A Church Cannot Remain Lutheran Without Visitation

Found on Mercy Journeys with Pastor Harrison:

 

Furthermore, a synod that is “faithful to the Confessions,” must also “c. supervise the confessional faithfulness of its members.”

It is therefore not enough that a synod, so to speak, have only the official Lutheran statement “A synod true to the Confessions, adhering without reservation to all the Symbols [confessional statements].” It is not even enough that it receive only such pastors and teachers as prove themselves faithful to the Confessions. It must also see to it that they remain that way; for only he that is “faithful to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22, Luther Bibel).

But it is impossible for a sizable church body to remain in the true faith if there isn’t a constant check to see that everything still is as it was in the beginning, when the pastor came to the congregation. Without visitation it is probably impossible for a church to remain in unity of faith and confession. Therefore it is a terrible line of talk that the so-called “confessionally faithful” [Bekenntnistreue] are spreading in Germany: ”[All that’s necessary is] that the pure doctrine be public doctrine (doctrina publica), that is, the authentic, authoritatively established doctrine that everyone is required to profess, so that every false doctrine is actually without authoritative standing!” Therefore, [they say,] provided the pure doctrine is the authoritatively established one, the Church may be ever so corrupt, yet it is a true Lutheran [church]. If the pledge of loyalty to the Confessions has not yet been rescinded but is still valid, though not a single pastor proclaims it, then the Church is still sound.

That is no different than if an organization is formed for a good purpose, and finally the members agree to do something rascally but they retain their constitution as a benevolent organization. Then they cannot say: “We are indeed committing a dirty trick, but because, according to our constitution, we should really do good, therefore we are nevertheless an honest, honorable organization, since it says so in our constitution, which we still have!” That is what those so-called “confessionally faithful” ones in Germany say: “You see, the constitution says, ‘The Lutheran doctrine is public doctrine (doctrina publica)!'”

But it is not enough that it is on paper; nor is it enough that all pastors and teachers are pledged to it when they enter office. No, this Confession must also be faithfully practiced [im Schwangegehen].

That is why Luther, in his treatise “On the Councils and the Church” [1539], writes:

First, the holy Christian people can be recognized by their possession of the Holy Word of God. . . . But we are speaking of the outward Word, orally proclaimed by people like you and me. For this is what Christ left behind as an outward sign, by which we can recognize His church, or His holy Christian people in the world.13

It is not enough to have a Bible lying in the vestry, but it must be proclaimed from the pulpit. Moreover, a church may have a thousand oaths sworn to be faithful to the Augsburg Confession and yet be a vile sect; and that is true of the state churches [in Germany]. In the best cases there are still good pledges of allegiance to the Confessions, but very few preach accordingly from the pulpit. One is reformed, another is Methodist; rationalistic, yes, even atheistic, i.e., there are some who do not believe in a living God and still have solemnly sworn allegiance to the Confessions of the Lutheran Church. They simply say, “That is an old tradition, which it would be dangerous to discontinue because of the common people, who still cling to the old faith. But our superintendent, who put us under oath, knows very well what we mean; after all, he himself doesn’t accept the Confessions in their entirety either. But because the regional bishop has so ordered it, therefore we continue it.”

But such people are not Lutheran pastors. The confession of the Church must sound forth from the pulpit. And a congregation may be part of a large Lutheran church: If it has a false pastor and he constantly preaches false doctrine and it likes his preaching very much and definitely wants to keep him—that is not a Lutheran congregation either, even if the right official confessional statement is inscribed over the entrance. The [Augsburg] Confession must be proclaimed, and it dare not just say in a book somewhere that it really should be preached.

One must say: Churches that indeed teach false doctrine but have not sworn to uphold pure doctrine are not as bad (as those who have sworn to uphold pure doctrine but do not do so). They are better because the people are not so deceived by them. So when a church says “Here Lutheran doctrine is doctrina publica!” and you don’t hear it proclaimed, that church is a miserable sect, regardless of what it claims to be.

