Monday, June 30, 2008

On Tour With the Band

Our son Zach plays tenor saxophone in a couple of different bands. His community band, which consists of a concert band and smaller jazz band, goes on tour each year, this year traveling down the Oregon coast. Mom and dad get to go along (Paige had to stay home and work). Quite the gig!


Zach soloing in the jazz band.


Zach and his skim board.


My wife Cheryl flying the kite at Cannon Beach.


"Do you not fear me? declares the LORD; Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it."
Jeremiah 5:22

Friday, June 27, 2008

Issues, Etc.’s First Guests


The first guests on the new and long awaited Issues, Etc., as reported by the Issues, Etc. website, are John Green of The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, speaking on religious voters and the 2008 election, and Dr. Carl Fickenscher, of Concordia Theological Seminary, speaking on the Gospel. The first show is on Monday, June 30th.

They’re picking up where they left off, Christ-centered and cross-focused.

From the website:

Issues, Etc.™ broadcasts live weekdays from 3:05 to 5:00 PM Central. You can listen via webstreaming, provided through Pirate Christian Radio.

Issues, Etc.™ can also be heard in St. Louis from 4:05 to 5 PM Central on 1320 AM Bott Radio Network.

Studio Line - (877) 623-MYIE (6943)

Comment Line - (618) 223-8384

Email - talkback@issuesetc.org

Thursday, June 26, 2008

President Kieschnick's June Letter to Pastors

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod President Jerry Kieschnick had this to say in his June letter to LCMS pastors:
Today's challenge
There has been a lot in the news lately about the California Supreme Court decision that overturns that state's ban on same-sex marriages. (My recent statement in response to this decision is posted on the LCMS Web site at: http://www.lcms.org/?13613/.) [It's actually located at http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=13613] This is yet another reminder that our Synod faces the challenge of shifting its focus from being an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that defines itself primarily over against heterodox Christian church bodies to being an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that must determine how best to reach people who are indifferent-even hostile-to the Christian faith in a post-Christian era in a country that in many ways is in danger of losing its moral compass.
We must continue to speak and work to preserve and strengthen the values we hold near and dear, the values espoused by our grandfathers and grandmothers, especially the sanctity of life, the blessing of marriage between one man and one woman, and the God-designed creation of and distinction between male and female. We must speak and work, in a godly manner, against abortion, unscriptural divorce, homosexual behavior, and any other denigration of God's holy and perfect will for mankind.
I appreciate the first definition of our Synod being defined as "an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that defines itself primarily over against heterodox Christian church bodies." This definition partially reflects the first objective of the Synod listed in the LCMS Constitution:
Conserve and promote the unity of the true faith (Eph. 4:3–6; 1 Cor.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.
I would, however, dispute his characterization of this definition as needing to be "refocused." Notice that he redefines our Synod as "an orthodox, confessional, evangelical, Lutheran Christian church body that must determine how best to reach people who are indifferent-even hostile-to the Christian faith in a post-Christian era in a country that in many ways is in danger of losing its moral compass." Certainly "reaching people" is an important task, and partially reflects the second objective of the Synod:
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.
I am, however, concerned that his second definition is overly simplistic and reflects a growing trend in the LCMS to replace the doctrinal foundation on which the Church is built, justification by grace through faith, with a thinly veiled material principle of the Great Commission. His talk of "the challenge of shifting its focus" appears to be another example of the unscriptural paradigm shift that is occurring in the LCMS from justification to mission.
While the LCMS is characterized by our President as your grandfather’s church when it comes to certain social issues, the doctrinal foundation of your grandfather’s church is rapidly being eroded by the continual pounding of the waves of "mission," and President Kieschnick’s more frequent exclamation that "this isn’t your grandfather’s church."

(President Kieschnick’s letter should eventually be available on the LCMS website.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Does Unchurched Mean?

If you are unchurched when you die, does that mean you’re going to hell?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who’s Reading This?

If you’re a seasoned confessional Lutheran, I’m glad you’re here. I hope you’ll stay awhile and come back often. No offense though, but you’re not my only target audience. I hope there’s somebody out there learning something from this blog, not just people who’re sitting there shaking their head in agreement, and who could have written the post themselves.

There are many people out there who aren’t aware of the threats confronting the Church - threats from both inside and outside the Church. It’s those people who I’d most like to reach. Scripture says to watch out so no one deceives you. If you know people who aren’t aware of the threats that confront us, please share this blog with them, and other blogs like it, so that together we can stand firm as the Church militant.

I am a Lutheran. I will defend our Confession and the truth of the Gospel against friend and foe to my last breath, because that Confession is all that stands between us and heresy and perdition. It cannot be compromised in spite of those who wave the flags of ecumenism, unionism, and pragmatism.

My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:2-8

Monday, June 23, 2008

Shock and Awe Redux

You may have read the original post about our daughter Paige’s graduation speech. Here’s the four minute video in which she encourages her classmates to stand firm by relying on their Savior Jesus Christ.

video

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The New Issues, Etc. Website




Issues, Etc. has a new web home:


http://www.issuesetc.org/


The new Issues, Etc. will debut on June 30th on St. Louis radio station KSIV, 1320 AM. The program runs on the radio from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, as well as live internet streaming on Pirate Christian Radio from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Podcasting and downloading will also be available.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 9

This is the ninth and final post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth. Thanks to Pastor Zwonitzer for sharing his thoughts with us.

Before we go to Pastor Zwonitzer's final remarks, I'll share a comment with you that was posted by Adam on the Wittenberg Trail regarding the discussion of the Church Growth Movement and Pastor Kieschnick's book. His comment reflects the seductive nature of some of the emphases in the Church Growth Movement:

I would like to make a comment on this new type of Lutheran theology. My wife and I spent ten years in a church very much driven by the Kieschnick approach both John & Jerry). Thank God, the spirit led us to another Lutheran Church where this approach is very much shunned. My wife is a life-long Lutheran and I am a convert, after changing churches, we were truly stunned to find that we were both well down the path to becoming unchurched.

The most frightening thing was, of course, that we had no idea that this was happening as it crept in so slowly. I do not say this lightly; this doctrine will destroy the Lutheran Church if it is permitted to spread.

Review of Chapter 9—Growth: Walking Through the Doors

He wants to finish this book by talking about growing through difficult times. He shares: “I want to make this point at the beginning of the chapter on growth because it’s so easy for us to shift our eyes, ever so slightly, to techniques of growth or measurements of growth instead of the only one who is worthy of our affection and attention.” (page 205) We’ll see.

He begins by stating: “When we center our lives on Jesus Christ and respond to his invitation to walk through the doors of the disciplines, we grow in our commitment to him and his cause.” (page 203) This is syncretism! No mention of the means of grace in the Divine Service fueling this spiritual growth, but again as we have pointed out throughout this read the focus is more on the individual responding.

He progresses with discussion about building on Christ alone, then believing that God’s grace is for each of us, but with “one qualification for experiencing grace: honesty about the need for forgiveness.” (page 207) So, we come to a major point, a critical one: experiencing grace. We will grow only if we experience grace, which he proceeds to unload as responding with a broken and contrite heart. Is this pre-grace or post-grace? He provides his interpretation of Scripture to support his point, Luke 7:36-50. He surmises this story’s main point that she responded to Jesus’ forgiveness, that she honestly felt her need for forgiveness experientially and was rewarded. No mention whatsoever about her faith. This passage is about Jesus’ declaration of all her sins forgiven and His ability to do so. Why focus on her response, rather than God’s divine action to bring her to this forgiveness? The Augsburg Confession speaks of this contrition as being God given, as well as the faith which then uplifts and consoles the poor miserable sinner begging for mercy. They actually quote this passage in The Apology, Article XII, 57: “From all these example godly readers can see that we assign to repentance those parts that belong to conversion or regeneration and the forgiveness of sins.” Seems Kieschnick would be blessed to have spent more time in the Confessions that his reading of Yancey, Packer, et al.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Issues, Etc. - The Latest News


Pastor Todd Wilken was interviewed Monday by Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller and Evan Goeglein on their show Table Talk Radio. In the interview, Pastor Wilken gave us a glimpse of the new Issues, Etc., and discussed his article “Playing the Pharisee Card” in the new Issues journal.

The new Issues, Etc. will debut on June 30th on St. Louis radio station KSIV, 1320 AM. The program runs on the radio from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays, as well as live internet streaming on Pirate Christian Radio from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. Podcasting and downloading will also be available.

Pastor Wilken explained the “mystery” behind the Pirate Christian Radio moniker:

There’s been some confusion over the whole pirate aspect of that. I think people have been expecting Jeff and I to show up carrying scabbards with eye patches and things like that. There’s really nothing more to it than what people who are familiar with radio recognize immediately that pirate radio is often considered to be radio that operates somewhere outside the boundaries, outside the lines, and Pirate Christian Radio is that web service that’s going to let us bring our signal back to the web in the form of live streaming and on demand and podcasting.

