Just the Gospel Please

Dear LCMS Pastors,

I think I’m writing for the majority of laymen in the LCMS when I say thank you for bringing us the Gospel each week, and nothing more. We need to hear that we’re sinners, and that for Christ’s sake we’re forgiven. [If you kept a record of sin, Oh LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.] We don’t expect you to be the most articulate, or the best looking or well-known pastors around. We just expect the Gospel, and you deliver Christ’s Word through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What we don’t need is photos of you in that pensive pose, as though it was all about you. Or the striking professional photo of you with the three-day beard – you know the one I’m talking about – where we have to wonder what exactly it is that you’re doing. When any little bit of your “ministry” starts to be about you, it is no longer about Christ. When it’s no longer about Christ, bad things happen.

And while I’m at it, no internet squabbling please. And no sermons with the slightest responsive whiff of the latest pastoral scandal addressed to your colleagues who don’t quite “get it.” Just the Gospel. The evangelical world has pastors aplenty for stuff like that.

Enough said.

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.


Just the Gospel Please — 7 Comments

  1. You really are right about this. I’ve been church searching lately and have found the Gospel less prevalent where the pastor is a celebrity. The church of Pastor X, not the bride of the Lord. There really isn’t any other option, if you want true Christian doctrine and practice, than a confessional Lutheran church.

  2. That having been said, Luther was an earthy, robust man. Full of good humor and fond of fellowship. Of course he was also a person troubled by melancholy. But, in my opinion, too many confessional Lutheran pastors seem uptight and rigid. I’m for pure doctrine and practice, but I think a little more lightness would be effective. I’m certainly not saying every pastor should have the gifts of Luther (who does?), but I am saying that a confessional Lutheran service need not seem heavy and funeral.

  3. @Jamie #3

    but I am saying that a confessional Lutheran service need not seem heavy and funeral.

    Are you talking about the pastor here, or the music?
    Perhaps the organist should be encouraged to pick up the tempo a little. (Of course, if “we’ve always dragged it before”, this may require education of the pew sitters!)

  4. To be honest, I’ve recently had a very bad experience at an LCMS church. So I’m probably biased. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything. The music is fine. But my particular pastor, who is without doubt a good and faithful man, created a kind of strict Baptist environment. There was an air of somberness that fell over the congregation. I went through a brutal divorce (is there any other kind?) and was punished with cold sanctions. I’m a confessional Lutheran. I subscribe without any qualifications to the Book of Concord. I suppose maybe I had a bad experience and am unfairly generalizing.

  5. My divorce created a great deal of spiritual anxiety. My pastor counseled against it, but I was too stupid and stubborn to listen. I realize now that it was the worst decision I’ve ever made. Lesson:obey God. He’s always right and I rarely am.

  6. Scott,

    Good article with a clear meaning. I was taught at the seminary that if a pastor were to finish a sermon and the hearers did not hear that their sins they were bearing were forgiven in Christ crucified and risen, that we would have failed in the preaching task. No one should ever walk out of a Lutheran worship service without the word of forgiveness having been proclaimed or we’re no better than the Reformed who just pile on the Law.

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