God had a purpose in letting us be called “Lutheran”—a name we really don’t care for (as everyone knows, the romanists gave us that name as an expression of contempt)—for that name now proclaims: “This is the Church that proclaims the faith that Luther had and preached.” If we were not called “Lutheran” but perhaps “biblical” or “Christian” or “pure,” then one person would think, “Pure means this,” and another would think, “Pure means something else.” But now we can prove which Church is the orthodox one; that is to say, it must have the Lutheran Confessions.

Luther has a beautiful statement on the need for church visitation:

Both the Old and the New testament14 clearly show us what a godly, wholesome work it is to have understanding, capable people visit the pastors and Christian congregations, for we read in Acts 9:32 that St. Peter traveled here and there in the land of the Jews and that Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:36) also revisited all the places where they had preached. And in all of his letters [Paul] shows how concerned he is about all the congregations and pastors. He writes letters, sends his followers, even goes in person. Similarly when the apostles (Acts 8:14) heard that Samaria had accepted the Word, they sent Peter and John to them. We read also in the Old testament that Samuel traveled here and there, to rama, to Nob, to Gilgal, and so on, not because he enjoyed walking, but out of love and a sense of his official duty and because of the dire need of the people, even as also Elijah and Elisha did, as we read in 1 and 2 Kings. Christ Himself also did the same thing even more diligently than all, with the result that for this reason He had no place on earth to lay His head, a place He could call His own (Matthew 8:20).

Also the ancient fathers, the saintly bishops, used to follow these examples. For this work led to the origin of bishops and archbishops; accordingly each one was required to make many or fewer visits and visitations. “Bishop” really means supervisor or visitor. And “archbishop” [means] one who is over those who supervise their teaching and life. And the archbishop should visit such bishops, look after their needs, and supervise their teaching. [That continued] until finally this office became such a worldly, pompous rulership [Herrschaft] that the bishops made themselves princes and lords and delegated the function of Visitor perchance to a provost, Vicar, or dean [Dechant].

Later, when the provosts and deans and canons [Domherrn] had also become lazy aristocrats [Junkern], this was delegated to ecclesiastical officials, who pestered people with loading tickets [Ladezeddeln] in money matters and visited no one. . . . But no one gave any thought to doctrine, faith, love, how to live a Christian life, how to care for the poor,15 how to comfort the weak, how to punish the unruly, and whatever else is included in such an office. . . . So this office, just like all the sacred, Christian, ancient doctrines and regulations, became the object of Satan’s and Antichrist’s mockery and ridicule [Gaukelwerk] resulting in horrible, appalling perdition of souls.

Who can express how useful and necessary this office is in Christendom? One may perceive it in the damage that resulted since the time when it fell [into disuse] and was perverted. Not even one doctrine or position has remained right or pure, but, on the contrary, a great many abominable cults and sects have arisen, such as the convents and monasteries are, through which the Christian church was severely suppressed, faith destroyed, love transformed into strife and conflict, and the Gospel put away [unter die Bank gesteckt]; nothing but human works, human doctrines, and human illusions reigned in place of the Gospel. Then the devil certainly had a field day, because he had crippled this office and brought it under his own control and had set up spiritual hypocrites [geistliche Larven] and monkish nitwits [Monchskalber], so that no one opposed him. The task is indeed a very difficult one, even when the office is properly and conscientiously administered, as Paul complains to the Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Galatians that also the apostles themselves had their hands full in fitting into it.

Accordingly, since the light of the Gospel has now mercifully been restored to us by the superabundant and unspeakable grace of God—or has perhaps first dawned on us—the light by which we have seen how wretchedly Christendom has been confused, scattered, and torn asunder, we also would have gladly seen that true episcopal and supervisory office restored as extremely necessary.

Let no one think that it has not been so among us. We must not despise the importance of the office of Visitor, even if its value is not always immediately apparent. For example, let us say that a dear brother who visited us perhaps gave us some good advice, cheered us up, or lifted our spirits simply by coming. And if he says, “Oh, dear brother, I also have the same problems you have,” and he sees then that others are faring the same as he, then already there is more than a small blessing in such a visitation.

