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.
There is an old axiom in Missouri Synod circles that most people who are unhappy in the Synod are unhappy with its polity. That was true when Synod was founded in 1847, and it is still true today. Some don’t care for the way the Synod was designed to operate—especially with the balancing of power in the Synod between congregations and pastors. They think a Synod hierarchy with enhanced authority would be more effective in resolving problems and meeting the needs of the church today.
Our Historic Polity Structure Helped Maintain the True Confession of God’s Word
The polity of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is the system of church structure or organization. Polity can mean “government.” Why does the church need a system of government at all? Do Christians really need an entire ecclesiastical structure simply to ensure that things “be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40)? Why can’t we all just live in Christian freedom under the Gospel? The institutional church on earth is a temporal one. Still, the polity of the Synod reflects—and is in accord with—the Lutheran doctrines of the church and the ministry. The Missouri Synod’s adoption of a synod polity is based on the belief that it is better than any other structure to conserve and maintain the true confession of God’s Word—and to preserve the church.
Some Seek a Polity of Control
Some in the Synod would like to see its polity reinterpreted. They would like to have more control over the Synod and its members in order to conform them to their own understanding of what they should be and not be, and what they should do and not do. Instead of using the means established by the Synod in its Constitution and Bylaws for making changes, they prefer to centralize the power and authority in a Synod hierarchy, in order to accomplish their goals.
If they are successful, the delicate relationship between the Synod and its members—and our very understanding of what it means to be church—could be changed dramatically.
Preserving Christian Freedom in the Church
The stakes are high. If we resign ourselves to a Synod with centralized control, we will never have freedom from fear, freedom from church-political agendas — and we will never be free to be the Church.