This is the Missouri Synod?
“We should know what to expect in the Missouri Synod.” This comment was made to me by one of my members who had traveled and located a sister congregation of our Synod. Much to her chagrin and dismay, that which she rightly expected was not to be found. No hymnal, but screens. No hymns, but theologically void praise songs. No vestments, but collared shirt and khaki pants. No liturgy, no Law and Gospel, no lectern, no pulpit, no historic Creed, no Christ, no order of worship but disorder. Those gathered in that particular sanctuary heard a “how to” sermon that could only lead to pride or pessimism. A rare occurrence? Sadly, no. As she left the service my member pondered, “This is the Missouri Synod?”
We have come to expect the unexpected in our Missouri Synod. This should not be. You enter a McDonald’s fully knowing what to expect. How much more so the House of God! We are not walking as one in doctrine and practice. I challenge you to visit various congregations in the Synod. A plethora of worship styles and practices will be readily evident. We are fragmented. “What works” is the end all in far too many parishes, instead of “what is right.” Open communion, “how to” sermons devoid of Christ, clips of movies shown in sanctuaries, meaningless ditties, and entertainment driven anthropocentric services among others leads me to lament also… “This is the Missouri Synod?”
This IS the state of our Missouri Synod. While on vacation, my family and I have witnessed these things first hand. One of my sons, after a “drama service” said to me, “Dad, why? Why would they do that?” “We heard nothing of Jesus.” We are told that “successful congregations” are growing. They have a mixed bag approach that draws people in. Stagnant congregations are encouraged to adopt similar strategies so that they will increase numerically too. Why would they do that? Far too many Pastors do whatever is right in their own eyes, acquiescing to societal norms and various strategies. Why would they do that? Pastors are called to be faithful, not successful. The right proclamation of the Word and administration of the Holy sacraments may mean fewer members, not more. Faithful Pastors suffer for rightly scorning the acclamation of men and leaving canned programs in their shiny wrappers. The right doctrine leads to the right practice; the right practice reflects the right doctrine.
The truth be told: our Synod has problems. We must dismiss the glowing propaganda of the Reporter. Laxity and dishonesty only deepens problems. District Presidents should visit their congregations as should Circuit Visitors to encourage faithfulness. Our convention should call for the faithfulness of each Pastor and congregation, each District President, each Circuit Visitor. There is a dangerous timidity in our Synod that mirrors the deadly political correctness of the wicked world. The unwritten rule wafting through Synodical air: do not be critical of any other congregation or Pastor you might be sued. You dare not say anything. How dare we not!
I have heard of the desire to have a harmonious Synodical convention in Milwaukee. Why would they do that? I pray for contention. May unabashed honesty mark our Synod’s convention and not disingenuous harmony. One thing is certain: if we fail to address these issues the days of knowing what to expect in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod are forever gone. We stood silently while chaos reigned. Why would they do that?
Rev. Dr. Kristian Kincaid
Senior Pastor, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church Dubuque, IA