Besides, we must remember: Such offices are especially important for the future. If we fail to set up such offices now, when by God’s grace we are all united, then untold harm can result therefrom. Now is the time for us to hold fast to such established practices, so that they will be there when at some time false spirits have insinuated themselves. For such arrangements are not for the zealous, who are on their knees day and night [in prayer] that they may be found faithful; they are rather for those who get weary and exhausted with teaching, keeping watch, praying, and studying [Forschen]. The devil can again blow out the whole light for us, and unity may turn into such Babylonian confusion that we are appalled. Therefore we must do all [we can] to ward off such danger. Then, if it still doesn’t work, well—we didn’t give birth to the Church, and we can’t preserve it. We must commend it to God and see that we save our souls.

We know how little Luther thought of human ordinances [and] how he hated it that some wanted to make the Church’s welfare dependent on rules and organizational structures. But how highly this same Luther speaks of the office of Visitor! He ascribes the terrible deterioration under the papacy primarily to the deterioration of this institution. Therefore let us cling tightly to it [darob halten]. And also this synod will certainly do it with the help of God.

The Preface to The Book of Concord says:

We likewise purpose to cooperate with one another in the future in the implementation of this effort at concord in our lands, according to our own and each community’s circumstances, through diligent visitation of churches and schools, the supervision of printers, and other salutary means. If the current controversies about our Christian religion should continue or new ones arise, we shall see to it that they are settled and composed in timely fashion before they become dangerously widespread in order that all kinds of scandal might be obviated [Preface to The Book of Concord; tappert, 14].

As soon as the Formula of Concord had been accepted, it was evident that visitations were necessary. Therefore, in the name of their Christian people, the Christian princes said: “We likewise purpose to cooperate with one another in the future in the implementation of this effort at concord in our lands . . . through diligent visitation of churches and schools.” The Church has simply always had the same needs. What our dear forebears felt, that is what we also feel. Therefore we intend to follow in their footsteps and use the means they found trustworthy.

 

CFW Walther on visitation in “The Duties of an Evangelical Lutheran Synod,” At Home in the House of My Fathers.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord, LCMSsermons.com, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

More of his work can be found at KNFA.net.

Comments

A Church Cannot Remain Lutheran Without Visitation — 30 Comments

  1. What benefit in “visitations” if the visitor is promoting “Church growth”, Rick Warren, or Willowcreek instead of the Gospel, and “Alley” type entertainment instead of Lutheran worship?

  2. Perhaps President Harrison is trying to revive the
    practice of a Circuit Counselor making “official visits”
    to each parish in his circuit. It is in the LCMS handbook
    but it is seldom done. In the 1950’s he was called
    Circuit Visitor. When the nomenclature changed to
    Circuit Counselor was probably in the 1960’s.
    The purpose of the visit is explained in the handbook.

  3. @helen #1
    Visitation policies can establish what the purpose of a visitation is and is not. Having recently left a declining church, I would have welcomed someone with conviction, insight and ideas who was coming to see how we were doing in terms of both doctrine and practice, and offer good counsel.

  4. Now that the district conventions are concluded, perhaps the districts’ boards of directors will consider and pass the following resolution, and follow through:

    _________ DISTRICT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
    RESOLUTION: To Establish a Board-Designated Fund for Visitation Assistance

    WHEREAS, from the inception of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), its primary objective has been to “Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith” (Constitution, Article III.1) and,

    WHEREAS, The “true faith” and “Lutheran doctrine” are identical, as our unconditional subscription to the Book of Concord says, and the “true faith” is the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3, ESV), and our Lutheran doctrine, the true faith, is the Gospel, proclaimed in the Word and distributed in the Sacraments, and

    WHEREAS, In the words of Friedrich Wyneken, “The purpose of this coming together [to form the Synod] was nothing other than to achieve the care, maintenance, and promotion of this unity, both inwardly and outwardly. The purpose of this unity, to the glory of God and for the salvation of the neighbor, was to bring in even more people through the knowledge of the truth, as the Lord commands us to do, and the Spirit of God who dwells within us accomplishes it. All the ordinances and regulations that the Synod had established when it was founded were put in place to that end.”

