Guidelines for Proper Practices Within the Church

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.



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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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,, 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.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.


Guidelines for Proper Practices Within the Church — 14 Comments

  1. So by repackaging what our Confessions already teach and reject do we mean to say THIS TIME we really, really, mean it?

    Here is a more pointed and germane overture.

    Given the obvious failure of our broken processes a publicly defined and revealed wilful Pastor and teacher of heresy has been allowed to remain on our roster.
    Therefore let us here remove him according to the final Authority of God’s Word; remove him from our body and pray for his regeneration.

  2. mames is right. It’s pretty sad that the Lutherans in this synod have to try to pass bylaws in order to maintain the Lutheran Confessions which are already supposed to be adhered to by LCMS members. If the membership and leadership are so off the chain that they won’t uphold what we have already agreed upon we will be resolving to resolve our resolution to be Lutheran in perpetuity. Meanwhile, we will be something else.

  3. @LW #4
    If the membership and leadership are so off the chain that they won’t uphold what we have already agreed upon we will be resolving to resolve our resolution to be Lutheran in perpetuity. Meanwhile, we will be something else.

    Really wish I didn’t think you were right!

    Maybe, instead of “giving up” something for Lent, we should all pray for our church and our Pastors, (and ourselves) as much time as we spend here writing about them?

  4. @helen #5
    We need prayer but also action. The Lord is very clear of how we are to handle heresy, this church body lacks fortitude and Godly testosterone. I am tired of hearing how outraged leadership is to find that there is “gambling going on here!” And then stand behind bylaws that contradict The Word and use that as an excuse. “One little bylaw can fell them.” Where are the MEN?

    HARRISON, for crying out loud DO SOMETHING besides writing a weak kneed statement.
    Thank The Lord my Pastoral role models were real men not these light weights we see today.

    My flesh prays “God bless and keep them, FAR AWAY FROM ME!”

  5. In so many things in this world, we are dependent on good people to self-reflect and identify the need to change. Sometimes those good people get confused and need to be reminded of the proper path. That’s what we’re doing at Messiah with this overture.

  6. Good people don’t lie, cheat and hide in Confessional clothing while they suck the blood out of the host. Burn them off and shake the dust off our feet THEN we can talk repentance. They are misusing your “putting the best construction ” on them to manipulate you . We are long past best construction as they have revealed themselves. Have been since 1888.

    So why are these “good men” doing nothing? because they are not good men; in fact they are worse than the ignorant or stupid.

  7. Dear BJS,
    A blessed Lententide to all, may this special season bring you closer to God and His Torah (teaching). May it also be a special time where we can look to the cross, and then the joyous resurrection that follows.
    Blessings to all. (and go to Lent services too)

  8. Maybe, instead of signing on to endless dead-end resolutions to District and Synod, our congregation needs to resolve to leave a Synod that will not back up and enforce the Confessions, that which seems comfortable with tolerating all sorts of heresy.

  9. @Kais #11
    Dear Kais,
    Where would you go? WELS? Independent? We still have (in my mind) the best exposition of God’s Teaching, spelled out in our Confessions and in practice. OK, the practice of late has been a bit rugged.

    Yes, I do agree, endless resolutions, sort of a waste, yet they are good therapy for the writer of.

    In the end, it will take a combination of things:

    01) Strong leadership on top, calling out error; supporting the good teaching.
    02) Strong leadership at the pastoral level, calling out error. supporting the good teaching.
    03) Dedicated laity that demands a pastorate that is solid. Calls out the error, supports the good.
    04) Strong Circuits that work together (not easy).
    05) Plenty of prayer for God to “turn us back” to His Ways, and to keep culture from over-running us.

  10. Dear BJS,
    Not sure where to put this, but thought it important to blurt out.

    Perhaps the worship wars really need to come down to this, make a solid definition for worship that stems from core Biblical belief.

    So I say, Psalm 95, this is a call to worship, and then what is true worship of YHWH.

    Yes, I love the western Lutheran liturgy, but we can worship by entering Church in silence and hearing the “scroll” read aloud, then we leave. OK, “who would come?”

    The faithful would.

    But note Psalm 95, the happy words going to worship, the singing, etc. But when we get there, “mouths shut so to speak.”

    With that said, we need to make a core difference between what is worship and what is praise.

    Yes, all this happy-slappy, hands waving etc., OK by me – BUT call it praise. NOT worship!

    Realistically, the faithful feel comfortable in true worship, the visitors, not as much (yes, we welcome them).

    So in the end, cal praise services just that, “praise service”. And let worship be just that, worship.

    We bow to the king, the Lord of Lords, YHWH; or to Jesus incarnate, or to the Holy Spirit.

    So sing and dance, but do it before or after worship.

    OK, and good hymnody is God to us in worship, it proclaims (OK, not like Scripture of course).

  11. Dear BJS,
    Anyone who listens, I just got a phone call, “want to rent out the Church?” From a “pastor” in the area, to start a congregation.

    Answer of course, “NO”.

    The sanctuary at Faith is set apart for the proper and good worship of YHWH, and YHWH alone as we see Him as the Triune God.

    OK, would we help out a fellow “wayward” brother in need to get through a fire? Perhaps? Realistically, just join Faith may be the true answer.

    Would renting out help the bottom line? Oh sure, but we are not in it for the bottom line. In it for the souls!

    Perhaps a dumb business call? But in my mind, a good and proper Biblical call.

    One thing nice, at least he called. Some mission plants, well, they forget to tell a fellow LCMS Church about that, but a resolution is on the way to NID and soon 2016 Synod Convention.

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