are millions of people who do not yet know the real meaning of Christmas. They may be our neighbors, our co-workers, or even our friends. With only 18 percent of the U.S. population attending church on a given week, the United States is now the third largest mission field in the world.

TCN is working to change all of that. As a Recognized Service Organization of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, TCN provides training and resources to empower churches to begin reaching their communities with the Gospel. TCN is able to provide these services to churches thanks to the efforts of individuals like you who believe in God’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations”.

This Christmas, I invite you to prayerfully consider how you can further support TCN as we work to impact the lives of those who do not yet know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Click here to give a gift to TCN, so that by God’s grace and power, we can help make this “the best of times” for someone who needs to know Christ!

Thank you for your support. Together, we can continue helping churches make a difference in their communities by spreading the love of Jesus Christ!

Your partner in the Gospel,

Rev. Dr. Terry Tieman
Executive Director,
Transforming Churches Network

“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!” (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV)

1As stated by Kurt Buchholz, Interim Executive Director of LCMS World Mission, in the December 2010 issue of Missionary to Missionary.

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