Mac McCabe, a member of Messiah Lutheran Church (Seattle, WA), reports that on January 25th, 2015 they passed the following resolution for the NW District Convention in June (11-13) about the Five/Two Network and Church Growth.
GUIDELINES FOR PROPER PRACTICES WITHIN THE CHURCH
WHEREAS, the Synod has been given a great gift in the clear teaching of God’s Law and Gospel in the Holy Scriptures and Lutheran Confessions; and
WHEREAS, practices arise within the Synod that from time to time threaten this clear teaching; and
WHEREAS, it is important to correct such practices as soon as possible to prevent error; therefore be it
RESOLVED, that the Northwest District in convention adopt the following guidelines:
- In the Apology XIII.3-4 it is stated that a Sacrament is “rites that have the command of God, and to which the promise of grace has been added”. The Apology lists the true Sacraments as Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and Absolution. We should gladly point people to the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins He freely gives us in the Sacraments, which are pure expressions of the Gospel. We must avoid any terminology or practice that denigrates the Sacraments or suggests that what we do has anything to do with the grace given, and thus confuse Law and Gospel. Any use of the word Sacrament or Sacramental that does not have the command of God is to be rejected. Thus terms like “Sacramental Living” and “Sacramental Entrepreneurs” that confuses the definition of a Sacrament and/or points to ourselves are to be rejected as contrary to the Confessions.
- New terms for functions or offices within the Church without approval of Synod in convention tears apart our life together as members of the Synod and are to be rejected.
- Pastors are to be seen as a blessing to the congregations they shepherd and serve. Descriptions of pastors as “oppressors” are to be rejected as despising the Office of the Public Ministry and violating 1 Tim 3:1 and 1 Tim 5:17. Pastors should remember their responsibility to be kind to the flock under their care — 2 Tim 2:24-26.
- Proper church order as stated in the Scriptures, the Confessions — especially Augsburg Confession Article XIV, and the Synod Constitution and Bylaws should be followed at all times. Appointing lay people to perform Word and Sacrament ministry without a proper call, ordination, and without the authorization of Synod by a pastor or group of pastors is rejected.
- Popular methods commonly referred to as Church Growth, including the belief that a congregation’s efforts can add power to God’s existing promises, promote the false idea that our works create and strengthen faith in others and simultaneously distract from the truth that the Church grows solely by the preaching and teaching of the revealed word of God and the proper administration of the Sacraments. These works-based growth methods should not be used or promoted.
and be it finally
RESOLVED, that the District memorialize the Synod at its 2016 Convention to adopt these guidelines.