Thursday, August 30, 2007

Church Growth theology - help me

I was asked by a comment to explain how I view Church Growth taking a hold in the WELS. I had already mentioned the Church and Change conference in which the workshops are built upon the Church Growth model and theology. I will leave it to others to defend how these silly gimmicks that are being presented are not of the Church Growth theology.

Please tell me.

When all else fails the usual defense is the out of context statement from Paul of becoming all things to all men. What I see Paul talking about is preaching of Law and Gospel not changing our practice and methods.

What is church growth? Is it about sharing the salvation found in Jesus “Go ye therefore and teach all nations” "Repent and be baptized" and their numbers grew. This is the theology of the cross.

We preach Christ crucified. (but what is being preached to be happy) Stay at some WELS churches long enough and you’ll find out more about the pastor’s life than the life of Jesus. But boy those stories about t-ball and soccer are so funny.

It is the theology of Church Growth that has taken hold in the WELS. I believe it is truly driven by numbers and money I suppose. With this focus the Word and sacraments are pushed aside along with ancient creeds and liturgies. It is said by the Changers we aren’t changing the message just the methods (ie see Methodist or the Changers conference). It is the methods at this conference that are the focus of discussion not the Word and sacraments. Doctrine and practice are closely aligned. The Church Growth theology is rooted in post-modernism. We need to change our style to meet the post-moderns. The post-mods believe there is a God but not necessarily found in Jesus, so check out some of the modern sermons which focus on God but not on Jesus. These WELS sermons are out there on the net. We need to make the believer feel comfortable and happy (note Change presentation “ A positive view of Believers is Realistic..and practical) . No, again, Robert Schuller is not presenting, yet. Wait it is bait and switch tell ‘em their so good and they can be so happy but oh yea we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.

But the cry for several years has been it is all adiaphora. It is like the time of the Judges when everyone did what he saw fit. It used to be that at DMLC the young lads and lassies had to take piano for several years. Now I think they must pass electric guitar in front of a panel of professors.

The youth service has been all the rage for a time in the WELS. Let’s let the youth take over a Sunday and conduct the service. What a great way to get them involved. I’m sure we could all think of more long-term service opportunities, but this is what is being done.

A comment said to me that it would be fine for a young girl to give the children’s sermon during a divine service as long as only women were present. What I said earlier was young girls are allowed to give the children’s sermon during the divine Sunday service. I saw it happen. The men weren’t covering their ears. Everyone was laughing…maybe the young girl’s sermon was better than the reverend’s??

So has Church Growth methods taken root in the WELS??


Anonymous said...

1 Cor 9 (NIV) 19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Note that Paul's methods were far different than ours. He even went into heathen Greek temples to preach about the true God (see Acts 17).

I will caution you again agaist confusing worship styles with doctrine. I still fail to see how our practice and methods are becoming unscriptural. You have pointed to some sermons which may have been out of focus, but that is individual preachers who need to be refocussed and does not represent unscriptural practice nor methods in synod as a whole. Please give examples of what methods are unscriptural.

It is more than permissable to use guitar in place of piano in worship services-- it is very beneficial for many. Reread psalm 150. Take a look at the history of Martin Luther's hymns and realize that they used melodies sung in German bars so that church members would be able to sing along.

Also, you say this church growth says "We need to make the believer feel comfortable and happy" If we are preaching the gospel and using the sacraments often, won't we be happy? If the hope of heaven does not make us happy, nothing will. Our messages should be filled with the happiness and hope found in Jesus. Our worshippers should leave church smiling whether we use contemporary or ancient music. God wants his children to be happy.

Please share what methods are unscriptural (unless you mean that these preaching methods by a few are the problem. If that is the case, please let me know as well.).

Also, your poll could use some explanation. What does LPS have to do with church growth? I would also recommend an "other". Finally, who has authority to disband Church and Change? And why not disband all such groups whatever their positions are (Church and Change, Issues in WELS, etc.).

Feel free to post this comment. Please, at least, respond to specific methods, practice, etc. that are unscriptural as well as my other points.

Anonymous said... the way soldiers of the Church Growth Movement employ "I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some" should I, a man, start romancing men so that I can evangelize to homosexuals? Seems to me the best way to become all things to all people is to preach the Law and Gospel. What more is there?

Anonymous said...

"Take a look at the history of Martin Luther's hymns and realize that they used melodies sung in German bars so that church members would be able to sing along."

Ugh. Apparently this old chestnut is still alive and well among WELS church growthers. It's an urban legend pure and simple. If you followed your own advice and took a look at history you would realize that.

"Bar songs" refer to Luther's practice of setting plainsong chant into metrical "bars" (i.e. measures) to make them easier to sing. It has nothing to do with the local Wittenberg tavern.

Norman Teigen said...

I am an ELS guy and I have posted your site on to my Favorites list. I am interested in what you say because the ELS always follows WELS. It's as though when the WELS has an upset stomach, the ELS burps. Your Synod tells mine to jump, and my Synod asks how high.

Anonymous said...

"Note that Paul's methods were far different than ours. He even went into heathen Greek temples to preach about the true God (see Acts 17)."

That is exactly right--he went to them. What happens in the Divine Service? They come to us. Implementing more "visitor friendly" practices in the Divine Serivce shows a lack of confidence in the Holy Spirit and the means of grace. It also evinces a misunderstanding of the directive to go and make disciples of all nations. The directive is to go--not stay and make the province of the believer more attractive to the unbeliever.