Tell the Good News About Jesus. Wyoming District being “missional”

Every year clergy and laity from Wyoming (and some from other districts as well) converge on Casper, Wyoming to hear speakers on topics of Evangelism.  Yes, confessionals from a confessional district learning about Evangelism.  This year I had the opportunity to attend the convocation, listen to the speakers, and even moderate some of the panel discussion.

This year’s speakers were:

Rev. Clint Poppe of Good Shepherd Lutheran in Lincoln, NE, chairman of the ACELC

Rev. Dr. Ron Garwood, President Emeritus of the Wyoming, Associate Pastor of Mount Hope Lutheran in Casper, WY, Board of Directors member for CTS, Fort Wayne.

Rev. Jeremy Mills of Epiphany Evangelical Lutheran Church of Westfield, IN

The speakers provided a good smattering of situations, from ages to styles of congregations that they serve, they really helped bring many good topics to the table.  Rev. Poppe provided some excellent theology for mission and in particular stressed that the Church is about the forgiveness of sins.  He also set up a good framework of using the Augsburg Confession articles I – VI for evangelism (that AC VI is where it fits, as a good work, but always must follow the teachings of the previous five).  Dr. Garwood provided some excellent practical tips for congregational efforts at evangelism, including suggestions at member assimilation and so forth.  Rev. Mills brought good thoughts to the table on taking good/discarding the bad in regards to modern “evangelism” efforts.  He has been exposed to many of the modern church planting techniques as his congregation is a church plant faithfully growing thanks to God’s blessing.  He was able to show some common problems with modern evangelism and church planting schemes.

During the banquet on Friday evening the group assembled gave thanks to God for the work of Rev. Phil Grovenstein, Rev. David Londenberg and also Delano and Linda Meyer in the country of Sierra Leone.  Many pastors from the Wyoming District go over to Sierra Leone and  teach there as a part of Project Education: Sierra Leone.  See the project’s website here; facebook page here.  That project also brings in pastors from Liberia as well and there are hopes to expand the project to that country as well.  The banquet was a fine way to show respect to those who came before and served tirelessly in a field that many would run from faster than Nineveh.

The worship was solidly liturgical and Lutheran, and many people gathered for Compline on Friday night with Rev. Marcus Zill accompanied by Dr. Steven Hoffman, the Kantor of King of Glory Lutheran in Cheyenne, WY.  Morning Prayer was also great, led by Rev. Paul Rosburg with preaching by Dr. Garwood.

For all of those who complain that confessionals are not interested in evangelism, this longstanding convocation debunks that myth.  Confessionals want people to meet the right Jesus and realize that our Lutheran beliefs will direct our Lutheran outreach.  It is all there, in our beliefs – no need to drink from other wells.

It was very nice to be at an evangelism conference where the only person snapping and telling of people going to hell was the guy demonstrating that as false teaching (thank you Rev. Poppe)!  It was also nice to attend one where the church and what happens in her walls was considered sacred time and space, rather than something to change in order to bring in the profanity of the world.  It was nice to see the Gospel being proclaimed to people in order to motivate them to good works rather than the deadly beating stick of the Law that so many evangelism teachers use.

 

 

About Pastor Joshua Scheer

Pastor Joshua Scheer is the Senior Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He is also the Editor-in-chief of Brothers of John the Steadfast. He oversees all of the work done by Steadfast Lutherans. He is a regular host of Concord Matters on KFUO. Pastor Scheer and his lovely wife Holly (who writes and manages the Katie Luther Sisters) have four children and enjoy living in Wyoming.

Comments

Tell the Good News About Jesus. Wyoming District being “missional” — 72 Comments

  1. It is true, brethren, as you well know, that in our day it is common for people to say, “Emphasizing doctrine so much only harms and hinders the kingdom of God, yes, even destroys it.” Many say, “Instead of disputing over doctrine so much, we should much rather be concerned with souls and with leading them to Christ.”  But all who speak in this way do not really know what they are saying or what they are doing. As foolish as it would be to scold a farmer for being concerned about sowing good seed and to demand of him simply to be concerned about a good harvest, so foolish it is to scold those who are concerned first and foremost with the doctrine, and to demand of them that they should rather seek to rescue souls. For just as the farmer who wants a good crop must first of all be concerned about good seed, so the church must above all be concerned about right doctrine if it would save souls.

    C. F. W. Walther
    “Our Common Task: The Saving of Souls” [1872]
    Essays for the Church [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992], Vol. I

  2. For all of those who complain that confessionals are not interested in evangelism, this longstanding convocation debunks that myth.

    ===

    (chuckle) Well, ok!

    As usual, painting with a broad brush leads to simplistic responses. Let’s examine the truth:

    #1: Recently some Confessionals have been bringing the doctrine of election into discussions on evangelism, which is ultimately unhelpful. Missionals (to use the standard Confessional vs

    Missional dichotomy, which is pretty false but give us ease of use) object to this.

    #2: Confessionals sometimes seem to think that lay people are excused from evangelism. So, we get statements like “Show me one scripture passage that tells lay people to evangelize” or “Lay people have vocation!”

    Missionals believe that the laity have a vocation of evangelist (which is promptly twisted by confessionals to mean that laity are pastors, which is not what is meant).

    #3: Confessionals think that there is only one way to do evangelism: the liturgy. What service do you have for inner city youth? Liturgy. What service do you have for rural aging population? Liturgy. What do you have for _______ (fill in blank)? Liturgy.

    Missionals tend to think that the worship service doesn’t only have to be done in one way in order to be Lutheran. And there is nothing wrong (it is not automatically a rejection of the Holy Spirit a la Church Growth — whatever Church Growth really means…) with shifting the service in order to reach a different context.

    #4: Confessionals speak about evangelism, but they use the term differently from missionals. By evangelism missionals mean “proclaiming the Gospel to the lost”. Confessionals mean “proclaiming the Gospel to the sinful.” It is true that the sinful need to hear the Gospel, no doubt — but the confessional points to the worship service as the ultimate evangelical event — the Gospel fully proclaimed to the sinner. True, but not necessarily to the lost.

    Missionals are focused on “How do we bring the Gospel to the lost?” (which according to some confessionals, doesn’t occur in the book of acts — see #1)

    #5: Confessionals seem to think that Missionals don’t care about doctrine. This is silly, as we are talking about the LCMS and we all care about doctrine — you can’t be in the LCMS and be ambivalent about doctrine.

    The distinction comes in thinking about what doctrine is. Confessionals like to play on the singularity of doctrine — there is only doctrine and not doctrine. This forces a position that sees every teaching as being equally important — so whether Mary remained a virgin after birth is on par with whether the Holy Spirit comes to an individual in baptism.

    Missionals reject the idea that all doctrine is doctrine. There is doctrine and then there is doctrine. And if you don’t know the difference, you are not missional. 🙂

    #6: Confessionals feel threatened by Missionals. This is why so many attacks are made against them and why distortions occur.

    Most missionals could live happily with Confessionals — we’d be happy to be left alone in order to do our work of reaching out and connecting people to Christ. Except that the confessionals can’t live with us, so, you get posts like this

    I will also admit that many missionals behave badly, calling into question whether confessionals love the lost, or love the liturgy more than people, or whatever other things I’ve heard along the way. All untrue. All untrue.

    But ultimately we can’t actually talk much in the LCMS. We don’t care to listen to what others have to say and we distort and twist stuff around. Perhaps the Koin will force us to talk and listen and work through these issues? Maybe. Hopefully. We’ll see.

  3. @Mark Louderback #2
    The comment I made about Confessionals and evangelism is true. For those who say that Confessionals aren’t interested in evangelism, that is proven a lie in this convocation. As far as your further comments…
    #1 Election does relate, as does every other point of doctrine. You cannot only accept a portion of our body of doctrine on given topics, they will all relate. Election helps offset the false teachings of those who snap fingers and say that souls are going to hell because of our inaction (which is synergism and a denial of election). To be fair – the speaker at the conference did teach election, but also didn’t leave any excuse for hyper-calvinistic use of it. It becomes a law-gospel issue.

    #2 Nowhere was that spoken of. Each presenter made distinction between clergy and laity but also lifted up a more “symbiotic” relationship between the two in all things churchly.

    #3 Actually the convocation talked about evangelism inwardly (mentioning that we do not believe “once saved, always saved” so that our members need conversion over and over again which primarily happens on Sunday morning) and the evangelism was talked about in the context of outward, helping communities, public-relations and so forth. Yes, the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins was ultimately given the credit for what God was using to bring people into these churches. I have yet to see Lutheran theology that supports jettisoning the liturgy for another context. We are in the world, not of it.

