Sunday, November 11, 2007

What Now?

It has been almost 3 months since I took over the "Bailing Water" blog. I thought that there was a true need for lay people and called workers to come together and discuss important synodical issues. It was my hope that this blog would provide one avenue for this process. I believe that this blog has begun an important process that may help in dealing with diverse perspectives that have arisen in the synod. I truly believe that there are many issues that plague the synod and need clarification and discussion. I believe that the Church and Change camp has taken a minority control of the synod. I also firmly believe that the majority of clergy in the WELS are confessionally sound but "synodically" afraid to take a stand against those that promote Methodist methods such as effective and efficacious.

However, I have some major work projects that need my full attention for the next few weeks. Posting and moderating does take time. The last few weeks comments have dropped a bit so I wonder if interest is wavering.

So is there a reader who would like to continue the process?

Does "Bailing Water" need a vacation?

Is "Bailing Water" a beneficial discussion board for the WELS?

I do appreciate your comments.

(oh..a few errors on the folow-up page have been corrected...)
http://www.church and change Folow up)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
November 14, 2007 5:03 PM
John said...

Back on the original topic, I have decided to continue the blog. I appreciate the open, diverse, and honest opinions. This blog has allowed me an opportunity to struggle with important Scriptural issues.

I will try to work with randomdan offline to see if it is possible to format a discussion board. In the meantime I will continue posting as time permits. I do appreciate the suggestions (rnn - I will open a topic on Wauwatosa theology soon).

Do feel free to go where the discussion leads. If you have a new topic I will just cut and paste your comment as a new blog post. By all means if you have a "hot" button issue or a "newsworthy" item please post it.

I will allow the comments to post automatically. This does help me immensely but beware that spam or trolls may post a comment. So I will monitor the comments as time permits. For the one or two that suggested the blog go on a permanent vacation I guess you can keep posting or not return to this site.

November 14, 2007 5:03 PM

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

Permit me to make some very candid remarks. I'm not leaving my name because I know what the people who write on this blog would probably do to it if they knew I was writing.

I'm sorry, but "Bailing Water" needs a permanent vacation. This site has appeared to be an avenue for the supporters of the Berg boys to vent and complain about how "unfair" they were treated by the WELS. I have often wondered if you're related to them in some way. It has also been overtaken by those who would promote an LC-MS view on church and ministry. Also, in many instances, the mudslinging has been aweful. One final note--I don't think you have given the Church and change people a fair shake. Your difficulties with talking about new approaches to ministry simply does not recognize that methods can change, while the Word we proclaim remains unchanged. (For example, door to door canvassing in outreach simply doesn't work anymore in many communtities. We can reach so many more today via the Internet and other media with Law and Gospel. But to even discuss such newer methods is evidence of the infiltration of false doctrine in our midst, according to you and your blog.)

Anyways, blessings on your work projects. But please don't keep this blog going. It has done more harm than good.

John said...

This site has appeared to be an avenue for the supporters of the Berg boys to vent and complain about how "unfair" they were treated by the WELS. I have often wondered if you're related to them in some way.

I'm not related in any way to the "Berg boys", but I am glad some of the issues that revolved around their ministry were allowed to be presented on this blog. From what I have read no one has every given a clear scriptural reason to what was doctrinally wrong with their position or "rag."

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous wrote: For example, door to door canvassing in outreach simply doesn't work anymore in many communtities.

In my estimation, pastors who say that canvassing does not work do not even try it, or their heart is not in it. What in fact goes on in their head is this: I could canvass and drive and visit people, but I would rather diddle around on the Internet and turn my church into a 3-ring circus. Therefore, I will convince myself and the parishioners that canvassing and evangelism do not work, and thus we must use Church Growth methods that do not bring any one to the faith, but rather just steal sheep from other churches, if it works at all.

Anonymous said...

Actually canvassing really doesn't work. Think about it--who canvasses? Annoying salespeople and Mormons. I don't want my church being associated with either of those groups. In my experience there's only one thing that really works: members talking to their friends and coworkers and neighbors about the good news. Everything else is a far, far second. Oh, and by the way, I wouldn't be so quick to pit church growth against canvassing. Canvassing was popularized by the church growthers.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Church has no idea what he's talking about!

Anonymous said...

"Think about it--who canvasses? Annoying salespeople and Mormons."

Who uses power-point and praise bands?

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous said: Bruce Church has no idea what he's talking about!

Funny. That´s what the last pastor said before we got rid of him--about this very issue. Our new pastor canvases in addition to other activities, and he`s doing well.

Us layman have access to the internet so we know what lazy clergy are up to, so the days are numbered in which you can bowl us over with talk of church growth methods just to get out of doing the tried and true methods.

Every profession goes through this phase. For instance, the school teachers in the 70s did want to teach spelling, in the 80s they wanted to teach new math, in the 90s they did not want to grade since it would hurt student self-esteem. Then finally people got wise and closed down many schools and fire many teachers with No Child Left Behind. Teachers are griping about that, but most people do not trust the teachers anymore. Same thing goes for the ministry it seems.

Anonymous said...

On a side note, NCLB is a joke and a failure for several reasons..but that is an aside.

Personally, I think this blog should just quit. Not because I believe either side is more or less right, but because there is no communication really happening here...just people talking past each other.

If real communication was occuring, I'd say "keep this blog" open...but it's just a place to rip on people from both sides and I just don't see the point...especially as it isn't changing anything, it's just talk.

Bruce Church said...

Hey Anonymous,

I do not want you to think I was blowing smoke when I said we fired our last pastor over this very issue of his not canvassing, but instead promoting church growth methods. On this page page of my blog dated March 2007, I quoted him saying about canvassing "That´s not the way it´s done anymore." A search on the word canvass will reveal several hits:

Tuesday, March 6, 2007
When Synods Become Like Teacher Unions
http://lutherannotes.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html

Note that one cannot backdate blog entries on BlogSpot.

Anonymous said...

"Funny. That´s what the last pastor said before we got rid of him--about this very issue. Our new pastor canvases in addition to other activities, and he`s doing well."

Pastor as lackey? That's a problem with the WELS doctrine of church and ministry. If I'm in the Madison area I will definitely avoid your congregation.

Anonymous said...

Here's how the comment sections seem to go on any topic John brings up:

1. State the WELS doctrine and/or practice approvingly (maybe not so approvingly for C&C).
2. Someone questions the WELS doctrine and/or practice.
3. The answer given is not Lutheran.
4. The person asking the question is accused of calling all WELSers unbelievers and having nasty tone.
5. The original questioner asks again.
6. The answer given contradicts Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.
7. Several people comment with quotes from Scripture and the Confessions to show the contradiction.
8. More comments about tone and not being "loving".
9. More quotations from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions with questions for the WELS defenders which have still not been answered.
10. Straw men set up using things that the folks quoting the Confessions and Scripture never wrote.
11. Straw men pointed out.
12. More comments on tone; still no actual answers in defense of the WELS.
13. It is pointed out that actual questions of where the WELS doctrines/practices depart from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions have NEVER been answered.
14. WELS defenders, who have never answered any questions or given any credible defense of their position (note: a credible defense is from Scripture or the Confessions, not the WLS essay file (Wow! WLS profs agree with WELS doctrines! Shocking!)), call everyone else Roman Catholic or Missourian, get mad, and leave.
15. A few more comments from the people questioning the WELS.
16. Nothin' but crickets chirping in the background.

