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A “Moment” for Lutheranism: Are We Willing to Be Who We Are?

December 30th, 2008
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This comes from my friend, Michael Spencer, aka, "The Internet Monk," an articulate and thoughtful Southern Baptist blogger/teacher/minister, who finds himself increasingly, let us say, "discomforted" by church-life as he knows it in much of Evangelical Christianity. This post surely gave me pause, perhaps it will you as well. Are we rising to this occasion? Or is it the case that too many of us Lutherans are rushing headlong into the very things that increasing numbers of Evangelical Christians are finding ultimately of great  disappointment and even feeling increasingly impoverished and spiritually disatisfying? Here then are Michael's comments:

I wrote this piece in July of ‘07. It garnered 70 comments and some grousy updates on my part. (You can read the original here.)

I’m reprinting the post with a clear comment thread because I feel
the sentiment I expressed in this piece is even more true now than
ever: there are thousands of evangelicals who would give a serious look
at mainline churches, traditional worship and the riches of Protestant
heritage IF some good brothers and sisters could recognize our journey
and meet us somewhere halfway along the path.

It seems that at the moment there is the most interest in the
broader, deeper more serious heritage of Protestantism and a growing
discontent with worshiptainment, there is a strong prejudice against
evangelicals within those communities that could reach out to them.
Evangelicalism needs what Protestantism has always done right…..at
least in those places where they still remember what was right all
along.

Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Anglicans….
______________

Mainline churches….we’re having a moment here.

Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans, Disciples of
Christ…do you know what I mean? We’re having a moment, and it’s
slipping right by.

What moment?

We’re having a moment when thousands of evangelicals are getting a
bellyful of the shallow, traditionless, grown up youth group religion
that’s taken over their pastor’s head and is eating up their churches.

It’s a moment when people are asking if they want to hear praise
bands when they are 70…or if they will even be allowed in the building
when they are 70. It’s a moment when the avalanche of contemporary
worship choruses has turned into one long indistinquishable commercial
buzz. It’s a moment when K-Love is determining what we sing in church
and that’s not a good thing.

It’s a moment when some people are wondering if their children will
ever know the hymns they knew or will ever actually hold a Bible in
their hand at church again. It’s a moment when a lot of people are
pretty certain if they hear the words “new,” “purpose” or “seeker” one
more time, they may appear on the evening news for an episode of
“church rage.”

It’s a moment when significant numbers of people have heard the same
ten sermon series so many times they could fill in for the pastor on
short notice. It’s a moment when many people would actually like to see
a section of the congregation who are over 50 and not trying to look
under 30.

It’s a moment that- believe it or not- some people actually want to
go to something that looks like church as they remember it, see a
recognizable pastor, hear a recognizable sermon, participate in the
Lord’s Supper, experience some reverence and decorum, and leave feeling
that, in some ways, it WAS a lot like their mom and dad’s church. It’s
a moment when reinventing everything may not be as sweet an idea as we
were told it was.

It’s a moment when the baby boomer domination of evangelicalism is
showing signs of cracking. Some younger people actually want to hear
theology. They aren’t judging everything by how seekers evaluate it or
what Rick Warren would say about it.

Yes, my mainline friends, we’re having a moment here. You can see it
all around the edges of evangelicalism. It’s there and it’s real. It
isn’t easy or automatic, but it’s there. And it is sad to realize that
at the very time so many are looking for what you have, you’re mostly
squandering the moment entirely.

Your churches could be taking in thousands of evangelicals. That’s
right. Those recognizably “churchy” churches of yours, with the
Christian year, the Biblically rich liturgy, the choir robes, the
still-occasionally used hymnals and the multi-generational, slightly
blended worship services, could be taking in thousands of evangelicals.

Of course, you’d have to want them. You’d have to, in many ways,
meet them halfway or more. You’d need to talk to them as younger
evangelicals, not dangerous fundamentalists. You’d have to reconsider
how important it is to you to keep homosexual grievances constantly on
the front burner. You’d have to start acting like Biblical morality
meant something. You’d have to stop acting as if being mainline is a
game where you wait to see how fast the membership dies off.

It’s a moment when you need to speak the language of people who want
to hear the Bible; a moment when preachers need to preach mature,
Biblical evangelical messages.

Those younger evangelicals are ready for your appreciation of
tradition, your more balanced theological method, your commitment to
multi-generational churches and your more substantial appreciation of
justice issues.

But they aren’t ready for the things that have emptied so many of
your churches. They will never come if things remain the same. Much
needs to change and should change.