    #4 By your definitions I would say that Confessionals are more inclusive, as sinful includes both lost and found. The missional definition leaves out the sheep already called and gathered. They need conversion again too (unless we are calvinists). I would say that bringing Gospel to sinners is more accurate, especially if you do consider election. Where are sinners however? Are they in church – yes. Are they in the world – yes. Do I have to get out a magnifying lens to figure out if someone is lost or found, elect or no? No, there are sinners in front of me, so I can bring the Gospel to them.

    #5 Doctrine is doctrine. It is the basis for everything we do. I haven’t met anyone who has put semper virgo on par with baptismal regeneration. Evangelism and worship and the Gospel are not the same kind of distinction though. When a missional person wants to play innovator with worship, it is often fueled by beliefs that are not Lutheran (lutheran substance, evangelical style is a lie). Missionals forget that doctrine informs practice and practice will eventually affect doctrine. The two are tied together, no matter what man thinks he can do with them.

    #6 Confessionals are not threatened by missionals, we are concerned with the damage to souls that is done by the compromises with the world in order to get out there. We are concerned that the message becomes unimportant to the method in some circles, and in other circles faithfulness is thrown aside to do “whatever works”. The ends do not justify the means. Missionals have spoken as if election doesn’t matter in this debate. Missionals have killed and burdened countless sheep with Law-based evangelism, stressing participles as if they were imperatives, and snapping their fingers and feeding further ammunition for the conscience and Satan to accuse the sheep of God into doubts about their own salvation. As I wrote before, there is a “missional righteousness” out there, and it is not from God.

    Confessionals are concerned that missionals just requesting to coexist will result in missionals demanding equality (already there in the LCMS) and then demanding dominance… (see CP Krauth on how error creeps into a church)

    Mark I am surprised that you say that in my post I write that I can’t live with you.

  4. Pastor Joshua Scheer :

    Confessionals are concerned that missionals just requesting to coexist will result in missionals demanding equality (already there in the LCMS) and then demanding dominance… (see CP Krauth on how error creeps into a church)
    >

    This bears repeating. Witness the attempted destruction of ULC MN. There the issues have moved beyond even demanding dominance to shooting to kill.

    Furthermore, some of us have watched the damage from ‘missional’ insistance on CoWo and other innovations for a long time before concluding that it is harmful, not just a matter of preference or adiophora. (Kudoes to those like Dr. Noland who saw this early.) We have seen the lack of unity, the increase of sinful contempt for fellow LCMS Lutherans in our circles of acquaintance, the lack, ironically, of the promised ‘results’ (and, really, promising results that only God can give and that He has not promised is ridiculous), the watering down of our doctrines/teachings in other areas in addition to worship, and the increasing and completely unnecessary difficulty in finding churches to visit or join when traveling or moving to another area. Over time we have observed this damage, and now we are expressing our alarm, and calling on the church to take this seriously, in loving concern.

  5. Mark Louderback :
    #5: Confessionals seem to think that Missionals don’t care about doctrine. This is silly, as we are talking about the LCMS and we all care about doctrine — you can’t be in the LCMS and be ambivalent about doctrine.

    This is Lutheran triumphalism at its worst. That one is a member of the LCMS or one of her congregations does not, per se, mean he is immune from false teaching or ambivalence to false teaching.

  6. Having a convocation about evangelism proves confessionals care about evangelism.

    I think confessionals do care, but having a meeting about something doesn’t prove anything.

    Thanks for the lulz.

  7. I am skeptical that liturgy doesn’t meet people’s needs. In our suburban community, the Orthodox church is growing and growing. It was started by the Arabs. No, I am not kidding. They have Arabic and English services. The one priest is from Lebanon and they don’t have any contemporary services. And this is in Texas. Their “outreach” consists of an annual bazaar with dancing, crafts, food, etc. The set up an information table and if you go to that table, they will tell you about their church. Now, to me, the key is location. Suburbia. Lots of families with kids and building new houses and neighborhoods. Basically any church would grow there. If you build it, they will come. I wonder if that is why the contemporary folks think their methods work, when really it is just location. FWIW, the Catholic Churches and schools etc, are growing, too. Location, location, location.

  8. Also, please tell me how a church of any kind could grow in a county that is losing population? In other words, the young grow up and leave because there are so few jobs. And the older people eventually pass away. The church (which is not a building) is not unfaithful just because it changes location. The main way the contemporary churches work appears to me is that they teach the kids differently and then those kids get used to that and want church to be like VBS when they were in 3rd grade. Also, it appears that the synod events for youth are run exclusively by the contemporary service folks who love the vibe of non denominational churches. The contemporary stuff is being foisted on youth more than it is attracting unchurched adults. So, by getting the youth of affluent suburbia, there also is the future of the church.

  9. @Monster Cable #6
    Going through all of the work of planning, the money spent on it by the District and a hefty amount by each of those in attendance, scheduling speakers from across the country and flying them in doesn’t prove anything?

    The meeting in Acts 15 must not prove anything about the early church’s desire to reach the Gentiles either then huh?

    @Mrs. Hume #8
    True, we have unbred ourselves out of existence. The solution is to once again become a church that supports and is built for large families.

    You are very right about VBS teaching our kids “fun” at a time when they cannot make the distinction between church and “camp”

  10. Joshua, people can have meetings about lots of things. They can also spend money on lots of things.

    I spend a lot of money on gym memberships and health food. Does that prove I’m healthy?

  11. The comment I made about Confessionals and evangelism is true. For those who say that Confessionals aren’t interested in evangelism, that is proven a lie in this convocation.

    Well…yes, it is true that there was one convocation. What else can be drawn from this? 🙂

    But I don’t disagree with your point — it is true that confessionals do indeed care about the lost. They don’t need a convention to proclaim otherwise.

    #1 Election does relate, as does every other point of doctrine. You cannot only accept a portion of our body of doctrine on given topics, they will all relate.

    Well…the confessions certainly do that with election. Read what they have to say about it and you will see the limited scope it is applied to.

    Election helps offset the false teachings of those who snap fingers and say that souls are going to hell because of our inaction (which is synergism and a denial of election).

    One wonders what Paul means why he says to the Galatians ” I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” What could he possibly mean by that which does not run counter to election—and why did Paul say it then?

    To be fair – the speaker at the conference did teach election, but also didn’t leave any excuse for hyper-calvinistic use of it. It becomes a law-gospel issue.

    What do you mean by a law-gospel issue?

    #2 Nowhere was that spoken of. Each presenter made distinction between clergy and laity but also lifted up a more “symbiotic” relationship between the two in all things churchly.

    Could you explain what you mean by this?

    Very often people have blind spots to the issues that others need to point out to them you know. So, perhaps this was said, perhaps it was not…sometimes Holmes, it is the dog that does not bark.

    #3 Actually the convocation talked about evangelism inwardly (mentioning that we do not believe “once saved, always saved” so that our members need conversion over and over again which primarily happens on Sunday morning)

    I disagree with the statement that members need conversion over and over again. I know that Walther often speaks this way, but Luther does not. And Scripture doesn’t either.

    But that is more #4, isn’t it?

    I have yet to see Lutheran theology that supports jettisoning the liturgy for another context.

    (chuckle) This sorta proves my point, don’t you think?

    #4 By your definitions I would say that Confessionals are more inclusive, as sinful includes both lost and found. The missional definition leaves out the sheep already called and gathered.

    I disagree. We think they need to live out a life of vocation and evangelize the lost. 🙂

    They need conversion again too (unless we are calvinists).

    Once again, I disagree with the language here. Where exactly is your scriptural basis for this? Sin needs to be repented of and the Gospel is proclaimed — but sin does not equal loss of faith.

    I would say that bringing Gospel to sinners is more accurate, especially if you do consider election.

    I would agree that this is more accurate — but I mean more accurate against what you have previously written. And there is a distinction between the lost and the not-lost.

    Where are sinners however? Are they in church – yes. Are they in the world – yes. Do I have to get out a magnifying lens to figure out if someone is lost or found, elect or no? No, there are sinners in front of me, so I can bring the Gospel to them.

    Yeah, but they are also outside of the church. So, what are the efforts being done to bring the Gospel to those outside the church.

    #5 Doctrine is doctrine.

    Which is why you are a confessional and I am missional, you know?

    I haven’t met anyone who has put semper virgo on par with baptismal regeneration.

    I believe you just did. “Doctrine is doctrine.” 🙂

    Evangelism and worship and the Gospel are not the same kind of distinction though.

    Well, I disagree with this totally. Worship is not really on par with the Gospel. Two entirely different things. The Gospel is brought in worship — but there is a great distinction between the two.

