“Among You It Will Be Different” It was a simple request. A mother asking for positions of power and influence for her sons. Then it all broke loose. “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. The other disciples became indignant with James and John. And the Master settles the issue with these words: 25 But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 26 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:25-28 (NLT) Jesus does not need political posturing. He needs
We all expect, even demand our “rights” – right to life, liberty, civil rights, human rights, women’s rights, rights of the unborn. As Americans, we have a “Bill of Rights.” As followers of Jesus and members of the LCMS, we have rights within our Synod. That is, until someone tries to take them away. “The Congregation’s Rights” in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod also demands our attention. Our Synod has a history of drifting away from our foundations, a tendency in our history to lift up the human organization of Synod, or the clergy, or Synod leadership above the congregation. Sometimes there’s a group – or an individual – pushing us down that road away from an advisory Synod. It is happening now. We need to push back. Executive Summary Before the Synod was formed in 1847, the Saxon immigrants under Pastor (later “Bishop”) Martin Stephan had a polity in
From the beginning of our Synod, we struggled with big questions of relationships and governance polity. Should the laity have authority over the clergy? Should the clergy have authority over the laity? Should a “bishop” have authority over the congregations? Questions like those formed the chaotic beginning of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod! This essay will follow the decisions our Synod has made from its beginnings with quotes from C.F.W. Walther and our own LCMS Constitution. Top-down or bottom-up? What is right-side up?
Sadly, our Synod is moving toward a greater centralization of power. Despite the LCMS being historically a Synod of congregations bound together by a common confession and walking in love, we are more and more ruled by an administration in the International Center bent on control. If we resign ourselves to a Synod with centralized control, we will never have freedom from fear as workers in the harvest, freedom from church-political agendas that limit the Gospel — and we will never be free to be the Church our Lord has called us to be, nor fulfill His commission for us as followers of Jesus.
Congregations Matter© is a movement of laypeople, congregations, pastors and other church workers within the LCMS trying to return our Synod to its historic polity of the national Synod supporting congregations in their work for the Kingdom. Congregations are the Synod — and they matter. Because we believe this so strongly, in the coming days you will find names of men and women listed on these pages we believe you should consider for nomination and election by our Synod. If we are to change our Synod for the better, it is time to change our leaders — either in name or in attitude and spirit. Why? Because not everyone in our Synod believes and acts on our historic, Scriptural and Confessional stance that congregations truly matter — not Presidents, not Secretaries, not International Centers and national offices, not National or International Boards or Boards of Directors. The LCMS is not a denomination with
Do you understand all the issues and items that will be before our church body in the upcoming District and National Conventions? We pray you will. It’s important. To help you, a small group of LCMS pastors and laypeople will be gathering issues from across the Synod that are important to those of us that believe “Congregations Matter.” Let Us Never Forget Jesus. This is His Church. Peter was bold in his confession of Jesus, and our Lord said He would build His church upon that confession. Jesus is the real rock (1 Corinthians 10:4) upon which our church is built. Together as a Church we sing “On Christ the solid rock we stand. All other ground is sinking stand.” Our prayer is that the Holy Spirit will give us all the same boldness given to Peter and the same perspective as Walther, who once stated, “What an influence it will be on
Congregations Matter© believes we need a change of leadership in the LCMS. Either the current leaders need to change the way they are doing things — or we need new leaders. Four Reasons for a Change of Leadership There is a lack of cooperation with and support of our district elected leaders — especially our District Presidents. Congregations don’t matter — neither do our District Presidents. The centralization of power in the office of Synodical President sought by our current administration is dangerous for our Synod now and in the days to come. This is an unprecedented power grab in the history of our church. At our last convention, President Harrison showed his lack of trust for the Boards of Regents, theological faculties of our Concordias, and our District Presidents (and the congregations that elected them) as he became the agent of approval of all theological faculty Synod-wide. In addition, at the
Congregations matter. For several years we have been silent, letting our Synod drift into the trouble we see at every hand. We have been focusing on local matters and serving the Lord in the harvest field. As we have worked, our Synod leadership has lost its focus. Synod’s first responsibility is to serve congregations and assist them in their work for the Kingdom of God. That’s not happening now. Silence Doesn’t Mean We Agree We have been silent — and our beloved Synod has drifted off course. Our Synod’s elected leadership is not focused on their historic roles. Instead, more and more power and decision-making responsibility is in the hands of fewer and fewer — and there is less and less opportunity for other voices to be heard. Our current leadership will not listen to our elected District Presidents. Our Commission on Constitutional Matters (CCM) is supporting our Synodical President in his
All of us are concerned about the future of our Synod. That’s why we need to be concerned about what’s happening at our seminaries. Especially now, as the seminary’s annual goals and budget are being considered by the Board of Regents of Concordia Seminary, we who believe Congregations Matter© need to understand and carefully watch their decisions and actions. Why Is This Happening? In the past few months, Dr. Dale Meyer, President of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, received a number of requests from pastors for an update on how seminary education is funded. They wonder how the St. Louis Seminary is strategically working to address the future needs of theological education. In response to these requests, Concordia Seminary will be hosting a live webcast of a Convocation on May 17, 2017 from 4:00 to 4:30 p.m CDT. The webcast will originate from Werner Auditorium on campus and is open to the public. The live
Throughout the Bible, God has a heart for His people in groups. That’s why He put us together in congregations. It’s one reason congregations matter – congregations are the creation of God for His purposes. We’re always and only found in community with Him and others. We know that we are supposed to live this way as the Body of Christ together. That’s clear from the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible did God ever make an individual Christian. Just read Ephesians 4. In it St. Paul talks about the gifts of people God gives to the Church. He tells us some of them are “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.” He reminds all of us of the responsibility of the “some” (including the pastors and teachers): to equip His people to do His work and build up the Church, the Body of Christ (verses 11 and