A Critique of BJS Reader James’ Defense of Small Groups, by Pr. Rossow

Over on the post about the end of the “missional mindset” BJS reader James defends the promulgation of small groups. People are really confused about what Scripture and the Confessions say about small groups so here is some clarity. (See comments #7 and #19.)

James does not like the style of “ministry” done by the likes of Bill Hybels and Rick Warren because their message is too much about the self and felt needs. James is right about that. So instead he makes sure that the studies used in his and his wife’s small group are from CPH. Good for him but not good enough. James is wrong to defend small groups and I hope to show why.

I have taken the time to summarize Jame’s case for small groups. (It is easy to set up straw men in a post like this so I have tried to use Jame’s own words and ideas. If I have misrepresented the case, James or other readers who support small groups can use the comment section below to replace any straw with meat and bones.)

Jame’s support of small groups consists of the following five points:

  1. Small groups are the right thing to do because they work.
  2. Small groups are the right thing to do because they create “fellowship.”
  3. There is no other way for Lutherans to create “fellowship.”
  4. Small groups are the right thing to do because it helps new members get to know other members.
  5. Small groups have become too big of a thing and the church is just helpless to make them go away, even if they are wrong.

James has a good feel for the harmful narcissism of Hybels and Warren but his rationale in support of small groups does not stand the test of reason nor Scripture. Here are some thoughts on his five points.

#1 – Small groups are the right thing to do because they work. James has experienced “success” in his small group. They have successfully created an environment of care and camaraderie. That’s good. But, we do not do things in the church because they work if they are contrary to God’s way. God’s way of studying Scripture is with God’s called teacher of Scripture. James has fallen prey in his logic to American pragmatism which judges truth based on “what works.” If it works, it is true. The Scriptures reject that logic. We do things in the Church that are taught in God’s Word or are consistent with God’s Word. Laymen teaching other laymen and having authority over them is not Scriptural. Who is the divinely ordained authority in the small group? James does not have authority over any of the other men in his small group. This brings to mind another principle at work here. Small groups are consistent with American individualism. There is some truth in this individualism but it is not the organizing principle of God for delivering His means of grace. We are all equal in Christ but we are not all teachers. The pastor is the teacher and the authority called by God to oversee the Word in the congregation. At work James is in authority over those who work for him. At the church men’s club, the officers of the group have authority. When the Word is being taught in the parish it is the pastor who has the God-given authority to supervise. Without a pastor present, it is simply a free for all.

#2 – Small groups are the right thing to do because they create “fellowship.” James is confused about what the Bible teaches on “fellowship.” He uses the Greek word ‘koinonia.” The word koinonia in its base meaning can refer to the sort of camaraderie that James finds in his small group but in the New Testament it is used in a much more profound way. It is used to describe the fellowship that we have with God through the forgiveness of sins and participation (fellowship) in the body and blood of Christ in His Supper. The camaraderie that James speaks of (people helping him when he is sick) is important but it is not what the Bible is referring to when it refers to the importance of “fellowship” in the parish. The sort of camaraderie James refers to is an outgrowth of the administration of Word and sacrament delivered by the stewards of the mysteries of God – the pastors (I Cor. 4:1). In the Small Catechism’s Table of Duties Luther reminds us that there are two main vocations in the church. There are preachers and hearers. The preachers owe it to their hearers to preach the pure Gospel. The hearers owe it to their preachers to obey them insofar as they preach this pure Gospel. This simple pair from the Table of Duties shows us the Biblical organizational principle for the parish and the alternative to small groups.

#3 – There is no other way for Lutherans to create “fellowship.” Here James is just simply overstating his case and setting up a false alternative. There are all sorts of ways to organize so that the parish takes care of its members. Our parish delivers meals to those in need. We provide rides to church. We visit the shut-ins. We provide housing for two different member families and more. James’ small group has helped him. I do not deny that but that does not mean that small groups are the only way we can care for each other and that we must have small groups if we are going to care for each other. I am also in favor of camaraderie. That happens in the divinely intended small group known as the family and secondarily with the family of God at church in various activities. I am looking forward to the camaraderie of enjoying the Super Bowl tomorrow with our Brothers of John the Steadfast chapter. I also enjoy camaraderie with the several neighborhood and civic activities that I participate in (tennis league, neighborhood dinner out night, etc.). Camaraderie is a sacrament (small “s”) of the left hand kingdom. Fellowship as spoken of in the Bible, is a Sacrament of the right hand kingdom and comes from the altar, pulpit and font. I encourage James and others to change their view of what the church provides. If you look to your church to provide the one thing needful, the mystery of unity with Christ through the preached and sacramental Word, you will be free to find camaraderie in other places. When camaraderie happens at church it is a good thing and it should be a part of our planning at church but it is secondary to the plans we make to administer Word and sacrament.