You need to communicate, and you need to go back to your roots. It’s
frustratingly ironic to know that when many of us are longing for a
church that has the things we cannot find in evangelicalism, you have
so many of those very things every Sunday. But what you don’t have is
the willingness to come back to the center of evangelicalism where
people who love the Bible and take it seriously can find a home with
you.

You’ve made it clear that you want those on the left. And
evangelicals have made it clear that they are not going to accommodate
those who want tradition. We’re having a moment here, if you can stop
and see it, who knows what could happen? Will your own churches divide
in order to meet evangelicals on the road? Or will the moment go by, a
“might have been,” that never was to be?

The moment will come and it will go. Right now, the moment is upon all of us.

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  1. Jen
    December 30th, 2008 at 12:16 | #1

    Hey! I’m one of those who ran away from it all and let me tell you that the LCMS is missing it. I can’t find a solid liturgy, good sermons and community all under one roof… in my community. Instead I find pastors who are trying to reinvent the wheel with Lutheran Service Builder OR sermons that are to benign to be of any use to anyone. In some cases both occur simultaneously. I’d starve to death if it weren’t for faithful Lutheran blogging pastors.

  2. December 30th, 2008 at 12:16 | #2

    I really wonder if the LCMS will miss this opportunity.
    Here is a tale of three local churches.
    Almost all of the churches in my area have embraced the power point and praise bands. We have some very large mega-churches that have coffee shops, bookstores, every group and service imaginable and professional quality musicians and drama departments. Most of the smaller churches are simply offering the same thing on a smaller scale.
    However, the local Greek Orthodox Church just finished construction of a large Byzantine Church to meet the demands of their growing membership – consisting of many disaffected evangelicals who have converted to E.O. Compared to the ugly, strip mall and warehouse-looking mega churches, the new Byzantine structure really stands out. Here is a photo of the brand new E. O. church: http://www.holytrinityindy.org/ParishInformation/106thandShelborne/Newestbuildingphotos/tabid/736/Default.aspx
    The local Antiochian Orthodox Church just purchased new property and is also preparing to build a large Byzantine Church very much like the one built by the Greek Orthodox Church. Their membership is also growing with disaffected evangelicals.
    Interestingly, the local LCMS church also expanded and finished construction. However, this new building is to house their new “worship center”. This new building allows the LCMS church to have large power point screens and a full rock band on the stage. They have also added Beth Moore Bible studies and other trappings from American evangelicalism. The irony is that two of the largest mega churches are within five minutes of this LCMS church. This LCMS church just can’t compete with the quality and quantity of the services and “productions” offered at these mega churches.
    Here is a photo of the new LCMS worship center outside: http://www.carmellutheran.org/files/Images/Facility%20Pictures/worshipcenter.jpg
    Here is a photo of the inside of the new center: http://www.carmellutheran.org/files/Images/Music%20Pictures/Crosspoint%20Band%20001%20small.jpg
    Where will the local disaffected evangelicals end up? My bet is on the E.O.

  3. LArry
    December 30th, 2008 at 12:16 | #3

    I could not agree with you more and I believe this relates to the entire matter and need for a dialog of what Dr. Senkbeiel would call” Dying to Live”. It seems that may in Christianity and in various Lutheran groups and not just the LC-MS want to concentrate on the earthly rather than the Heavenly.
    These pastors think they are doing you a favor when they preach practical sermons, they are keeping your attention with doctrinally unsound ditties from K-LOVE, and it could get worse and in some places it has the reduced importance of the Sacraments and open communion. This all translates to what was called in the 70′s “Gospel Reductionism”, an weapon that Satan will constantly use to destroy our church.
    I believe that the diminishing of the importance of the liturgy, the lack and ignorance of parents to take part in their childrens growth in Christ, apathy to church because of the lack of solid Scriptural meat to eat on Sundays that has been substitued to accomodate people who do not want to be serious Christians; but seekers only which only stokes “pluralism” and liberalism when it is done infecting the church.
    I had a discussion a few years back with my former WELS pastor who was a serious liturgist, for the most part. I remember telling him that the liturgy is central to us as a church and that if contemporary forms of worship move in doctrine will crumble and so will what it is to be Lutheran. I also stated that we cannot be McChurch because many who go to the McChurch who you want to get will not leave because the methods you are using are the same as the worthless McChurch. The things that evangelicals want are serious sermons and Law and Gospel and the Sacraments. As usual the “Baby Boomer Elders” who think they are pastors, because of the false doctrine taught in WELS doctrine of the ministry decided that a contemporary approach was best to build the church. I of course voted down every pastor who smacked of the”New Thng” God wanted to do in our church.
    It turned out that the congreagation I was a member of, after I left the LC-MS who was doing the same thing.They moved out the Confessional pastor through retirement and jumped in to the filth of the contemporary church growth movement. This is a very sad moment instead of a good one. I will never attend this church again!