This blog is useful to show that the WELS has some serious doctrinal problems, not just C&C problems. There seems to be a lack of support from Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions for WELS' positions on roles of man and woman, church and ministry, and worship, to name a few. If the WELS' doctrines were easy to defend and had a solid grounding in Scripture and the Confessions, folks on a blog comment shouldn't be able to shoot very legitimate holes in them as has been going on here.

Anonymous said...

"the days are numbered in which you can bowl us over with talk of church growth methods just to get out of doing the tried and true methods."

Yes, let's stick with the old CG methods. Those are soooo much better than the new CG methods. Either way, you're looking for methods. That's kind of the issue here.

Bespoke said...

The Church and Change bullies are bound to pile on and say, "Quit!" The negative comments posted are a sign of Bailing Water' success. This site is needed because WELS pastors and laity will not face the issues, except timidly with much bowing to headquarters.

Anonymous said...

The way the comments have been going since the first comment on this entry proves anonymous' whole point.

Anonymous said...

"I do not want you to think I was blowing smoke when I said we fired our last pastor over this very issue of his not canvassing, but instead promoting church growth methods"

You do not know what you are talking about. You are pitting Church Growth methods from 30 years ago against Church Growth methods of today. Either way, it's Church Growth.

Firing your pastor for not doing what you want him to do? So much for the Divine Call.

Anonymous said...

I have learned much via this blog and hope it continues. Comments have made me go back to Scripture and search like a Berean.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been on Travel-Canvas-Witness trips from MLC, I agree that canvassing does not work. After leaving thousands of fliers and talking to hundreds of people in a week for some mission congregation, you know how many new people showed up for worship on Sunday? None. Ever. A lot of money and time went into sending us to "help" the pastors of these missions and not one new person ever set foot in the church because of it.

At the congregation of which I'm currently a member, they do not do canvassing but are growing. Many of the Lutheran churches in the area have chosen to act like Methodists, Baptists, and Pentecostals. New converts are not stupid and see through the shallowness. Many, especially young families, have joined our congregation BECAUSE they can hear the Gospel preached and receive the Sacrament of the Altar every Sunday in a high liturgical setting.

Anonymous said...

Wow, ignorant people like Bruce Church are EXACTLY the problem with the WELS.

1. He has no understanding that canvassing IS a church growth method!

2. He has no respect or understanding of the divine call.

LM said...

Anon,

If you aren't going to use your name, please do something to distinguish your self from the other nameless posters--for example, use a clever screen name like "SEMWIFE" or your initials.

Thanks,

LM

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous, I think firing the pastor was appropriate and something not taken lightly because, say what you want to about canvassing, at least it doesn`t involving dumbing-down the church service and giving up our Lutheran heritage for bunch of smoke.

If a WELS pastor wants to officiate and preach like a Methodist, than we might as well call a Methodist pastor. It is similar to how, if a Republican is more like a Democrat, voters will say they might as well vote Democratic and get the real thing rather than the fake thing.

UP said...

Mr. Church,

I'm confused. Why did your congregation revoke your pastor's call?

Thanks,
UP

LM said...

John,

You should do what is best for you and your family, but for those that are paying attention, I think you've done a nice job at letting folks discuss some of the more important issues in the WELS right now.

To the Anon who said the following re your blog:

"It has also been overtaken by those who would promote an LC-MS view on church and ministry."

For those of us that question the WELS novel view of the Church and Ministry, what do you recommend we do? I think discussing these things, even anonymously on a blog, is far more productive than just cranking up the volume on the WELS connection and hoping it will deafen our conscience.

LM

Anonymous said...

Please, please keep this going! There needs to be a place for debate that is very lacking, on the whole, in WELS. Maybe I am just unaware, but I don't think I have ever seen any real, meaningful, public debates or other forums in which one can express their heartfelt and weighty concerns. This blog makes me aware that there are others out there that are not sleeping. I had one WELS pastor speak of C & C a few years back as though it was a fait accompli and an official extention of WELS.

As for canvassing, no it's not CG. CGM is all the little things taken as a whole and incorporated and marketed for the expressed purpose of "growing" or trying to, regardless of ones doctrinal position, liberal or conservative theological background and apart from the MEANS OF GRACE. That's the foundation. Stop trying to Lutheranize it! It don't fit.

Jesus said to go into all the towns and if they don't receive you to shake the dust off your sandles and move on. That's not CG. Neither is feeding of 5,000. Neither is healing the blind or the lepers.

Personally, I don't find canvassing to "work" in the way I define "work", but not the way Jesus defines "work" and I have and still do lots of canvassing. Some communities may find that people will respond to an invitation or will listen to some Law and Gospel at their door. It's o.k invite. But the key question is what are you inviting them to? Is it to a service that has been made "seeker friendly." Remember the Bible says NO ONE SEEKS GOD. Are you making the service warm and comfortable and catering to unbelievers? That's what CGM advocates. Read some of the books the the CGM marketeers sell. God's Word is always effective and always produces results. Perhaps not the results we want to see. But in the empty pews you can see an affirmation of the truth of what Jesus said - So few will follow the narrow way.
The public proclamation of the Gospel is what is being jepordized with all of the CG stuff.

Would I like to see more people come to faith? Yes. Will I let it hang me up if I don't? I try not obsess about it. That leads to dangerous tempations and it starts to question whether or not Christ gave us the proper tools that have been used effectively since His ascension. That being plainly THE MEANS OF GRACE both in Word and Scarament. Do we trust Him?

Tico

Bruce Church said...

Hi UP, Here´s the scenario. The pastor ONLY wanted to do modern church growth methods, BUT his ideas meant increasing the budget by a not insignificant amount, plus changing the worship service, etc. The congregation decided that it could not increase the budget, and did not like his newfangled worship ideas. Meanwhile, attendance drops because the pastor refuses to do any evangelism at all unless it involves his new ideas. After a while people were wondering what he did with all his free time. So, instead of seeing the congregation diminish anymore while paying someone full-time for part-time work, it was necessary to get a new pastor who would do evangelism like our former pastors did, and without breaking the budget. Anyway, the congregation holds the power of the purse, and the Divine Call is not meant to be used as kryptonite to paralyze a congregation.

Anonymous said...

LM wrote:

"For those of us that question the WELS novel view of the Church and Ministry, what do you recommend we do?"

Join the Missouri Synod.

Anonymous said...

John:

I think you need to call for discussion and an investigation into the removal of this pastor, just like you did for Pastor Berg out in California. Sounds to me that the district praesidium wasn't doing its job again. You should make a big stink about it.

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous. You said that canvassing does not work, but we have active members in our congregation who were never WELS before, and they came to our church due to our very meager canvassing efforts in the past. Those flyers only cost the congregation a few bucks, too.

Flyers increase the visibility of a church in the community. When a person does decide to attend church for whatever reason, he or she will be more likely to attend a church that he or she knows about.

Canvassing is cheap and should not be bypassed for the more expensive faddish methods. Worship is worship, and evangelism is evangelism, and the two should not be mixed. Otherwise, church is put on the slippery slope where it will become like going to the stadium where it is 99.9% entertainment and 0.01% the Word of God, i.e., those John 3:16 signs.

LM said...

"Anyway, the congregation holds the power of the purse, and the Divine Call is not meant to be used as kryptonite to paralyze a congregation."

Bruce,

Are you saying that you cut your pastor's salary, then called someone else to replace him? What was your DPs involvement in this?

Thanks,

LM

mav said...

