Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From the Circuit, District, and Synod

Just a little bit of this and that from all levels of the LCMS hierarchy:

From the Circuit...

Here is an e-mail I received from my circuit counselor not too long ago...

Dear Friends in Christ,

I have been asked to help with the beginning of a "Circle of Life" group
in the New Orleans are. To that end I am sending this mailing to all

The Circle of Life is a process for a small group or for small groups
that focuses on twelve areas of life, such as Spirituality & Intuition,
Nutrition & Diet, Exercise & Fitness, Stress Management, Health Care,
Social & Family Relationships, Work & Carreer, Financial Health,
Humor-Creativity & Play, Environment & Nature, Emotions & Self Esteem,
Life Purpose & Service. Well, I guess that I stated them all!

This process will include working in one area at a time to acknowledge
strengths, set goals, predict challenges, and develop realistic action
steps. Groups will meet once every two weeks for about 2 hours. This
process will use a manual, and there is a cost ($35.00), but there is
also help with the cost. There is no meeting first date or regular day
set at this time.

This process is open to all church professional workers. I hope that you
have received the publicity sheet on this earlier. If you have not,
please let me know, and I will make sure that you receive more

We hope to get this group going in April. If you are interested or if
you have any questions, please let me know. For those who attend the
Circuits 1 and 2 Pastor's conference next Thursday, we will discuss this.
I look forward to beginning this new group with you in the New Orleans

From the District

In the January/February newsletter of my local district (see SOS Jan07.pdf (application/pdf Object)
), there are some interesting quotes, including:

"The Christian Church has been in decline and we know that the decline continues to happen in the LCMS and in the ****** District.... [W]e need to readily to [sic] acknowledge the decline is happening and search for new ways to 'package' the Gospel message [sic]."

Perhaps one example of a new packaging strategy is the article about a new church "launch" taking place at a new congregation in our district with a very "hip" name: "CrossRoad Church" (it's a rather trendy practice among marketeers these days to omit spaces between words, compound them, and yet retain the capitalization as if the words were separate). This church planting model:

"seeks to gather a group of people to serve as a 'Launch Team'.... All effort is put into creating excitement, enthusiasm, and curiousity about the new church.... [S]ome people will become committed to the new ministry while others won't. Those that remain excited and committed are then taught, nurtured, and shaped into a new congregation."

Yet another new strategy is laid out as the district offers nine names of people in Lutheran Social Services Disaster Response Services. The district "has provided a list of resources to [its] readers," and we are encouraged to "make use of the following resources" and are encouraged to seek "Spiritual Care" (either as "individuals" or as "congregations,") from the following two people: "Deaconess Loraine Rathmann" and "Rev. Beverly Wallace."

From the Synod

The latest Reporter contains the following front page headline:

"250 missionaries needed - no experience necessary".

Back in February, I (along with presumably all LCMS pastors) received the following letter from a high-ranking LCMS official...

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Greetings on behalf of the global Ablaze! movement of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and its 29 partner churches around the world.

As we embark on the historic Fan into Flame campaign to provide new resources to support Ablaze! goals, I wanted to write every pastor of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod to provide a little more information about both Ablaze! and Fan into Flame. E-mail in this series will be sent each month, and I hope you find this information helpful as our church body strives to communicate the saving Word to a world in need of His love and salvation.

Your 9,000 fellow pastors, most of whom are parish pastors, some who serve other ministries, and some who are Emeriti, connect with the Ablaze! movement at various points. Being involved in the pastoral ministry, we know the joy of sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and of being in the midst of people who are sharing that vital message with others.

For us clergy, this is nothing new. Most of us have been sharing the Gospel all our lives. These days we are privileged to do so as pastors. We mean for our lives, touched by the Spirit of God, to be a living witness of Christ in us. Today we call that being Ablaze! It has had other names in the past, and will have other names in years to come.

Next time we will examine what it means to be in the midst of a “movement.”

The next installment, the one promised to "examine what it means to be in the midst of a 'movement' is as follows...

Dear Brothers in Christ,

Greetings on behalf of the global Ablaze! movement of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and its 29 partner churches around the world.

In 2004 the LCMS convention delegates enthusiastically endorsed the Ablaze! vision and the leaders of our 29 global partner churches stood on the stage in support of this confessional movement. Movements, while they can be messy, pretty unpredictable, and seem to have their own life, are yet framed by the Spirit of Christ as He wills. What is central to Ablaze! is that our Lord wants the Good News shared whenever and wherever we can.

It is a privilege to participate in this global movement to bring the message of the Gospel to millions for the first time. As part of the “clergy awareness” for Ablaze!, we can learn from each other, encourage one another, and support each other as we join together in this life-shaping movement of eternal significance.

Our next e-mail will introduce you to resources prepared to support Ablaze!


Favorite Apron said...

I love your sermons Pastor, but really enjoy when you post tidbits and commentary too.

You know, I hate to mention it, but the attractive part of an ethnic orthodox church is the absence of these "messy movements. " ( hold on a sec while I flush . . ).

Why can't we Lutherans also be entitled to our grandfather's church - to just go and receive the sacraments and be part of an unchanging entity?

Lawrence said...

[W]e need to readily to [sic] acknowledge the decline is happening and search for new ways to 'package' the Gospel message [sic]."

So the 'packaging' Christ gave us isn't good enough?

Maybe we need to stop reinventing new Gospel delivery methods and go back to trusting what Christ told us to do, and trust to the Holy Spirit to bring in the faithful.

We can entice all the people we want through the doors, but that doesn't mean they're stepping because they are motivated by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit directs Faithful people to Faithful congregations. Those people seeking after wrong-headed theologies will be led elsewhere.

So what do we really want?

A congregation of people we enticed to join via gimmicks? Or the people the Holy Spirit directs to Truly Faithful congregations?