    When a missional person wants to play innovator with worship, it is often fueled by beliefs that are not Lutheran (lutheran substance, evangelical style is a lie).

    (shrug) Once again, the distinction.

    I disagree. Paul himself changes his preaching style when proclaiming to the Athenians. He is the example for contextual worship.

    Missionals forget that doctrine informs practice and practice will eventually affect doctrine.

    Well, I think people just read into this what they will. Many worship almost exactly as the Roman Catholics do—does that mean they will become Roman Catholic?

    Oh, wait, yes, some actually do… 🙂

    But most don’t. Scripture does not speak to any particular type of worship service; it does not describe in detail what worship ought to look like. Why? Because we have the freedom to worship as we (as Christians) see best.

    #6 Confessionals are not threatened by missionals, we are concerned with the damage to souls that is done by the compromises with the world in order to get out there.

    Once again, following the doctrine of election, what is your concern here, exactly? You should HAVE no concern.

    We are concerned that the message becomes unimportant to the method in some circles, and in other circles faithfulness is thrown aside to do “whatever works”.

    I think this is an accurate critique and should be looked at, no doubt about that.

    The ends do not justify the means. Missionals have spoken as if election doesn’t matter in this debate.

    This is generally how the confessions speak to it, yes.

    Missionals have killed and burdened countless sheep with Law-based evangelism

    Whenever you call someone to live out their vocation, it is heard as law. But truly, it is the Gospel.

    stressing participles as if they were imperatives

    Example?

    , and snapping their fingers and feeding further ammunition for the conscience and Satan to accuse the sheep of God into doubts about their own salvation.

    Well, you yourself speak about them needing “re-conversion” right? Which is it?

    Look — apathy is a sin. If people don’t care about the lost, that is wrong and it needs to be pointed out and corrected. There is no doubt that the law hurts and we’d rather not hear it sometimes. But you know, sorry.

    As I wrote before, there is a “missional righteousness” out there, and it is not from God.

    And once again, I think that this is probably true and ought to be repented of.

    But I also think that confessionals too easily write off contextual worship as if it has no basis in Scripture, when really that is quite absurd. I think some more discussion would be helpful along these lines.

    Confessionals are concerned that missionals just requesting to coexist will result in missionals demanding equality (already there in the LCMS) and then demanding dominance…

    Well, we actually currently have equality — it is why our elections rock back and forth every ten years.

    Mark I am surprised that you say that in my post I write that I can’t live with you.

    I did not mean that EVERY single confessional holds to EVERY SINGLE position here. These are broad brush strokes as well — well, maybe medium brush strokes.

    But at the core, I myself don’t really mind if you have whatever worship that you do; while I’m sure that you would want me to change my worship service in order to remain in the Synod. Would that really be so far off the mark?

    To be clear though, you know my personal feelings for you — I have admiration for you and I appreciate your pastoral approach to issues.

    Once again, I think that there is arrogance among missionals and a dismissive attitude towards confessionals. No doubt. That needs correction. But I think that confessionals bear some of the blame for these attitudes as well. I don’t think they take seriously the Scriptural reasons and support that missionals have for the reason we do what we do.

    I think that forcing us to sit and work these things out will be helpful. If nothing else, we’ll be forced to listen to one another…

  12. Rev. Daniel A. Hinton :

    Mark Louderback :
    #5: Confessionals seem to think that Missionals don’t care about doctrine. This is silly, as we are talking about the LCMS and we all care about doctrine — you can’t be in the LCMS and be ambivalent about doctrine.

    This is Lutheran triumphalism at its worst. That one is a member of the LCMS or one of her congregations does not, per se, mean he is immune from false teaching or ambivalence to false teaching.

    Well, nor did I say “Being in the LCMS means you are immune to false teaching”. And nor did I say “Being in the LCMS means that you are ambivalent about false teaching.”

    I said “You can’t be in the LCMS and be ambivalent about doctrine.” To be clear, I meant this in terms of “To be an LCMS pastor” — that is not immediately clear in what I wrote. But even outside of that, the LCMS is quite strong in the fact that we believe what we teach is the very word of God and not just man’s opinions.

    So, sure, people can get things wrong — but that is because they get doctrines wrong — not because they don’t care about doctrine.

    Make sense?

  13. Mrs Hume,

    You ask “Also, please tell me how a church of any kind could grow in a county that is losing population?”

    All things are possible with God perhaps? Reaching out to the shrinking community? Refusing to allow excuses of shrinking population to get in the way of reaching the lost? Prayer?

    Pick whatever answer you’d like. 🙂

    The contemporary stuff is being foisted on youth more than it is attracting unchurched adults.

    Yes…or the youth like it and it keeps them from turning into unchurched adults…

    Basically any church would grow there. If you build it, they will come. I wonder if that is why the contemporary folks think their methods work, when really it is just location.

    Well, I for one reject this completely. There are tons, TONS of churches built in growing communities that are shrinking.

  14. @Mark Louderback #12

    The Galatians quote you give actually shows that even Christians can fall away, that is why Paul was concerned about them. We cannot know who is elect and who isn’t, but it can be rightly used as a “gospel” application to consciences tore to shreds by law-based evangelism. In the case where you have some hyper-calvinist telling you that they are going to keep their mouth shut in regards to the faith and their neighbor, then you have a Law issue.

    In regards to symbiotic clergy/laity is is that both are involved, pastor being called by the laity to publicly administer the gifts of God to them, feeding their souls, filling their bags so to speak so that they can go forward through the week, giving witness and inviting others to “come and see”. You are right about vocation playing a central role in this.

    With regards to conversion, there are at any time people who have lost the faith (or never had it) in Church (that is what we believe in AC VII and VIII). Hence my point about conversion.

    Paul’s preaching in Athens may be indicative of different preaching, but that does not equate with different worship. I preach differently on Sunday morning than I do on Wednesday night with all of our children.

    My biggest question with any innovation (including high church ones) is “why the change?”

    God repeatedly asks His people to be on guard for false teachings. It is one of those paradoxes that happens in Scripture. He is the one who calls, gathers, enlightens, keeps and so forth, and yet He also tells us to be on guard.

    People living out their vocation can be law or gospel, what I am saying is that I have met a lot of folks who have been burdened by the preaching of Law-based evangelism, using things like Matthew 28:18 (stressing participle and so forth) to beat them into submission.

    Doubts are to be met with Gospel, not more law.

    If you are talking to someone who is apathetic about the Gospel, then they need to hear the Law. If they have no concern for others they are breaking the second table of the law and Christ’s command to Love the neighbor. Certainly preach law, but relent when they admit their sin, as many do.

    I would love to see our Synod have uniformity again as an outward show of our inner unity. It would also be much easier on congregations receiving new pastors, and members of congregations that are on vacation or moving to a new area.

    And I have regard for you as one who actually speaks openly.

    We will have to see how this all works out in Koinonia, if God ever brings anything from it.

  15. What does this mean?

    Who are the “fallen” and “converted” referred to in this article? Is it all sinners or a select group of sinners?

    The Augsburg Confesson
    Article XII: Of Repentance.

    1] Of Repentance they teach that for those who have fallen after Baptism there is remission of sins whenever they are converted 2] and that the Church ought to impart absolution to those thus returning to repentance. Now, repentance consists properly of these 3] two parts: One is contrition, that is, 4] terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of 5] the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ’s sake, sins are forgiven, comforts 6] the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.

    7] They condemn the Anabaptists, who deny that those once justified can lose the Holy Ghost. Also those who contend that some may attain to such 8] perfection in this life that they cannot sin.

    9] The Novatians also are condemned, who would not absolve such as had fallen after Baptism, though they returned to repentance.

    10] They also are rejected who do not teach that remission of sins comes through faith but command us to merit grace through satisfactions of our own

  16. @Mark Louderback #14

    “Yes…or the youth like it and it keeps them from turning into unchurched adults…”

    Well, I reject this totally.

    Youth like what they are taught to like. If all they ever hear and see is the contemporary style, then anything different may seem foreign and uncomfortable. Others, like my 13 year old son, feel like they have outgrown the style and just can’t stand it, but appreciate the grown up hymns of church. So, if youth hear and see what is reverent and liturgical, they can learn to like that, too. So, as for just what style the undiscerning youth prefer, that is basically how it works. However, as parents who know better, we have an obligation to do a good job and discern on their behalf and teach and train them what is appropriately reverent. When I was young and the neighbor took me to baptist church, I really like the Fanny Crosby hymns, and memorized a couple. But I also thought to myself that they were really just her reaction to God and not on the same level as memorizing Bible verses. It made me feel uneasy about those songs and others. I wondered how they figured they should include those songs and why we should sing them. Probably why I never really liked most of the songs on Christian radio.