    WHEREAS, The original (1847) Constitution of Synod directed the Synod President to “exert all energy to visit each parish of Synod at least once during his three years of office,” (1847 Constitution, Article VI.A.7), and

    WHEREAS, by 1854, the Synod had grown so large that it was divided into Districts in order that visitation of the congregations would continue, and

    WHEREAS, The LCMS Constitution states that “The district presidents shall…exercise supervision over the doctrine, life, and administration of the office of the ordained and commissioned ministers of their district and acquaint themselves with the religious conditions of the congregations of their district. To this end, they shall visit and, according as they deem necessary, hold investigations in the congregations” (Constitution, Article XII.7) and

    WHEREAS, The same article states further, that “The [district presidents] assistants in this work are the circuit counselors, who therefore shall regularly make their reports to the district president” (Constitution, Article XII.7), and

    WHEREAS, the expenses connected with such visitation (travel, supply pastors, etc.) are often borne by the congregations of both the visiting pastor’s congregation and the host congregation, and

    WHEREAS, the congregations of the _______ District support the District with their offerings in expectation that the Synod’s objectives will be fulfilled, and

    WHEREAS, many congregations are having difficulty in meeting the ordinary cost of maintaining their pastor, program, and physical plant, therefore be it

    RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors of the _______ District establish a Board-designated Fund for the sole purpose of assisting its congregations with the costs of visitation, and be it further

    RESOLVED, that one-half of one percent (1/2 %) of the total annual Congregational Mission Support received by the District from its congregations be added to the Fund each year, and be it further

    RESOLVED, that funding for said Fund in 2012 be apportioned by making necessary adjustments in the 2012 budget, and from such gifts as may be received, and in succeeding years shall be a regular budget item, and be it further

    RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors and Presidium demonstrate their commitment to this Fund by personally contributing an aggregate total of at least one thousand dollars ($1,000) to a temporarily-restricted fund with the same purpose to initialize this Fund for the fiscal year 2012, and be it further

    RESOLVED, that the Board of Directors exhort and encourage the District President and the circuit counselors to exert every effort in order that each congregation in the ______ District be visited at least once during each triennium.

  5. there are already some Districts who reimburse
    the Circuit Counselor for his expenses in carrying
    out his official duties. There also some parishes
    who reimburse the Circuit Counselor for his
    expenses connected with their parish.

    However this sample resolution would make the
    Synod aware of the financial needs of carrying out
    the work of visitation for the Circuit Counselor.
    Carry on.

  6. The Wyoming District of the LCMS actively engages in visitation. We even make it such a point that we have Circuit Visitors instead of Circuit Counselors (memorial coming to 2013 convention of Synod to restore such a historic term with historic responsibilities). Each visitation inquires about catechesis, divine services, Sunday School, pastor/congregation health, etc. It is a wonderful process and of course the Wyoming District is proof of what can happen when good, orthodox men conduct regular visitations.

  7. In most Districts, the Circuit Counselor currently is
    someone who attends parish call meetings during
    a vacancy. If the Circuit Counselor becomes a
    Circuit Visitor in 2013, then he will need to be
    someone who is willing to take on the added
    responsibilities and have the ability to carry them
    out. This will change how we view that position
    and the spiritual maturity needed for it.

  8. @Dave Likeness #9
    Exactly, return to the historic position of Circuit Visitor with the historic responsibilities, which yes, will require spiritual maturity, wisdom, and courage (as well as time).

    The handbook spells out that the DP (or one of his agents, like a Circuit Visitor) make visitation to the congregations he serves in the District at least once every three years. See ByLaw 4.4.4 on page 193. So guess what – it is already on the books, it is just a matter of enforcement by the Executives in charge of enforcing these things.