On a related note, someone asked me about a week ago how the fund raising was going for the new show. In an email response, Pastor Wilken had this to say:

The fundraising is going very well, better than expected. We have had some big donors give us a good beginning. But to sustain the new show in the long run will require us to get the 300 and the Reformation club back up and running.

Please make a donation on the Pirate Christian Radio website.

For those of you in the St. Louis area, get those presets programmed on you radios, and the rest of you be ready to “tune in” on Pirate Christian Radio.

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 8

This is the eighth post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.

Review of Chapter 8—Giving: The Door of Authentic Faith

Right out of the chute, are you startled by the subtitle: Door of Authentic Faith? Giving?

He begins by talking about motivation for giving: joy! This joy is experienced by guess who? Authentic believers! “People who give have an authentic faith, and those who are learning to give are growing in their authenticity.” (page 182) So let me pose this scenario: a church member who is a hypocrite gives a sizeable amount in his offering envelopes over the years. So by doing so he has authentic faith? I think I know what he’s trying to achieve with such a beginning, but to make such a statement just doesn’t square with Scripture. At the least, he has not again chosen his words carefully. If so, he would have made some clarifications so that no false interpretations and applications could have been deduced.

Giving is nothing but response to God’s grace, he emphasizes. God owns it all, on loan to us as stewards/managers, so it is not about how much we give back to Him, but how much we keep for ourselves. Although he emphasizes the principle of sowing and reaping, he also correctly admonishes the turning of this into “the health and wealth” “God as vending machine” approach. He also purports the tithe in NT is minimum, not a maximum. He offers great and good advice about debt, praying about stewardship, increase one’s percentage every year, etc.

He relates that his congregation “decided to move from a Church Council structure to a Board of Directors model.” (page 198) Another indicator of CGM follower here.

This is easily the chapter where I can agree with the author the most. God does want us to excel in the grace of giving.

Peace of the Lord be with you!

Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 7

This is the seventh post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.

Review of Chapter 7--Service: The Door of Fulfillment

Kieschnick writes: "When our hearts are full of God's grace and we see him using us to change lives, we experience genuine delight." (page 154) We are back at the beginning discussion where we expressed concern over Kieschnick's mathematical grace, that some are hot/ablaze Christians, while others are cold, and the worse, lukewarm. So here we go again. He goes on: "Two things are essential for people to serve joyfully: passion and fit."

He declares that our love for Jesus must be so hot that it dominates our every second. Then this: "We live in an age of possibilities." (page 164) This is especially important for our time since we get sidetracked with wrong priorities. Jesus can't be an addition, but the "absolute center." To find a fit for this absolute center to use us as servants, Kieschnick admits adapting many of Rick Warren's insights from his writings on "SHAPE." Not being familiar with this Warren writing, but he gives us hints with the rest of this chapter's themes: spiritual gifts, experiences, relationships, vitality and excellence. He doesn't go very deep into spiritual gifts, but he does say that he applauds use of gifts both in and outside of the church. He defines excellence as "a desire to have all our efforts reflect the goodness and greatness of God." (page 170)

He ends with good suggestions about serving: affirm God has created and equipped you to serve, reflect where, don't give up, take a break if burning out, and expect God to serve with and through you. Strange that he quotes Peter Drucker (a mentor of Rick Warren) to say: 'the function of the church is not to become more business-like. Instead, the function of the church is to help businesses become more church-like." (page 174) What strikes me as strange and false is that neither is showing any evidence of this; the church is becoming more like a business, and the business world surely is not becoming more Christian. However, in fairness he might be limiting this comment "solely" to the point he's discussing here, of the church being a great encourager. Still, the point of concern expressed is valid if one considers the whole picture.

The expressed burden is to serve Jesus, especially with His cross and grace. This is admirable. He recalls his brother's advice: "you've forgotten who is the real Messiah. You can't save the world. Only Jesus can." (page 176) This is significant and paints much of the canvas for the reader.

Serve the Lord with gladness!

Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 6

This is the sixth post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.


Review of Chapter 6—Bible Study: The Door of Insight

At the beginning of this chapter he quickly tells how reading an article during his training to become LCMS teacher by Walther on “the distinction and correlation of the biblical teaching of law and grace (gospel)” changed his life. (page 140) It is different that he wants to and does talk from here on about law and grace, not the more common law and gospel. Grace is certainly a major thread of the entire Bible, but to change a discussion about gospel into grace? Is there any reluctance here to say that God’s grace only comes through the pure gospel? That the gospel comes only through the means of grace?

His conversation here about Bible study revolves around a question he had from a question from one of his members: “If God forgives us and accepts us no matter what we do—that’s grace, isn’t it?—then why can’t I just go out and do whatever I want to do?”

He has some good things to say about all this, e.g. “I don’t like what it (law) says about me or to me, but I sure like where it leads me—to the cross of Jesus Christ where I find love, forgiveness, and freedom from my guilt.” (page 141) However, this sentence gave me concern: “As believers, we now know that the law continues to protect us from ruining our lives and tarnishing our witness to those who need to know Jesus. The law doesn’t cease to exist when we become Christians. Instead, it takes on an important role of guiding us as we strive to do God’s will.” (page 141) Is this third use of the law all that there is of God’s law for believers? What about the first and second uses of the law? Do not they apply to believers as well? At the very least, he wants to emphasize this third use of the law, again a CGM characteristic. Hopefully, this is but mere omission on the author’s part, but makes one suspect, since CGM is so shy of using the first and second uses of the law in worship especially! Do not do real Confession and Absolution, as seekers do not like this.

Kieschnick speaks of the Bible as God’s inspired word, affirms its authority and personally says of it: “I have high regard for God’s word.” I find this lacking, in that he does not say that it is inerrant. To ignore such a confession can only allow us to ask what is his stance on what has been a controversial doctrine among us. He seems to be very pragmatic, and laments that many believers have not grown as God expects in His Word. He speaks of four elements in understanding and applying God’s truth (taken from 2Tim. 3:16-17): teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. (pages 146-149) He removes this from the context of what pastors are to do (since this letter was from Pastor Paul to Pastor Tim) and omits any discussion at all of rebuking and correcting and training in righteousness which a pastor does with the flock, to more an every member correcting the others gently for sins and orients it again not for doctrine but for life (see the previous chapter’s review for these details). Again, the trend is observed here of sanctification orientation and away from the office of the public ministry to the priesthood of all believers.

His suggestions for aiding the layperson’s study of Scripture are a mixed bag. He recommends paraphrased translations such as Eugene Peterson’s are very useful, while they do have serious translation problems. This is unfortunate. His good suggestions are many here, including starting with a gospel rather than Genesis, going to a church where Bible is valued and taught, etc.

His summary of this chapter appears to be also the summary of the book up to this point: “When we realize that God’s purpose for us is to partner with him in the greatest enterprise the world has ever known, our hearts burn with passion to honor him. Bible study need not be dull—it can still produce burning hearts.” (page 154)

Seven reviews down, three more to go!

May His Word be a lamp to your feet!


Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Use of Authority and the Abuse of Power in the Missouri Synod

This paper was originally presented by Rev. Robin Fish at the 1997 Lutheran Free Conference of Minnesota North and Minnesota South Confessional Lutherans. It is also available at the Confessional Lutheran web page. Republished with permission.


The Use of Authority and the Abuse of Power in the Missouri Synod

My topic is both too big and too small for the purposes we have set before us today. I did not know that until I began to study and research. I am charged with the task of "setting the table" for you this morning. In that regard, I think Walther and Stephan are good figures to look at, if you don't look too closely. They can be used to illustrate the issues of power and authority. The topic is too big, since both Walther and Stephan, and the issues of abuse of power and the use of authority are capable of tying us up for days. And I have just 50 minutes to make sense of it all and make it make sense to you.

I discovered that you cannot say anything on any of these topics, however innocuous it may seem to you, without raising the ire of someone. So, I promise to irritate some. I hope I can also enlighten you. My topic is the Use of Authority and the Abuse of Power in the Missouri Synod. I don't want to be exhaustive, I just want to set you up for the speakers that follow me. The issue which seems to dominate in every discussion of Synodical polity or congregational practice today is the issue of power or authority. It comes up in questions like, "How can they do that?", or "Why do they let that go on?", or, in its less frequently asked form, "What are we going to do about it?"

Let's start with some definitions. First, to be honest, power and authority are practically synonymous. People often use them interchangeably. For our purposes today, we want to distinguish between them. Authority is the right and warrant to take an action, or to exercise leadership, or to give commands. Authority almost always is given or bestowed, and comes from outside an individual. The authority of a military officer comes, for example, not from his person, but from his rank, and from the military organization which bestowed such rank and authority on him. A pastor's authority is the Word of God. When he steps away from the Word of God he is just like anyone else -- you may love him and listen to him even when he is not making any sense, but his authority ends with the Word of God. Our Synod's authority is derived from the congregations of the Synod, and limited by the Synod by constitution and convention.

