Sunday, November 9, 2008

WELS seeking advice from Ed Stetzer


It looks like the scientific results are in: The number 1 issue facing the WELS is the Church and Change group. This is the group that recently sent a group of rogue pastors down to the church planting conference in Orlando, FL. At this conference these pastors sat at the feet of Baptist Pastor Ed Stetzer.


It wasn't much later that the C&Cers contracted Stetzer to present at the 2009 fall conference.
http://blogs.lifeway.com/blog/edstetzer/2008/08/little-love-for-the-lutherans.html

I guess we can all recognize why the C&C group is the synod's number 1 issue (according to the readers of BW)

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

All I ever hear from your side of the argument is complaining about what C & C is trying to do. When are you guys going to offer up a solution other than the status quo?

Anonymous said...

"When are you guys going to offer up a solution other than the status quo?"

A solution for what? What problem needs solving?

I don't want to put words into your mouth, but it seems to me that the C&C crowd think the problem is that the Word of God just doesn't seem to be all that effective.

If that's the problem, then the solution is simple.

Repent for your lack of faith in God's promises and then start making use of God's Word again instead of methods developed in heterodox churches.

RandomDan said...

When will C&C even attempt to come up with a solution that is faithful to the Confessions, Scripture, has some connection to the history of the Church, etc. rather than stealing bad ideas from babtists?

Anonymous said...

I know what we can do. We can experiment with the Means of Grace. Just for a little while. We could use the liturgy, real sermons, the actual creeds, Lutheran hymns. If that doesn't work, we can go back to gimmicks, rock bands, coaching, Reformed rants on becoming a success, children's songs, lights, smoke, and gettin' all pumped up.

I love the Stetzer link for his eye-poke against the Lutherans. It reads: "little-love-for-the-Lutherans." That sums it up. O what a difference the article "a" makes!

rlschultz said...

The solution is already there - return to the Lutheran Confessions. Give the mad purpose-driven, Babtist enthusiasts within the WELS the Left foot of fellowship unless they repent

Anonymous said...

"RandomDan said...
When will C&C even attempt to come up with a solution that is faithful to the Confessions, Scripture, has some connection to the history of the Church, etc. rather than stealing bad ideas from babtists?"

Well there you have it. Legalism at its best. Since when do we need anything other than the Scriptures to have a church? I can't believe you actually said faithful to the Confessions BEFORE the Bible. You act like the Bible should have the Book of Concord after Revelation.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...
"When are you guys going to offer up a solution other than the status quo?"

A solution for what? What problem needs solving?

I don't want to put words into your mouth, but it seems to me that the C&C crowd think the problem is that the Word of God just doesn't seem to be all that effective.

If that's the problem, then the solution is simple.

Repent for your lack of faith in God's promises and then start making use of God's Word again instead of methods developed in heterodox churches."

That's the best you can do? Put a lie in my mouth? And a condescending judgement? What will the WELS do to stem the hemmorage of souls? Whether you want to admit it or not, we do have a method and it is NOT WORKING. Just like the title of this blog, how ironic. Why would you bail water instead of plug the hole? You can't even see the problem.

Anonymous said...

"What will the WELS do to stem the hemmorage of souls?"

Well, Jesus once said, "At that time many will turn away from the faith." Don't you take Jesus at his Word? Jesus promised that the Church would "hemmorage" souls. If the Gospel is being proclaimed and people continue to fall away, then it is an opportunity for us to remember that we are living in the end times. It is NOT an opportunity for us to lose faith in the Gospel or look elsewhere for a solution.

Your assumption is that the Church must grow numerically at all times and in all places. Thus, when it doesn't seem to be growing, you think there must be a problem. But the problem is your assumption that the Church must grow numerically. As Jesus said above, that isn't the case. As we get nearer and nearer to the end of time, the church will shrink numerically, not grow numerically. Why are you trying to fight against the promise of God?

"Whether you want to admit it or not, we do have a method and it is NOT WORKING."

So you're admitting that you believe that the Confessional Lutheran method of preaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments is not working? If that's the case, read Isaiah 55 and think again.

Anonymous said...

What will the WELS do to stem the hemmorage of souls? Whether you want to admit it or not, we do have a method and it is NOT WORKING.

Good grief... if it's NOT working for you- get out. Why is it YOUR responsibility to change MY church that is working well for me and thousands of people before me? There are other churches that have what you are trying to change MY church into. They are called baptist, methodist, penecostals, assembly of God, discipes of christ, etc... pick one of them and move on if you are not happy with the results you are getting at MY church. Good bye!

RandomDan said...

Well there you have it. Legalism at its best. Since when do we need anything other than the Scriptures to have a church? I can't believe you actually said faithful to the Confessions BEFORE the Bible. You act like the Bible should have the Book of Concord after Revelation.

