My first District Convention – Lord, Have Mercy.

nid-conv-INIn a few weeks I will be attending my first LCMS district convention as my congregation’s Lay Delegate. I have to admit to having mixed feelings about attending. I am thankful that my pastor asked me and even more thankful that the fellow members of my church agreed to send me. I am selfishly and sinfully unsure what attending will do to me. Will I come out of it with a more positive attitude about the current state of the LCMS? Will it cause me to need a drink every time I think of Synod? Maybe I should just go and enjoy good company with fellow Lutherans outside of all the bylaws and floor committees. Having only been a member in the LCMS for 8 years I’m interested in seeing how things play out. Having never been to a convention this is really the first time I will experience church politics outside of deacons meetings and voter’s assemblies which are pretty uneventful at my church. What does a district convention do to a man?

The past few weeks and heading into the convention I am trying to get a handle on everything that will go on there. I even received my convention workbook in the mail…oh the joy of it all. After reading all the overtures I am fighting the urge to be pessimistic as either I am far too simple minded or this stuff is way over my head. I imagine at times I will be very interested in what is going on and others times I will be completely annoyed and bored. I guess I’ll find out. One thing is for sure it will be a great experience which I hope will have more positives than negatives. I would ask any of my fellow laymen who have attended a district convention to please give any feedback or comments which would help me and others in their first convention experience. Pastor Todd Wilken even gave some good advice in the question and answer part of his presentation at this year’s Brothers of John the Steadfast Conference.

 

As I stated above, the sinner in me is selfishly looking at how this district convention will affect me negatively and also my church, my district and the LCMS as a whole. One thing I will have to try to remember going into the convention is that our church body is filled with sinners who have a Savior who is far greater than our church body. He will always look after His church regardless of how we sinners try to screw it up. So during any times of annoyance, frustration and hopefully joy, I will need to try to focus my mind on Jesus Christ. His church is strong because of His Word and His work for us all. Our faith is in Christ alone and not the LCMS. Let us pray for faithful conventions throughout the LCMS and for faithful pastors and lay delegates to continue to do what’s best for the church by upholding our Lutheran Confession and a solid proclamation of the Gospel.


Comments

My first District Convention – Lord, Have Mercy. — 24 Comments

  1. In June I’ll be attending my third District Convention. Here are several suggestions . .

    1. Pray for guidance in helping to make the correct decisions regarding voting.
    2. Many others are in the same position as you. Talk to others at the convention.
    3. I plan on asking the Voters’s Assembly this month if they have any direction on candidates for office or comments on other issues. Share the online workbook with your congregation so they are also informed.
    4. Keep praying for guidance.
    5. Attend all the events at the convention.
    6. Read and study the convention workbook — get acquainted with the schedule before you attend.
    7. Enjoy the fellowship and speakers, if you’ve never heard Pastor Harrison talk, you’re in for a treat.
    8. Don’t obsess your mind with problems in the LCMS. We’ve always had problems, the devil will continue to prey on everyone. Focus on God’s Word and how it must direct our lives.
    9. Keep notes and prepare a report to your congregation and voters’ assembly. I usually supply a written report that is included in the bulletin. Offer to give a oral report of the convention to groups within your church.

    I hope this helps. Don’t get too involved in the politics. Keep your focus on Christ.

  2. I will be there also. It is a good time and keep the whole convention in your prayers.

    In Christ this Holy Week

  3. if you attend the eastern district convention, hopefully, you will like the praise band they will have lined up.

  4. @Ralph #6

    I honestly have no interest in anything that has a praise band. I hope they have a whisky pavillion for those who wll need it…

  5. @Brad #7

    So – you’d rather go drink whisky than go to a divine service with a praise band.  Good role model, Pastor. 😀

    Easter Blessings.

  6. My advice is to listen carefully and take notes about how your district mission facilitators can help your congregation grow.;) But seriously, use the break times to meet and get to know some Christian brothers and sisters you’ve never met before as well as catch up with some old friends. Find out what’s going on in sister congregations and consider ways your congregations could work together to help one another help their neighbors.

  7. @Ralph #6

    Drink whiskey or listen to a praise band sing about all the things I can do for my best buddy Jesus and about how special awesome amazing person I am…. Yap Whiskey a better option for my soul.

  8. Nathan–

    A few suggestions from one who has been to several district and synodical conventions:

    1. Do your homework. Your post indicates that you’ve been hard at it. It’s not unusual for there to be some confusing or vague overtures. If you are confused, be sure and talk with your pastor.
    2. Read the resolutions carefully. They have been constructed from the overtures/memorials that were submitted, and may vary significantly from the original overtures. There may be two or three resolutions that have very far-reaching consequences for the district, and indeed, the Church.
    3. A main purpose of conventions is Bible Study, including in-depth Theological Presentations. Make every effort to attend these–they are intended to feed and nourish your soul.
    4. Don’t let the politics get you down–it’s part of being human, and that included LCMS conventions, whether district or synod. On the other hand, you will want to be able to see thru some of the political machinations that may take place. Again, your pastor can help you with that.
    5. Be sure and spend time in fellowship with your fellow delegates. You will probably make some new friends.
    6. Remember that, ultimately, the district exists to enable the Church to be the Church–that place where people gather around Word and Sacrament. All decisions should support that end. It’s about faithfulness.