Power is something else, for our purposes today. Power is simply the ability to do something or get something done. It involves the possession of control or command over others, or influence over other people, things, materials, resources, or situations. I can see the wheels turning in some of your minds, but these words actually came out of a dictionary. Their application did not form the definitions. Things as well as people can possess power, according to the Bible - the resurrection, Scriptures, death, darkness, and the Gospel, to name a few, as well as Jesus, God, and those to whom He gives power.

As you can see, you can have both power and authority, or you can have power without any real authority, and you can have authority (the right to give commands) without any real power (the ability to make someone obey). In the Bible, the authority to do something usually dealt with commands -- Jesus could command evil spirits, He could teach with authority, He had the authority to forgive sins. It is interesting to note that authority can be questioned. "By what authority do you do these things?" Authority may not give you an answer, but at least it can be questioned, and it can take the time to consider the question.

Power cannot be questioned. It simply runs you over. It cannot take the time to consider its legitimacy or rights -- it simply IS. It does what it can, and what it cannot do, it simply lacks the power to get done. Power and authority are often paired in the Bible, but when they are contrasted, which only happens in Luke 10:19, authority is given over power.

In our circles, the debate is about authority over against power. A great deal is happening around us that simply should not be happening. Pastors are being forced from office without any just cause, over twenty-nine in one district in the last nine years alone. That indicates that power is being exercised without any proper authority to do so. On the other hand, some pastors preach false doctrine. Others empty the worship and teaching of the Church of all content - avoiding both explicit Law and clear and comforting Gospel as well. These are the exercise of power without authority to do so.

The call process is being manipulated, as a recent decision from the Commission on Constitutional Matters reflects. A decision was recently handed down that District Presidents did not have the authority to remove names from potential call lists submitted by congregations in the course of the call process. The existence of the ruling suggests that such a thing is happening. Evidence could be presented, with documentation, that this has been happening for over a decade, and it continues to happen even after the CCM ruling. In one district, the district's board of directors took upon themselves the power to disregard their own constitution and bylaws. The fact that the authority to act did not exist, and the limitations of authority to act in the manner they did were disregarded speaks of power without authority. There also was no one with either power or authority to intervene or correct the situation.

It is apparent that the two -- power and authority -- have become confused in the minds of many. Some appear to believe that if one possesses the power to act, they also possess the authority. This concept is clearly denied by Scripture, and civil law, and even common sense. Each of us possesses the power to do things which are illicit, things for which we have no right or authority. That is what morality is all about. We possess the power to steal, to gossip, to commit adultery or to murder. No one possesses the authority to do these things. We have no moral authority, that is, authority from God. And if we exclude issues in which our society is itself in rebellion against God, such as abortion, homosexuality, and no-fault divorce, we have no legal authority to do these things either.

Since this is our one hundred and fiftieth anniversary year in our Synod, it seems appropriate to examine the issues of power and authority by looking at our history. Martin Stephan and C.F.W. Walther provide us with a striking contrast. For most of his ministry Martin Stephan could call Pastor Ferdinand (as Walther was known in his younger days) a solid supporter. This demonstrates the principle that no one is right all of the time. Walther made his mistakes as a young pastor, too.

Walther and Stephan provide us with the contrast as we compare the mature Walther with the mature Stephan. Martin Stephan has become the symbol in our circles for an extreme form of Episcopal church polity, with absolute power in the hands of one man. This, in fact, has been called "Stephanism." Walther was forced by circumstances to find another way, and he found it in his study of Scripture and Luther and the Confessions. He built his ministry and his reputation on the understanding of authority he derived from Scriptures and the Reformation. His understanding of the nature of Church and ministry guided the development of our Synodical polity. Where Stephan exercised power and watched his authority fade away, Walther began with absolutely no power, and by the authority of the Word of God became the most influential man in his Synod, and earned the reputation of being the greatest American Lutheran theologian of his or any other time.

Ashamed of Lutheranism?






Credit Rev. Jack Bauer at AC 24 for this quote of C.F.W. Walther:

It is truly distressing that many of our fellow Christians find the difference between Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism in outward things. It is a pity and dreadful cowardice when a person sacrifices the good ancient church customs to please the deluded American denominations just so they won't accuse us of being Roman Catholic! Indeed! Am I to be afraid of a Methodist, who perverts the saving Word, or be ashamed in the matter of my good cause, and not rather rejoice that they can tell by our ceremonies that I do not belong to them?


Dr. C.F.W. Walther, (Walther, Explanation of Thesis XVIII, D, Adiaphora, of the book The True Visible Church, delivered at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, Beginning August 9, 1871, at the 16th Central District Convention, translated by Fred Kramer, printed in Essays for the Church [CPH: 1992], I:193-194).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father’s Day

Our son Zach had gone to bed. A little later he was up rummaging around on the desk in the den. Fulfilling my vocation as a father, I asked him what he could possibly be doing at that time of night. He was looking for an old Issues, Etc. cd to listen to while he was going to sleep.

What could I say? Listening to the soothing voice of Pastor Todd Wilken adeptly handling the totally off-topic question of the listener on the line, and drifting off to another great Gospel proclamation at the close of the CD speaking of “Jesus for me!” What could I say but “Carry on Zach, carry on.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 5

This is the fifth post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.


Review of Chapter Five: Prayer The Door of Intimacy

Just about half way home in our review. I’m doing another read the same time as this, and both books are on spiritual growth. The other is CPH’s new release from Dr. John Kleinig, “Grace Upon Grace.” While both touch upon similar topics and both are written by Lutheran pastors, they yet differ greatly in their thrust.

One major difference one instantly recognizes is Kieschnick’s tendencies to quote from non-Lutheran sources. Here he admits going to such as a C. Peter Wagner class for spiritual help. When one is really in trouble, who do you turn to? This determines where one is coming from theologically. Why do they turn to Fuller Seminary and CGM experts for their help in time of need? Makes one think they truly feel their Lutheranism doesn’t provide what is really needed. Basically, they’ve given up on it as their confession and practice in many areas.

To go to the likes of Carl George, Wagner, Francis de Sales, Henry Blackaby (which someone else here on this Discussion has posted some evaluation) and Robert Mulholland is significant for help in prayer life. Kleinig goes to Luther. Huge difference in orientation. Using Mulholland as a source, Kieschnick is prone to bring personality analysis and psychology into play here, which is typical of much of the CGM. Kieshnick admits that he has been set free from all of these influences (page 125). He boils it down just “to regularly communicate with him (God).”

As opposed to Kleinig, Kieschnick sees Luther’s Morning and Evening Prayers along with the Lord’s Prayer as powerful, yet didn’t teach him to pray conversationally. (page 128) He hasn’t gone back, and raves about never using printed prayers. Kieschnick’s advice is to find what works for you as an individual: “not to implement a single plan for prayer, but to experiment with a wide range of practices, find some that fit your personality, and use those practices to connect with God in rich, meaningful ways.” (page 129)

Kleinig and Kieschnick have some common things to say about prayer and significantly different emphases. Kieschnick is much more individualistic in prayer life while Kleinig suggests more of the classical, Lutheran prayer life. Noteworthy here is Kleinig’s always stressing the tie to prayer life and the Divine Service, which in previous Kieschnick chapters we have seen its omission. One will find strikingly more emphasis in Kleinig’s prayer life on Christ and His enemy, the devil, than in Kieschnick. Kieschnick exhibits a much more pragmatic, what works, prayer advice. He has searched many resources and says ‘whatever works’ for you is good. He is silent on attaching to the great prayer and devotional practitioners of old. Kieschnick is much more on technique than theology. Reader beware.

Greater is He that is in you than he who is in the world!

Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

Mollie Has Photos!

Mollie Hemingway has photos of the new Issues, Etc. studio at Augsburg1530, complete with views of Host Todd Wilken and Producer Jeff Schwarz' cars in the parking lot, Todd and Jeff's desks, and Jeff hard at work. Pastor Wilken's desk seems to be devoid of any work related materials, just a soda cup. Even more notable is the absence of an actual photo of the host himself. Could it be that Pastor Wilken has gone AWOL? Nah.

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 4

This is the fourth post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.


Review of Chapter 4: Connections The Door of Encouragement

This is the longest chapter so far in sheer number of pages. I would surmise that Pastor Kieschnick preaches along these lines quite frequently. Relationships at church and among Christians are important, but it needs to put in the proper perspective of law and gospel, justification and sanctification, theology of cross, not theology of glory. We all have the need to interrelate to other humans and feel wanted and needed. To fulfill this need, Kieschnick sees three main groups: provers, pleasers and hiders. He had remedies for each, mixing Biblical verses along with advice from his experience and other Christian writers that he quotes, most of them non-Lutherans.