And you act like Lutheranism can be whatever vision or sign you want it to be. Sorry, but every congregation and pastor I know has to submit themselves to the Confessions in order to be part of the WELS.

When did WELSians start acting like the ELCA when it comes to the confessions?

Anonymous said...

Off topic completely, but does this term "Strategic Planning" mean nothing to the WELS? This just in from SP Schroeder on wels.net

special message from President Mark Schroeder
The recent economic difficulties in our country have begun to have a direct impact on our synod, particularly as the budget planning for the next two years begins. These new developments are serious, and we are making immediate changes to our current and future ministry plans. But we also trust in our unfailing God.

First some background. Just four months ago, we were celebrating God's blessing of a budget surplus, thanks in large part to the generous support of our congregations following the last synod convention. Still, from the time budget planning began, we knew that it would be a challenge to incorporate the $2.6 million added by the convention on an ongoing basis, and that support from congregations and individuals would need to increase to this level and grow from there. We knew that it would be a challenge for our congregations to do this, but we believed that it would be possible.

Recently, however, we learned of two developments that will make an already challenging situation even more difficult. Because of the recent downturn in the stock market and the related economic problems, expected major financial support for the synod from two sources will be significantly reduced.

One situation involves large gifts from an individual donor. Two years ago, the donor expressed his intent to provide $3 million per year for the following five years. He has already provided that gift for the last fiscal year and is committed to making the second installment for this year. The five-year commitment was based on the value of stock owned by the individual. In the last months, the value of the stock has plummeted and the donor has informed us, much to his regret, that he will not at this time be able to forward next year's installment of the intended gift. He has expressed his sincere desire to forward this gift, as he had originally intended, when market conditions enable him to do so. For the immediate future, however, this is a source of financial support that we can no longer include in our planning.

We also learned on Thursday, Nov. 6, that the same market conditions have affected the Schwan Foundation. The foundation is providing $8 million for our synod's mission and ministry programs this calendar year. The foundation informed us that the grant to the synod in the next year will be significantly reduced. We will find out in December the exact extent of that reduction.

After more than a year of very positive financial news and amazing blessings, we are now confronted by a new set of challenges. It's likely that the two circumstances described above will reduce our anticipated financial support by about $4 million. This is in addition to the convention-directed budgetary increase of $2.6 million that needed to be included in our planning. While this is a serious shortfall, we can also say that the total impact of this news is not fully known at this time for a number of reasons: we do not know the exact amount of the reduction in support; we do not know what benefits we will realize from the Year of Jubilee offering; and we will not have complete information on Congregation Mission Offerings for the next year until late January.

Regardless of what the final situation proves to be in terms of financial support, we are confident that with last year's budget surplus and the following steps we can achieve a balanced budget for this fiscal year.

First, we pray and trust. We were facing huge financial challenges in the summer of 2007. We prayed and we trusted, and God graciously blessed us. We can and should do nothing different as we face this new challenge.

In the remaining six months of the current budget, every area of ministry will be asked to economize and reduce expenditures. This directive will ask that all activities be reviewed, including existing ministry programs and travel and meetings, and that only absolutely necessary activities be carried out.
With only a few vital exceptions, current vacancies in called and hired positions will not be filled and no new positions will be added.

Looking ahead to the next biennium: Areas of ministry have already submitted budget estimates for their programs, but the areas of ministry will be asked to revisit those decisions and to consider how they might significantly alter ministry programs and reduce planned expenditures. As they consider reducing or eliminating programs and positions, they will be asked to keep in mind the priorities established by the last convention and reduce or defer spending in those areas of lower priority. The areas of ministry will also be asked to consider a greater use of the special funds that they have on hand to maintain or transition ministry programs.

The results of the Year of Jubilee offering will have a large impact on the challenge before us and could prove very helpful in meeting it. If the Year of Jubilee succeeds in eliminating our synod's $22.4 million capital debt, the $2.7 million now used for debt service will nearly offset the loss of the major gift. All congregations are encouraged to redouble their efforts in highlighting the importance of the Jubilee offering.

The impact of this current challenge will also be affected by the Congregation Mission Offerings (CMO) committed for next year. Most congregations will be determining those commitments in November, December, or January. We realize that congregations will also face challenges because of the current economy, but a significant increase in CMO will be vital in enabling us to avoid severe reductions in our synodical mission and ministry efforts.

Our financial staff is compiling a growing list of measures that can be considered as ways to reduce expenditures or as ways of utilizing other resources available to us. That list, along with additional alternatives, will be presented to the Synodical Council for discussion at its meeting on Nov. 14-15. A final budget will not be adopted until February, after we learn the results of the Year of Jubilee Offering and the Congregation Mission Offering commitments for the coming calendar year.

