Is it time for a new list?
For the past 50 years, convention after convention has elected men and women to serve us based mainly on “lists” provided by various groups. For the past 15 years, the list supporting President Harrison’s election — the United List — has seen great “success” in elections. More than 90% of their proposed candidates have been elected to office.
However, does the current state of the Synod — as suggested in the reports, expressed concerns, significant negative events, and proposed solutions from the Convention Workbook — reflect such “success”? Looking at the state of our Synod, would you agree that it is time to consider something else? Is it time for a new list — especially one that more closely reflects all of us in the LCMS?
The Workbook Tells the Story
The 400-plus page Synod Convention Workbook is filled with reports and overtures that describe a Synod which is declining in its witness, mired in conflict, confused in its purposes, suffering from overly-complicated governance systems, and dealing with crises — both real and imagined. And more. It seems there is no clear plan for the future other than continuing to exist and keep doing the same thing with the same people at some level until the Lord returns.
Sadly, the bold plan for unity and witness first proposed in President Harrison’s 2008 campaign piece “It’s Time: Lutheran Unity and Mission” has not come to fruition. All the problems reported, and all the issues described in the 2023 Workbook tell the story and give an accounting of the United List’s track record, a track record that includes:
- The closing of Concordia Selma, Portland, and Bronxville
- A greater risk and exposure to ascending liability, which includes and goes
beyond the $302 million lawsuit against the LCMS and LCEF
- Pulpits and classrooms waiting for trained pastors and church workers
- Continued efforts to increase Synodical influence and control through
complicated and controversial bylaw changes
It is time for a new list!
The Problem Is Not The People
United List-proposed candidates are not bad people. They are baptized children of God loved by their Savior and saved by grace — like us all. However, there are other “faithful Lutheran leaders who fully support the official doctrine and practice of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod,” who also bring a diversity of gifts and ideas and experiences that can make our Synod a fuller, more effective church body to meet the challenges of today in bringing the pure and precious Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and broken world.
Faithful, confessional Lutheran pastors, commissioned workers, and lay people come from all types of LCMS congregations. They also come with a rich, God-given variety of perspectives on how best to thrive, not just survive, in bringing God’s truth to the Church and to the world. They come from small churches and large churches, from historic and new churches, from churches that some would describe as traditional — and from churches that some might describe as non-traditional.
But no matter where these leaders come from, God calls them to works of ministry (or service), to build up the body of Christ — and lead us to “attain to the unity the of faith.”
Just ask yourself — is “unity of the faith” and making “the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” happening now? That’s what St. Paul taught was important in the Body of Christ:
…[God] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,
- to equip the saints for the work of ministry,
- for building up the body of Christ,
- until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God…
- so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
- Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,
- from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped when each part is working properly,
- makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Ephesians 4: 11-16 (ESV)
It is time for a new list!
Our Congregations Deserve So Much More
However, they are not alone. The need for a broader, fresher, more diverse leadership that reflects the whole church appears evident to people across our Synod, from small churches and large churches, from laity and clergy, from young and old, from traditionalists and pioneers, all of whom love our church, love the Word of God, love our Lutheran Confessions and most importantly love Jesus and the people for whom He died.
- If you’re concerned with the lack of church workers and pastors — it’s time for a new list.
- If you’re unsettled with what’s happening with any or all of our Concordias — it’s time for a new list.
- If you’re uneasy with the level and clarity of financial reporting Synod provides — it’s time for a new list.
- If you’re alarmed by the decline in membership in our Synod, especially by young adults and their children, and equally alarmed by the uncertainty of how we plan to counter it — it’s time for a new list.
- If you’re unhappy with how Synod leadership handled the release of and/or the response to the new annotated Large Catechism earlier this year — it’s time for a new list.
- If you’re troubled with how Synod accomplishes pastoral formation — it’s time for a new list.
And if you want to know what the candidates proposed by the United List will do about these issues and concerns, you should ask them. You might also ask the individuals who anonymously put together the United List. That is, if you can find out who they are.
Our Congregations and Our Synod not only deserve solutions to the conflicts, confusion, and concerns that fill our Workbook from the United List leaders who are in office now, but the opportunity to contribute to those solutions and bring to bear the diversity of their God-given gifts for the sake of Christ’s Church by electing a different set of leaders for the Synod.
It is time for a new list!