WMLT — Life Together and the Koinonia Project

Found on the Witness, Mercy, Life Together blog:

 


 

You already know that Witness, Mercy, and Life Together describe what we, as the Body of Christ, do for the sake of the world. Each of the three depends on the other two. If our witness is separated from works of mercy, both are truncated. When we live together in the fellowship of the Gospel, our witness and mercy are strengthened.

That’s why we are using the Greek word “koinonia” or “fellowship” in Christ to talk about Life Together. Informally, as part of the restructuring of the Synod’s work, we have referred to the new Office of National Mission as the “Life Together” unit. This is the place where a number of the important support efforts of the Synod are grouped together – youth, schools, stewardship, support for district and congregational outreach, and more. These efforts all seek to enhance our Life Together, though all of them are also permeated with Witness and Mercy as well. Again, the three cannot be separated.

On August 1, 2011 (he actually began July 1), the Reverend J. Bart Day was installed as the head of the Office of National Mission. He has “hit the ground running” and is already bringing blessing to the National Mission team. However, response to the publicity regarding his installation has revealed a bit of confusion on the part of some. Because the Office of National Mission includes many of the efforts that support our “koinonia” or “Life Together” some have thought that Bart Day was actually installed as the head of our “Koinonia Project.” This is understandable because both are using the same Greek term because both have to do with our fellowship in Christ.

But there is a distinction. The Office of National Mission (informally our “Life Together” unit) has a very broad focus, including many areas of our work. The “Koinonia Project,” however, is the term we have coined for a narrowly focused effort by the Office of the President to organize theological study to work toward greater harmony under the Word of God. Certainly the “Koinonia Project” is part of our efforts to strength our life together, but it is a special project separate from the work to which Bart Day has been called.

Regarding the “Koinonia Project,” as I write this, my wife is driving me towards Chicago for a meeting with the leadership of the Northern Illinois District. Northern Illinois is seeking to develop several pilot groups to begin theological discussion. I will also be making trips in the near future to Kansas, to South Wisconsin, and other places to talk about the project. Please pray for this effort and check out the Koinonia Project concept paper on www.lcms.org.

+ Herbert Mueller
First Vice President

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, LCMSsermons.com, 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 KNFA.net.

Comments

WMLT — Life Together and the Koinonia Project — 61 Comments

  1. John Rixe :
    @Wallenstein #44
    “Where is the good news?”
    The good news is the outstanding work and and workers at the local LCMS congregations and schools.  This is where the joyful action is.  What is discussed on BJS seems completely alien to my experience in the LCMS.

    Let’s just say I still don’t understand the purpose of the Districts. If a local congregation donates the required 10% to “missions,” then how come the District gets to skim 8% and then forward only 2% to headquarters. What is the purpose of the District, and why are there so many. Do other denominations have them or need them? At least be honest and tell us that the money given to Synod is not “missions” money. That’s all.

    YES! I am (for the most part) happy with my local congregation. LCMS grade schools need to be planted everywhere! This is where missions really begin…when the kids are young!

  2. Rev. Paul T. McCain :
    And further evidence of the problems BJS is having in the comment section on most of its post…

    If you don’t like what is being said here, then why are you spend your time to read and post? I would assume that you must other have things to keep you engaged in more of a positive way.

  3. Walter Troeger: I know it bothers people like you when the failings of the conservative wing of the The LCMS are discussed. There is this odd reality among some in the Missouri Synod, that “anything goes” as long as you can wrap yourself in the flag of being a “confessional Lutheran.”

    And we have seen a thankfully few people on this forum drag down every conversation.

    I am convinced, in fact, I know, that the intention of BJS is better than the comments often seen here.

  4. @Wallenstein #51
    Let’s just say I still don’t understand the purpose of the Districts. If a local congregation donates the required 10% to “missions,” then how come the District gets to skim 8% and then forward only 2% to headquarters.

    I think before the DP’s got CEO ideas (and were also Pastors instead of fulltime bureaucrats), the ratio may have been the other way round, as it should be. A gentle suggestion was included in the May Witness, in the form of an envelope which could be used to send contributions directly to Synod.
    I believe our stewardship board is using that idea, also money is sent directly to some missionaries, at home and abroad, to some RSO’s and to some local projects deemed worthy by us. The district gets a share, but it’s reduced. If enough churches thought the same way, district would be obliged to consider its necessary activities and shed some of the trappings of minor royalty.

  5. @helen #55
    Telling the faithful pewsitters that the required 10% of the offering money is reserved for “missions” when 8% of it actually goes to the District is FRAUD.

  6. @Rev. Paul T. McCain #54
    Would Pastor Harrison please rein in Editor McCain. He is making a lot of enemies here and over on ALPB. This onetime Pastor does not reflect well on the public image of CPH. The LCMS pays him handsomely to blog all day. HE is yet another reason why I refuse to give a penny to District or Synod.

    The “Willow Creek Lutherans” shun CPH materials in favor of Willow Creek (Duh!). “Confessional” Lutherans are your biggest customers, and you spend hours insulting them on various blogs. How pastoral is that? Way to alienate your customer base, Editor McCain.

  7. @Wallenstein #56
    @helen #55
    Telling the faithful pewsitters that the required 10% of the offering money is reserved for “missions” when 8% of it actually goes to the District is FRAUD.