"Join the Missouri Synod."

There's quite a lot of leaving the WELS for Missouri going on already. If everyone who questioned the WELS' doctrines did that, there wouldn't be too many left in the WELS.

If the WELS' doctrine of Church and Ministry is so solid, why can't it be discussed? You should be able to defend it instead of telling LM to leave for another church body.

Anonymous said...

"I think you need to call for discussion and an investigation into the removal of this pastor, just like you did for Pastor Berg out in California. "

It would be an interesting topic. Bruce Church wrote: " the congregation holds the power of the purse, and the Divine Call is not meant to be used as kryptonite to paralyze a congregation."

Any comments?

UP said...

Mr. Church,

Thanks for the info on your congregation's situation. It sounds convoluted and ugly as conflicts in the church often are. I'm sorry you and the rest of the members had to go through that.

It seems there was a lot more going on than just the pastor's refusal to do canvassing. I agree with you that if a pastor is not carrying out his responsibilities (preaching, administering the Sacraments, visiting the sick, etc.) it shows he is not fit to be in the Office, however I don't understand your statement about the congregation having "the power of the purse". There can be just as much abuse here as with a pastor who is not doing his job.

Also, I am not against a church advertising or canvassing, but I don't understand why you are so focused on those.

Anonymous said...

"There's quite a lot of leaving the WELS for Missouri going on already."

Not nearly as much as Missourians leaving for the WELS.

"If everyone who questioned the WELS' doctrines did that, there wouldn't be too many left in the WELS. "

If everyone who had a problem with the doctrine and practice of the Missouri Synod left, there wouldn't be a Missouri Synod. Is there anybody in the Missouri Synod who actually agrees with the synod's doctrine and practice? Does anybody even know what the Missouri Synod's doctrine and practices are anymore? Is it OK to pray with Muslims and Buddhists or not? I never caught the resolution of that.

(I don't mean to Missouri-bash, but let's not pretend that the WELS is riddled with strife and error while the Missouri Synod is a paradise on earth for all "real" Lutherans to flee to for unity and orthodoxy.)

Anonymous said...

"the congregation holds the power of the purse,"

With sentiments like that, is it any wonder that WELS pastors are afraid to create any waves or make any changes in the WELS? Any layperson or church council who says anything like that should be taken out behind the woodshed by a circuit pastor or a DP.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce--

Just think of how much precious canvassing you could have done on your own with the time you spent jerking your pastor around by the pocketbook. Just imagine what it would be like if laypeople spent their time talking about the Savior with their friends and coworkers instead of griping about how the pastor isn't doing any evangelism.

Bruce Church said...

UP asked why was the church focused on canvassing. Answer: It seems there was a direct statistical correlation between the pastor doing little in regard to evangelism and his refusal to canvass, and the membership and attendance going down.

LM asked where was the district president in all this. It seems the DP was clueless and did not offer any guidance as to how to raise membership without breaking the budget. Moreover, he was sympathetic to the pastor, saying that no one really knows why some congregations shrink and some grow. Ahem. I say one way to rule out lack of canvassing as a cause is to actually do some canvassing before one declares it a wasted effort.

There was some other things the DP did, but I cannot go into details without people being able to figure out which congregation and former pastor I am talking about.

And no, there were no other serious issues involved. It was merely an issue of attendance going down and his refusal to do anything about it. His proposal was: Church Growth Methods plus sell off under-utilized church property. We kept up paying the pastor to salary guidelines minus about $500, but that became very burdensome on fewer members. So while we were happy with the pastor otherwise, he had to go nonetheless.

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous said that I could have been doing evangelism and canvassing instead of jerking the pastor around. Ahem, but I do a lot already, plus one cannot expect laymen to be canvassing while the pastor saying "That is not the way it is done anymore." That is a sure way to kill off evangelism efforts. Besides, I do not have to canvass to prove that it works because our congregation already knows it works since that is how we got some of our active members--from just a few hours of canvassing no less.

mav said...

Oh you Anonymi!

"Not nearly as much as Missourians leaving for the WELS."

Prove it.

"let's not pretend that the WELS is riddled with strife and error while the Missouri Synod is a paradise on earth for all "real" Lutherans to flee to for unity and orthodoxy.)"

Who said this? Please copy it in your next comment with time and date please.

Here's what I wrote: "If the WELS' doctrine of Church and Ministry is so solid, why can't it be discussed? You should be able to defend it instead of telling LM to leave for another church body."

Telling us some of the many problems in the LCMS is not a defense of the WELS.

Anonymous said...

" he was sympathetic to the pastor, saying that no one really knows why some congregations shrink and some grow."

Christ didn't promise that your congregation would grow. You were out of line.

Anonymous said...

Hey Bruce,

Maybe your former pastor should follow you around at your job, criticize you, cut your salary, badmouth you to your superiors and get you fired.

Anonymous said...

"And no, there were no other serious issues involved. It was merely an issue of attendance going down and his refusal to do anything about it."

Then you and your congregation have a problem. That is not a legitimate reason to dismiss a pastor in the WELS. Ahem. God promises to work for our good in all situations, even when church attendance is going down, which was very possibly due to attitudes like yours and not a lack of canvassing by the pastor.

Anonymous said...

"That is not a legitimate reason to dismiss a pastor in the WELS."

It was "for the Good of the Ministry." That's on the list of official WELS reasons, isn't it? Though, we should probably be careful not to confuse "legitimate in the WELS" with legitimate.

A Semwife said...

"for the Good of the Ministry."

Goodness, what does that mean? You could use that as a flimsy excuse to get rid of anyone!

I seem to remember reading an article on this topic somewhere....Anyone know where that might have been?

A Semwife

Anonymous said...

"For the good of the ministry" simply means that a pastor has lost the confidence of his flock. It doesn't mean that the pastor did anything wrong or sinful. It doesn't mean that the congregation was in the right. And so, when a congregation pulls the purse-strings and robs their pastor, he may very well have to leave that place "for the good of the ministry". But that doesn't mean the congregation got rid of him legitimately. Nor does it mean that the WELS has stamped the seal of legitimacy on the congregation's decision.

Anonymous said...

"It was merely an issue of attendance going down and his refusal to do anything about it."

That says it all. What would you have the pastor do about that? Since when do pastors have control over attendance? Does your new pastor have the joy of knowing that if he doesn't keep attendance up over a certain number, he's outta there too? Last time I checked, God works through his Word when and how he wishes. Based on your logic, Bruce, Christ himself should have been removed from his position as Messiah. After all, look at his attendance figures: 5000, down to 12, down to 11, down to 0. I'm guessing that you and your church council would have been on the side of the Sanhedrin, voting to get rid of that loser, right? At least the pastor has the comfort of knowing that the trouble-makers will be punished and those who are troubled will be comforted (2 Thessalonians 1).

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous. You make so many insinuations like the Devil in Zec 3 or Rev 12:10.

The new pastor is not worried at all since he knows that the elders and church council were perfectly reasonable, and fully within their rights to ask the last pastor to do some evangelism and canvassing. Besides, our church does not have a history of hurrying pastors out the door.

I do not blame the former pastor, but rather those church growth people who put such silly ideas in his head, that only their way works, and other methods are ineffective or counterproductive. The CG people are the ones who made canvassing as ridiculous and odious to him as the idea of washing in the Jordan was to Naaman (2Ki 05:11-12).

RNN said...