There is much to be gleaned from this effort, such as hints on how to be a better listener and the difference between being loved and being trusted. He advocates the best way for the church to do these relational things is through small groups. This yet shows again his tendency for CGM agenda. The biggest concern here, which he never addresses even minimally, is when relationships become tense over Scriptural meaning and application. It’s the old controversy over life versus doctrine. Luther said to focus on life at the expense of doctrine is a serious mistake. To date a concern for confessing the truth of God’s Word is never addressed to this point in the book. Who in these small groups will stand up for God’s truth when it is attacked? Even the great chapter of love which Kieschnick quotes from (1 Cor. 13) “always rejoices with the truth” (verse 6b) includes it when speaking of loving relationally.

One will capture a significant following when a preacher spends considerable time and energy focusing on relationships. But in what relationship to God’s truth needs to be asked? Does the truth take a back seat to love? This is the concern many of us have for the CGM and such advocates as Kieschnick with the tendencies we have commented on thus far.

Rich blessings in Christ!

Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do Not Intepret the Confessions



Republished with permission from Pastor Joel Brondos' blog Kyrie Eleison.



You might hear liberal pastors and laypeople talk about interpreting the meaning of the Confessions by using the Scriptures. This is ALWAYS a tip-off to foul play -- and the discerning Lutheran should be ready to call it into question.

Commenting on the subject as to whether we should interpret the Confessions in light of the Scriptures, C.F.W. Walther wrote:

Some want to subscribe to the Symbols with the proviso that they may interpret them according to Scripture or understand them correctly. This was the condition under which the Reformed declared themselves ready to subscribe to the Unaltered Augsburg Confession. (Why Should Our Pastors, Teachers and Professors Subscribe Unconditionally to the Symbolical Writings of Our Church)

Likewise we read in Pieper's Christian Dogmatics, some further detail about this subject (vol. 1, pp. 354ff.), describing a quatenus subscription in its varied forms, including the position of those who say that the Confessions are to be interpreted by Scripture:

Again, there are those who are ready to subscribe to the Confessions with the understanding that they be interpreted "according to Scripture," or "correctly." . . . By subscribing to the Symbols a man does not declare his readiness to interpret them ‘according to Scripture,’ but the minister or candidate in question makes the solemn declaration to the congregation that he has already discovered what Scripture teaches and he finds the Lutheran Confessions to be the expression of his own faith and confession.

We don't use the Scriptures to interpret the Confessions. We use the Confessions to interpret the Scripture BECAUSE the Confessions ARE the true and accurate exposition of God's Word in Law and Gospel. Confessional Lutherans have a quia (literally, "because") subscription to the Confessions rather than a quatenus (literally, "in so far as") subscription.

When anyone suggests that they want to do things the other way around, they are likely putting a spin not only on the Confessions, but also on the Scriptures.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 3

This is the third post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.


Chapter Three: Worship The Door of Wonder

Any theological abnormalities likely will come out here, for as one worships so one believes, as the ancient phrase states: lex orandi, lex credendi.

One quickly finds that this author is primarily concerned with the human response rather than God's actions in the means of grace. His major impetus is that Christians are 24/7 "living the life worthy of their calling" (Eph. 4:1) He sees it as striving to live totally pleasing lives to God, which puts it clearly under sanctification. You will not find a clear reference to Divine Service, but rather to our reaction to worship. What he truly wants to link it is? You guessed it PURPOSE! " He uses Isaiah 6:1 to show this: "In the revelation of his glory, God first overwhelmed Isaiah with his sinfulness and his need for grace, and when the prophet responded in confession and repentance, God gave him a clear, compelling purpose." (page 71) So God is all about purpose for our lives, thus becoming more and more obvious that this is to some degree an attempt to Lutheranize Rick Warren.

Compare this very illustration of Isaiah 6 with what Dr. John Kleinig does in his recently released CPH book on this same topic (spiritual growth). He clearly teaches receptive spirituality and beggars before God's throne, and doesn't move on quickly to the wrongly perceived "get with it" purpose program.

Kieschnick continues his discussion on worship with a purpose with what he calls three truths: possession, presence, and purpose. Possession he says is at the heart of worship and "takes root in our acknowledgment." (page 73) See the theme of "our response to find our purpose?" Sound familiar? It's the way of the law. Listen to this statement which truly is attempting to put the believer back under the law: "The more we realize that we live under the watchful eye of Almighty God, we will respond with respect, obedience, and affection." (page 75) What ever happened to living our entire life as one that has been crucified with Christ and is now lived by faith in Him who loved me and gave Himself for me? (Gal. 2:20) Clear confusion of law and gospel here. Is this what we are to take out of worship, that God has His every evaluative and judgmental eye on us, and we better watch out and get with His purpose for our lives? Rather, that He has redeemed us from our slavery to sin, and now that we are free His loving Gospel motivates us continually to live it out in the calls and vocations He leads us.

Kieschnick sees this life of worship in God's purposes for our lives in our family relationships, at work and school, in the community, and at church. He argues that for many Christians they narrow their worship only to church, and omit all the others. He summarizes what he has been saying with Romans 12:1-2. He wants this purpose driven pleasing 24/7 life to be done in faith, not under compulsion. He doesn't quite escape completely from being close to putting it back under the law: "Growing in our faith, though, doesn't mean we become perfect in this life. In some ways, spiritual growth means that we become more aware of our desperate need for God's grace." (page 86) "In some ways?" In every way! We are continually beggars, and have no right to offer any evidence in our sanctified life other than God's grace upon grace at work. We die to ourselves, and live for the Crucified! Just being honest about our sins is not all that we must confess. We must confess that we do nothing for His kingdom, but His grace living in us does whatever little He achieves through us. In focusing more on our response in the Divine Service, Kieschnick does not focus enough on this important distinction.

Amazingly he writes of the barriers to spiritual growth as being of the stress and depression variety. Solution? "At some point, we need a shot of objectivity from a trusted friend or the tap of God's Spirit to remind us of God's purposes for us. Without that blast of spiritual reality, we continue to suffer the consequences of the stress treadmill." (page 90)

Kieschnick reveals with this chapter where he truly is. He has moved away from his Lutheran roots, choosing to add elements of foreign theologies, e.g. especially in this book his penchant for the purpose driven life. With this comes not only a confusion at points of law and gospel and justification from sanctification, but also an omission of confession and practice of his Lutheran roots by using purpose driven focus. Why the hesitation to write and confess as a Lutheran? It makes any Lutheran reader suspect, and it should. This admixture of foreign themes that are non-biblical causes the discerning Christian to be leery of such a work that doesn't once talk about Divine Service and rather emphasizes the individual's response rather than God working through His means of grace. This is not a simple, unessential nit-picking critique, but it is essential and basic to sound Christian spiritual devotion.

Peace in Christ!

Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

Are You Part of a Movement?

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife banner

This post comes via Lora, originally posted on her blog The Rebellious Pastor's Wife. She contrasts the Ablaze® movement with the original "movement" of the Holy Spirit. Republished with permission.


Some Thoughts on Ablaze

(in a discussion on Augsburg 1530, a person clarified that Ablaze wasn't a program, it was a movement designed to inspire Lutheran congregations to be on fire for sharing God's word, and invited us to embrace it. I took long enough typing this that I rationalized that it should be posted here, too (because it took as long as a blogpost does. After all, time is precious! I am simply trying to be efficient, not in the least trying to be lazy. I know you all will appreciate that, right? )


I am already part of a movement. I really trust this movement and think that it has done a very good job and it has one of the best and strongest traditions in existence.

It began when Jesus ascended into Heaven saying “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.”

It matured on Pentecost, when tongues of fire descended onto the heads of the disciples and they preached God’s Word to the masses, and the people who believed came together into congregations to learn God’s Word, to baptize, and to celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

I thank God that my parents were part of that movement, bringing me to the font when I was just a couple of weeks old, and I thank God for pastors and teachers who have been true to the Great Commission along the way, not seeing it as just as a command to the unchurched that stops when we have cast the seed. They also took the “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” seriously as well, seeing it as a lifelong nurturing process, and I am also part of that -- in teaching my children, strengthening my brethren, and being ready to account for the hope that I have when I am called upon to do so.

It is a movement that has lasted for over 2000 years now and it is still going strong. It is not based on statistics or gatherings, or techniques, or evangelical revival (which is what it sounds like you are hoping for). It is based on Scripture, vocation, and the life of the Church. It is based on how those who are a part of the body of Christ interact with the world.

It is also based on “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” In Acts, Luke didn’t bother marking a “1″ by Phillip’s name when he proclaimed the gospel to the Ethiopian eunoch. Luke told the story of this man’s faith and his desire to be baptized. Paul didn’t mark down “30″ after a good night in Galatia. Instead, we are told what he said and the work that he did. Later, his letter to them tells us of the challenges that the church faced as it was under attack. It was real. It was not accounting.