#4 – Small groups are the right thing to do because it helps new members get to know other members. (See #3 above.)

#5 – Small groups have become too big of a thing and the church is just helpless to make then go away, even if they are wrong. We began with American pragmatism and we end with it. James’ argumentation is really bad here and really scary. We just can’t get rid of these things so let’s just keep them. I will let you be the judge of that line of reasoning.

Let me add a few more thoughts. Small groups are not necessary. That is why we have church buildings. We build church buildings in order to bring a large group of people together to hear the Word and receive the sacraments via the called servants of God. Our church building is large enough that we can have hundreds of people studying the Word of God with their pastors teaching it, several times a day. There is no time nor space crunch keeping our members from learning the Word of God from their pastor. The only thing that seems to be limiting us is the unwilling spirits of sinful people. That will always be a challenge for the church. Setting up a faux means of administering the Word is not the solution. Here is a helpful question that gets to the heart of the notion that small groups are the unneccessary and often harmful “churches within the church.” Why don’t we administer Holy Communion in small groups? If laymen can teach the Word in small groups to great effect then we also ought to be able to administer Holy Communion in small groups. Yes?

Here is another thought. People claim that they get the Word more effectively in the informal and casual small group setting. Holy cow! That kind of thinking totally diminishes the power of the Word by submitting it to environmental affects not to mention how it diminishes the divinely ordained office of the ministry. If the church must have small groups then let us go all the way and emasculate ourselves by doing away with these expensive buildings and expensive pastors with their costly benefit plans. Here’s to small groups! They get the Word to us in a more effective manner and they solve all the cash problems of the church.

Above all, there is no mandate in Scripture for small group Bible study. The only place we see anything like it is in I Corinthians and there it is ridiculed, not encouraged. Everywhere Paul goes he appoints pastors to supervise and administer the Word and the sacraments. This is what God mandates in Scripture (Ephesians 4).

There are some good confessional theologians who get a little squeamish about abolishing small groups because they do not want to eliminate the duty and right of the laity to know and study Scripture. I don’t either. The laity need to be listening for the voice of Christ from the pastor nad if they do not hear it, they are to rebuke him and see to it that the pure Gospel is preached. But this is not the same as saying that the laity have the right to assemble around the word apart from the pastor. Rights never have a home in the church. Christians do not demand things based on their rights. They search the Scriptures and look for their duties and vocations. This is a question of vocation. If someone argues that they have a right as a layman to study the Scriptures in a small group apart from a called teacher of the Word (i.e. a pastor) then they have entered an arena of rights and demands that does not square with the Scriptural teaching of vocation and servanthood. That takes us right back to the post where we started. As Rev.Woodford points out, even the church growth gurus are figuring out that vocation is the issue and that small groups are not the way to go.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

A Critique of BJS Reader James’ Defense of Small Groups, by Pr. Rossow — 76 Comments

  1. @James #45

    MN South was able to more control what happened on the Mankato caompus. The former pastor was trying to learn form Pless, got “let go” and the new guy was a contemporary pastor that the district office was looking for. Considering a few other threads here recently, a campus ministry think tank has met, and some individuals have called for securing a level of congergational autonomy for campus ministries so they cannot be bullied by “holders of title.” As for ULC, visiting their website ulcmn.org you can read a lot about their history, a small part of which I lived through (during a peaceful time). Of course with any shift in paradigm there are losses. My previous congregaiton went through losses (including me) when they were working hard to ditch traditional liturgical with ultra contemporary. Eventually numbers may come back, but it is a different crowd of people.

    Pr. Rossow and others have hinted at or sometimes posted ways to set up confessional church worship and structures. Some are from a couple of years ago, so digging for them gets hard. Maybe the web masters are reading and can improve the Confessinal Growth tab to have models and stories to help others of us work it out.