    As a parent these documents have helped me be more discerning:

    http://www.tabletalkradio.org/documents/Cruncher2.pdf

    http://www.tabletalkradio.org/documents/youthspeaker.pdf

  17. “You ask “Also, please tell me how a church of any kind could grow in a county that is losing population?”
    All things are possible with God perhaps? Reaching out to the shrinking community? Refusing to allow excuses of shrinking population to get in the way of reaching the lost? Prayer?”

    So, the missional pastors are praying for calls to rural counties who are losing population? Because they are sure that more contemporary style is going to grow the church there.

  18. Mark Louderback #12. “But most don’t. Scripture does not speak to any particular type of worship service; it does not describe in detail what worship ought to look like. Why? Because we have the freedom to worship as we (as Christians) see best.”

    This is one of those arguments with which I continue to have difficulty, and it is where the basic dichotomy between contemporary forms of worship diverge from the liturgy in my view. It is one of those stumbling blocks that we can never seem quite to overcome. Why? The cry for freedom and contextualized expression on the one hand, and the cry for reverence and awe of the sacred on the other.

    Certainly there is freedom in worship itself, if it is defined as something different than Divine Service. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob goes into great detail with Moses to be sure to tell His people how to approach Him, the Holy, Righteous, Triune God. The sacrificial system outlined in Leviticus which points to our Divine Service is about as detailed as one can get for how God wishes to deal with His people and how He wants His people to approach Him. David dancing before the ark of the covenant as he leads a triumphal ark recovery expedition home to return the ark to the tabernacle is something completely different. The song of Moses and Miriam is another example. This type of dancing and singing is Worship, that is, it is something we do to express our honor and praise and thanksgiving to God. That is something we do, something we have made up, not something God has given us to do, although it is also can be outpouring of the grace and mercy He has bestowed upon us. God certainly approves of it. But note this Worship is not done in the place where God calls us to be to receive His gifts, where He calls us into His presence to make us Holy. Note the solemnity of the occasion when the ark was placed in the tent, and David made offerings to the Lord and blessed the people of Israel. What happened to Uzzah when touched the ark as procession was returning home? He was killed. And what happens when God’s people approach Him in an manner that God has not prescribed? Aaron’s sons were killed immediately after God opened the altars tabernacle was consecrated, and Paul outlines the problems faced by the Corinthians.

    So, yes, if worship is defined as something we do we have freedom and can contextualize and express ourselves to the max. But when it is God serving man in Christ, delivering the forgiveness of sins, giving us His body and blood, feeding us with His Word, giving us life and salvation, we have less freedom, and, in fact, are wholly constrained by the Word of God to come before Him in the manner He has prescribed. And therein lies the rub. There are extremes on both sides, but Scripture certainly prescribes an answer for us to our not so modern dilemma.

  19. @Pastor Joshua Scheer #15

    The Galatians quote you give actually shows that even Christians can fall away, that is why Paul was concerned about them.

    But the elect can’t fall away. They are elect. Can a non-elect be considered a Christian? In what way?

    See, this is why the application of election outside of its intended area (comfort) doesn’t work. And ought not to be used.

    We cannot know who is elect and who isn’t, but it can be rightly used as a “gospel” application to consciences tore to shreds by law-based evangelism.

    I tend to think most consciences aren’t torn to shreds really. I think people are pretty apathetic about evangelism and I think it shows in our Synod.

    How many of your members have invited someone to church last year? What do you think the percentages of that are? I’m not talking about traveling to Kandaar. All I want it one person invited per calendar year. What do you think is the percentages on that?

    What if we were talking about the number of times that people pray. If people prayed once a year, would you be satisfied with that? Do you think you would use the law to tear their conscience to shreds?

    I think there is more to this conversation, you know?

    You are right about vocation playing a central role in this.

    Who-hoo!! Who needs the Koin when you have Steadfast to foster agreement! 🙂

    With regards to conversion, there are at any time people who have lost the faith (or never had it) in Church (that is what we believe in AC VII and VIII). Hence my point about conversion.

    Yeah…I understand your point. I’m not too convinced about using the term about Church members, you know? As I said, I think Walther pushes the idea of the loss of faith much more than Luther does. I’m with Luther on this more.

    But it is true, yes, that the Gospel that comforts, also creates faith. So, church is an evangelical event. I just would not see it as the sole evangelical event or the prime evangelical event or something like that.

    Paul’s preaching in Athens may be indicative of different preaching, but that does not equate with different worship.

    It equates with changing your style (words, vocabulary, etc) depending on the context. Would you agree with that?

    Not much more of a leap to changing the service…

    I preach differently on Sunday morning than I do on Wednesday night with all of our children.

    Because of the audience, correct? Suppose the audience was even more different — could you see your preaching change even more?

    My biggest question with any innovation (including high church ones) is “why the change?”

    Well, just as Paul made the change, sometimes a different context calls for different actions.

    God repeatedly asks His people to be on guard for false teachings. It is one of those paradoxes that happens in Scripture.

    Yes, and it is also why I find the talk about election to be eliminating the paradoxes. Pulling in election simply dismisses the paradoxes. Scripture is full of people doing actions in order to proclaim Christ to others — but nowadays any suggestion that our actions can hinder the work of God is met by the accusation of Church Growth. I think we need to allow more paradox back into our theology and not iron it out so much.

    People living out their vocation can be law or gospel, what I am saying is that I have met a lot of folks who have been burdened by the preaching of Law-based evangelism, using things like Matthew 28:18 (stressing participle and so forth) to beat them into submission.

    I doubt it works. Once again, how many invite one person? They are not beaten down — they are sinful in their resistance. They don’t care, don’t want to care, don’t want to do anything differently, so they whine about being burden.

    If you have a football team that wants to practice 15 minutes a day and you say “No, you need to be practicing more!” are you the bad guy for doing that? Are you beating them up with the law?

    Or maybe, 15 minutes of practice is not enough.

    If the people in your congregation have not invited ONE person to church in a year, is that really enough for them not to feel guilty? Once again, suppose they only went to church once. Would that be acceptable? “I went to church last year pastor—get off my back dude!”

    So, I would diagnose most of the problem as apathy, not doubt.

    I would love to see our Synod have uniformity again as an outward show of our inner unity. It would also be much easier on congregations receiving new pastors, and members of congregations that are on vacation or moving to a new area.

    Sure. But for those of us who think that different contexts call for different approaches, how much flexibility are you willing to give?

    And I have regard for you as one who actually speaks openly.

    Not intelligently always, but openly. 🙂 I do appreciate the compliment.

  20. @Andrew Grams #19

    So, yes, if worship is defined as something we do we have freedom and can contextualize and express ourselves to the max. But when it is God serving man in Christ, delivering the forgiveness of sins, giving us His body and blood, feeding us with His Word, giving us life and salvation, we have less freedom, and, in fact, are wholly constrained by the Word of God to come before Him in the manner He has prescribed.

    Well, but what is that word? The sacrificial system is indeed very detailed. Very demanding. Kosher laws are detailed. Circumcision is detailed.

    All of this has passed away. It is fulfilled in Christ.

    So, what exactly is prescribed? Awe? Ok. But I think that “awe” becomes the end-all-be-all then.

    My worship — my CoWo worship — is all about God bringing His gifts to us. And I think that awe is a part of it — but it is not the sole defining aspect of worship.

    But I would be happy to determine some best practices about CoWo worship. I think we could hav a conversation about what is good and what is not. I just wonder whether others want that conversation at all—whether they simply want CoWo gone, not improved.

  21. @Mrs. Hume #18

    So, the missional pastors are praying for calls to rural counties who are losing population?

    I had a guy in my PLI group who was missional who was in rural nebraska. Corner of Main street and corn field. So sure. Rural America needs to hear the gospel. And there are plenty of pagans there as well.

    Because they are sure that more contemporary style is going to grow the church there.

    Well, I’m not one to say “This type of worship is better” or anything like that. There are plenty of things churches can do to emphasize evangelism that have nothing to do with worship.

  22. @Mark Louderback #20

    “How many of your members have invited someone to church last year? What do you think the percentages of that are? I’m not talking about traveling to Kandaar. All I want it one person invited per calendar year. What do you think is the percentages on that?”

    Probably 100%.

    My son brings his friends to church multiple times a year.

    We also invite multiple people per year.

    I am really surprised you think people don’t invite people to church.

  23. Sorry to be coming into the conversation so late, but I think the discussion has missed a few historical facts. I will cover them separately.