It is not about how many times we share the gospel, it is that we do it when we are put in a place to do so. It is that we know what a precious gift Christ gave us in His Word and Sacraments. It is that we teach our children so that they walk in the faith and teach their children. Those who are already in the Church are very undervalued in Ablaze. Their continued strengthening in the faith is not talked about.

I will take Jesus’s movement, the Holy Spirit’s movement of saving each individual soul…of going after each little lost lamb one at a time, over Ablaze’s way of taking that and making it fit into the mold of today’s consumer culture and gauging success by quantity.

While I am not undervaluing the joy and the “combustion” of the excitement that happens when one discovers the gospel (I remember that, too). “Ablaze” is not what comes to mind when I witness how the Gospel is working in the lives of the strongest Christians that I know and admire. Loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, good, kind, faithful, gentle (humble), and self-controlled…really are what comes to mind. The fruits of the Spirit are clearly within them, and sometimes I am astounded to find that those fruits are stronger in me than I ever expected them to be. Strong Christians are not often “on fire” in the colloquial sense, but they share the love of Christ through their daily vocation, and it seems to smolder there within them…and the work that they do does not need “fanned into flames” it touches other’s lives and gives them warmth.

I don’t want to just see people come to Christ and experience that joy…I want to see them grow and partake of the meat of the faith, to have strength for when the fire doesn’t seem to burn (but is) and to have the strength to endure the suffering that Christ has promised. The count is not taken when the gospel is proclaimed or the seed is cast onto the field, it is taken when the names are read from the Lamb’s Book of Life and the harvest is brought in.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Rev. Zwonitzer's Continuing Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: Chapter 2

This is the second post in the series of Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer's book review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth.



Review of Chapter Two: Witness: The Door of Opportunity

Kieschnick admits that this is the real impetus behind the book, that Christians become effective witnesses. He bases this on every Christian being a witness by what they do, say, act, etc. He seizes upon an Os Guiness quote as thematic: "Who we are determines what we do."

Problematic to this is Christian's compartmentalizing their world into the secular and sacred. Yet further many, he contends, feel that witnessing is for full-time church workers while the rest are second-class citizens in the God's kingdom. He feels that the world is watching each Christian, so they're looking not for perfectionism but consistency and authenticity as simultaneously saint and sinner. (here he has "simul lustus et peccator" which I've never seen before; likely just a typo, i.e. "lustus" for what should have been "iustus").

He hints at confusion between the office of the public ministry and the priesthood of all believers as he falls into the CGM trap of talking about all believers not as servants of the gifts the Lord has given but as "ministers," e.g. music ministry, etc. He further applies 2 Cor. 5:20 as each and every Christian being equally 'an ambassador" rather than as it correctly should be to the called and ordained servants of the Word. They are charged with speaking the Word for Christ, they are the sent ones. This is the "Everyone A Minister" dilemma that has been brought into the LCMS from without and continues to be falsely spread. This confusion of who and where speaking for God is to occur confuses everything. I myself am into imploring all Christians to seize opportunities to witness and share their faith when God presents the opportunities (Col. 4:1-6) but I do not encourage this by saying falsely that everyone is a minister and everyone is an ambassador. These are not our calls for the taking, but God's for the giving.

This again like most of the previous comments on this book are a mixed bag. I am all for every Christian being a 24/7 believer, and sharing their faith when given opportunities and serving the Lord with all their time, talents and treasures, but Kieschnick in this chapter has not come as clean with all his comments thus far on witnessing. He is committed and passionate about his sharing Jesus with all that he comes in contact with and encourages the rest of us as Jesus' disciples to do the same. However, he mixes this with troublesome confusion about ministry. We continue to struggle in our confessional body with these doctrines and terms, confirming evidence of this is his chapter opening Scriptural quote of 1 Peter 2:9.

Honestly I was surprised at how much of this chapter I can relate to and affirm, yet with the noted reservations. All Christians need to be encouraged to live their faith out in their vocations and calls and share Jesus with friends, family and acquaintances. The discerning Christian will be able to amen much of this chapter, while carefully noting some doctrinal drift.

Rich blessings in Christ!

Pastor Rod Zwonitzer

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shock and Awe

Photo of PaigeDear Friends,

Please forgive me while I brag a little bit...

Our daughter Paige graduated from Cascade Christian High School last night. Cascade has been a blessing for us and our daughter. Paige got a good education, and made a lot of wonderful friends as well.

She and Nikki were the two salutatorians (the person with the second highest grade point average) - they tied. Chad was the valedictorian, a great guy with an award-winning smile, athletic, and nice too. All three of them got one A- somewhere along the way in their four year high school experience, and all of them had better than a 4.0 GPA (if you get an “A” in an Advanced Placement class it counts as a 5.0). Chad had the highest GPA because he took one more AP class than Nikki or Paige.

The best part about all three of them is that they’re Christian. Each of them knows that through Jesus’ death and resurrection they are justified, forever freed from the curse of the Law. If you meet any of the three of them, you’ll know why they are all something special, not because of brains, but because of their attitude.
“For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." Acts 4:20
About the only concern that we’ve had with Cascade has been that it’s a “generic” Christian school, meaning Reformed/Evangelical. Lots of Law and exhortation. For Paige, at times it’s been a living four year apologetics course. She would occasionally come home after chapel and mention that the message was often the same - rededicating your life and being “on fire for Jesus.” She was able to figure out from her own observations over the years that these messages were useless. Nobody’s behavior changed - they were all still sinners. This was a good opportunity for us to discuss what the Bible has to say about our lives in Christ and instill in her a truly confessional Lutheran understanding. It’s also been an opportunity for her to present her Lutheran beliefs in what she says and writes in the course of her normal school work. There might be a teacher or two at Cascade that now has a true understanding of what Baptism is all about because of Paige.

This is where the “shock and awe” part comes in. Since Paige was one of the salutatorians, she had the opportunity to present a speech. She was tasked with giving her classmates some kind of a challenge. Her challenge, (coincidental to the name of the blog), was stand firm. At this point, her speech departed the realm of anything anybody had ever heard before in this particular building (a big auditorium-like church named “Champions Center”). It was a beautiful witness of her faith and a clear presentation of Law and Gospel. She had the whole thing memorized, and presented it slowly, clearly, with a smile on her face, and with feeling. Rather than try and summarize it I’m posting it below.

The few Lutherans who were there raved about it afterwards, including our pastor, who said it was a better sermon than some he’d heard from Lutheran pastors. He was nice enough to spend his Friday night at Paige’s graduation; he truly is a servant.

I pray that all of her fellow graduates listened carefully to what she was saying, because it was the opening for them to true Christian freedom. I hope they’ll take that speech with them and remember it for the rest of their lives.

We praise God for blessing our daughter with a sure trust in His promises, and for blessing her with her wonderful ability to proclaim the true light that gives light to every man.


Here’s the text of her speech:


Friday, June 6, 2008

Breaking News From Reporter: IE Canceled

The Reporter Online, the official newspaper of the LCMS, has breaking news. Issues, Etc. has been canceled. What do you mean you already knew that? It isn't news until it's in The Reporter!

There's nothing new in the article. IE was canceled for business reasons. So sorry.

They do acknowledge that somebody somewhere was unhappy with the cancellation:

Disappointment over the elimination of the program manifested itself in various ways. Numerous e-mails were sent to Strand, to BCS members, to district presidents, and others within the Synod. An online petition netted more than 7,000 signatures, including not only Lutherans but signors from other Christian denominations. On April 14, a peaceful demonstration was held outside the LCMS office building in St. Louis to protest the decision to cancel the program. Meanwhile, several district pastoral conferences or boards of directors petitioned the BCS to revisit the decision. These appeals were answered individually by the chairman of the BCS.
I hope that other LCMS Districts will continue to voice their disapproval regarding the cancellation of IE, and the way in which it was handled.

The “Old Me” is Back

Path with fence on each side
The “old me” is back. There’s no place like home. I’d been working on upgrading my stolid old diction, but it seems most people liked the “old me better than the “trendy me,” the “bureaucratic me,” or the “emerging” me.

You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool well catechized Lutherans for very long. Sooner or later they rise up with one mighty voice, the voice of the Gospel, to rid themselves of falsehood in their midst. I think that’s what’s about to happen on a very large scale.

I was able to meet some nice people on my journey. I met people with some really stupefying acronyms, and some other people that speak fluent bureaucratese. I also met one Lutheran pastor who speaks a mean Emerging Church dialect. But I also found that trendiness can often get in the way of the real message. Trying to make the message appealing by using the most chic words often detracts from the message itself. Trying to make the message appealing by using modern business techniques turns the message into a pre-packaged slick looking box, but once you unwrap the box, there’s nothing inside. Trying to make the message appealing à la Emerging Church turns the message into a social Gospel, full of “the love of Jesus” but lacking the means of grace, repentance, and the forgiveness of sins.