  2. @Rev. McCall #49

    You wrote, “Imagine the kind of mission outreach and pastoral care you would have as well if a church of 2,000 broke up and instead was 10 churches of 200 members each in a community!”

    That’s a very interesting idea, Rev. McCall. Perhaps the best way to really for us to see what you have an mind would be to take on a real-world example.

    Let’s look at, say, Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL, which currently has 2142 members.

    What approach do you think should be taken in breaking it up into ten churches?

    In what ways will the current members benefit by being moved into smaller congregations, and likely congregations not led by any of the current pastors of Bethany?

    How will Naperville in general benefit by having more and smaller congregations from which to choose? How will the community benefit from having pastoral options beyond the pastors who currently are called to Bethany?

    What do you believe should be the response if the current pastors at Bethany – and particularly the senior pastor – oppose breaking up their congregation and reassigning them to much smaller congregations?

    I think your suggestion is fascinating, Rev. McCall, I think the BJS would benefit from considering this idea.

  3. @Aleksandr #52

    Larger congregations do help new ones get started. That is how ours was started. Members from a large congregation helped us start our new congregation in a different neighborhood. Friends of ours who are Presbyterian are in such a process right now. Also, we have three ethnic immigrant congregations meeting on our campus and they are pretty much separate congregations due to their languages and have their own pastors to teach in their languages. Larger congregations are helping start new congregations whenever they can and in various ways.

  4. @Mrs. Hume #53

    That’s true, Mrs. Hume. Larger congregations do sometimes help new ones get started. And that’s a great thing.

    But that isn’t what Rev. McCall suggested – he specifically recommended breaking up a church of 2000 into 10 smaller congregations.

    I’m simply encouraging him to detail precisely how he thinks such a plan should work, and using Bethany Lutheran Church of Naperville as an example.

    If what he really meant was what you responded, then his choice of wording was very odd, to say the least.

  5. No, I meant it as you took it Aleksandr. I will admit it to be difficult. Our natural inclination when thinking of church is not to keep it small, but rather to make it bigger because we believe that bigger=better. But typically in a bigger congregation it is the duties of the pastoral office that suffer and therefore the congregation gets a CEO and not a pastor. You cannot know all 2,100 members that well, if well at all. Visiting the sick and shut-ins, Bible Study, confirmation, all become things pastors must then delegate to others, including lay people, deaconess’, D.C.E.’s etc. His pastoral duties to which he is called then are set aside or delegated to others so he can be a more effective CEO. The church, IMHO, is not to function that way. In a congregation of say, 200-300, a single pastor can lead the Bible Studies and not worry about what small group leaders may be coming up with, he can teach confirmation instead of placing the shaping of young kids faith into someone else’s hands, he can do visitation instead of farming it out to another pastor or church worker. In essence, he can DO the duties of the Office into which he was called. He can visit frequently with his flock and come to know their needs, their hurts, their joys, and their sorrows. There are faces to the names. The same child he baptized, he confirmed, he married, he visited when they were sick. It makes the pastor a better pastor and preacher when he understands the people in his congregation and community. And it helps keep the focus of the church on word and sacrament. This is what it is about, not how many small groups we offer or how many different service times we have. How exciting would it be for a congregation to have in their minds that then they reach 500 people they will split, plant a new congregation in a new community, and bring the Gospel to a whole new area of their city?! Where everyone can actually know each other and worship together in one worship service. Word and Sacrament faithfully administered in a whole different community, reaching out to those who may not have even known we existed. Instead of fleeing from the inner city to the safety of suburbia we would be willing to bring Word and Sacrament to all areas of Naperville. Folks on the East, West, South, North, would all have a faithful Lutheran Church in their community with a pastor who knows them by name and who teaches, visits, and cares for them. And that is what church is about. Congregations would certainly benefit from more personal, pastoral care, how could they not? They would have a pastor who is able and willing to teach them, to visit with them, to rejoice and suffer with them, to know them by first name, and not just be the face they see in the pulpit every Sunday. They would get to know each other better instead of only knowing those who attend their same service time slot or who are a part of their groups and committee’s. Yet, if a pastor is not behind the idea it will never work.

  6. Sorry I rambled so much there. I’m not sure I answered all you asked, but feel free to re-state or ask again and I will try to be more succinct in my answer!