In his love and wisdom, God has seen fit to place another serious challenge before us. But, as he has so clearly demonstrated in the past, he promises to bless us even in circumstances that seem difficult and troublesome. It is not a time for panic or frustration. Rather, we look to God in confident faith. We return to the foot of the cross to see his faithful love demonstrated. And we commit ourselves to work together, united in our mission, to continue to carry out the work that God has given us.

Serving in Christ,

Mark Schroeder

Anonymous said...

>>> Why is it YOUR responsibility to change MY church that is working well for me and thousands of people before me? There are other churches that have what you are trying to change MY church into. They are called baptist, methodist, penecostals, assembly of God, discipes of christ, etc... pick one of them and move on if you are not happy with the results you are getting at MY church. <<<

How sad. Your emphasis on what's yours hardly shows any love and care for others. What happened to "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation"?

"MY church," you say. Do it MY way. If you don't want to do it MY way, then go join some other church, even if it doesn't share the same faith.

Why can't WELS Lutherans share the true gospel to both the traditionalist and the contemporary? How sad that you limit the true gospel to only those who conform to YOUR ways. How very selfish.

How unlike Jesus.

Anonymous said...

"How unlike Jesus."

Well, if you want to be like Jesus, you would use the liturgy. Jesus used the liturgy as he worshiped in the synagogue (read Luke 4).

Here's a list of people who used the liturgy because they felt that it was the best form out there for communicating the Gospel:

Jesus
The Apostles
All the Church Fathers
Augustine
Martin Luther
etc.

Are you really so arrogant that you think you can come up with better worship forms than the men I just listed did? You really understand what it means to proclaim the gospel better than Christ and his Apostles did? You really think that the Methodists and Baptists and "non-denominational" churches know more about the Gospel than the Lutheran church? Really?

The liturgy has communicated the Gospel to humankind for over 2000 years. What makes you think that this generation is so different that it just can't be reached by something that has been reaching people of different times and different cultures and different languages?

You claim that you are the one that cares about the unbelievers, that they need and want the liturgy. My experience has been exactly the opposite. I've found that unbelievers want a worship experience that feels like church. Most haven't been to church since they were kids. They like singing those songs and doing those things they remember from their time as kids using the liturgy. They can see through the cheesy, schmaltzy contempo worship forms. They want church to be something special, something different. They don't want church to feel like their everyday lives with PowerPoint presentations and mission statements. Those are the things they come to church to get away from.

The people who really want contempo worship are those who are already in the church and have forgotten or taken the gospel for granted. That's why St. Mark in DePere has grown. Not because they are adding scores of unbelievers, but because they are leeching WELS members away from other congregations. That's what all contempo churches do--steal members from other churches through style rather than adding new souls to the church through the Gospel. Bill Hybels, the guru of contempo worship himself, has admitted this very thing.

So, you accuse those who value liturgical worship of being selfish. But, really, the exact opposite is true. Those who love the liturgy are humbly submitting themselves to the Gospel and to better men who have gone before. The contempo crowd are the ones who are selfish--arrogantly pushing their own ideas and preferences over 2000 years of church history and selfishly stealing members from other churches for the sake of numerical growth in their own congregations.

Anonymous said...

strategic planning is church growth.

Anonymous said...

"You claim that you are the one that cares about the unbelievers, that they need and want the liturgy."

Oops, that obviously should say "need and want contempo worship."

Anonymous said...

Y'all are invited:

http://randrchurch.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Here's where I'm struggling with this survey. I didn't choose C&C as the most crucial issue facing WELS because I see it as a symptom not the cause. This is what I'm trying to figure out, and maybe you can help me. As mentioned before, it's all new to me.

In doing a search to compare a quia subscription to a quatenus subscription, I ran across a Confessional Lutheran Wikipedia entry. I know, not often reliable, but in this case, I think it is helping me. According to it, only 20 percent of the 70 million Lutherans worldwide hold the quia subscription to the Confessions. Does WELS?

It is very likely that those on this blog who oppose us confessional crusaders joined a church with a quatenus subscription to the Confessions, which may be no subscription at all, practically speaking. Maybe WELS official position is in line with quia but, in reality, the application is much more quatenus in most instances?

So, if the goal is a 'return' to the Confessions of the Lutheran Church, was WELS ever there? Was it only in its early history? Is it now only on a church-by-church basis with many degrees of separation of between? Is it only in official position but not in reality?

If in fact, WELS predominately employs a quatenus subscription, it would make sense why church growth movement methods are seen, embraced and having success in replacing things "traditional."

I don't know if this is making any sense. I apologize. For me, the CG stuff really seems to get in the way of asking whether WELS is/was confessional. So stopping C&C may only be treating one symptom. Treating the cause (if this is accurate) should take care of the symptoms. Your thoughts?