The other thing I noticed on my journey is that while contemporary trendy charlatans of all breeds, while they often talk about the Gospel, forget to preach the Gospel. They’re too busy focusing on the lingo of their particular method to actually get around to preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I don’t want to make that mistake. No amount of worldly appeal is worth forfeiting your soul, or anybody else’s.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
Thanks to all my friends who stood by me and led me back to the straight and narrow. I promise I’ll never stray again - I recognize the voice of my shepherd.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Becoming the Unchurch for the Sake of the Unchurched

Rev. Brian L. Kachelmeier is the Pastor of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church in Los Alamos, NM. He presented this paper at the Small Church Conference in Monte Vista, CO in May of 2008. Thanks for sharing it, and thanks to Pastor Bryan Wolfmueller for pointing it out.

Becoming the Unchurch for the Sake of the Unchurched

Over the short span of my life, I have noticed that people tend to pick up the lingo of those with whom they associate. People tend to take in the language of the land in which they live. This tendency is no different when it comes to the church. You can tell when someone comes from a Roman Catholic background, because they refer to the Divine Service as the Mass. You can tell when someone comes from an American Evangelical background, because when they pray they repeat the following phrase over and over, “Father God, I just want to…” Likewise, you can tell when someone comes from a Missouri Synod Lutheran background, because they pray the so-called common table prayer rather than the before and after meal prayers suggested by the Blessed Reformer in the Small Catechism.

In our American context, it is easy to get caught up in slogans, programs, methods, movements, and theologies of other non-confessional groups. Like a sponge floating in a dirty sink, we are absorbing the identity of the American Evangelicals. Lately, the strange language of “unreached,” “uncommitted,” and the “unchurched” has come into common usage. We are now even confessing sins of no-mission. It used to be that when we confessed sins of commission and omission, we were covering all the bases. Now all the efforts of the church are focused upon reaching the unreached and churching the unchurched. The focus is placed upon the activities of the church. We are trying so hard to reach the unchurched that we end up turning the church into the unchurch for the sake of the unchurched. The result is that the sheep are starving because they are not being fed the Word, while the goats are getting fatter on the offered programs. All of this is done by proof texting with the so-called Great Commission. Please note that just about anything can be justified by quoting those last verses in Matthew.

In fact, the Christ Care Small Group model (which is used by some of our LCMS congregations) quotes Matthew twenty-eight as the rational behind why they exist. Ironically, they are adamant about stating that such small groups are discussion groups that are facilitated by a person who is not a teacher. Their group meetings consist of discussing what the Scripture means to each individual member. There is no teaching only discussion. Likewise, they do not baptize in these meetings. So the question must be asked, if they are not baptizing and they are not teaching, then how are they making disciples?

We hear the same logic when people say that the heart of the so-called Great Commission is sharing the Good News with others. I thought that the heart of our Lord’s words was to make disciples by baptizing and teaching. Is sharing really the same things as making disciples? Others say that they are “mission minded” and that the purpose of the church is to reach the unchurched. What does it mean to reach? Is reaching the same as baptizing or teaching? Apparently, the term “reaching” means persuading the unchurched to become churched. The best way to persuade someone to become churched is to make the church the unchurch. All of a sudden, everything has been turned upside down, rather than converting the unconverted, we are playing the game of converting the church into something that it is not.

In this way, we see that we have lost the language of conversion. We have lost the language of faith. Our concern is not unbelief, but rather church attendance. When our goal is to church the unchurched, we neglect to realize that there are unbelievers in the midst of the church. A hundred new faces, does not necessarily equate to a hundred believers. We are no longer talking about people being converted to the Christian Faith, but rather people being invited to have a relationship with Jesus.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Rev. Zwonitzer's Book Review of The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth

Pastor Rodney E. Zwonitzer, author of Testing the Claims of Church Growth, in response to the request of one of his parishioners at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Michigan, is writing a confessional chapter-by-chapter review of Pastor John Kieschnick's book The Best is Yet to Come: 7 Doors of Spiritual Growth. We've been granted permission to peek over his shoulder.

Rev. Kieschnick was formerly the pastor of Gloria Dei, the Houston Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod megachurch, and is now with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF). He was also one of the original Pastoral Leadership Institute (PLI) Board of Directors members. Rev. Kieschnick is the cousin of LCMS President Jerry Kieschnick.

Someone pointed out several quotes from the book to me last week. One really stood out: "But there's good news: God will accept us if, and only if, we accept his gift of grace." (pg 32) That quote ought to trigger an alarm in your head. Is something amiss in this book? I'm thinking this will be a good learning opportunity for me as Pastor Zwonitzer reviews each chapter, so I plan to follow along. I hope you will too. And now, Pastor Zwonitzer:


I've been asked to read this book by one of my members and comment, so will just share my comments here as I read in the hopes that it will bless.

Comments from the Introduction:

One notices right away that with each chapter the author quotes the Bible followed by a quote from a non-biblical author. Some of these authors (10 in all) I'm familiar with: Martin Luther, Os Guinness, Winston Churchill, Martin Luther, Mark Twain, Mother Teresa, Leo Tolstoy. Yet the rest I am not acquainted with in any involved way: Henri Nouwen, John Piper, William Barclay. So out of the lot we have only one Lutheran, one politician, two authors, a Catholic nun, and the rest non-Lutheran theologians. What heightens my suspicions for the rest of the reading already is from an old adage among pastors that by finding out what one is reading, one can very quickly approximate that person's theology. In other words, what influences a pastor is where he spends his time reading. Seems the author is in to lots of very mixed influences.

The main theme of this work is hereby revealed to be "doors of opportunity begging to be opened every day for the Christian!" (page 12) He quickly tempers misunderstanding though by stating that this is not about worldly success, but the way of faith, of the cross. We and God want more out of our lives, and we find it in Jesus. However, many disciples are not finding and opening these opportunistic doors. Some find something missing is their faith walk, others find that that it has become stale. They have settled for a "bland, lifeless form of Christianity. They sing the songs and hear the messages, but they are distracted by the cares of living." (page 14) This has all the indications of being a Church Growth type tome.

To come to the rescue of such meaningless Christianity, Kieschnick proposes to talk then about authentic "spiritual growth," or sanctification will be the main topic. He will do this by discussing seven doors of spiritual growth: witness, worship, connections with other believers, prayer, Bible study, service and giving. He emphasizes these are not techniques or ways to receive God's grace, but because we have His grace we want to know Him better. (page 14)

His diagnostic for lack of spiritual growth in many Christians is that the doors are always there and Jesus is beckoning us to open them and walk in, but for various reasons we are timid, and only at best crack the door. We are afraid of what we'll find by truly opening them. At this very point, he seems to offer what will be the major theme of the book: MAKE US MORE LIKE JESUS! "I believe God is behind every door, and he delights in us when we open those doors and walk through boldly. He stands behind every door to meet us, greet us, confront us, change us, mold us, and transform us. He wants to make us more like Jesus." (page 15)

And to do this, what is necessary? CHANGE!!! Here we go down Church Growth path. He goes on to say that these doors of opportunity will challenge our attitudes, behavior and direction, and they can be threatening. The question remains: do they challenge our Lutheran beliefs and confessions? We'll see.

All this starts to make one think that this just might be a Lutheran attempt to put the Lutheran spin on Rick Warrens' Purpose Driven Life. Kieschnick even ends this introduction with comment about receiving rewards to changing and going through these opportunistic doors. (page 17)

This is lining up to be yet another book on Sanctification, or what one preacher called: Third Base Ministry. If the spiritual life of a Christian is compared to running the baseball bases, then home plate would be the Law, first base is Gospel, second is Faith and third is Sanctification. I'll speculate right now that Kieschnick is a third base pastor. Lutheran pastors want their sheep to run the bases, not stopping on third!

So much for now. Next installment we'll look at Chapter One: Jesus Behind Every Door.

Blessings in Risen Christ!

Pastor

Click here to continue to the next part of Pastor Zwonitzer's review.

This Isn’t Working Out

My attempts to reform my diction to a more popular “winsome” form so far have been a limited failure. I thought everyone would love “trendy contemporary terminology,” or “trendy contemporary bureaucratic terminology,” but so far, it’s had limited appeal. Maybe Lutherans just aren’t “mission minded” enough. Here are some of the comments I’ve received with less-than-subtle hints regarding my efforts:

You can say what I wish I could say, so please go back to your usual speak.

The best feature of your posts was (is) the lack of "trendy contemporary terminology ."

Better stick with your old, honest self, Scott!:-)

...I don't think you'll ever "make it" in the contemporary Lutheran bureaucratic world, thanks be to God...

"I've searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees."
- G.K. Chesterton

You're not gonna get a statue if you keep this up.
Are you starting to see a trend? I don’t give up easily though. Must be the German in me. Most people call this behavior “stubborn.” I prefer to think of it as “tenacious” or “dauntless.” So I’m going to give it one more shot. If this doesn’t work, I guess it’ll be back to the original, rather dull, “me.” So here goes:


Terms You Must Use - Emergent Style

Here’s the list of trendy contemporary Emerging Church terms, followed by my first effort at incorporating them in a meaningful way. Please add any Emergent terms you can think of in the comments section. Also, you might consider voting on whether you prefer the “new” me or the “old” me. I’m a little conflicted at this point. Any comments will be greatly appreciated.