  7. @Purple Koolaid #47
    How does this work in a church that’s too large for the Pastors to be involved with everything?? At my church (over 2,000), we only three Pastors, it is impossible to have them teach everything.

    Sounds like your church ought to think seriously about 2 or 3 more Pastors!
    You can find them. You don’t have to strip some little congregation, (unless it’s folding anyway), to do it either.

  8. @Rev. McCall #49
    Imagine the kind of mission outreach and pastoral care you would have as well if a church of 2,000 broke up and instead was 10 churches of 200 members each in a community!

    When my son was a vicar in Lincoln, NE, the large LCMS church he served was spinning off satellites to keep the original at a manageable size. They bought land where some of their members were located, had a plan for development which began with an all purpose gym/auditorium with kitchen, and Sunday School rooms, (some finished, some left unfinished). The plan included a future church building when the congregation grew to support that. About 50 families in the new area, members of the “mother” church, were invited to be the core of the new congregation. The Senior Pastor was persuasive on that point.

    They had already done this twice, I believe. We toured a site that was just getting underway.

    Beyond a certain size, you get a congregation where you don’t know anybody and nobody knows you. I think the congregation in Lincoln was very sensible. It also meant that church was closer to the members’ homes so it was less of a chore to get there for mid week, confirmation and whatever else was planned.

    The first church was still large, (perhaps 1500?), and able to subsidize its “plants”.

  9. Dear BJS Bloggers,

    Sorry, but I’m too busy right now to read through all of the above comments, since my last one (#8).

    But I did notice somewhere that someone was giving Pastor Rossow a hard time for being too “narrow” in his interpretation. This sounds like someone who doesn’t understand Lutheran hermeneutics, or who disagrees with our church’s methods of “interpretation.”

    One thing that has attracted me to Lutheran theology, from the very beginning, is the careful attention to words and their definitions in the Bible and theology. When Lutheran theologians, and properly trained Lutheran pastors, use terms, they have very precise meanings.

    This was the intent of the 1580 Book of Concord. The confessors wanted all the Lutheran pastors to say and teach the same thing, with the same terms, so that no confusion could be brought in by heretics under the cover of their “interpretations.” This is completely different from Evangelical preachers, who often don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

    With regard to Walther’s “The Proper Form of a Christian Congregation,” here is the thetical statement for section 25, on page 101 (without umlauts):

    “Dazu, dass das Word Gottes in einer Gemeinde recht im Schwange gehe, gehort endlich, dass die Gemeinde keine Spaltung durch Conventikel, das ist, von Unberufenen geleitete Lehr- oder Betversammlungen ausserhalb des von gott geordneten offentlichen Predigtamts, dulde.”

    This makes clear the definition of a “conventicle.” It is led by the “Unberufenen” i.e., the “non-professional” or the “non-ordained” or the “non-called minister.” AND it occurs “ausserhalb des von gott geordneten offentlichen Predigtamts,” i.e., “outside of the ‘by-God-ordained public office of the preacher-pastor.” “Lehr”, i.e., “teaching” or “doctrine” and “Bet”, i.e., “public or group prayer outside of the household circle”: these are the prerogative and responsibility of the pastor who is called to that parish. So on this point, Pastor Rossow is 100% correct in understanding Walther.

    I found one of the Luther quotes cited in Walther’s “Proper Form.” It is in the Luther Psalm 82 commentary, in Luther’s Works, volume 13, pages 63 to 67. Check that out for Luther’s position. For example, LW 13:65, “A city-dweller or layman may be a learned man, but this does not make him a lecturer or entitle him to teach publicly in the schools or to assume the teaching office, unless he is called to it.”

    On page 66 (LW 13), Luther discusses his publishing books, which he defends on the grounds that he is a Doctor of Theology. He only published his books because he was asked to do so, and he says “I have never pushed myself in or desired or asked that anyone should read these writings, but have acted just like other pious pastors and preachers [who published some of their books].” This would seem to answer part of the question about blogging and publishing articles and books that are read by more than one own’s flock.

    I hope this helps clarify the discussion a bit.

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  10. And how would a church school manage with a break up of 2,000 members down to 200?? I can’t imagine the building fund campaigns. Sigh.