Rob

Anonymous said...

Officially, the WELS is staunchly quia. Do some pastors not hold to this subscription? Of course. But the WELS requires a quia subscription. There is no wiggle room on that.

Anonymous said...

7:24,

You wrote: "That's why St. Mark in DePere has grown. Not because they are adding scores of unbelievers, but because they are leeching WELS members away from other congregations."

Are you sure about that? I contacted them today after I read your comments (920-336-2485). I simply asked them for the breakdown of their new partners/members for 2007 and 2008. In 2007 they had 30 families transfer in from a WELS congregation; only 2 of them were from churches in the Green Bay/De Pere area. Through November 1, 2008 they have had 24 families transfer in from other WELS churches; only 3 were from WELS churches in the area. They annually confirm between 40-46 adults; this year they said it looks like it could be 50.

They said they have been blessed with growth, primarily through infant baptisms (69 in 2007) and adult confirmations. Those two groups continue to account for more than 60% of their new partners. Sounds pretty Lutheran to me!

Just shout'in

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:53 and others, would you contend, then, that the WELS view and use of the confessions is unrelated to things like C&C?

My WELS experience is limited to a few years and obviously subjective in nature. Those who have piped in here in opposition to weekly communion and the like seem to have a quatenus if not quasi-subscription to the confessions. Also, admittedly limited, anecdotal and another subjective opinion, my analysis is that much of the written material and preaching seems geared toward new converts, shying away from appeals to the confessions. If not a quatenus subscription, might this be more of a result of seminary training and/or Wauwatosa theology in your opinion (which in my mind relates to how the confessions are viewed and used)?

Just trying to figure some of this out. I'm curious as to how WELS aligns with BOC Lutheranism - apart from the C&C stuff which doesn't seem too interested in them. Thanks for the input.

Rob

Rick said...

Rob,
Quia or quatenus? I was born and baptized in the WELS, went through the entire WELS school system, and even graduated from a law school at a Lutheran university. I've been an active member in my congregation my entire life, but did not know what the Book of Concord was until just recently. (I'm in my late 30s).

People cannot subscribe to something they do not know exists. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, and most WELS members do know about Concordia; but I suspect that if you asked the average WELS member about the Book of Concord, they'd say, "Book of what?"

I'm doing my best to alleviate this situation at my home congregation but with limited success.
Layman Rick

Anonymous said...

Rick, thanks for sharing. That's kind of what I fear. We argue against C&C, but those who are in support of the growth methodology most likely aren't confessional.

In one of the other threads, someone asked what a Confessional Lutheran was. I interpreted that as disdain but it could quite possibly just be ignorance. Another thread on this blog distinguished between conservative and confessional, which was an eye-opener for me. So, like Freddy mentioned in the previous blog, the Lutheran identity and worship discussions have to come back to the Lutheran Confessions. And if there isn't a basis in them with those with whom we're debating, how can we make appeals to the Confessions? It appears that many have grown up without a vague understanding of them and their place at best, so appeals to the BOC are almost foreign concepts. I can understand why they are so upset with the traditionalists. The traditions to which they are accustomed might not be attached to the confessions of the Lutheran church, or at least they are unfamiliar with how it is all connected. Very interesting, but sad too.

Rob

Ben said...

My experience is similar to Rick's. I was born and baptized WELS. I attended a WELS school through 8th grade and have attended several WELS churches regularly my entire life (mid-30's now). I've always lived and attended churches in Wisconsin. I am not familiar with the Book of Concord and do not know the definition of confessional Lutheran.

To be honest, I'm surprised by some of the discussions here. I had no idea there were such concerns within the WELS.

Ben

Anonymous said...

...To be honest, I'm surprised by some of the discussions here. I had no idea there were such concerns within the WELS....

it seems this is a problem synodwide. not alot of lay people are aware of the C&C issue and how it's affecting the synod as a whole. i even asked my pastor to comment on it and he didn't really know what i was refering to. i talked to my mother- a lifelong WELS member- and she'd never heard of any of this. more people should inform themselves and then more can be done to stop this slow conversion to liberal lutheranism.

Anonymous said...

"it seems this is a problem synodwide. not alot of lay people are aware of the C&C issue and how it's affecting the synod as a whole. i even asked my pastor to comment on it and he didn't really know what i was refering to. i talked to my mother- a lifelong WELS member- and she'd never heard of any of this. more people should inform themselves and then more can be done to stop this slow conversion to liberal lutheranism."

Gotta love these general statements. I would love to discuss more but I really don't know what "liberal lutheranism" is in the context of WELS. Can you name a specific issue for discussion? i.e. Worship, Outreach, Governing, Budgeting...