    Evangelism. We need to recall that it was in the early 70’s that the Synod adopted Evangelism Explosion from Corral Ridge Ministries, which was based on decision theology. It was here that the train went off the track and there has been a steady diet of this theology in one form or another ever since. It has only been in recent years that a counter reaction was begun, but much work remains. In presenting the CLCC seminar on Evangelism, Outreach and Affirmation it is not unusual to be challenged by someone attending that I am teaching contrary to what they have known for a number of years. This illustrates the problem, there are thousands of people out there, through no fault of their own, have improperly taught. My only defense is to say that what I am teaching is Scriptural and Lutheran, not from some other religious body.

    Vocation. I have said this in other posts, but it bears repeating here. Vocation is a Lutheran theology that has not been taught in many of our churches for decades. To illustrate, I became a Lutheran in 1961 and have been active in attending or teaching Bible classes to various age groups over the years. I first heard of the Doctrine of Vocation in 2001. Fair to say I was never a member of what would rightly be called a confessional congregation during this time. When our people are taught evangelism incorrectly and never hear of Vocation it is very difficult for them to envision their proper role in these two areas and to see how evangelism and vocation work together. Within our vocations we are active in working with our neighbors, in love, and at the proper time make the invitation to “Come and see” We are not evangelists in any sense of the word (which actually scares the daylights out of some people). But we are disciples interacting in the world but not part of it. If your neighbors don’t know you are Christians by what you say and do, then you have just identified the problem. Because this is so important for Lutherans I would direct you to check out the new CLCC seminar titled the Doctrine of Vocation. We will have a stand along lesson packaged up for Circuit Convocation training effort shortly. Hopefully this will help move things in the proper direction, but it is really up to the churches to recognize the need.

    Youth. As it has been with evangelism, so has it been with the youth. I was a youth counselor, with my wife and another young couple, in the 60’s. Even then the youth were being focused on those things outside of Lutheranism as being good and desirable. That trend became stronger and stronger as the National Youth Gathering picked up the same mantra in spades. No wonder they young left in droves, we showed where to go and did nothing to retain them (in most cases). Then along comes Higher Things, which is a purposeful effort to reverse the trend. There has been a tremendous impact by those efforts, but there is a long long way to go at this point.

    These three areas are germane to this discussion, so I won’t go into other areas, however, from these three you can see that much work has been done, but much more remains to be done. The educational tools must be provided, not rhetoric alone.

    If you believe that the Lutheran Confessions form the best way of worshiping our God in Trinity, as God intends us to do, then that is what we should be about. Following the Reformation it was not about confessionals, liberals, conservatives, etc. It was all about the orthodox and the revisionists, and that hasn’t really changed.

  24. @Mark Louderback #21
    I think we do need to have that conversation, and I do think that people do want to engage. But it cannot be in the context of your worship or my worship — that is a huge part of the problem in the LCMS. The conversation has to be in the context of OUR worship, the worship life of the church. If it is ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ it is no longer the church’s, and unity becomes secondary. As for the Scripture, the sacrificial system pointed to and is fulfilled in Christ, but it remains a part of the entire counsel of God.

  25. @Andrew Grams #27

    The conversation has to be in the context of OUR worship, the worship life of the church.

    Weeelll…I tend to disagree with this because generally people who say this mean “Don’t change what the church has been doing.” I look at this in the same way I look at those who said “Don’t change the language from German.”

    God gives us flexibility in how we worship. There IS no “worship life of the church” that is set in stone or nailed down in the word. So, we have the flexibility to be creative, shift things around and do different things depending on our context. And that is determined by the pastor and people in that area.

    So, to me, I don’t care about unity in worship. I look at this in the same way I look at unity of language. It would be nice if all worship services were in English so I could understand them. But that would be best for those whose primary language is not English.

    This is just the way that I look at things. Is it the right way? Well, you know, I think so. Love God and do what you like and all. Is it Lutheran? Well, it is Scriptural, so it has to be Lutheran.

    Make sense?

  26. @Gene White #26

    Re: evangelism explosion — that is before my time, so I can’t really speak to this much.

    re: vocation

    I agree that vocation is a wonderful teaching of the church that needs to be re-emphasized, no doubt. But nor do I agree with this statement:

    We are not evangelists in any sense of the word…

    I disagree. I googled evangelist, when to wikipedia and pulled out this quote: “a Christian who explains his or her beliefs to a non-Christian and thereby participates in Evangelism”.

    So, yeah, I think that laity are definitely evangelists by the very sense of the word.

    re: youth — did youth leave the church because it was not Lutheran enough? Maybe. Maybe not.

    If you believe that the Lutheran Confessions form the best way of worshiping our God in Trinity, as God intends us to do, then that is what we should be about.

    Well, yes I do. Because the confessions are all about proclaiming Jesus and that is exactly what i want to do in my CoWo service. But too many want to take the confessions and have them say “You can’t be Lutheran if you do not use a liturgical service.” I don’t think that is true.

  27. LW :
    @Mark Louderback #23
    Thanks Rev. Louderback.

    No problem. I would note that it is true that for a person who has fallen away from the faith after baptism, that confession is indeed a way to be restored — because the same Gospel that brings comfort to the sinner also creates faith in the pagan. No doubt about that.

  28. Mark Louderback :
    @Gene White #26
    Re: evangelism explosion — that is before my time, so I can’t really speak to this much.

    A lot of people are not old enough, but we should know how decision theology started in the Synod and that was it.

    re: vocation
    I agree that vocation is a wonderful teaching of the church that needs to be re-emphasized, no doubt. But nor do I agree with this statement:
    We are not evangelists in any sense of the word…
    I disagree. I googled evangelist, when to wikipedia and pulled out this quote: “a Christian who explains his or her beliefs to a non-Christian and thereby participates in Evangelism”.
    So, yeah, I think that laity are definitely evangelists by the very sense of the word.

    Thanks for the response as it gives an opportunity to further explain.

    There is a marked difference in “holding the office of Evangelist” and “participation”in evangelism activities. The first case is a called ministry office, the second case is the laity participating within their vocations, whatever they may be, to love their neighbors and invite them to “come and see,” as appropriate. When they come and see they hear the Law and Gospel message being proclaimed by the resident evangelist, the pastor. That is another important reason why Law and Gospel, in that order, needs to be a part of every sermon as the pastor will never know who is in the pews as a result of a come and see invitation. If I took your analogy to the field of medicine the mother who applied a band aid to a child could be called a Doctor.

    re: youth — did youth leave the church because it was not Lutheran enough? Maybe. Maybe not.

    Not what I said, the point is we engaged them in all kinds of non-Lutheran activities so they grew up not knowing what Lutheranism really was. Then when they returned for marriage, babies or whatever, the worship and practices all appeared strange and out of sync with their past practices.

    If you believe that the Lutheran Confessions form the best way of worshiping our God in Trinity, as God intends us to do, then that is what we should be about.
    Well, yes I do. Because the confessions are all about proclaiming Jesus and that is exactly what i want to do in my CoWo service. But too many want to take the confessions and have them say “You can’t be Lutheran if you do not use a liturgical service.” I don’t think that is true.

    I am not familiar with your expression CoWo and what that defines so I don’t really have a feel for what you mean. However, if you are laboring under the impression that all connection with the Old Testament is torn away by the crucifixion you are missing a serious connection. I also see in earlier posts you feel that each church can design its own service to suit their own context, as long as it is Scriptural. I don’t agree with that as it destroys the unity of worship practice within a regional or larger group. One must also be careful that what is Scriptural is also in the proper context of Godly worship not just Scriptural content. The LSB provides the Scriptural references for the liturgy, which is a wonderful teaching method, I only wonder why it took so long? Up until this time many who were looking for change felt they were exchanging tradition for something fresh, so why not. They had no idea that what they had was connected to Scripture, for the most part.

    Can a liturgical service be contemporary? Yes, it can and I have seen some start out this way. The problem is they evolve over time, because to stay contemporary implies change. The last case I have first hand knowledge of took about 10 years. The same church, same pastor, some musicians, but they evolved from a contemporary fairly liturgical service to a non-denominational format of only feel good praise music, prayers and a sermon. No confession and absolution, no readings, no Gospel message, etc. Unfortunately, too many churches have fallen into this trap in seeking out the god of bigger attendances.

  29. #29: “So, to me, I don’t care about unity in worship…This is just the way that I look at things. Is it the right way? Well, you know, I think so. Love God and do what you like and all. Is it Lutheran? Well, it is Scriptural, so it has to be Lutheran…Make sense?”

    No, it does not make sense. Especially considering that your newsletter, still posted on your website on the World Wide Web (http://sharechristarlington.net/Christ_Lutheran_Church/Newsletter.html), publicly proclaims that you offered your flock on Christmas Day only a joint service at a Presbyterian Church. I understand that ultimately did not happen, but still… Apparently, you do care about unity in worship — with the heterodox.

