Sunday, September 9, 2007

“Change” back - guest perspective

A very interesting comment from a reader of the Church and Change email list..


Steve Reagles ” own reflection upon the process of change and the “intuitive” notion that more contemporary, non-European, styles of worship ought to be at the heart of evangelism and mission work, as neighborhoods and their ethno-centricities shift. Could it be that the most expedient, and seemingly counter-intuitive, direction that churches ought to be shifting toward is “change” back toward the authentically traditional in its rich “tradition”?

This might be one of the most important kinds of inclusions that would help “balance” the American cultural notions evident in the Church and Change Conference, October 15-17.

In the face of many, most(?) Lutheran churches considering a shift to the “contemporary” worship model the new “contemporary” could very well be retro “traditional” as in pop culture the new contemporary revives “retro.” Below is one link to a leader in the evangelism model of worship who has backtracked entirely from her previous “contemporary” model. The second link is to a conservative “Confessional Lutheran” LC-MS church in the Washington, D. C. area that is thriving. In times of “Church and Change” there are also many Christians longing for the unchanging, the staid, Confessional doctrine of the ages. Gene Veith, whose books are popular in our circles—and who keynoted a conference at WLC a few years back--attends the church I’m told. Over against the style of worship of other LC-MS churches and ELCA churches, and perhaps, some of our churches in the area (?), for whom the contemporary worship paradigm has been recently adopted and which—from a worship viewpoint--look much like each other on the respective websites [or in the telephone book], this church has hit a chord they believe to be perpetually contemporary—being old and new simultaneously. These days, a church that “brands” itself as “Confessional Doctrine; Traditional Liturgy” rather than seeming “dated” may bring to a community a truly unique and authentic Confessional Lutheran worship “experience.”


Rick said...

How the DC church is doing depends on your definition of "thriving." I looked quickly at a few websites. No doubt they are preaching the LCMS version of the Word church, ministry and fellowship) and perusing their website does indeed reveal them to be traditional. However, if you look at the LCMS statistics website for the church, they are holding their own, plateaued with not too much an upswing or downswing in membership and worship attendance. Their offerings are strong but then again, Alexandria VA is one of the wealthier communities on the East Coast if my memory serves me correctly.

I know that it not a total picture of "thriving" to count statistics and no doubt I will get fallout for not being spiritually minded but a doctor would use some countable measurement to define an individual as thriving and those are really the only numbers there are. I don't know if it's that impressive that a 120 year old congregation has a worshiping congregation of 143. I am sure there are traditional congregations that can serve as a model but I'm not sure this is the one.

John said...


It seems that adopting our methods to the culture is the rage of Church and Change group. But what culture is it addressing?

Are they catering to the generation x or y or post-modernists or the youth culture or the elderly culture or the Asian or the German or maybe it is a sub-culture. There is also an anti-American culture.

What the apostles were careful of, among other things, was not to use the culture of Baal in their worship. Baal worship was based on what feels good. Baal worship was incredibly successful with the people. There growth was tremendous. But I wouldn’t call it thriving.

I wonder if Steve is suggesting that one should look at the historically liturgical Lutheran church culture which some may desire.

Anonymous said...

What always strikes me is that those that support the Church and Change movement claim to be all things to all men, except that is if you believe a worship service should be of a liturgically sacramental bent. Then you we will not be all things to you.

Rick said...

Dear anonymous,

What strikes me about the Church and Change people is that almost all of them whose churches offer contemporary worship also offer traditional worship because they take seriously "all things to all men." In my opinion, your comment is very inaccurate.

Also, the sacraments are not the exclusive property of the liturgies found in the front of Christian Worship. WELS Churches that offer contemporary worship baptize babies and adults and marvel that God would forgive them and make them his children WELS Churches that offer contemporary worship observe and celebrate Holy Communion and Jesus body and blood is present with the bread and wine. The presenters and attenders at Church and Change are your brothers and sisters in faith and generalizations such as your post are very helpful.

John in this blog has lamented his view that our Synod is fractured. I don't agree but sometimes it seems that people who dislike Church and Change are bent on driving in the wedge.


Rob said...

Rick's statement resonated:
people who dislike Church and Change are bent on driving in the wedge.

Satan uses everything at his disposal including rivalries and jealousies to his advantage.

The WELS is similar to all other organizations: there are insiders and outsiders. Do WELS insiders lend a hand to outsiders to pull them in? Do WELS insiders have man-made rules that guard their exclusivity?

What's the view of outsiders? Do they covet membership in the inner circle?

Is an inner circle person more likely to be C&C or IIW? I see mostly IIW in the inner circle. C&C don't care about circles.

As to man-made rules, some are beyond one's control. A first-generation pastor cannot join the inner circle by becoming a second or third generation WELS pastor. A Floridian cannot join the inner circle by changing the city and state of his birth. It's silly to think that a football fan might gain favor with the inner circle by switching loyalty to Green Bay.

I lived through a situation in which Satan used rivalries and jealousies of WELS purists to "cleanse" an LES of three teachers who had not graduated from MLC and had not been born in the Midwest but were more than halfway through Synodical Certification. The purists set up a hostile and abusive working environment for the outsiders while rewarding slothful insiders with smaller classes, vacations, and extra funding. After a few years and many meetings of reconciliation attempts, the three targeted teachers resigned. The DP remained silent.

When a preschool assistant with grown children asked a WELS purist pastor with an impeccable pedigree if he might recommend her for the MLC Synodical Certification program, he replied, "We don't need your kind."

Every time WELS rivalries and jealousies overwhelm me I seek and find refuge in Scripture.

Anonymous said...

"I see mostly IIW in the inner circle."

That is absolutely the funniest thing I've read in a loooong time.

The C&C website is advertised on the WELS website, and you can even sign up for their conferences there. IIW is completely ignored on the WELS website.

Who's inner circle?

"C&C don't care about circles."

Really? So the C&C people aren't affected by sinful pride and politicking? They must be much better Christians than the rest of us. How pious (or should I say pietistic) they must be!

Rick said...


That's not what I said. Please be careful to use the full quote. And also please give the context. My words were addressed to anonymous who had posted prior to my last quote.