John,

In answer to your original question on this post, I greatly appreciate the work that you have done running this blog and would like to see it continue. If you have the time and the ability, please keep it going. It does provide a good forum for discussing the theological issues facing the WELS. I am glad to have the chance to listen and engage in these conversations; it helps give me a sense of where the church of my youth is. I am greatly indebted to the WELS for the grounding in the faith that I received within its churches.

I also hope that I can offer my perspective now as an outsider looking in. This helps me to understand many of the things going on in the WELS now. For instance, I have come to a much better understanding of church growth and how it undermines Lutheran theology since I have been in an LCMS congregation. So,

Mr. Church,

Thank you for your participation in this discussion. I appreciate having your perspective voiced here. However, I am confused by what you say. You write that you had to get rid of the pastor for advocating church growth methods. Yet your complaint is that he failed to canvas, which had a direct statistical relation to membership and church attendance. You are using a church growth argument to say that advocating church growth is wrong.

Church growth says that we find those things that make the church grow and do them. That is your position on canvasing. Yet when this same logic was applied by the pastor to other things, you write that you had to get rid of him. Just a guess here, but he could probably also produce data to demonstrate that there is a direct statistical relation between his programs and membership and attendance.

So, from what you write, it sounds like it came down to a contest of arguing whose ways would work better, and you won the argument by cutting his salary. That is sad. If what he was doing was wrong, you should have pointed out his error. But of course this was impossible with both sides working from the same faulty premise.

Perhaps instead of asserting who has the power of the purse, you should have turned to Scripture and the Confessions. Check your Small Catechism. Luther has a nice section on what hearers owe their pastors:

In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

But I think that your story reveals some deeper, more painful truths as well. When the pastoral office is no longer instituted by Christ, it becomes a grab-bag. Its duties are no longer clear, and the relationship between hearer and pastor becomes negotiable--along with the pastor's job description. No longer can we look to those tasks our Lord has entrusted to the office to see if they are being carried out faithfully by the man in the office. Instead, new measuring sticks must be created--such as how membership and attendance are doing.

I do agree with you, Mr. Church, that new church growth methods lead the church astray. However, to fight them with church growth logic is futile. And to fight them by asserting the power of the purse and cutting the pastor's salary is wrong. Perhaps, instead of spending all our time canvasing, we should used some of it to return to a study of Scripture and the Confessions. There we find the true reasons why church growth is wrong: it detracts from preaching and the sacraments.

And, John, perhaps another topic for discussion here is Wauwatosa and Church Growth. If new forms of public ministry are continually being created, what arguments can be made against church growth?

RNN

Anonymous said...

Dear Semwife,

I did a little search on that phrase "for the good of the ministry" and I found a two part article written by a WELS pastor on the subject in a theological journal - well written and Scripturally and confessionally grounded. Here are the links.

http://www.motleymagpie.org/v2n1_a4.htm

http://www.motleymagpie.org/v2n2_a6.htm

Yours,
STP

Anonymous said...

"I do not blame the former pastor, but rather those church growth people who put such silly ideas in his head, that only their way works, and other methods are ineffective or counterproductive."

Oh, the irony is simply delicious! Isn't this exactly what you did? You claimed that only your way (canvassing) works and that other methods are ineffective and counterproductive. I suppose that when you place your trust in methods instead of the means of grace you're left with nothing but contradictions like this. How can you claim to dislike church growth when you got rid of a pastor for not using the right methods to produce the right results?!? Methods and results are what church growth is all about! Perhaps you ought to examine the silly ideas in your own head.

Bruce Church said...

RNN seems a reasonable soul, but he is ensnared by the church growth language and logic, I think. They insinuated themselves everywhere by categorizing all past evangelism efforts as Old Church Growth methods, and now there are new methods.

First, evangelism and canvassing have nothing to do with the worship service, and were unlike Church Growth methods that call for restructuring the service and bean counting. So saying one is old and one is new is comparing apples and oranges.

Second, canvassing and evangelism were not done merely to gain members, which is the main impetus of Church Growth. They were done merely because our Lord commanded people to go out and make disciples (Mat 28). So even if a church is growing rapidly, parishioners should DEMAND that evangelism be done to satisfy Christ´s command.

Too often Christ´s command to make disciples is followed only when a congregation is shrinking, making it SEEM as though canvassing and evangelism are all about the number of pew sitters and the size of the offering.

So we had to hurry the last pastor out because he refused to follow Mat 28, NOT because we were losing members, NOT because his salary was busting the budget, and NOT because the congregation preferred OLD church growth methods to NEW church growth methods. Basically, circumstances meant we had to follow Mat 28 over his objection.

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous said that we hurried our pastor along because he did not follow our preferred evangelism methods. No, it was not like that. It was that he did not follow Mat 28, period.

It is not acceptable for pastors to shirk their duties by using flimsy excuses. For example, if we allowed him to get away with not doing evangelism just because we did not fund HIS preferred way of doing it, next he would say he can´t give a sermon because he doesn´t have a cutting-edge PC, or he can´t make hospital calls because he doesn´t have the latest model car, or he can´t dress up for Sunday because there is no clothing budget. Where would it end?

Anonymous said...

Bruce,

Do you even have the slightest idea what the Church Growth Movement is? Your foolish, contradictory comments seem to reveal that you don't.

And you seriously think that Matthew 28 contains a specific command to do canvassing?!? Perhaps your new pastor could take a break from trying to fill your quotas to teach you a bit of the Word.

But I'll leave it at that and let RNN skewer you more thoroughly.

Anonymous said...

Hmm, let's pause for a second to reflect on Bruce's credibility.

First he said...

"It was merely an issue of attendance going down"

But then, after being confronted, said...

It was "NOT because we were losing members"

Anyone see a contradiction here?

Anonymous said...

John--

Back on topic-- I question whether or not a blog is really the best suited vehicle for this discussion. Perhaps a forum / bulletin board would work better. Why?

1. New content can be introduced by anyone, not just the blog owner (less work for the maintainer/you)
2. Forums are designed for discussion. Blogger, with its tiny comments box, is not.
3. Forums often require registration, and yet they can still be anonymous. This would stop all of those "anonymous - would you please pick a pseudonym" requests
4. Forums can be configured so that a new post to a topic bumps it to the top - so a new comment never gets "buried" or "lost"
5. Because of (1) and (4) above, there is less likelihood for each post to drift so far from the original topic (like has happened in this thread) and may then allow for more thorough treatments of topics.

And a question. How much "moderating" do you do? Is there much to weed out that we never see? If so, what is your criteria for leaving it out? (If not, why not allow comments to be posted automatically and save you time?)

John said...

I truly appreciate the thought-filled and honest comments.

Perhaps a forum / bulletin board would work better. Why?

I do agree with this statement. But I have no idea how to put together an open forum.

And a question. How much "moderating" do you do? Is there much to weed out that we never see? If so, what is your criteria for leaving it out? (If not, why not allow comments to be posted automatically and save you time?)

Early on when the blog started I actually did need to delete a comment or two each day because of the offensive content.

I have not deleted a comment in several weeks unless a poster wanted to make a comment only to me. While away at a meeting or another engagement I have allowed comments to automatically post. I have only gotten one spam comment. I will happily allow comments to post automatically and go back and clean-up if necessary.

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous, First, you say that I show my ignorance of church growth but then you do not indicate where and how I show ignorance. That makes you a demagogue.

Second, my credibility is fine. You just selectively quoted me. Anyone can do that and find hundreds of contradictions in the Bible. Here is how you quoted me:
-----
"It was merely an issue of attendance going down"

But then, after being confronted, said...