  30. @Mark Louderback #29

    No it does not make sense, because you are saying that the body of Christ is not unified, and does not need to be unified. That is unscriptural. I am not reading anything into it, read your statement again.

    “Don’t change what the church has been doing.” I look at this in the same way I look at those who said “Don’t change the language from German.” You paint with a pretty broad brush, and tend to lead with your assumptions about other people. I never said “Don’t change what the church has been doing.” I said we need to have a conversation within the context of the worship life of the church. There has to be a context to the conversation — if not the unified life of the body of Christ, then what? What is the context within which the discussions needs to be made then, if not in the context of the worship life of the church catholic? You seem to want to close the door on any discussion based on your presuppositions about “the other side.” That whole 1 Corinthians letter and about one church, one body, one loaf one confession — that is a pretty important letter and says something about who we are in Christ. One faith, one, Lord, one baptism. I think even Jesus prays in His high priestly prayer in John that we — you and I — may be one even as He and the Father are one. Don’t dismiss the unity of our worship life as unimportant or something in which we have unlimited freedom. Paul warns shepherds of Christ’s flock in 1 Corinthians to be careful in the materials with which you choose to build — that old day of judgment will reveal a lot.

    “This is just the way that I look at things. Is it the right way? Well, you know, I think so. Love God and do what you like and all. Is it Lutheran? Well, it is Scriptural, so it has to be Lutheran.” I know you do. I can hear that LOUD and clear. But what about people in your flock who struggle with the issue? What about others within the church who struggle with the issue? Because they are not in your context they do not matter? Do we not have a common confession? Does what people bled and died for not mean anything? I don’t think that you mean to, or maybe you do, but you come across as pretty cavalier and dismissive. I’m here to learn and engage. Do I have some leanings and presuppositions? Yes. We all do. But I do not hold the office you do, and, like it or not, even though we may not have the same context, we share a common confession, and you hold authority over me in this confession. The laity do still look to the clergy for guidance and direction, but if it doesn’t matter….

  31. @Gene White #32

    I am not familiar with your expression CoWo and what that defines so I don’t really have a feel for what you mean.

    Yes, it certainly is true that Contemporary Worship (which CoWo is a abbreviation of) does cover a great deal of different things—it means quite different worship to quite different people. So, I fully understand that there is no single idea when it comes to it.

    However, if you are laboring under the impression that all connection with the Old Testament is torn away by the crucifixion you are missing a serious connection.

    Well, I still believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth. So, not ALL connections are torn away.

    But the Law is certainly fulfilled in him.

    I also see in earlier posts you feel that each church can design its own service to suit their own context, as long as it is Scriptural. I don’t agree with that as it destroys the unity of worship practice within a regional or larger group.

    Once again, when you write this, this is what I hear:

    I also see in earlier posts you feel that each church can use whatever language — English, Spanish, Hmong — it wants in its own service to suit their own context, as long as it is Scriptural. I don’t agree with that as it destroys the unity of worship practice within a regional or larger group.

    That is what I hear. Why is the unity so important? Why can’t we understand that we have unity in our doctrine; but not necessarily in our practice, where we do what is best for our context.

    One must also be careful that what is Scriptural is also in the proper context of Godly worship not just Scriptural content.

    Sure.

    No confession and absolution, no readings, no Gospel message, etc. Unfortunately, too many churches have fallen into this trap in seeking out the god of bigger attendances.

    Is “seeking out the god of bigger attendance” really the best construction? Is it not true that they are trying to reach the most people that they can with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

    But either way, I don’t have any problem with having some best practices of CoWo. My problem is that for many, the ONLY worship that is appropriate for a Lutheran is traditional liturgical worship. To that I ask “Where exactly does it say that in Scripture?”

  32. @Andrew Grams #34

    No it does not make sense, because you are saying that the body of Christ is not unified, and does not need to be unified. That is unscriptural. I am not reading anything into it, read your statement again.

    Unified in worshipping the Triune God? Yes. Unified in having the same mind of Jesus Christ? Yes.

    Unified in using the same lectionary? Well, right now we allow people to use the 3-year or the 1-year. Transfiguration was last week or is weeks in the future, depending on the church.

    Does that need to be unified? No.

    So, not all unity is needed. Not all worship needs unity.

    I never said “Don’t change what the church has been doing.”

    Once again, the “sides” in this discussion tend to line up as those holding to using the traditional liturgy and those allowing for CoWo. Would you not say that is accurate?

    I said we need to have a conversation within the context of the worship life of the church. There has to be a context to the conversation — if not the unified life of the body of Christ, then what?

    How about “How do we proclaim and educate our community re: the Gospel?” That would be one context.

    If the context is “How do we change our worship so it is unified?” the question is “Why do that?”

    Does that make sense?
    But what about people in your flock who struggle with the issue? What about others within the church who struggle with the issue? Because they are not in your context they do not matter? Do we not have a common confession? Does what people bled and died for not mean anything? I don’t think that you mean to, or maybe you do, but you come across as pretty cavalier and dismissive.

    Well, I’m writing quickly and trying not to write a book each time I post — so I understand that it can come across that way. At the same time, it is because we have a common confession that we are able to have the variety in worship and still be a unified church body.

    Finally, those who wanted worship to remain in their common language struggled and wondered if it meant anything — but we use English now. The English district is not a separate church body any more. Why? Because of the context of the church. Change sometimes has to happen out of love for others.

    The laity do still look to the clergy for guidance and direction, but if it doesn’t matter….

    It does matter — and I ask “Exactly what are you willing to do out of love for your community?” Are you willing to have a church service in a different language in order to reach out to a certain population in your area? Or not?

  33. Pastor Scheer said, “It is all there, in our beliefs – no need to drink from other wells.”

    In 1921 the first regular religious broadcast in the U.S. began airing from Calvary Episcopal Church on KDKA, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Later that same year KQW, licensed to the First Baptist Church of San Jose, California, became the first radio station devoted completely to religious programming.

    KFUO got started in 1924 and Lutheran Hour broadcasts began in 1930. Was there “no need” for Lutherans to adapt religious broadcasting tools and concepts already developed in other churches?

  34. @Mark Louderback #37

    “Once again, the “sides” in this discussion tend to line up as those holding to using the traditional liturgy and those allowing for CoWo. Would you not say that is accurate?”

    You assume too much about me and our confession. You are the one, at least with me anyway, who continues to draw the line. But to the point, it is in the nature of man to be skeptical of departures from accepted ways of doing things. Look at the law, for example. When a custom comes into use or a rule is laid down and accepted by a community, there must be strong justification for departure from the custom or rule that allows an exception to the rule or a departure from the custom. Any departure is considered an innovation. And usually there is agreement and consensus reached before that departure is accepted into custom and usage as a custom or a rule. Look at what the Catholics went through with a few changes in their liturgy. With freedom comes responsibility, and respect. We do not merely do something because lines are drawn, and they are not going to let me do it, so I am just going to do it anyway because I can say it falls within the realm of freedom.

    “How about “How do we proclaim and educate our community re: the Gospel?” That would be one context.”

    “If the context is “How do we change our worship so it is unified?” the question is “Why do that?”
    Does that make sense?”

    Actually, no it does not make sense. It would seem to me that any Christian — after all, that is who the Divine Service is for — those who have been adopted by Baptism into the Body of Christ — should be able to go into any church within our confession — whether in Tennessee, South Africa, Venezuela, or Russia — and be able to participate, being familiar with the various parts of the service. I mean, Divine Service is at the very heart of what makes us who we are as Christians. It is where Christ promises to be, and where he meets us on earth today, right?

    “It does matter — and I ask “Exactly what are you willing to do out of love for your community?” Are you willing to have a church service in a different language in order to reach out to a certain population in your area? Or not?”

    The circle is now complete!! It is about the sinner and not the Christ! It is not what Jesus did for me, because I don’t need Him anymore — I am saved. Jesus died for me so that I can go out and do something for my community. Silly Christian, you need to go save some dying people and transform the world! Their salvation depends on ME! What will I do? Maybe I will go plant some flowers and an unchurched person will see me and like me. Then I will have won their heart. Can you call that the JFK Gospel? Ask not what Jesus has done for you, but what you have done for Jesus to win the lost?

    How do you give Christ to your congregation? How do you proclaim the Gospel if you continue to tell folks that they don’t need Jesus, only discrete populations within your community do, or the lost, or the unchurched need Jesus? We are not horses who can be motivated with carrots and whips of sticks. We lay people who make up the body of Christ, who make up your flock are sinners who need Jesus, just like you do. I am sorry if this is a bit harsh, but many of us who want to remain faithful, get beaten down week after tireless week with this gospel which is set before us and then snatched away in the next breath by saying now what are you going to do.