Ancient
Authentic
Experiential
God’s future
Imagine
Incarnate
Inclusive
Institutional Church
Intentional
Irenic
Kingdom
Metanarrative
Missional
Sacred space


Dear Reader,

I really need to get back to a more ancient form of worship, something more experiential and authentic. I need to be more intentional, imagining a more inclusive and irenic Church in a spirit of love, a metanarrative that encompasses a more missional stance, and that incarnates God’s future and His kingdom in the present, recapturing the sacred space the institutional Church has forgotten. What do you think?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Pastoral View of "Ablaze!"


I’m pleased to present this essay on Ablaze!®, written by Pastor Jack Kirk. He serves a dual parish in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in Bremen, Kansas. Pastor Kirk was one of the people who first alerted me to some of the serious undercurrents of the Church Growth Movement many years ago, such as the strange world of “paradigm shift” and “Total Quality Management.” I was so impressed with what he had to say that I’ve kept in sporadic email contact ever since.

Pastor Kirk is uniquely qualified to discuss the Church Growth Movement (CGM) and Ablaze!® He’s had extensive training in CGM during his twenty years as a Chaplain in the Navy, and as he mentions, “I lived it.” He also has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.

He originally wrote his essay for his own use to explain to others why he didn’t support Ablaze!®, and was kind enough to share it with me, and now with you. Here it is:


I applaud the evangelistic and missionary fervor of our Synodical President (SP).

I believe that the Holy Spirit grows the Church through the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel and the right administration of the Sacraments1 Christ gave to the Church.

However as a Lutheran I cannot in clear conscience endorse the “Ablaze movement,” and that for the following reasons:

First and foremost, I believe Ablaze to be a Lutheran synthesis of Church Growth Movement (CGM). It is my belief that Ablaze, in so far as it is CGM, synthesizes the “power of God unto salvation” with the tools of psychology, sociology, and the pragmatic of business and industry and essentially makes the success of the Gospel dependent on the behavioral disciplines. I understand and believe this because I have formal training in CGM. In my experience, the Church Growth Movement is not Lutheran, it is not theologically neutral, and it is not benign. CGM is deeply enmeshed in/with evangelical theology, its “theology” is behavioral pragmatic, and it effectively shifts the central doctrine of the Christian faith from Justification by Grace to The Great Commission,2 anticipates the outcome in numerical growth, and equates its expected numerical growth with God’s blessing.

(I note that the question is never about the preaching and teaching, doctrine and practice; the question is always, “How many.” Growth is not the Mission of the church! Growth is the business of God the Holy Ghost! Acts 2:47)

The Mission of the Church is to confess and deliver the Gospel of the Justification of the sinner by the Incarnation, shed blood and Death, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ to a lost and dying world. CGM brings a perilous dual message that secondary issues (structural) are primary and primary issues (doctrinal) are secondary.3 Are we in danger of having an entire generation of pastors committed to clever programming instead of Scripture? I fear that very real probability. I lived it in the Navy/Marine Corps community.

The Church has
always
been rooted and grounded in the Gospel of Christ and Justification by Grace. Some years ago, The Report of the Church Growth Study Committee of the LCMS correctly stated, “The Church has never preached the sociological message of increasing numbers, the psychology of human behavior, or the application of business principles of profit and loss.”4 Judging from the financial difficulties of synod, the Ablaze financing initiatives, the removal of source funding for missionaries, the necessity of restructuring, and disunity over Ablaze’s CGM theology, Ablaze is betraying just such an application!

The fact of the matter is that CGM is the utilization of modern marketing techniques by the church, in order to draw and hold large numbers of people by meeting their “felt needs.” The church then “converts” them, and “disciples" them through the use of modern organizational management [Total Quality Management-style] techniques, so that they can effect "change" in the community, and the world.5 This is a new paradigm and is not centered in theology, but rather it is focused on structure, organization, and the transition from an institutionally based church to a mission-driven church.”6 This is the Church Growth paradigm. (I note that the Synod is currently moving to restructuring.) Ablaze is born of its parent, CGM, and I have every reason to believe that the kinship is very close.

Simply stated for me, the Lutheran paradigm has always been that the Holy Ghost works faith in the heart through the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel of Christ, the message is Justification by grace!7 Where the Gospel is taught in its truth and purity and the Sacraments are rightly administered, there you will find the Church!

The Holy Ghost works faith in the heart. Faith in Christ comes by hearing the Word not by human reason or strength, to include the use of modern marketing techniques by the church, nor through the use of modern organizational management; but the Holy Ghost calls, gathers enlightens and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.8

Correctly understood, paradigm is a completely different way of thinking.9 Ablaze has all the marks of the CGM paradigm. By definition related paradigms in the same sphere cannot co-exist. My paradigm is Lutheran, not CGM. CGM and Lutheran cannot stand side by side by definition. A synthesis of the two into Ablaze will by definition yield something far different than either of the two original paradigms. For me the term mutation comes to mind.

This is why I believe that it is folly to attempt to “take the best out of this one, that one or the other thing, and somehow put them all together and you will end up with a “cracker jack” program or approach, or in this case, a “movement.” I can’t find anything wrong with Scripture’s approach of Baptism, the faithful preaching and teaching of the Gospel, and the same faithful confession of Christ by Christians in their daily lives. The Spirit motivates by the Gospel, not by “motivational movements.”

By definition, related paradigms in the same sphere cannot co-exist: this is a prime principle of CGM and one of the first things taught me by Win Arn from Fuller. Ablaze is a Lutheran-CGM synthesis. The parts designed for a Ford do not fit or work well on a Toyota. The clearest paradigm statement illustrating my example is from the SP himself: “This is not your grandfather’s church.”

I do not believe that numerical growth or bodies-in-the-pew are of themselves indicative of the blessing of the Spirit, nor do I believe it ought to be the goal. I believe where the Gospel is rightly preached and the Sacraments are rightly administered

there
you will find the Church. I believe the business of the church to be the faithful confession of the incarnate Son of God, not growth in numbers. The Word will accomplish that for which God sent it. Those added to the number are the Spirit’s business, and that may or may not be where “the big numbers” are. If it were otherwise, then I must perhaps recognize and give due credit to God for His expansion efforts in the LDS church and the Moslem world, both of which are growing in great numbers.

I do not endorse the elimination of direct LCMS funding of missionaries,10 to include salary, benefits and support, while at the same time placing so much of LCMS emphasis and resource to consultants.11 J. David Schmidt & Associates, employed before the 2004 Convention, is a CGM consultant.12 SP continues to use CGM consultants; the economic cost is high. And doesn’t the LCMS have current and severe financial difficulty? Has LCMS no “experts” of its own?

I believe it improper to direct funding efforts toward the Ablaze agenda, extending synodical bureaucracy to support it, while canceling radio evangelism and leaving missionaries to be trained as fund-raisers who must go out to raise their own funds.

CGM is primarily about breaking down any and all “barriers” to said numerical growth. LCMS is now clearly within the Ablaze-CGM paradigm. CGM proponents state that “Pure Doctrine” is the biggest obstacle to growth, that being defined as growth in numbers.13 Judging from the bringing of the “Purpose Driven Life/Church” into Lutheran pulpits and churches, the “approved” unionism of Dr. Benke at Yankee Stadium and even his 2008 “greeting” to the Pope, the rampant open communion across synod, the contemporary worship and hymnody, the cancellation of Issues, Etc, and much more, I am left to conclude that the breaking down of the barrier of pure doctrine is well under way.

I do not endorse the “marginalize, isolate, eliminate” approach to raised Doctrinal issues and to the conservative pastors and laymen who hold fast the Doctrine. Saying, as does the SP, that the synod is united and it is just a difference in practice betrays an agenda that defines solid Lutherans as “barriers” to numerical growth which must be broken down and eliminated.

I believe that importing the language of CGM also brings with the terminology the theology of CGM, its definitions and concepts. They come together. To think they do not is to not understand a paradigm shift. As Lutherans we believe in verbal inspiration of Scripture. The early church fathers, the Athanasian fathers, the Reformers, obviously understood this. They applied Scriptural terms and definitions and were careful to apply Scriptural doctrine where they “coined” a descriptive, such as “Trinity.” The words and terms chosen were of sound doctrine, and there was no compromise or synthesis.

In example, outreach is not the same as evangelism. Outreach refers to anything and everything that is employed to “attract” people into a particular church. The more colloquial term to describe outreach is “advertising.” Outreach focuses not on Law and Gospel but on the “felt needs of people” as defined by people themselves and determined through the tool of a “needs assessment.” Outreach can be viewed as the church’s response to the results of the needs assessment. Using the terms outreach and evangelism interchangeably does not make them interchangeable.