  11. Why couldn’t all the individual churches support the school still? This is what the churches in St. Louis do. They all band together to support several large Lutheran grade schools as well as two large Lutheran high-schools that are not attached to any one particular congregation. My vicarage congregation was one of the churches who contributed to support Lutheran High School North. It actually worked very well!

  12. Rev McCall, yes, but if the church is spreading out to 10 different congregations, it wouldn’t be close enough to drive to anymore. Furthermore, I appreciate my children worshipping with the same children they attend school.

  13. @Pastor Tim Rossow #30
    “…small groups are not just intended to be for edification. They are intended to satisfy the need for informality, no authority and emotional closeness.” This reminded me of something Rev. Louis Smith (of blessed memory), who for years was a campus minister said to me: “At the beginning of the academic year, I would promote a Bible study and 30-40 students would come out; but when they found out it was actually a Bible study,and not a worship service, the next time there would 2 or 3.”

  14. Robert #34,

    When I say “small groups” I am referring to “small group Bible study.” When two or more get together to study the Bible there needs to be a teacher there. There needs to be someone there to say “yes, this is right” or “no, that is wrong” otherwise the study is like a rudderless ship meandering around the ocean never being able to find port.

    I have sat through countless small group Bible studies of this very nature. This is not even to mention the false doctrine that is agreed to in these Bible studies and no one ever knows it because there is no one there to point it out.

    Again I stress that small group Bible studies are not necessary, not Biblical, run counter to the clear teaching of Scripture that the pastor is the teacher of the Word and rise up in eras of emotional Romanticism.

    Is it a sin? Is using pop music and a felt-needs approach to worship a sin? I don’t think so but it is a bad practice that over the long haul harms the Gospel. Likewise with small group Bible study.

  15. @Pastor Tim Rossow #64
    “… but it is a bad practice that over the long haul harms the Gospel. Likewise with small group Bible study.” But bad, per force, is not good. Bad is of sin. If it (whatever the “it” maybe) harms the clear preaching and teaching of the Gospel, then it is clearly of sin, then it should not be done. Further, there is then no such thing as a “venal practice”. “It looks good, it’s a delight to the ears, eyes and heart, then why not?” Plenty of “why nots” and so your good article.

  16. Pastor David Likeness at #35,

    I agree totally. I teach a Sunday morning class every week, a Tuesday night class every other week, a Thursday night class every other week, a Friday morning class every week, and I also teach five sessions of confirmation every week and our other two pastors are teaching the same number of adult and confirmation classes and each one of them has room in it and if we run out of room we can move to the sanctuary where each one ot the classes can have 400 people in attendance. There is no shortage of time or space for the divinely instituted pastoral teaching of the word in the parish.

  17. Mames, #38,

    Again, exceptions do not make good rules. The congregations that are organized around small group Bible study are not the congregations that have the men so well versed in the Confessions as the men you speak of.

  18. Mrs. Hume #39,

    Good questions. I know your confessiona l pedigree is strong based on the comments you have put on this website.

    Sunday School is an invention of protestants who do not have day schools nor the strong emphasis on family and vocation as found in the Lutheran catechisms and so using Sunday School as an example for defending small group Bible study is a bit of a red herring. Ask any pastor and he will tell you that he would gladly do away with Sunday School and trade it in for a parish full of dads who are reading Bible stories at home each night.

    Also remember that Sunday School is best used as a tool in the classical ed model. (I do not necessarily endorse the classical ed model but it is very helpful for understanding the role of the Sunday School and a comparison to small group Bible study.) Classical ed has learned that at a young age children need to learn basic content of a subject matter, i.e. the abc’s. It is only at a later age (high school) that they are able to start to take the basics and think abstractly with the material (doctrine). So, having little Bobbie learn the Bible stories from Mrs. Hume is an OK thing. Having Bobby learn sophisticated abstract doctrinal thinking from Mrs. Hume is a whole other ball game.

    I could share more on this but need to get onto other comments and then spend a few hours preparing my Bible study for Thursday night.

  19. @Pastor Tim Rossow #68
    “Ask any pastor and he will tell you that he would gladly do away with Sunday School and trade it in for a parish full of dads who are reading Bible stories at home each night.” Amen! What we need is catechetical home-schooling now more than ever. Also: My Father told me once: “If I had a choice, I would rather have you attend service than Sunday School.”