    What will I do? I will continue to be faithful to Christ and the vocation into which He has called me. I will continue to study and learn and observe and follow all of those things that He has charged those who hold your office to teach me. I will be a neighbor (see parable of Good Samaritan) and walk in the works that Christ has placed me in. At the end of the day, I will throw myself on the mercy of the crucified and risen one and plead for forgiveness, mercy and life for the many ways in which I have fallen short of being faithful, and being a neighbor. I will come to the manger as one of the lowly sheep praying to be fed by a faithful shepherd, to confess my need for a Savior and receive absolution. I will come to the table of the Lord and receive life and salvation because He draws me and bids me come. Not by my power or strength, but by Christ’s and Christ’s alone. I will pray for humble and faithful servants of the Word who will give Christ to His flock, and not drive the flock out into the wilderness.

    The Lord gives and He takes away, I pray that He does not remove the Gospel from us here in the South.

  35. I still agree fully with Dr. David P. Scaer when he told us at the seminary years ago, “Gentlemen, don’t mess with the liturgy! Even after you get through screwing up the sermon, the people will still hear the Word in the liturgy. Leave the liturgy alone”!

  36. However, if you are laboring under the impression that all connection with the Old Testament is torn away by the crucifixion you are missing a serious connection.
    Well, I still believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth. So, not ALL connections are torn away.
    But the Law is certainly fulfilled in him.

    Certainly, but the context of this topic was worship and that was what I intended, in that there are modern worship practices that to tie back the OT practices and ceremonial laws. You can start with the altar and work your way forward from there.

    I also see in earlier posts you feel that each church can use whatever language — English, Spanish, Hmong — it wants in its own service to suit their own context, as long as it is Scriptural. I don’t agree with that as it destroys the unity of worship practice within a regional or larger group.
    That is what I hear. Why is the unity so important? Why can’t we understand that we have unity in our doctrine; but not necessarily in our practice, where we do what is best for our context.

    This is not a mere discussion of the language used in the service, at least that was not my point. Unity in doctrine and practice is paramount, these are two items that cannot be separated without loss to each. The simple argument is people practice (and support) what they believe, so if their practice is not supporting the official doctrine, it is supporting something else. The counter question then becomes why are you practicing something that is contra to your doctrine? The usual situation I find is the people supporting these foreign practices really don’t know the Lutheran doctrine in the first place. This has manifested itself in many of the chief doctrines of the Reformation, starting with communion, and then to the free gift of Grace of salvation that gets twisted into some form of decision theology that they pick up from Protestant and non-denominational friends, Christian book stores and radio. Some by influence from friends and family active in other denominations or non-denominational churches.

    No confession and absolution, no readings, no Gospel message, etc. Unfortunately, too many churches have fallen into this trap in seeking out the god of bigger attendances.
    Is “seeking out the god of bigger attendance” really the best construction? Is it not true that they are trying to reach the most people that they can with the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
    But either way, I don’t have any problem with having some best practices of CoWo. My problem is that for many, the ONLY worship that is appropriate for a Lutheran is traditional liturgical worship. To that I ask “Where exactly does it say that in Scripture?”

    You stress Gospel in your response, but note in my comment they are not getting the Gospel message consistently and certainly no Law and Gospel Confession and Absolution, plus a proper sermon. So it tends to be the Gospel of Glory rather the real deal. It tends to have people leaving church feeling good because they were in a praise and glory service taking the form of Christian entertainment. They don’t leave church knowing their personal sins have been confessed and forgiven by a gracious God. That is also not proper Lutheran practice based on our doctrines, it is imported from other denominations. It seems to me there is a common name for that. You might also ask, “What is the difference between a contemporary non-denominational worship and a Christian concert?” Sadly, the answer is, “The price of admission.”

  37. the error of some “missionals” is to act on a “given” that the methods, work and content of efforts aimed at the unbaptized is in some way different than what is to be aimed at those who are baptized.

    This is precisely where the error is. All believers still have the Old Adam who needs to be killed with the Law and then the New Man needs to hear the same life giving message as the unbaptized.

    As to “gospel motivation” for good works: no. this is not confessional or Lutheran. The New Man needs no coaching or “gospel encouragement”. The New Man keeps the Law that demands our good works “spontaneously, automatically.. as the angels… as light from sun..” FC art VI “the [Lutheran] Third Use of the Law.”

    So it remains the Law that believers use to “motivate” (ie kill, mortify and subdue) the Old Adam and force him to participate in the good works of evangelism and support of the administration of Word and Sacrament. This IS sanctification, but it is sanctification in the broad meaning of that word that includes both law (what we are commanded to do) and gospel (what is done to us).

    So that “gospel motivation ” you are talking about pastor Scheer is a confusion of law and gospel I am suggesting.

    In ALL we can see and do, believers are able to see only Old Adam and so the life long task of every believer is to practice that discipline that even pagans need to practice and that Aristotle taught. (apology “on justification”: “Concerning earthy morality, nothing can be demanded beyond the ethics of Aristotle”) Aristotle tells us that the path to virtue for Old Adam is to practice doing the acts of a virtuous person until those acts become a habit. All pagans know how to do this. Even hipocrites in the church know to do this.

    So how is this then sanctification? It is sanctification because of the fact , alone, that these works of ours , that are absolutely identical to what unbelievers can do, are covered and hidden within the Works of Another.

    Then… there is sanctification in the strict , proper and narrow meaning of the word. what is that? It is alone baptismal regeneration. It is alone that trust, love and also fear of God that alone the new heart movements prophecied in jeremiah 33 are able to do. And these new heart movements are completely and only given to us in the waters of Holy Baptism. This is alone of faith. It includes nothing that we are able to see and do in our bodies. The evidence for this is alone, that substance and evidence of things hoped for. it is alone invisible faith alone in the Works of Another.

    So please don’t talk about “gospel encouragement”. Properly divide the Believer between New man and that Old Adam that still clings to him and that alone is why the believer still needs the Law and it’s “encouragement”.

    Luther in the preface to the catechism says that indeed we will be punished if we do not encourage our youth to become pastors and do evangelism. So our motive for doing this is indeed the fear of God and to avoid punishment in this life for our failure to discipline our Old Adam. This is to be preached in just this way dear pastor. But our good works only pertain to this life and end with it. If we wish to deal with God that is alone through the Works of Another.

  38. @Andrew Grams #40

    You assume too much about me and our confession. You are the one, at least with me anyway, who continues to draw the line.

    Shoot, the lines were drawn before I went to Sem. I’m just recognizing them.

    And usually there is agreement and consensus reached before that departure is accepted into custom and usage as a custom or a rule.

    I agree with everything you said previously, except for this point. No, I think change comes when a small group fights against the status quo, goes out and does what they think is right, and then people catch up to them.

    Look at how slavery changed and the civil rights. Look at English coming into the LCMS. I do think that consensus is important part of change—but sometimes you can’t let a person’s lack of catechesis stop you from doing the right thing. You don’t have to wait for everyone to be on the same page.

    Look at what the Catholics went through with a few changes in their liturgy.

    Ummm…I don’t think they asked for anyone’s opinion on the changes, did they? Which is why some are complaining, right? Vatican II certainly was not a consensus event.

    We do not merely do something because lines are drawn, and they are not going to let me do it, so I am just going to do it anyway because I can say it falls within the realm of freedom.

    Sure. I agree. But if what you are doing is the right thing to do for the community — if it is being done out of love — then yes, I think you should do it. And others should respect it, out of the freedom that we have.

    be able to participate, being familiar with the various parts of the service.

    Well….what does this mean? Do you mean like communion, baptism, prayer, sermon — those are all elements you find in most all contemporary or traditional services. Or do you mean like the Agnus Dei?

    The circle is now complete!! It is about the sinner and not the Christ!

    It is always about love for the sinner. Love God, love others.

    Jesus died for me so that I can go out and do something for my community.

    As opposed to, Jesus died for you so that glory might be brought to him. Your going out and doing something for the community is not about yourself and how great you are — it is about bringing God glory for what He has done for you — He has saved you, He has given you life.

    And we all want to share this.

    And we want to do it as best as possible, out of love for our neighbor.

    Their salvation depends on ME! What will I do? Maybe I will go plant some flowers and an unchurched person will see me and like me. Then I will have won their heart. Can you call that the JFK Gospel? Ask not what Jesus has done for you, but what you have done for Jesus to win the lost?