Ablaze does not appear to me to focus on discipleship. Wasn’t the context and direction of Jesus to make disciples? In 2007 Bill Hybels confirmed through one of his “surveys” that his “outreach” technique was yielding large attendances but was not making disciples.14 Some years prior George Barna documented that churches were growing by the rearranging of the saints.15 Evangelicals are simply playing 'musical churches,' moving around to more exciting, larger churches.16 CGM was not reaching the un-churched as stated. If Ablaze applies this method it is most reasonable to presume the results will be the same.

The Pastoral Leadership Institute (PLI) is a major connector to Ablaze. The primary objective of PLI is to assist pastors in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to "Connect People to Jesus" in a more dynamic and effective manner. I thought this was the Gospel! Is Ablaze supposed to enhance the Marks of the Church by “sharing the Gospel” whatever that may mean and however one may define it? Does the “power of God unto salvation” really require such assistance? There is a significant implication here: The Gospel needs our help! What the LCMS has been doing all this time must not be dynamic or effective. I will not argue the sinner’s shrinking from confession of Christ in daily life, but for our church to even hint at what the above statement from PLI says frightens me to the core.

The formal CGM training(s) I attended were taught to Navy chaplains of 18 different denominations. Hey, everybody can use this, we were told. From a pragmatic standpoint CGM “looked” good . . . until examined. Understanding paradigms and paradigm shifts was basic. “Red star clusters” for me went off all over! If one wanted success, we were taught, meaning have people come to services, package the message properly and the people will come. Since chaplains from across the denominational span could all package as required, the prime emphasis would shift from content to package, from faithful preaching and teaching to externals. The message wasn’t anywhere as significant as the people and their needs, and the church meeting those needs by breaking down any barriers to those needs. My question is: Where does Scripture ever speak of/like this?


CGM Working presuppositions:

1. Barriers basically are anything that hinders attendance (Growth).
2. People will not attend or return if they “feel” uncomfortable or unwelcome.

Break down and deliberately remove actual/overt and perceived target audience barriers to growth.
Of the many areas to examine, the following sample areas are not immune, especially in light of “the purity of doctrine” comment:
a. Preaching the Law and sin, thereby making people uncomfortable.
b. Closed Communion
c. Prohibitions against women’s/lay involvement
d. Pastoral authority
e. Liturgical worship (vice “emotion” oriented and entertaining worship)
f. Lack of serendipitous character
g. Having conditions on membership and involvement vice full privilege from day one.
h. Thorough doctrinal training/instruction classes for membership
Does Ablaze do this? Does the philosophy of Ablaze allow for this? Well, because Ablaze is a Lutheran synthesis of CGM, the following are things I have heard from reliable sources, and things that I know. You tell me.

How about the church in Omaha that has the girls serve coffee during service? How about the church in California whose adult classes leading to communicant membership are two hours on an afternoon? What about the churches that have broken down the barrier against women and now there is a woman at the Nevada church who regularly assists at the distribution of the Sacrament? And what about the churches that now have women elders? How about Yankee Stadium? How about pastors who participate in unionistic and syncretistic services in their locales through ministerial associations, and that after publication of “Its OK To Pray,” and others who officiate jointly at weddings and funerals with pastors with whom there is no fellowship? What about the endorsement of the philosophy and theology of Rick Warren in his “Purpose Driven” series? What about the Lutheran Witness even publishing a letter to the Witness suggesting that what we ought to do is read Rick Warren with Lutheran presuppositions? What about Kansas District offering a “Purpose Driven” brief at the professional workers seminar in Manhattan? What about the 2002 graduate from Seward, a DCE, who was not placed because she was conservative and confessional and not an “Ablaze-type” advocate? What about the DCE who would not be placed because, she was told, she was not liberal enough, meaning she didn’t buy into Ablaze or CGM and held fast the profession of the faith without wavering! What about the foreign missionary whose missionary education was received at Saddleback? Why is synod not addressing doctrinal issues but is instead fully intent on organizational restructuring? I could go on.

Here is a statement from CGM: “This new paradigm is not centered in theology, but rather it is focused on structure, organization, and the transition from an institutionally based church to a mission-driven church.”17

Rick Warren describes this paradigm shift as the shift to a “21st Century church,” and he describes pastors as "change agents."

Now, you tell me! PLI most strongly tends to the “change agent” statement according to its web page. The LCMS did not adopt this synthesized CGM approach in convention; it was leader initiated. You can follow the change pattern of Ablaze in John Kotter’s article in Harvard Business Review entitled, Why Transformation Efforts Fail, and read Peter Drucker and Rick Warren. Does the 50 days Ablaze sound a little like Rick Warren’s 40 days in Purpose Driven? Structure and organization is right now under review; will it be “directed” to so facilitate Ablaze? I can read a map.

I agree with Klemet Preus. The Lutheran paradigm rests solely in the Gospel, Justification, the Sacraments. CGM paradigm rests in pragmatism based on the tools of psychology, sociology, business and industry. Synthesize them and you “come up with a very different animal.” It appears to me it is called Ablaze in the LCMS.

I am not against our church body. I am not, I repeat not, against evangelism. Dating back to my confirmation in 1963 evangelism issues have always been there, and on the “front burner.” There have been “programs” to encourage “telling others” every few years or so. I expect there will be more in the future. The encouragement is always needed, to all of us. But I am contra the use of CGM. If Ablaze is CGM I firmly believe it will continue to bring with it a theology and practice that is Calvinist/Reformed, American evangelical, pragmatic, sociological, business-like, and very foreign to faithful confessional Lutheranism. I lived it; I have seen it done; I have felt its sting. If Ablaze is CGM I cannot in good conscience participate.

My comments contained herein are not polished for publication, they are pastoral. I pray they help someone. I wonder: I read that SP, in response to a question on the future possibility of women pastors in LCMS, told the Ohio District Convention "You are not free to preach or teach publicly that Synod is wrong on any given issue." He wanted us to be sure we understand that, so he repeated it. Slowly. No one may publicly preach or teach that Synod is wrong on any issue, ever.”18 Any issue?


Some of my resources aside from the training I received:

The Scriptures

The writings of organizational management master Dr. W. Edwards Deming, leader in Total Quality Management.

Dr. Peter F. Drucker, a recognized and leading authority in the area of management in business and industry. I have a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and I have read Dr. Drucker in the past, often. He is very influential in CGM.

Dr. Robert Klenck’s work, “What’s Wrong With The 21st Century Church. Dr. Robert Klenck, an orthopaedic surgeon dismissed from Saddleback for his stand on Scripture vice CGM. His paper is on line.

Bob Buford of The Leadership Network. (Bob Buford, the founding chairman of the secular Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management, also founded the "Christian" Leadership Network, which helps pastors and church leaders build "successful churches" based on Drucker's management policies and philosophy.)

The websites of Willow Creek and Saddleback College.

Thomas Kuhn,
The Structure of Change


Rick Warren

Dr. Ralph H. Elliott, senior pastor of the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago in the Christian Century, August 1981.

The Theology of the Church Growth Movement: An Evaluation of Kent Hunter's Confessions by Klemet Preus.

Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church?
Chicago: Moody Press, 1992

The Report of the Church Growth Study Committee of the LCMS

Minutes, Board of Directors, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod August 2003, November 2006

Paradigm Shift in the Church by Christian A. Schwarz

Confessions of a Church Growth Enthusiast: An Evangelical, Confessional Lutheran Takes a Hard Look at the Church Growth Movement. By Kent Hunter. Lima, Ohio: CSS Publishing Company, 1997.

PLI website

Ablaze website



Endnotes


1. II Timothy 4, The Augsburg Confession
2. The Theology of the Church Growth Movement: An Evaluation of Kent Hunter's Confessions by Klemet Preus.
3. Power Religion: The Selling Out of the Evangelical Church? Chicago: Moody, 1992
4. The Report of the Church Growth Study Committee of the LCMS
5. What’s Wrong with the 21st Century Church?, Synopsis Part 3, by Dr. Robert Klenck
6. Leadership Network, Bob Buford
7. Romans 1, Ephesians 2
8. The Theology of the Church Growth Movement: An Evaluation of Kent Hunter's Confessions by Klemet Preus, Logia, Epiphany 2001, Vol. X
9. Thomas Kuhn,
The Structure of Change

10. Minutes, Board of Directors, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, November, 2006
11.
The LCMS-Its Past and Future
by Rev. Wallace Schulz
12. Minutes, Board of Directors, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, August, 2003
13. Paradigm Shift in the Church by Christian A. Schwarz
14. Willow Creek website
15. George Barna, Marketing the Church, Navpress, Colorado Springs, CO
16. William Hull, Power Religion, Moody Press, Chicago, IL, 1992
17. The Leadership Network
18.http://schreibenvonschreiber.blogspot.com/2006/06/saturday-morning-at-ohio-convention.html