The group was conceived of around 2005 as an effort to rally Lutheran laymen to support sound teaching of the faith and as a financial backer of the largely popular radio show and podcast Issues, Etc. That year Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow was visiting the Issues. Etc. studio and asked Pastor Todd Wilken, the shows host, and Jeff Scwharz, the shows producer, what they thought of the idea of starting a men’s group to support Issues, Etc. and other confessional media causes. That idea just sort of steeped for a while until Holy Week, A.D. 2008. On Holy Tuesday of that week, the show was abruptly cancelled by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. The reason given for the cancellation was that it was a financial drain on the synod. Many have rightly questioned if there was not more to it than “just finances.” The leadership of the LCMS in 2008 directed the synod to reject our grandfather’s church whereas Issues, Etc. is known for promoting our grandfather’s church and even more than that, Issues, Etc. promotes the ancient church of the apostles, even the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Brothers of John the Steadfast firmly believed promoting things like Issues, Etc. is not a financial drain, but instead is just good stewardship of God’s gifts to us.
This sudden cancellation of the show spurred on the efforts to roll out the Brothers of John the Steadfast to make sure that such shows can be supported so that we can better equip men and women to know and defend the apostolic faith.
The first years of the Brothers of John the Steadfast under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow involved much work within the LCMS political and theological spheres. Reorganization efforts (Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance – BRTFSSG) which centralized power in St. Louis were resisted on grounds of reason and theology. Other theological matters were also addressed. Many articles were produced to show the theological errors being promoted by the LCMS. There was also much effort to politically unseat the current President of the LCMS and work to elect Rev. Matthew Harrison to the Synod Presidency. The 2010 Convention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod both approved most of the restructuring and elected Rev. Harrison president.
With the election of President Harrison, the work of the Brothers of John the Steadfast shifted. We were no longer the minority voice and did not have an easy opponent to focus attention upon. Political and theological work continued against the ongoing errors in the LCMS. This sometimes led to conflicts with the leadership of the Synod as well. The conflicts helped to gradually sharpen the organizational focus upon the advancement of the Confession rather than any candidate. Conferences continued to be held and supported by laymen across the synod. The Confession became a much larger focus to the ongoing work of the organization. With the ongoing change also came new leadership for the organization, with Rev. Dr. Rossow stepping aside to focus on other things (Lutherans in Africa) and Rev. Joshua Scheer being promoted to Editor-in-Chief.
The Brothers of John the Steadfast underwent several changes. New paperwork was set up to register the organization as a nonprofit under the name Steadfast Lutherans Inc.. We launched our first podcast, Steadfast Throwdown, which tackled matters of the Confession. The site also began a sister-site in the Sisters of Katie Luther, which was a site devoted to confessional Lutheran women. Several Conferences were held with a regional model eventually developed to help focus efforts on regions of the country where Confessional Lutherans were very alone. Those conferences continue being done by their host congregations. Future conferences may be planned at some point.
In the past few years Steadfast Lutherans has spent a lot of effort in producing printable resources for congregation and also Advent and Lenten Devotions each year. This is done under the names “Steadfast in the Parish” and “Steadfast Press”. Gospel Notes continues to be one of the best resources for lay-preparation for Divine Service in the One-Year Lectionary. Lambs at Pasture provides ongoing instruction for children in the home. Advent and Lenten Devotions have tackled a variety of topics, all geared towards helping godly households practice a greater level of piety and learn more of our confession. Several books were also produced to help Lutheran pastors and their congregations to continue to grow in the faith. Lutheran Pundit, an aggregate known for pithy releases of third-party news stories was also launched with the help of Steadfast Lutherans.
Difficulties came for Steadfast Lutherans when our main behind the scenes “web guru” Norm Fisher, suffered health issues and could no longer help out. The amount of support that Norm provided to Confessional Lutheranism cannot be underestimated. Almost every Confessional Lutheran presence on the internet until 2018 usually has some tie into Norm’s work. He continues to be a faithful layman to this day. Thanks be to God for his good work. Since 2018 we have managed to keep the organization and site running, and now in 2020 manage a redesign of the site and hopefully some work with the organization as well.
The organization continues on, largely having left the political roots behind, although engaging on that level when needful. Most of the time our editors and authors are just busy taking care of their parishes and families. Blogging and resource production for a side organization cannot compare to God’s commanded vocations for us. A deliberate effort has been made in the past five years to produce theological works and not engage in too much reactive blogging. This has resulted in less readership (and less feisty commenting) but better content. The goal here is to help pastors and congregations grow in their knowledge and appreciation of the Lutheran Confessions, using our resources and being pointed to other great resources as well. To help with this, we have been going with a theme of “Confessing the Faith One Article at a Time”.