  20. James #42,

    I have been at Bethany – Naperville 18 years and we have transformed it from a contemporary worship/small group Bible study parish to a liturgical, confessional parish. It did not take the full 18 years – probably more like 8-10, but yes, it can be done. A similar thing has happened up at St. John’s Wheaton so we are not an anomoly.

  21. James #44,

    I can tell you the story but I will also add that the church will probably not grow, it may even shrink. Growth is not a measure of faithfullness. As a matter of fact, in Scripture the church is described in anti-growth terms such as “little flock.”

    This is not an excuse to keep from planning, organizing and setting goals but we need to be carefull about making growth a goal. Jesus nor Paul never did.

    Maybe I will write a series of articles that you could pop so popcorn for. It would certainly be good for discussion on the site. I can tell you that the main reason pastors do not write such histories is because it involves other people. If I were to do it, I would try to get someone else who lived through the same things here to read and edit what I write so that it would not just be from my perspective. Maybe after the BJS conference this week I will start noodling that idea. I have always wanted to write it anyway.

  22. First of all James, the fact that there are even LCMS congregations that belong to Willow Creek is troubling in itself. If you know anything at all about Willow Creek it is all pelagianism, all works, and all NOT Lutheran no matter how it dresses itself in robes on Sunday morning. I know because I have belonged to Willow Creek Association churches (not as Lutheran) and there is so much angst in trying to MAKE seekers become believers which is of course not a biblical premise to begin with. Small groups are fine until three or more people begin to give their “insight” which is almost never helpful. My advice to small group advocates is to look at what actually happens in them. My experience was in a mega church setting where small groups were formed to help people “plug in”. What happened was that people plugged in and never reached outside their 15 or 20 group members leaving another 2000 still unknown. (Mega church is another church topic that needs to be looked at through a skeptical pair of glasses. We are to make disciples of all nations, but not build a concrete structure to house them all.) Anyway, small groups can have their place but certainly not without a pastor to be involved. Even the most devout elder cannot take the place of pastoral preparation. @James #42

  23. I agree with you Pastor Rossow on church growth. We have long confused that with numbers and left our believers in the dust while we rabidly go after whoever can get their rears in a pew and make our bulletins reflect our success. Who isn’t for church growth? But looking at the definition of the church as the body of believers, our efforts would be better spent trying to build up the body of Christ while still adding to that body. But we must never let the sheep go hungry while the shepherd scours the field looking for strays. The good shepherd does go after the lost sheep but not because he needs a bigger flock but because he wants the lost sheep to share in the food and care that the flock receives under his care.

  24. @ Purple Koolaid
    Why would you have to drive somewhere else? The congregation would not be eliminated at it’s current location. Is who you go to church with that important that your children could not stand to go to church anymore if only say 6 of their friends attended instead of 10? That sort of statement shows what I imagine many people feel is the real priority when it comes to church. What should be important, Word and Sacrament and a faithful church, no longer become important at all. Instead we need friends, programs, and small groups to hold our membership and our attention at a church. My children have no friends from their school that attend our church, yet even if I weren’t a pastor we would still attend here because what they learn and hear and receive (Word and Sacrament) is more important than friends, schools, programs, you name it.

  25. @Rev. McCall #61
    Rev McCall, How does the church decide who has to leave? If you want to divide my church up into 10 churches, this is going to be difficult. Just sayin’.
    Yeah, and sorry, I want my children to worship with like minded families. I don’t know if you’ve realized but many lcms congregations are full of half-baked non-confessional lutherans. I picked my church bc there was a large handful of them. I don’t have to go where everyone agrees with me, but I want to go where I can count confessional families on both hands. If I were to split up into 10 congregations, I might not find that.

  26. @Rev. McCall #61
    Where in St Louis are 10 churches supporting one grade school? I know of one coalitoin (there may be more) that has four churches support a k-8 school. Of these four, one congregation has 1756 members and the other one has 3194. So by the advice here, both of these churches should divide into 25 congregations. So combine the other two congregations we’ll have a school divided into 30 congregations? Really? Can you imagine the school board meetings? Can you see people buying into that?
    Our school discussed combining with another congregation and our Pastor warned he would never support such a move bc it was a nightmare, from previous experience.

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