In his July 11th letter, Delegate Chuck Mueller, Jr., sends a clear message to Tampa delegates. He believes it’s time for a change in our leadership at all levels in order to return the LCMS to it historic roots (click here to download and read the entire letter). Mueller included the recommended list of candidates from Congregations Matter with his letter.
Our LCMS constitution in Articles III and VII are clear (see them quoted below at the end of this article). Synod in its historic, advisory role is supposed to support and encourage the work of local congregations. Congregations aren’t supposed to serve Synod. Pastoral Delegate Mueller identifies “drift” as the culprit bringing anger, apathy and a loss of support for our “covenant of love” in the LCMS:
“You see, together with lots of other people in the LCMS, I believe our Synod has lost its way.
No one tried to make it happen, but we’ve drifted off course into the trouble we see at every hand. Centralization of authority and rules, rules, rules always seems good to begin with. That course, however, grates against our “covenant of love” with one another we call the LCMS and shows itself in anger, apathy and a lack of support for our beloved Synod which characterizes much of our fellowship.
I believe centralization of authority is the wrong direction for our Synod. Walther did, too.”
A Positive Note
As a four-time delegate to national conventions, Pastor Mueller has positive encouragement for all delegates to the convention. He encourages delegates to hear ALL voices at the Tampa convention as the Synod faces some tough issues:
“I’ve got history and perspective. Others do, too. Both are valuable – everyone has something to bring to the table in the LCMS.
As a delegate you will be responsible to hear the experience, concerns and thanksgivings of sisters and brothers in Christ from all across the nation. While we may not always agree as our LCMS family, I’m going to Tampa to help our LCMS survive AND THRIVE! How about you?
I hope you are going with the same anticipation of a great convention. We have some really tough issues to deal with. But with God’s guidance and the good will and prayers of all, we can — and will.”
The Danger of Centralization
Mueller identifies a loss of focus on congregational health and more and more authority in the hands of fewer and fewer people as one culprit in the growing disunity in those engaged in trying to help Synod —and apathy in more and more of our pastors and congregations. He suggests our Synod silences the voices of many by our growing centralization of authority.
“Has centralization of power and authority in Synod brought us to these struggling days? I think so. Our forefathers thought congregations mattered. According to Articles III and VII of our constitution, Synod’s first responsibility is to serve congregations and assist them in their work for the Kingdom of God. Synod is and always has been an advisory body. Congregations don’t serve Synod. Synod serves congregations!
In large measure, that’s not happening now. Our leadership at every level seems to have lost their focus on their historic roles. Instead, more and more power and decision-making responsibility is in the hands of fewer and fewer — with less and less opportunity for other voices to be heard.“
It’s time for All of Us to Change
As a response, Mueller calls for all of us to change and identifies both leaders and followers as the problem.
“Our current leadership — the people we’ve elected to serve us from Synod President on down —bear some responsibility for this change of course. But others of us are responsible, too. We let it happen by our inaction, inattentiveness, and apathy. It’s time for all of us to change.
So let’s change — and change now. I believe we need a general change of leadership if we are to return our Synod to her rightful work of supporting and encouraging congregations and advance God’s Kingdom here in the States and around the world.”
Congregations Matter couldn’t agree more. Greater collaboration, transparency and unity will be a result of including ALL the voices of our Synod. We need urban and rural voices in addition to those of suburban LCMS. We need voices of BOTH small and large churches (don’t we need each other?). Our Synod must have multi-cultural voices which reflect our multi-cultural United States. The LCMS will be better with the inclusion of BOTH St. Louis AND Fort Wayne pastors and BOTH “confessional-minded” and “missional-minded” pastors, lay men and lay women in leadership roles.
For LCMS to advance God’s work among us, we need ALL of our voices — even voices now silenced by exclusion. Isn’t that the Church God describes in Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12?
Questions to consider
Mueller concludes his open letter with this advice for delegates as they choose our new leaders during the Tampa Convention next week.
“Please prayerfully consider this list as you vote for our leadership for the next three years. Ask yourself simple questions such as these:
- Is Synod better off now? Is there more unity of purpose, more peace and engagement than anger and apathy? Why did half of the LCMS ignore the election for Synod President?
- Are more adults coming to faith? Children being baptized? Schools growing?
- Is there more collaboration? More transparency? More trust?
- Why are decisions like selling property and closing Selma hidden from the rest of us? Why so many executive sessions in meetings?
- Why is the pool of names being offered for appointments and positions not reflective of broader Missouri? Why is only one “side” of the LCMS engaged?
I’m thankful that more of “middle Missouri” made it into the pool of candidates we’ll be electing this month in Tampa. And I’m thankful that Congregations Matter took the time to consider ALL the candidates and produce an alternative to the United List that’s caused so much upheaval in our Synod.”
Congregations — and ALL of our voices — matter.
Congregations Matter© is a movement of churches, laypeople and pastors committed to restore our Synod to its historic roles of strengthening and supporting congregations. That’s what our LCMS Constitution so plainly describes in Article III and VII:
ARTICLE III OBJECTIVES:
The Synod, under Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, shall—
- Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Ephesians 4:3–6; 1 Corinthians 1:10), work through its official structure toward fellowship with other Christian church bodies, and provide a united defense against schism, sectarianism (Rom. 16:17), and heresy;
- Strengthen congregations and their members in giving bold witness by word and deed to the love and work of God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and extend that Gospel witness into all the world;
- Recruit and train pastors, teachers, and other professional church workers and provide opportunity for their continuing growth;
- Provide opportunities through which its members may express their Christian concern, love, and compassion in meeting human needs;
- Aid congregations to develop processes of thorough Christian education and nurture and to establish agencies of Christian education such as elementary and secondary schools and to support synodical colleges, universities, and seminaries;
- Aid congregations by providing a variety of resources and opportunities for recognizing, promoting, expressing, conserving, and defending their confessional unity in the true faith;
- Encourage congregations to strive for uniformity in church practice, but also to develop an appreciation of a variety of responsible practices and customs which are in harmony with our common profession of faith;
- Provide evangelical supervision, counsel, and care for pastors,
teachers, and other professional church workers of the Synod in the performance of their official duties;
- Provide protection for congregations, pastors, teachers, and other church workers in the performance of their official duties and the maintenance of their rights;
- Aid in providing for the welfare of pastors, teachers, and other church workers, and their families, in the event of illness, disability, retirement, special need, or death.
ARTICLE VII RELATION BETWEEN SYNOD AND ITS MEMBERS
- In its relation to its members the Synod is not an ecclesiastical government exercising legislative or coercive powers, and with respect to the individual congregation’s right of self-government it is but an advisory body. Accordingly, no resolution of the Synod imposing anything upon the individual congregation is of binding force if it is not in accordance with the Word of God or if it appears to be inexpedient as far as the condition of a congregation is concerned.
- Membership of a congregation in the Synod gives the Synod no equity in the property of the congregation.