  9. Pastor Joshua Scheer :
    @Dave Likeness #9
    Exactly, return to the historic position of Circuit Visitor with the historic responsibilities, which yes, will require spiritual maturity, wisdom, and courage (as well as time).
    The handbook spells out that the DP (or one of his agents, like a Circuit Visitor) make visitation to the congregations he serves in the District at least once every three years. See ByLaw 4.4.4 on page 193. So guess what – it is already on the books, it is just a matter of enforcement by the Executives in charge of enforcing these things.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding about the function of districts’ boards of directors. Visitation is one very legitimate concern of the BOD’s. Although one can make the case that this is “right-hand kingdom” stuff, the BOD is no less sworn to uphold the constitution than the DP or VP’s. It is not the BOD’s function to make the visits, evaluate the congregations, or suggest improvements–that is “right-hand” kingdom work. However, directing the DP and his Visitors to do this, and supplying the resources–that is the BOD’s work, “left-hand” kingdom, if you will. That is the purpose of the resolution above (#4). I suggest a brief report from the DP at every BOD meeting, summarizing the visits made, and the results. I would also suggest that Board members make informal visits outside their own congregations, attending circuit functions, Winkels, installations, convocations, etc.

  10. Does anyone know when or why the Circuit Visitors became Counsellors? I think it was in the 1960s. My own understanding is that, according to Synod’s Constitution, the President of Synod supervises doctrine and practice. In this he is assisted by the District Presidents who supervise doctrine and practice in their Districts and also ordain either in person or by proxy. And the District President is assisted by the Visitors. However allergic our Synod has been to the term “bishop,” these are in fact the historic functions of the episcopate. I must confess that I am somewhat amused by the use of the ten-syllable very Latinate term “ecclesiastical supervisor” in Synod’s rules of governance when there is in fact a very simple two-syllable Anglo-Saxon word which says exactly the same thing: bishop. But regardless of the terminology used, it is clear that Luther and the Fathers of our Synod believed that this supervisory (episcopal) function is necessary to the well-being of the Church. Yet terminology does matter: a Visitor comes to visit by virtue of the authority of Synod. A Counsellor is someone you might consult if you perhaps feel the need to do so. There is a difference! It seems to me that the use of the latter term perhaps reflects an egalitarian sensibility together with the lamentable tendency to psychologize every conceivable and inconceivable thing!

  11. You know, a District President could even do virtual visitations by just checking out the what is on the websites of the churches in his district. Here is an interesting example of something I found by visiting a website of a local LCMS church:

    The People of the Way invite you to come to a Prophesy Workshop on Saturday, August 11 from 3 pm – 5:30 pm at Christ the King Student Center. This is a time where we will be in a comfortable setting and learn the basics of how to participate in this wonderful ability to speak words from God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. You can expect a low-pressure, casual setting in the which to learn “to strengthen, encourage, and comfort God’s people” (1 Cor 14:3). For more information contact…

    http://www.christ4u.net/cpt_news/prophesy-workshop/

  12. @Mrs. Hume #14

    “You know, I wonder if this is what it sounds like it is or not. If it is not, why is it presented this way? If it is, why is it presented at all? There is just something weird about it. Does this warrant a visit? a phone call?”

    Yes. It warrants a phone call, informing the pastor that a visit will be happening soon, say in the next couple of days. This ought to be the first place the DP’s and their Visitors do their visiting. It’s a great suggestion, Mrs. Hume, and I, for one, will pass it on to my DP. This kind of stuff makes a mockery of the Means of Grace, for one thing, and the doctrine of the Church, and the office of the Holy Ministry, for others. This pastor ought to be called on the carpet. I could show you a few more similar to this. There’s lots of Rick Warren wannabe’s out there, also.

  13. @Win #13 Many thanks for sending the reference to the study of Synod-District relations in historical perspective. I found the following paragraph especially interesting: “The original function of the circuit counselor [sic] was supervision of doctrine and practice. Slowly counselors came to be communicators promoting the Synodical program to their circuits. ‘What was originally conceived as a highly spiritual office, instituted for the proper supervision of doctrinal and moral standards of the Synod, gradually emerged into that of a synodical agent in the lowest level of the administrative structure.'” Perhaps concern about that change is reflected in the words of President Pfotenhauer in 1936: “The chief requirement of a capable district president and visitor [sic] is not that he be great with finances and a capable administrator, but much more that he be a profound theologian and experienced student of the Scriptures” (At Home in the House of My Fathers, p.797).