It was "NOT because we were losing members"
----
But here is what I wrote:

It was merely an issue of attendance going down and his refusal to do anything about it.

So Anonymous, you left out the part: "and his refusal to do anything about it." That is where he failed to follow Christ´s command in Mat 28 to "go out and make disciples."

I am far more knowledgeable than you might suspect.

RNN said...

Mr. Church,

First off, please don't assume that I am a man. Maybe you were not reading this blog when this very issue came up before, so I will repeat here what I said then: gender assumptions, especially in the nursing field, are quite hurtful.

You write in your last post to an anonymous:

"Anonymous, First, you say that I show my ignorance of church growth but then you do not indicate where and how I show ignorance. That makes you a demagogue."

And yet, in the post where you addressed me, you write:

"RNN seems a reasonable soul, but he is ensnared by the church growth language and logic, I think. They insinuated themselves everywhere by categorizing all past evangelism efforts as Old Church Growth methods, and now there are new methods."

How have I been ensnared by church growth language and logic? Until you offer some proof for that, by your own criterion you are a demagogue. And your own blog only reinforces this.

Please reread my previous post. I do not make a big deal of a distinction between new church growth methods and old church growth methods. I do apologize for not using the term that you used, modern church growth methods; with all the posts here and double shifts for me, it is difficult to keep all the terms straight.

I pointed out in my previous post, as someone has also observed after that, that you are using church growth logic to try to argue against church growth. And that is sad.

Sadly, I am all too familiar with the church growth movement, having been exposed to it in many ways. But I give thanks to the faithful pastors who have pointed out to me why it is contrary to scripture and destructive to Lutheran theology. Again, if you read my previous post and pay attention to what I write, nowhere do I advocate anything like church growth. I use the langauge to show how you are ensnared by church growth, but using the language and being ensnared by it are two completely different things.

But you ignore everything I wrote about what hearers owe their pastors. Allow me to refresh your memory:

In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

What say you to this? This is not church growth language or logic, this is Lutheran theology. Do you not realize that your posts describe a far different attitude towards pastors? One that, I daresay, is ensnared by church growth language and logic.

Is asserting the power of the purse to hurry out a pastor who does not do your chosen method of evangelism in accord with what hearers owe their pastors? I say no. I would like to hear how you think that such tactics are in accord with this.

Also, if you had to hurry the pastor out not because of shrinking members, but because of Matt 28, why didn't you say that from the start?

And, from what you write, the pastor you hurried out WAS trying to do evangelism, just not the way that you wanted. So, it sounds like he was trying to be faithful to Matt 28. In fact, through all of your posts, a major concern of yours is not spending money. Why are you so concerned about money and the power of the purse?

I look forward to your reasonable and well-reasoned response. Many thanks!

RNN

mav said...

"I am far more knowledgeable than you might suspect."

You've managed to hide your knowledge well up to this point, sir. John 6:66 "From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him." Good thing you didn't have the opportunity to fire Jesus.

I'm really having trouble with your argument. You say that attendance was going down because your pastor was not following Matt. 28, which you seem to think means canvassing. Canvassing would bring in new members. If your attendance was going down, I assume people who were already members were not coming to worship. I don't think you would canvas your own members, so your decline in attendance cannot be tied to a lack of canvassing.

Also, as many have written above, you are fighting methods with methods and fighting Church Growth with Church Growth. You and your former pastor are on the same side, he wanted to grow the church with expensive worship antics and you wanted to grow the church, er, excuse me, follow Matt. 28 with canvassing. There's no difference. You should have kept that pastor. Your theology is the same.

Church Growth methods are not confined to the worship service, which is what I understand you to be saying. I recommend you read the very excellent book on this topic, "Church Growth as Mission Paradigm" by Prof. Kurt Marquart. Yes, he was LCMS, but it's still a good read. It would help you to understand what you are attempting to talk about.

mav

A Semwife said...

Thanks, STP!

Those are great! Very helpful and germane to this discussion.

A Semwife

UP said...

"if we allowed him to get away with not doing evangelism just because we did not fund HIS preferred way of doing it, next he would say he can´t give a sermon because he doesn´t have a cutting-edge PC, or he can´t make hospital calls because he doesn´t have the latest model car, or he can´t dress up for Sunday because there is no clothing budget. Where would it end?"

Mr. Church,

Those are some ridiculous leaps. Was your pastor asking for new computers, cars, and clothes? Why would you assume he would ask for such things? In your comments here and on your own blog, you have quite a bit to say negatively about pastors and money. Why is that?

I'd also be interested in your answers to RNN's quotes from the Catechism.

UP

RandomDan said...

Mr. Church,

As the nephew of a man whose congregation used "the power of the purse" to get rid of him and now related by marriage to one of the worst cases of the abuse of the purse in the history of the WELS, I find your description of what happened disturbing. Actually, let me rephrase that. I find it despicable.

God at Work needs to be on the list of books you and your congregation needs to study. I can tell you do not understand the Lutheran doctrine of vocation and how to apply it to evangelism.

John,

I think this place is an excellent forum of discussion. Perhaps a message board would be a better option, but that can get expensive and time-consuming to run. There are a few free options available if you are willing to deal with advertisements, however. As long as you have a couple of moderators keeping an eye on things, it goes alright. I still mod a couple of LCMS boards (from when I was in the LCMS) and I would be willing to help out in any way I can if you want to start one.

Anonymous said...

Hello....

Mr. Church?

We're waiting for your knowledge.

Anonymous said...

"you say that I show my ignorance of church growth but then you do not indicate where and how I show ignorance."

Umm, how about your complete ignorance of the fact that canvassing is a church growth method?

How about your complete ignorance of the fact that church growth methodology applies to far more than just the worship service?

How about your complete ignorance of the fact that judging a pastor's ministry on attendance and the budget is a church growth tool?

Is that enough or do you want more?

Anonymous said...

I think we made Bruce cry, take his ball, and go home.

Seriously though, maybe he doesn't know how to handle it when people disagree with him and he isn't able to rob them and get rid of them.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Church is just at work. Some of us, well, some of you, have jobs.

Anonymous said...

Hi mav,

Where can one get this book Church Growth as a mission Paradigm that you mentioned by Prof. Marquardt? I have been trying to find it. Do you have a number, web site or a person who we could get it from. I hear that it is great. Please post it if you can.

We were recently told by presenters at a LWMS rally, who were introducing the hows and whys of doing contemporary worship, that "WELS is try to create paradigm shift" and the North American outreach was program was behind this. Everything in their presentation was completely from the books of CGM. I was stunned. It's not as subtle as it used to be 15 years ago when ideas of doing praise services were first being instituted as simply another option for worship. Now I see more clearly what is going on.

O sleepers awake!

Tico

Bruce Church said...

RNN, You said that it was hurtful that I assumed you are a man. I assumed no such thing. English grammar says that when one doesn't know the gender, one should use masculine pronouns, and RNN does not indicate gender.

I haven't debated Church Growth before, but now I see first hand the demagoguery by which it is foisted on congregations and ensnares pastors. There is a big difference between following Mat 28 and "going out" to make disciples, and making the service seeker friendly. One involves going out on the highways and byways inviting people to come, and the another involves making the church into a Venus Fly Trap for those who dare enter. Once one distinguishes the two and rejects the old/new paradigm, church growth arguments lose all their power. So, no, I don't believe in old church growth methods even when I advocate canvassing/advertising, and thus the former pastor was not forced out merely because our congregation believed in old CG methods and not new CG methods. We believe in keeping Mat 28 by "going out" to find disciples, but there is no Church Growth command that we must turn the church into a Venus Fly Trap. We were biblical, he was not. Period.

