Progress is not the sole property of free-thinkers unteathered to Scripture like Matthew Becker or out of the traitional/liturgical box church planners like the 5/2 group. Confessional Lutherans are also progressive and I have proof. My own parish and the other parishes I describe below have no problem thinking outside of the box, we just don’t leave the box of confessional theology and practice.
I love the LCMS. I do not love it like I love the Una Sancta but I do indeed love it and so these are tough days given its now clear lean towards heterodoxy. It is also sad because I am a fourth generation Missouri Synod Lutheran, that is if you don’t skip my paternal grandfather’s generation who left the LCMS to go help form Evangelical Lutherans in Mission (one of the groups spawned by the liberals of seminex).
This fourth generation LCMS’er should have undaunted joy this weekend because we are dedicating our new million dollar music rehearsal and youth building here at Bethany Lutheran Church and School, Naperville, Illinois. (I shall now add with great fatherly pride that it is entirely paid off even before we enter it for the first day tomorrow.) I take “LCMS pride” in all that I do as a pastor. Every brick of this new building, every phrase of every sermon I have ever preached and every hand that I have stroked at the bedside of the dying has my LCMS pride in it.
But now I look at the wonderful new facility, and my LCMS pride is tainted because this synod is such a doctrinal mess. Do I want this to be an LCMS building? LCMS means pure doctrine. Is there an LCMS anymore? We can’t stick our head in the sand. Speaking of bricks, the bricks of the International Center in Kirkwood have an ugly rusty goo running down the side of them called unchecked false doctrine.
In my work with Wittenberg Church Consultants and with the view of the synod from my neck of the woods, I see all sorts of confessional parishes taking progressive leaps of faith, including my own parish. Here are some of the other “progressive” churches, all of which are confessional and liturgical.
Hope Lutheran Church – DeWitt, Michigan – A few years ago this perennial BJS supporting parish raised enough money to build a new fellowship hall and education wing. (Pastor Tony Sikora)
Peace Lutheran Church – Hastings, Nebraska – Brand new sanctuary, drop off area and large welcoming narthex. (Pastor Marcus Mackay)
Immanuel Lutheran Church – Alexandria, Virginia – Multi-million dollar day school addition and church renovation. This is the premier Lutheran Classical Education school in the country. (Pastor Christopher Esget)
St. John Lutheran Church – Wheaton, Illinois – This is the most impressive sanctuary in the LCMS and even more importantly serves the liturgy more effectively than any I have seen. (Pastor Scott Bruzeck)
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church – Lincoln, Nebraska – Good Shepherd has one of the nicest facilities in the synod for a mid-sized parish. They have a large debt but this year took the bold step to pay the debt down to free up money for other important work such as the new radio station they just started. (Pastor Clint Poppe)
St. John Lutheran Church -Niles, Illinois – They recently pledged more than their annual offerings to rejuvenate their unused day school in order to start a day care to serve the neighborhood. (Pastor Matt Gunia)
Lutherans in Africa (LIA) – Nairobi, Kenya – This is the mission group chosen for support by the Brothers of John the Steadfast because of their emphasis on teaching the faith to the poorly catechized Lutheran pastors and evangelists of Africa. LIA supporters have already raised over $300,000 toward the million dollar goal of building a new Lutheran Center for Africa. The land will be purchased and work begun in the next few weeks. (Reverend James May)
River of Life Lutheran Church – Chanahon, Illinois – Pastor Hans Fiene was called to a difficult situation, a former mission church in a strip mall that was pretty much stalled out. After a couple of years the congregation took the leap to buy a local church building and are now flourishing. Our parish took an interest in this congregation and is giving $10,000 a year for three years to help them through their move. We became interested in part because a “happy-clappy church” was planted just a couple miles away from River of Life by a local parish while the district stood by and did nothing
Immanuel Lutheran Church – Lincoln, Nebraska – Took the first steps and pledged a few hundred thousand dollars toward a new welcoming narthex and some much needed church renovation. (Pastor Jeff Bloom)
This is by no means a comprehensive list but it is an impressive one. If you know of a “progressive” confessional and liturgical church be sure to share the story in the comment section below.
These parishes make it clear that “progress” is not just the property of the so-called courageous churches that dangerously think out of the liturgical and traditional box. The confessional progressive congregations listed above are the kind of progress we need in the LCMS and not the progressive thinking of Matthew Becker and the 5/2 group.