    It would be, if the pewsitters were told that.
    [Districts do some things which might be construed as “mission” depending on your POV.]

    In our congregation, anyone who takes the trouble to attend Voters’ can participate in the decision to allocate money to District or anyone else. A committee makes a recommendation, (but I think District’s portion was revised downward for the next year). If you don’t attend, you still get a copy of the minutes.
    Attendance is made pretty painless, in that Voters’ takes place at noon, and our youth serve a lunch first (earning their way to the next HT) 🙂

    Perhaps I should also say that anyone who wants to make a “special gift” to any of the congregation’s needs, or to District, can do that. “Special gifts” are used only for the purpose designated. Obviously the church couldn’t run if they were the majority of giving, but they are intended to be over and above one’s regular support.

  8. @Wallenstein #57
    Would Pastor Harrison please rein in Editor McCain.

    PTM has an employer, the head of CPH, who should do any necessary “reining in” if he feels the correspondence is detrimental to CPH.
    Pastor Harrison should not find it necessary to intervene.

    At one point, I belonged to a parish which was rather proud of “not giving anything to District” presumably because District was not supporting confessional Lutheranism. They omitted to mention that they did not give much to anything outside of their own needs. I was not too impressed when I found that out.

    So I fervently hope that “not giving to district or synod” is not an excuse for not giving!

    We have worthy RSO’s which are doing good work… Lutheran Heritage Foundation which translates and gives Lutheran materials to poorer churches around the world, is at the head of my list. The Marquart Fund, administered by people connected to/graduated from CTS, concentrates on theological education (and since the earthquake, material help) for Haiti. Issues, Etc.com (Lutheran Public Radio) and the Philadelphia Project which is putting a missionary in a large section of Philadelphia devoid of Lutheran presence are also worthy, IMO. [See worldvieweverlasting.com for information; Rev. Fisk coordinates this last one.]

  9. In #2 I asked a question to which I recently ran across a partial answer.

    File the descriptions in this excerpt about the Missouri Synod’s past Koinonia-potholes from Paul E. Kretzmann’s “A Short History of the Orthodox Lutheran Conference” under the category, “Déjà vu all over again”. It would be very interesting to pick the lock on the synodical basement door, look into the 1930s and 1940s ossariums, and match the bones and parchment details to synod leaders, pastors, and congregations in the states indicated in the excerpt:

    “All these developments had been noted and followed by a goodly number of old-style conservatives in the Missouri Synod, both among the clergy and the laity, women as well as men, and there was an increasing apprehension regarding the gravity of the situation. Men hoped that the liberals would withdraw and join their friends on the other side of the fence, and thus permit the conservatives to rally their forces against liberalism and unionism. Meanwhile, however, another aberration of the Missouri Synod and of some of its leading spokesmen was causing increasing concern.

    “For almost one hundred years the body had professed and, in a large degree practiced, a congregational polity, which made the individual congregation sovereign and autonomous, to all intents and purposes independent of the synodical organization, subject only to the law of love.

    “Since early in the century, however, there had been a notable shift in emphasis. Individual visitors began to lord it over congregations, especially such as were not yet self-sustaining. They contended that synodical resolutions were binding upon all congregations. This situation was aggravated to a very large extent by the fact that Article VII of the Missouri Synod’s constitution was practically suspended by the adoption of several articles in the By-laws of the body, the claim being made that officials of Synod, including in particular visitors, were obligated to visit the congregations of their circuit and could demand admission to meetings of councils and of voters’ assemblies.

    “Moreover, the refusal of a pastor to sign the amended constitution was said to make such a pastor ineligible for office and subject to deposition by Synodical authorities. It is an historical fact that such depositions were actually engineered in Lansing and in Tinley Park, Illinois, in Plymouth, Nebraska, in Wilmot and in Corona, South Dakota, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and elsewhere. In Florida, those who were faithful to the former orthodox position of the Missouri Synod and opposed the increasing unionism of certain pastors were given no alternative but that of leaving the congregation.

    “Moreover, in certain cases where a majority of members stood by the conservatism of their pastor and tried to hold the church property, the legal department of the Missouri Synod did not hesitate to bring suit against the faithful members. The power of the civil courts was invoked in ousting pastors from their parsonages, in attempting to wrest church property from the rightful owners, and in other tyrannical acts.

    “In a few cases even the praesidium of the Missouri Synod was involved in such hierarchical activities. The situation finally reached the stage that certain officials of the Missouri Synod, not satisfied with sheep-stealing, tried to force their way into the property of congregations opposing them and brought court action to obtain such property.

    “By the late forties this was the situation.”

    [Excerpted paragraph broken into additional paragraphs for clarity]

  10. Wallenstein :@Rev. Paul T. McCain #54 Would Pastor Harrison please rein in Editor McCain. He is making a lot of enemies here and over on ALPB. This onetime Pastor does not reflect well on the public image of CPH. The LCMS pays him handsomely to blog all day. HE is yet another reason why I refuse to give a penny to District or Synod.
    The “Willow Creek Lutherans” shun CPH materials in favor of Willow Creek (Duh!). “Confessional” Lutherans are your biggest customers, and you spend hours insulting them on various blogs. How pastoral is that? Way to alienate your customer base, Editor McCain.

    Can I hear an Amen

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