  14. I wholeheartedly agree that circuit counsellors should do visitation, but if I may play the devil’s advocate for just a minute.

    In my experience, most pastors, especially those who are elected as circuit counsellors are already working very long hours caring for the congregations to which they have been called. Adding in a visit to 6-10 congregations per year, with each visit likely consuming close to half a day, would add to an already loaded work schedule. The time required for a visit goes up in the more spread out circuits. Just as an example, it is a three hour drive from where I am, to where the circuit counsellor is, and there are churches further away than us. For him to visit us would consume a full day.

    This seems like a dandy idea, I just wonder if anyone has given thought to the logistics required, and if maybe this is one reason that visitation has apparently been replaced by a circuit pastor’s conference every couple of months.

    How did the visitors of years ago deal with this issue? Were there fewer demands on our pastors then?

  15. If President Ptotenhauer was looking for District Presidents
    and Circuit Visitors who were “profound theologians and
    and experienced students of the Scriptures” in 1936,
    then he would be disappointed in 2012. Unfortunately,
    that is not the criteria used in the LCMS today. Perhaps,
    this is the weakness of our Synod, we do not have many
    “profound theologians” in leadership positions in our
    Districts. By God’s grace this needs to change.

  16. @David Hartung #17

    You said, “Adding in a visit to 6-10 congregations per year, with each visit likely consuming close to half a day, would add to an already loaded work schedule.”

    Would your circuit counselor really be visiting 6-10 congregations per year? That translates to a circuit of 18-30 congregations. Something does not add up. If there’s that many congregations in your circuit, then it’s time to subdivide the circuit. Let’s say there’s 15 congregations in the circuit. The DP can make one visit per year in a given circuit, and the VP can also do the same. That’s six visits in three years, leaving nine congregations to be visited in those three years, or three visits per year. That’s no small number, but is do-able. The DP and VP’s have to be committed, the BOD has to have high expectations, and the circuit counselors have to apportion their time. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. This ain’t gonna happen overnight, but you have to start someplace. It should start with the BOD.

    @Pastor Charles McClean #16
    You’re very welcome. The paper was written more than 50 years ago, and no doubt much has changed. But the information therein is invaluable and gives us lots of insights into the why’s of the state of the synod today.

  17. This is pure idealism.

    The real Visitor is: incompetent, over-confident, weak, controlling, DP hater, DP lover, limp, conservative, liberal, lazy, high opinion of self, thinks he is better than other pastors (you choose)

    Why would any pastor want to waste time visiting with a Visitor? Nothing will be accomplished.

    Really. Can any pastor name another pastor in their circuit, who they want visiting on a regular basis. I can’t.

  18. @SanK Te Fied #20

    Sounds as tho the Visitors you describe are sinners. Hmmm. And they will be visiting other sinners? Yes, that certainly sounds like an idealistic set-up to me. I mean, those sinner-pastors actually preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to the sinner-layfolks in the pews, and give them communion. Honest! Really!

    We expect that preaching law/gospel will change hearts–that the Holy Spirit will work faith in some of the hearers. Whew! Pretty idealistic, if you ask me.

    Yes, the visitation is idealistic–the Church is idealistic, the synod is idealistic, the districts are idealistic.

    I’ll check with my pastor and see how he feels about being visited by our circuit counselor, and if he has any other preferences. Watch this space.

  19. @SanK Te Fied #20
    I have been a pastor in two circuits so far, one in the Minnesota North District (Bemidji Circuit) and now one in Wyoming District (High Plains Circuit). In both I have experienced visitations. In both I would have been happy to have any pastor in my circuit come and visit me. In both, the circuit counselor (MNN) and the circuit visitor (WY) inquired about what is being preached, practiced, and taught, and also shared their wisdom of many years in the parish with me. They also took the time to ask about my family, home life, parish life, and a bunch of good questions about the congregations I served. I was grateful in both situations. But then again, I have nothing to hide… (some pastors may fear visitation because of that).

    I am sorry that you can’t name another pastor you would like to have regular visits from, I can name just nine in my current circuit (all of them, plus even more for the retired guys) that would be welcome to visit me.