We did not judge the pastor on attendance. If he had been doing canvassing and the attendance went down anyway, then we would be happy knowing it was God's will. We should keep Mat 28 no matter whether attendance is up or down, but it only came to our attention that our church/pastor was not keeping Mat 28 when the attendance dropped. So again, we did not judge the pastor on attendance.

Anonymous said that I was ignorant that canvassing/evangelism is a church growth tool. Evangelism and canvassing were around long before the Church Growth movement, and long before the term Church Growth was coined. This is just another demagoguery trick whereby CG advocates say one cannot reject Church Growth without rejecting evangelism/canvassing. Thus they insinuate and ensconce themselves everywhere. No, I CAN reject church growth without rejecting what came before and what CG misappropriated to itself.

About whether this is unfair to a pastor. Yes, it would be if the pastors were paid with peanuts, but have you seen the synod scale for salary and benefits lately? Any well-compensated pastor not overburdened by work (which he was not) should have acquiesced to the church's expressed desire that he canvass, if only to prove to the congregation that his contention that it does not work is true. Then the congregation could move on from there and try something different. But flatly refusing to make the slightest effort to do anything reminiscent of Mat 28's "going out" to make disciples is just plain wrong. Advocating making the church into a Venus Fly Trap as somehow fulfilling Mat 28's "going out" is just plain wrong, too.

I think I have touched on all the objections to my arguments that have any semblance of reason.

mav said...

Tico,

The book is available on Amazon.com, IOBABooks.com, and AbeBooks.com. It was published by Our Savior Lutheran Church, Houston, TX, but I don't see it available on their website anymore. The cheapest price I saw was $50, but it is an excellent eye-opening book that has been of huge benefit to myself and my friends, as I hope it will be to you.

No, the attacks are no longer subtle, and we need to be able to give an answer grounded in Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions to those who are pushing Church Growth.

Blessings,
mav

Anonymous said...

Bruce,

I'm fascinated by a few points in your interpretation:

1. Do you really see Matthew 28 as a command of the law that we must "keep"?

2. Do you really see Matthew 28 as referring specifically and only to canvassing?

3. Do you really see "going out" as the most important aspect of Matthew 28?

Anonymous said...

One other question:

Why didn't you even address the quotations from the Catechism that RNN asked you about? Do you agree with what Luther wrote about how we ought to treat pastors or not?

mav said...

"I think I have touched on all the objections to my arguments that have any semblance of reason."

Not even close.

1. How does Matthew 28 = canvassing?

2. What is your problem with the pastors' pay and benefit scale? Are you saying that if the pastor is paid synod scale, he should do whatever the congregation tells him to do?

3.I'm really having trouble with your argument. You say that attendance was going down because your pastor was not following Matt. 28, which you seem to think means canvassing. Canvassing would bring in new members. If your attendance was going down, I assume people who were already members were not coming to worship. I don't think you would canvas your own members, so your decline in attendance cannot be tied to a lack of canvassing.


4. You do not understand Church Growth. You continue to argue your methods vs. your former pastor's methods. THEY'RE BOTH METHODS. GET IT?

5. You have still not answered RNN's quote from the Small Catechism. Please do so.

mav

UP said...

Bruce,

Is this whole canvassing thing because of the word "go" in Matthew 28? I think you may have missed the point.

Please answer the quotations from the Small Catechism.

UP

Anonymous said...

So if the most important word in Matthew 28 is "go" and if it is a command of the law that must be followed (or else!) then how far exactly must I go? Is it based on total miles walked or distance from the church or what? Is it OK if I use a car? Am I allowed to go as far on a Sabbath?

Anonymous said...

Bruce,
What would have happened if the pastor had canvassed his tail off and the numbers kept falling? I know that is what is going on in our church. I tell you what I do, I tell him "thank you for rightfully preaching the Word and administering the Sacraments." I really do. I tell him "what a wonderful example of a rightly divided Law and Gospel sermon." I want to encourage him and all of the other faithful pastors who are doing their calls faithfully to the best of their ability. I also want to encourage all of you pastors who are out there to be strong, stand up and don't be swept away with all of the aluring methods that the so-called experts are telling you are O.K. There is an incredible amount of pressure on you faithful, meek and sound preachers. Don't give up. We need you and we are watching and praying for you.

Tico

Anonymous said...

But Tico, saying "thank you" to a pastor doesn't help the bottom line of the budget nearly as much as slashing pay and kicking pastors to the curb. And we all know that the budget is the most important thing in a church, right?

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous, You asked whether Christ's command to go and make disciples is a command or not. Of course it's a positive command. If you deny that, then you'd have deny that the command to baptize in the same passage is not a command. Luther refers to Mat 28 as a command:
http://books.google.com/books?id=y0ktHTjU34oC&pg=PA252&lpg=PA252&dq=mat+28+command+go+make+disciples+%22martin+luther%22&source=web&ots=D4hpNpVoPu&sig=heysI_ye1vBhMkf4UIJY2zN_tIk

I didn't say that Mat 28 equals canvassing. I said that we need to do something along those lines where we "go into the world". It is not enough to preach to the choir, which is what the former pastor was doing. Too many ministers of the gospel like to the the pleasant tasks of ministry that only deal with the saved, and leave the less pleasant tasks such as evangelism for the laymen. However, the leader must be the servant of all, as Christ said, and he must evangelize as an example for the laymen to follow.

About whether we owe the pastor a living. Of course we do. He was getting 44 grand per year as salary, plus a nice house free, plus health insurance and many other perks. After we docked his his pay, he was getting 40 grand, $500 less than the synod "suggested" salary for a congregation our size and for his length of service. That is more than many people in the congregation earned, and they are exactly starving. So we overpaid him for a long while, and didn't really recoup any of it because he was STILL being seriously overpaid for his performance even after we docked his pay. He didn't even have to sell either of his nice two cars to buy a beater, so he wasn't exactly hurting. In fact, overpaying him gave him such a financial cushion that when the church asked him to do something that went against his Church Growth ideology and inclinations, he knew he could afford to blow the church off.

All these objections to what was done at our church are fevered rantings of church growth advocates who are wedded to the concept like Amway Salesmen or Jehovah's Witnesses.

mav said...

"All these objections to what was done at our church are fevered rantings of church growth advocates who are wedded to the concept like Amway Salesmen or Jehovah's Witnesses."

No sir. The objections in this lengthy list of comments are from Confessional Lutherans who have asked questions that you have not answered. You still have not addressed RNN's quotes from the Small Catechism. Please do in your next post.

You have shown a serious lack of understanding of the doctrine of vocation, the Office of the Holy Ministry, the doctrine of church and ministry, worship, Church Growth Methodology, Scripture, and the Lutheran Confessions.

"Too many ministers of the gospel like to the the pleasant tasks of ministry that only deal with the saved, and leave the less pleasant tasks such as evangelism for the laymen." You mean the 'pleasant' task of dealing with people like yourself? Lord have mercy on your current and future pastors!

You seem to be an angry, bitter, envious man who relishes exercising power (power of the purse?), even though you have no idea what you are talking about and are in reality just embarrassing yourself.