    Blessings,
    Joe

  9. John @ #1 and Joe @ #11 offer good lists. I would only add:

    DO NOT be swayed be emotionalism!

    Depending on the district, but I have seen it at the synodical conventions, some speakers get up and make an impassioned plea, describing how they FEEL, almost crying. However, logic often flies out the window, and occasionally the speaker might actually be trying to manipulate the outcome. (not necessarily conscious they may being doing this) By doing your homework first, understand what is trying to be accomplished, and analyzing candidates for your own personal voting list, you will not be easily swayed or have your conscious unduly burdened. BE PREPARED.

    And Wahpeton… Who else knows that town exists? I graduated with a Lori Redman in 1990. If I remember, she was a good friend of my cousin, Annette. How long were you there? You should have been a year a head of my sister, Stephanie Kiefer. Hi, Homey! 😀

  10. @Jason #12

    Lori is my older sister. Your sisters name rings a bell but I’d have to check out my old yearbooks to place the face. Small world 🙂

  11. A District Convention is an opportunity to see what
    the District is actually accomplishing: Start up of
    mission congregations, campus ministries, adoption of
    mission projects in the U.S. and abroad, seminars for
    continuing education of church workers, etc.

  12. District conventions vary greatly from district to district and over time. You have received some good advice so I won’t repeat that. Here are my additions.

    1. It is a good idea to always check the original overture with what came out of the floor committee. One would be surprised how they change sometimes. Make a decision if it is significant or not.
    2. Do line up to the microphone and make appropriate comments about the resolution on the floor that has your concern. None are perfect and sometimes the logic just doesn’t flow from the whereas statements to the resolved statements. Challenge them if they don’t. Also, some resolutions are just plain wrong headed. Speak against those on the basis of Scripture and our confessions. I have never attended a convention that didn’t need more lay participation.
    3. Watch out for the politics of the convention, which varies from district to district, so a resolution is not confused with emotion rather than common sense and good theology.
    4. Do visit the vendors, I attended the last Synod convention as a vendor and it was a great experience. I will be attending the Montana District Convention this year as a vendor and expect the same.
    5. Pray a lot for Wisdom and Discernment.

    Go in Peace, Gene

  13. @John Rixe #8

    John,

    I’m not convinced there is any such animal as a Divine Service with a praise band. Maybe a worship service… maybe a very pious gathering… but not sure about a Divine Service.

    And besides, a little anit-pietism might be an exceptionally good model to show, in an environment swamped with praise band pietistic enthusiasm. But if the pavillion is too difficult for your tender conscience to countenance, perhaps we could just sell small flasks to our delegates with the words “Whisky Goggles” emblazoned on the front… so that when they are stuck in such pitiful praise band environments, they can use those goggles to see their district dates more favorably.

    Now that I think about it, perhaps that’s the whole reason God gave us whisky in the first place… so that we might be able to see our enthusiasts brothers and sisters in their best possible light… 😉

  14. I’m not convinced there is any such animal as a Divine Service with a praise band.

    wait…what?

    They’re just instruments. (mostly guitar and piano)

  15. oh, yes, the district conventions are one most important thing: To vote out the district presidents that believe it’s ok for churches and rso’s to fire called and ordained ministers. Also, vote out the ones that are in favor of women ordination and the use of the transforming church movement, 5-2 stuff, praise bands only, etc….now is your chance to vote them out.

  16. @John Rixe #17

    If you’re familiar with the roots of where praise bands come from ecclesiastically, you’ll know that they come from traditions that do not countenance what we call a Divine Service. Enthusiast worship is fundamentally Law (what we do for God) and at best secondarily what God does for His people. Lutheran (and genuinely catholic) worship is fundamentally Gospel (receiving what God does for us) and only secondarily our response to those gifts.

    Hence a praise band, which is focused on doing something cool for God and manipulating the emotional responses of the people to feel whatever spirit they can evoke musically and lyrically, is antithetical to the theological ecclesiology of the Divine Service. As of yet, I have not experienced something I would recognize theologically as a Lutheran Divine Service (let alone the western mass to which we are confessionally subscribed) in which a praise band is inserted… and I’ve seen many, many examples that support my theory.

    But we are far afield from the original post, so I’ll step back from this.

  17. Nathan, soon you will be having your convention. I scour the internet, trying to keep up to date with many parts of Christendom. To the point: Minnesota North has not put the workbook up on their website. So I am curious about who’s running and the types of resolutions brought forward. Most specifically, I wish to know if anything is said about lay ministry/deacons. At some point would the Proceedings (the after convention report) be posted? To see the results? I hope you are enjoying the in-depth learning you are experiencing reading up for your important time and contribution. Thanks.

  18. @Jason #20

    Your guess is as good as mine on if they post the workbook and the results of the convention. I’ll look into it and let you know. Remember… this is all new to me 🙂

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