In 2010, the LCMS adopted sweeping changes to the Handbook of the Synod. Here’s the strange twist: while the convention adopted the “Blue Ribbon Taskforce” changes, delegates also strangely (and certainly ironically) then elected as President a man who opposed the changes, Matthew Harrison. Delegates wanted Synod’s work to be more responsive to the congregations of the Synod. What have we gotten instead?
At Congregations Matter, we would like to keep you up to date with our latest articles, blog posts, and events. To better serve you and the congregations of the LCMS, we launched a Facebook page: Congregations Matter. There is an ever-increasing move towards a hierarchical structure for our national church body. It is clear that our founding fathers never envisioned this for our Synod. Power and control should not be centered in the Synodical Office Building. Such hierarchical control hampers the local congregation’s mission and ministry. Synod should support the local church, not control congregations. NOW more than ever it is imperative for pastors and congregations to stay up-to-date and informed about what’s going on in the National Office — and what we can do about it.
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.