Guest Essay: Are We a Top-Down Or Bottom-Up Synod?

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?

Who Serves Who in Synod? Congregation Self-Governance Versus Hierarchialism

Congregational Self-Governance Versus Hierarchialism

 The History, Theology and Practice of Congregational Self-Governance in the LCMS In terms of governance and order, the Missouri Synod has throughout its history balanced power between the baptized and the ordained.  We have made our decisions at conventions through votes mediated by an equal representation of clergy and laity.  These votes were not to be viewed as mandates, but as carefully crafted and thoroughly dialogued advice. In a fun, tongue-in-cheek essay, the Editorial Staff of Congregations Matter has provided another brief history of the LCMS on one issue:  Congregational Self-Governance as opposed to the current Synod trend towards hierarchialism.  The essay reviews our history, theology, and the unfortunate, current tendency of our Synod to move from prizing the Priesthood of All Believers and Congregational Polity toward a foreign, non-Lutheran emphasis on maintaining and growing the structure itself and fulfilling its needs at the expense of the our “first love”:

College Graduate

Two Overtures on Concordia Regents Selection

Our Concordia’s are asking for support from LCMS congregations.  They want Synod to change the governance model of our university system to allow greater flexibility in the selection of members of their Boards of Regents.  Congregations Matter also believes our university system will benefit from more regional regent representation. As a result, Congregations Matter proposes two overtures for your District Convention to consider.  They address changes to the way members of Boards of Regents are chosen.  Both support local governance.  Both oppose the current model which gives more centralized control to the Synod President and a St. Louis hierarchy. First, An Overture for Localized Control of Regent Size All nine Concordia University System (CUS) schools endorse these changes to their outdated 1992 governance model.  Click here to download the overture “To Modify the Governance of the Colleges and Universities of the Concordia University System.” In November, Congregations Matter introduced an