    I don’t quite understand the basis of this rant…

    How do you give Christ to your congregation? How do you proclaim the Gospel if you continue to tell folks that they don’t need Jesus, only discrete populations within your community do, or the lost, or the unchurched need Jesus?

    Mmm…See the truth is actually a lot of Lutherans enjoy the CoWo services more.

    And of course my people need to hear Jesus. The whole point of the worship service is bringing Jesus to people — and the same Jesus who strengthens faith, creates faith.

    We are not horses who can be motivated with carrots and whips of sticks.

    Do you consider your child a horse? Do you punish them or threaten them with punishment for bad behavior?

    We lay people who make up the body of Christ, who make up your flock are sinners who need Jesus, just like you do.

    Yes. But you need the real Jesus. You need the full Jesus. You don’t need Jesus drawn in your image, the Jesus who excuses your behavior, who thinks it is ok to say “I love others” and then walk by on the other side of the road, to pass the beaten man.

    It is not ok to want a Jesus who you can say “I’ll follow you; but let me bury my dad first” and expect Him to have a different answer for you than others.

    Yes, you need Jesus. But you need the Jesus of Scripture, not the Jesus of your imagination.

    I am sorry if this is a bit harsh, but many of us who want to remain faithful, get beaten down week after tireless week with this gospel which is set before us and then snatched away in the next breath by saying now what are you going to do.

    Sorry. Get rid of that “Pick up your cross and carry it” and yes, Christianity is a very easy religion to have.

    It is not harsh — you are just wrong. Jesus does tell us to act. Jesus does expect us to follow Him — and follow Him alone. God does expect us to have no other gods before Him. And He doesn’t want rationalization about it.

    And this is not just “You are not good; repent!” It is “Change your sinful behavior.”

    Will you succeed perfectly? No. But will you try or will you ignore God and say “Thanks — I’ll continue to behave in a sinful manner and expect you to continue to forgive me! Carry on Jesus!”

    That is a dangerous position to hold to.

    I will continue to be faithful to Christ and the vocation into which He has called me.

    I agree. But would you not correct someone who says “God has given me the vocation of a husband; but I’m not really interested in that whole fidelity thing. I’ll be with other women and thank God, He’ll forgive me.”

    Is that appropriate? Is that what it is to be a Christian? So, if a person is not living out their vocation properly, is it not our duty to correct?

  39. @Gene White #43

    Certainly, but the context of this topic was worship and that was what I intended, in that there are modern worship practices that to tie back the OT practices and ceremonial laws.

    And where, then, does it say this in Scripture, exactly?

    I don’t doubt that we pray today and they prayed in the OT — but where does it say that our practices today MUST tie back to how things were done in the OT?

    I would point to Paul and his words “You are free” rather to point to the freedom we have to worship as we think is best for our community.

    This is not a mere discussion of the language used in the service, at least that was not my point.

    I thought we were talking about practice.

    Unity in doctrine and practice is paramount, these are two items that cannot be separated without loss to each.

    See? So, why is it not paramount to have the same language in all of our services. That is certainly part of practice, is it not?

    The counter question then becomes why are you practicing something that is contra to your doctrine?

    And I am not. CoWo is Lutheran worship:

    1. Christ centered
    2. Focused on bringing Christ to people in language they understand — not forcing them to understand a language so they can hear Christ
    3. Scriptural worship
    4. Uses the elements of worship that everyone acknowledges Lutherans do — prayer, confession, forgiveness, sacraments, proclamation. The marks of the church that Luther speaks of.

    I can go on, but you get the point.

    The usual situation I find is the people supporting these foreign practices really don’t know the Lutheran doctrine in the first place.

    Maybe. But some of us do.

    You stress Gospel in your response, but note in my comment they are not getting the Gospel message consistently and certainly no Law and Gospel Confession and Absolution, plus a proper sermon.

    This certainly has not been my experience visiting the many CoWo worship services that I have over the past few years.

    They don’t leave church knowing their personal sins have been confessed and forgiven by a gracious God.

    Once again, not my experience. But even granting this, we can work to be sure that this does indeed occur — that people understand this is an important part of worship. But this does not call for the elimination of CoWo.

  40. @fws #44

    the error of some “missionals” is to act on a “given” that the methods, work and content of efforts aimed at the unbaptized is in some way different than what is to be aimed at those who are baptized.

    Perhaps we might quibble about “work”, but yes, we see in the book of Acts how Paul changes his preaching style from when he is speaking with the Jews to when he is addressing the Athenians. The same thing holds to the worship service.

    But it does not “work better” — it is the more loving thing to do. If I proclaim Jesus in English in France, sure some might hear — but it is better (more loving) to learn the language and speak in that way.

    As to the rest….I think that we endlessly confuse ourselves over the various terms we use and how we pull out latin phrases to speak about the person as old man, new man, as he is man…

    The fact of the matter is, we all understand how people behave and how to motivate them because we all deal with children. So, you love your child, and nothing they ever do will make you stop loving them. Nothing. At the same time, we punish or threaten punishment for their actions. And we encourage them to act rightly and compliment them when they do. We set examples for them and tell them of examples they should hold on to.

    And when they fail and sin and rebel, we punish and forgive. And we teach them how to forgive.

    That is the Christian life.

  41. Please bear with me while I ask the following multiple choice question to help me better understand sanctification and good works. For the sake of clarity I am leaving the topic of my of my old sinful Adam out of this question.

    As Christians we are:
    a) motivated, taught, guilted or frightened by the Law into doing good works.
    b) given Jesus’s good works to do by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Means of Grace.
    c) made into new creations at Baptism who work as God’s breathed word creates us to work.
    d) all of the above.
    e) a and b
    f) a and c
    g) b and c
    h) none of the above

  42. Mark Louderback :
    @Gene White #43
    Certainly, but the context of this topic was worship and that was what I intended, in that there are modern worship practices that to tie back the OT practices and ceremonial laws.
    And where, then, does it say this in Scripture, exactly?

    All good practices don’t flow directly from Scripture, but they good because they support, or at least don’t conflict with Scripture. We are talking Adiaphora here.

    I don’t doubt that we pray today and they prayed in the OT — but where does it say that our practices today MUST tie back to how things were done in the OT?
    I would point to Paul and his words “You are free” rather to point to the freedom we have to worship as we think is best for our community.

    Not all good practice flows directly from Scripture, but all doctrine should be supported by practices that flow from Scripture and not conflict with it. Being “free” from OT law doesn’t mean you throw the baby out with bath water. This is what Calvin did and we know where that has led. What I was trying to get across to you is that we carry on the practice of having an altar because we know about the tie to Sacrifice, we carry on the practice of candles as a tie to the Menorah the only true light, the Laver via the baptismal font, etc.

    This is not a mere discussion of the language used in the service, at least that was not my point.
    I thought we were talking about practice.
    Unity in doctrine and practice is paramount, these are two items that cannot be separated without loss to each.
    See? So, why is it not paramount to have the same language in all of our services. That is certainly part of practice, is it not?

    You keep talking about the language as the only thing that needs to change as far as practice goes, if that is so, how is it that we all use English in our services and are discussing this now? What language are you using in your services?

    The counter question then becomes why are you practicing something that is contra to your doctrine?
    And I am not. CoWo is Lutheran worship:
    1. Christ centered
    2. Focused on bringing Christ to people in language they understand — not forcing them to understand a language so they can hear Christ
    3. Scriptural worship
    4. Uses the elements of worship that everyone acknowledges Lutherans do — prayer, confession, forgiveness, sacraments, proclamation. The marks of the church that Luther speaks of.
    I can go on, but you get the point.

    I get your point, I think, but what is it that makes your services contemporary? What are the practices that are different? Do you follow the teachings of Evangelical Style and Lutheran Substance, by Luecke, or are you someplace else?

    The usual situation I find is the people supporting these foreign practices really don’t know the Lutheran doctrine in the first place.
    Maybe. But some of us do.
    You stress Gospel in your response, but note in my comment they are not getting the Gospel message consistently and certainly no Law and Gospel Confession and Absolution, plus a proper sermon.
    This certainly has not been my experience visiting the many CoWo worship services that I have over the past few years.

    Perhaps you would be good enough to send me an outline of the services you are talking about or a service bulletin? I have never said a Lutheran service can’t be contemporary, as there are contemporary hymns, etc. What usually happens is the people are wanting more pep in the music and hymns go out the window because many are not peppy enough, and if they are they can’t keep up. They are looking for an emotional experience, not a two-way worship experience. Unfortunately, the substitution is with contemporary praise music which little to no Scripture in it. Many teach a doctrine that is not Lutheran, if you look at what is available across the Christian Music market. We must be looking at two different worlds when it comes to what is going on in contemporary worships in Lutheran churches.

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