Please prepare and post an answer to the quotes from the Small Catechism. And, if you have time, please tell us why you keep bringing up money.

Thanks,
mav

Anonymous said...

Bruce said:

"All these objections to what was done at our church are fevered rantings of church growth advocates who are wedded to the concept like Amway Salesmen or Jehovah's Witnesses."

The irony of that comment, made on this blog, is nothing short of amazing.

Bruce Church said...

I touched on the catechism points in my replies already. For example, you noted the Catechism said we owe the pastor a living wage, and I discussed how we over paid him. You said that we need to to obey a pastor, but I said we should not obey him when he directs us in in word and by example to continue to not fulfill the Mat 28.

Please don't ask me to answer what I've already answered over and over already.

As to money in the offering plate, it is similar to the absence of parishioners in the pews. It makes us review whether we as Christians have been following all of Christ's commands that might have an impact on finances. If we have been faithful, then it is God's will. However, we know that the church/pastor were not faithful to the Mat 28 commands, so the lack of parishioners and offerings is probably not God's will for our church.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Church wrote:

"However, we know that the church/pastor were not faithful to the Mat 28 commands, so the lack of parishioners and offerings is probably not God's will for our church."

If I'm reading this right, this is like a page out of a church growth textbook!

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous. It is true that some of my statements may be found in CG manuals and books, but mainly in regard to the problem and not the proposed solution. CG has appropriated to itself all methods and evangelism, but I reject that misappropriation for cause. Hence, even some of my solutions would sound CG, but that's is only because CG assimilates everything like the Borg. And this blog is reminding of the statement: Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.

mav said...

"And this blog is reminding of the statement: Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated."

Who's assimliating you into what now?

mav

P.S. Still waitin' on your answer to the Catechism. Your only answer " we should not obey him when he directs us in in word and by example to continue to not fulfill the Mat 28" is not an answer.

Anonymous said...

"It is true that some of my statements may be found in CG manuals and books, but mainly in regard to the problem and not the proposed solution."

Whaaaaaa?

Anonymous said...

"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."

Bruce,

What is your answer to this quote from the Small Catechism? It seems to say that the pastors are responsible to God and not to YOU. It also seems to suggest that you should not make your pastors' lives miserable, even if they aren't (sigh) canvassing.

Anonymous said...

"we know that the church/pastor were not faithful to the Mat 28 commands"

Maybe you should fire yourself as a church member, then. Now, get back to canvassing!

Anonymous said...

"we know that the church/pastor were not faithful to the Mat 28 commands, so the lack of parishioners and offerings is probably not God's will for our church."

Wow, that's not just a quasi-pseudo, could-possibly-be interpreted-right Church Growth kind of saying, that's a full-blown, televangelist-style Church Growth saying.

Basically what you're saying is this:

1. It's possible for us to know God's hidden will.

2. Faithfulness to God's commands equals numerical prosperity.

3. Lack of faithfulness to God's commands equals numerical failure.

Anyone who calls himself a Lutheran should immediately be able to see the problems with those statements.

LM said...

"All these objections to what was done at our church are fevered rantings of church growth advocates who are wedded to the concept like Amway Salesmen or Jehovah's Witnesses."

Bruce,

It is hard to keep track of all the anons, but I wouldn't call RNN, UP, and MAV CGM advocates. If you browse through the last few topics you will see that you are mistaken about this.

Moreover, your logic is bad. It goes something like this: Bruce Church is against CGM. If you are against Bruce Church, you are a CGM advocate.

But CGM isn't the issue here. I don't know what kind of learner you are (auditory, tactile, etc.), but maybe it would help you to re-read RNN and MAV's comments and the portions of the Catechism they refer to out loud.

Thanks,

LM

Anonymous said...

Bruce,

You claim that you compensated your pastor fairly, but I don't think you ever could have paid him enough to compensate for having to put up with an ignorant jerk like you.

RNN said...

Mr. Church,

I am glad that you continue to post here, but find your posts confusing. LM is right, you are placing an incorrect label of church-growth on everyone here opposed to you. It seems to me that you are upset about us pointing out how you are engrossed in church growth language and logic, and so you are trying to turn the tables on us. Of course, your problem is that we are not advocating church growth methods. We are pointing out the logical errors and church growth ideas in your posts.

But to be clear: the pastor is placed over a congregation by God to preach the word and administer the sacraments. This is what God has given to the office to do. God does not require or demand results or effectiveness from his pastors. He calls for faithfulness. This means preaching the word correctly and rightly administering the sacraments. Where these are done, God grants faith when and where it pleases him.

That is the Lutheran position on what a pastor is and what he is to do. Since it is God who placed him over the congregation, the congregation can remove him from office only for false doctrine, gross sin in his life, or dereliction of duty.

Nowhere in here is there a word about membership numbers, attendance, or offerings. God is the one who gives the growth; his pastors scatter the seed or plant or water.

There is my position. How is this church growth? Go back through my posts and you will find nothing to contradict this position, but rather this being applied to what you write about your church.

You keep bringing up numbers and making reference to God's will that your congregation grow. Those are church growth ideas.

It seems that then you refined your position to the pastor being unfaithful to Matt. 28, which resulted in declining numbers. This too is church growth thinking, which holds as a basic truth that faithfulness equals growth in numbers. You will note that nothing of this sort is found in my position, outlined above.

So, how am I church growth? Just because I think you acted wrongly towards a pastor does not make me a church growth advocate. As I have written before, your previous pastor was straying from Lutheran theology. I am not arguing that point. What I have been arguing is that you did not apply Lutheran theology to combat him; you instead used church growth logic and the club of the budget to beat him into submission and drive him off.

Reread the Catechism quotations on what hearers owe their pastors. If all you find in them is that a pastor should get a living wage, you are missing what is said. Note: obey them, that their work might be a joy and not a burden. Can you honestly reconcile this with lowering a salary to get the pastor to use your chosen methods of evangelism?

Your defense that he was still making a living wage misses the point. We don't approach scripture to find out the least that we have to do, so that we can scrape by with as little as possible. That is what you have done with these passages: we were still paying a living wage, so it was all cool.

This reminds me of the Yankees and Joe Torre. They wanted to get rid of Torre so they cut his salary. He was forthright and candid enough to call this what it was: an insult. He refused the contract, even though it would have paid him a living wage and then some.

The point is, in both cases, the salary was reduced to try to get rid of the guy without firing him. Passive aggressive behavior at its finest. Just as it was for Torre, this was an insult to your pastor. Either you should have shown him from Scripture and the Confessions where he was wrong, and where you had grounds to dismiss him, or you should have lived with the shepherd that God gave you.

I hope and pray that you are able to find peace. Such peace will never come from controlling the overseer God has placed over your flock. It will come only as you live under him and receive from his hand God's eternal gifts, delivered in word and sacrament. When you come to see your pastor in this light, attitudes toward pastors change considerably. No longer is he your employee; he is God's man, sent to bring you life and salvation. Then truly it is of no advantage to make his work burdensome.

God bless your renewed study of the Catechism and Scripture!

RNN

John said...

Back on the original topic, I have decided to continue the blog. I appreciate the open, diverse, and honest opinions. This blog has allowed me an opportunity to struggle with important Scriptural issues.

I will try to work with randomdan offline to see if it is possible to format a discussion board. In the meantime I will continue posting as time permits. I do appreciate the suggestions (rnn - I will open a topic on Wauwatosa theology soon).