  20. @Win #19

    Would your circuit counselor really be visiting 6-10 congregations per year? That translates to a circuit of 18-30 congregations.

    Our circuit currently consists of 19(one recently closed) congregations. Because of our geographic size, the DP does appoint another man to assist the elected circuit counsellor. I do not know the schedule of our District president, except to say that he already spends much of his time on the road. The Southern District consists of three states and part of a fourth.

    Once again, I am wholeheartedly in favour of visitation, but to return to that practice, it seems to me that something else will have to go.

  21. @David Hartung #23

    You said, “Once again, I am wholeheartedly in favour of visitation, but to return to that practice, it seems to me that something else will have to go.”

    I’m sure that we could think a few things that “will have to go.”

    Also–perhaps the district DP, VP’s, BOD, staff, & Circuit Counselors need to re-think their priorities, and take a hard look at enabling visitaiton.

  22. Win :
    @David Hartung #23
    You said, “Once again, I am wholeheartedly in favour of visitation, but to return to that practice, it seems to me that something else will have to go.”
    I’m sure that we could think a few things that “will have to go.”
    Also–perhaps the district DP, VP’s, BOD, staff, & Circuit Counselors need to re-think their priorities, and take a hard look at enabling visitaiton.

    What priorities would have to change? To put it another way, what is different about our expectations of pastors today, which keeps them so busy? Do we have different expectations of pastors today than was the case a hundred years ago?

    For the record, that is an honest question. It may be off topic for this discussion, but I am beginning to think that many pastors and many parishioners have so redefined the role of pastor that often he winds up doing everything but actually functioning as a pastor.

    Perhaps we have made things more complicated than they really are?

  23. @Dave Likeness #18

    @SanK Te Fied #20

    This is of course the elephant in the room; in many of our circuits and districts the inmates are running the asylum. Visitation is a fine tool for keeping an orthodox unified Church orthodox and unified, but I’m not sure it’s capable of getting the toothpaste back in the tube. There are a lot of Bozo CCs out there who I wouldn’t trust to properly bury a dog, but who are operating w/ the full trust and approval of similarly heterodox DPs. Are these the men you want in your congregations as visitors?

    The effect of visitation is to maintain the status quo, or perhaps incrementally move the ball in the visitor’s chosen direction. If the status quo and visitor’s vector are good visitation is helpful, if they are wretched then the effect of visitation will be wretched. (Wyoming Dist?-good. NoW Dist?-bad.) This is a great tool, but the wrong one for the job at hand in the LC-MS today. Our polity won’t allow SP Harrison to use visitation properly, and delegated to the DPs it would only entrench each district in its current state.

    Pax Christi+,
    -Matt Mills

  24. And we also need visitation for our districts and their conventions where we actually have votes on doctrine and practice.The Lord must really love that! Wake up!!!!! Shame on those who promote whether or not God’s Word and will-in this case-close communion is clear.Or am I missing something?

  25. As we see it circuit folks are running away from spiritual problems and deeming the faithful as those who need help with their heads to keep others employed???

  26. @Matthew Mills #26
    “Our polity won’t allow SP Harrison to use visitation properly, and delegated to the DPs it would only entrench each district in its current state.”

    Regarding the first part of this sentence, whether our polity allows it or not, I do believe President Harrison could make very effective use of his “bully pulpit” and the courtroom of public opinion. For example, can you imagine how effective he would have been if he had publicly exposed and strongly reproved the district officials who were evicting ULC, rather than making that weak statement about a blizzard of sin on both sides?

    Regarding the second part of the sentence, “entrenched” is right! When I personally got such a visit at my little mission, we were critiqued for using the liturgy and hymns in LSB, for making it too obvious that we were Lutheran, and for “entering the worship phase of our mission development” too soon. One of my dear octogenarians remarked, “By the time they give you permission to start preaching the Word, some of us will be dead!”

  27. @Pastor Ted Crandall #29
    Worth repeating!

    “…can you imagine how effective he would have been if he had publicly exposed and strongly reproved the district officials who were evicting ULC, rather than making that weak statement about a blizzard of sin on both sides?”

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