Do feel free to go where the discussion leads. If you have a new topic I will just cut and paste your comment as a new blog post. By all means if you have a "hot" button issue or a "newsworthy" item please post it.

I will allow the comments to post automatically. This does help me immensely but beware that spam or trolls may post a comment. So I will monitor the comments as time permits. For the one or two that suggested the blog go on a permanent vacation I guess you can keep posting or not return to this site.

Anonymous said...

mthntn

Concerning the CG concerns. Let me just stress this from a ministry veteran's standpoint:

The problem with CG methodology is that it strives to grow the church instead of the Church. All we can do is try to reach people with the means of grace, Jesus determines what happens after that point. Can we seek better ways to place people in contact with the Holy Spirit's tools, sure?! Who wouldn't want to do that? Can we take any credit for what happens after that, no!

Anonymous said...

"About whether this is unfair to a pastor. Yes, it would be if the pastors were paid with peanuts, but have you seen the synod scale for salary and benefits lately?" - Mr. Church

I think the "synod scale" is a decent starting point or minimum that pastors should be paid for their level of education and the work they do. Just about every church could do much better. I know that isn't the norm in our synod. I think that's sad. (By the way, I'm not a pastor, and our pastor's salary is close to $70,000, plus roughly another $20,000 for health/dental and other benefits. We're a small congregation of about 150 communicants.)

"He was getting 44 grand per year as salary, plus a nice house free, plus health insurance and many other perks. After we docked his his pay, he was getting 40 grand..." - Mr. Church

Wow! I'm still young and don't make $44,000 a year yet, but that doesn't mean I rob my pastor. The more you write the more is seems as though God was watching out for your former pastor when he was relieved of the burden of your church. My prayers go out to him, as well as for your new shepherd. It's only a matter of time for him. (By the way, I would highly recommend church members and pastors read the book "Clergy Killers", by Lloyd Rediger.)

CL

Bruce Church said...

We consistently pay more than the synod guidelines suggest, except for that short period when the pastor didn't fulfill Mat 28, and you condemn us? Perhaps you live in a richer area, but our congregants already give a lot, and to get more out of them would require a better excuse than just padding the pastor's wallet.

I agree. Having the expectation that a pastor actually do a little evangelism is soooooo abusive.

Here are book recommendations for you: "Churches that Abuse," by Enroth, and "Accountable Leadership," by Jossey-Bass.

Anonymous, I'll never convince you, but the readers are the jury here, so I don't have to convince you.

Anonymous said...

1 Timothy 5:17-18
17The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18For the Scripture says, "Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,"[b] and "The worker deserves his wages."

Notice it doesn't go on to say, "Woe unto you who already give a lot and seek to pad the pastor's wallet."

"Perhaps you live in a richer area..." - Mr. Church

Nice cop out. I've heard that excuse before. I'd be surprised if I took a look at your church's parking lot on any given Sunday if I would come to the conclusion that your congregation is faithful enough.

CL

Anonymous said...

"but the readers are the jury here, so I don't have to convince you"

Well, considering that fact that every single reader who has commented here is appalled by what you did to your pastor and what you've said here, it seems that the jury is in and that you've lost your case by a unanimous decision.

Bruce Church said...

Anonymous, That's an unscientific survey. Besides, this blog as many readers, but only a few commented, and they happened to be misled by your stupid comments.

The fact is that these few commentors, including you, were heavily biased against terminating a pastor from the very start, and would not be swayed against the pastor by any information other than say, the pastor turned out to be a serial killer.

I emailed some other people for them to have a look-see at the conservation thread, and they emailed back declining to comment because they are tired of arguing with people like you who selectively quote. They referred to you as just another "anonymous bully" who has no reputation of fairness and accuracy to maintain. I should never have responded back to such a wimp as you who can't provide a name.

mav said...

Mr. Church,

So the readers are the jury, but not the ones who commented against you? It is terribly unscientific, but you are the one who brought up the idea. In the end it doesn't matter who on this blog agrees with you and who doesn't. You have not been able to answer the Small Catechism or Scripture regarding your treatment of your former pastor. They carry far more weight than blog comments.

No sir, many of us would have been in favor of "terminating" a contemporary worship pushing, Church Growth advocating pastor. What has been pointed out to you several times (though you seem to have missed it) is that while the pastor's theology was not correct, your actions were still wrong. In this respect, you have still not answered numerous questions asked of you and have never answered RNN's quotations from the Catechism. Please do.

If you do not like some quoting your words, perhaps you should be more careful about what you say. You have contradicted yourself more than once.

It's a bit ironic for you to be calling someone else a bully after you cut your pastor's salary and fired him for not doing what you wanted him to do.

mav

RNN said...

Mr. Chruch,

As has been pointed out by other bloggers, we are still waiting for your well-reasoned response to the Small Catechism. As I have mentioned before, those passages say more than "pay the pastor a living wage."

In your last post you write:

"The fact is that these few commentors, including you, were heavily biased against terminating a pastor from the very start, and would not be swayed against the pastor by any information other than say, the pastor turned out to be a serial killer."

Yet I have twice listed the scriptural grounds for removing a man from the office. And neither time did I say that the only ground could be if he were a serial killer. It is ironic that in the same post where you complain about being quoted out of context, you show that you have not paid attention to what I have twice posted.

I agree with you, however, that I am very biased about terminating a pastor. That's because scripture is also heavily biased against terminating a pastor. Since Acts 20 makes it clear that God places each pastor over the flock entrusted to his care, the flock has no business getting rid of their God-given shepherd--except, of course, for the grounds I have already mentioned. It is very similar to a marriage. God joins husband and wife together and says: what God has joined together, let man not separate. There are biblical grounds for a divorce, just as there are for terminating a call. But to arbitrarily terminate a call is just as wrong as to arbitrarily seek a divorce.

As I have written before, I agree that what your pastor was trying to do was wrong. However, if you were to terminate him, you would have to point out the biblical grounds for such action--something that you failed to do. And then, with those grounds established, you should have terminated him. Cutting his salary was a rather cowardly, non-confrontational way of dealing with the situation. Some might say it was bullying the pastor; I would not disagree with them.

After all, I assume that your former pastor is now serving another parish. If he is truly unworthy of the office, then you have just passed the problem along to another congregation. This shows no concern for your brothers and sisters in Christ who are not in your congregation.

You also write:

"I emailed some other people for them to have a look-see at the conservation thread, and they emailed back declining to comment because they are tired of arguing with people like you who selectively quote. They referred to you as just another "anonymous bully" who has no reputation of fairness and accuracy to maintain. I should never have responded back to such a wimp as you who can't provide a name."

The infamous "anonymous others" who are like-minded. Always a red flag when brought up in church. If they feel strongly about the issue, they ought to speak to it themselves.

Your continual refusal to address the points actually made and continuing practice of ignoring things that were said (a couple examples of which I have outlined above) have damaged your reputation. You have shown, for all the world to see, that you have no fairness or accuracy in what you write. And for this, I do trust the readers to be able to see that for themselves as they review this thread. I for one rejoice that their survey is unscientific, for we do not use scientific methods when doing theology.

I pray that through this discussion, you will once again study the Small Catechism and what it says that hearers owe their pastors. This is not only for your benefit, but also (perhaps more so) for your pastor's benefit.

RNN

Anonymous said...

John,

What's going on? Why did you start censoring and deleting posts?

John said...

anonymous,

Working on moving the blog to a discussion board. So hold tight!

I may be moderating comments as I try to save past info.

Anonymous said...

Read The Motley Magpie.