  4. A Confessional Lutheran
    December 30th, 2008 at 12:16 | #4

    It sounds like he is describing the LCMS and the LCMS is foolish if it doesn’t reach out to this disillusioned group of evangelicals. Ours is one of the only mainline Protestant denominations left that maintains a rich, liturgical, sacramental, Protestant tradition. And yet so much of the LCMS seems bent on moving in the other direction, toward the happy-clappy, evangelical, Baptist tradition with its praise bands, shallowness, purpose-driven sermons, and me-centered worship. It would do the leadership of the LCMS good to read what this gentleman is saying, as he is identifying just what is leading to so much disillusionment in the evangelical mainstream.
    I can identify completely with what he is describing, too. I was raised LCMS and I came back to the church (with my family) in my late thirties, and it is precisely because we wanted the richness of the LCMS liturgy, confessions, hymns, creeds and sacraments. If I want a rock concert, I’ll buy a ticket to see the Eagles. When I am in church it is because I am there to worship Christ, and focus on what He has done for me. It isn’t about what I’m doing for Christ or about my need for an “experience” or some kind of “spiritual high”.

  5. December 30th, 2008 at 12:17 | #5

    As a campus pastor, Paul, I’ll say I think you’re right on here. In a recent survey that we did here at University Lutheran we found that one of the biggest attractors to our students (even those who didn’t grow up Lutheran) was “a church like home” if they were churched or dechurched.
    Of course, that depends on what church at home was like. Some of those churches had praise bands, and we recognized that was a part of their church culture growing up, so we offer a service that is an acoustic contemporary service with liturgical elements.
    Much of what I’ve noticed in the wake of several worship innovations that I’ve seen is that too much innovation is rarely a consistent draw. You may go to something that is completely outside of the box for a while, but you won’t go to it for long.
    I am now, more than ever, intrigued by the question of “creating/defining church culture”. That goes beyond the worship service, but includes it. Having a distinct cultural approach I think is something that Lutherans have dropped the ball on. We have either thrown our culture away or we’ve made it so rigid that nobody can learn about it.
    Thanks for the repost.
    in Christ,
    jW

  6. December 31st, 2008 at 07:53 | #6

    Well written, well expressed. I agree that people are hungering for something more than the fluff that seems to dominate so many in evangelicalism. Sadly, I’ve seen the watering down, desperate need to be “hip” syndrome also hit solid Lutheran congregations. It will be interesting to see how many return to their liturgical roots, and how many “Bible Churches” change their approach and become biblical. (Not that many aren’t already, of course…)

  7. December 31st, 2008 at 11:15 | #7

    If George Barna released a study that concluded that including the Lord’s Supper in a worship service was guaranteed to drive people away from the church, what would you do? If Thom Rainer studied 1,000 unchurched people and found that every single one of them was driven away from a church because the church advocated infant baptism, how would that affect the location of your baptismal font? If you had scientific proof that preaching Christ crucified would keep people from coming back to your church (or never coming in the first place), would you change the content of your sermons?
    While the article is encouraging, I think it misses the point. We don’t embrace the liturgy of the church because it draws people in any more than we use Sacraments as ways to draw people in the door. The Sacraments are there because the Lord has given them to us. If they bring people in the door, great. If they drive people away, screaming in terror, vowing never to set foot in our churches ever again, we still must receive them.
    If people want to return to churches where the history of the church is not denigrated, where the rhythm of the church year is repeated annually, where the liturgy is the same week after week, where sermons are preached in pulpits, where pastors dress like pastors and not baristas, great. God’s Word and Sacraments will be here for them. But if another study 10 years from now reveals a trend back toward pop-evangelicalism, God’s Word and Sacraments, wrapped in the holy liturgy, will still be here, doing what they always do: delivering forgiveness, life, and salvation.
    McCain: I think you raise a good caution, Jeff, but I think you might also have missed the simple, yet profound, point of the post. It is precisely as Lutherans are, who they are, that they offer refugees from Evangelicalism what they can’t find there: namely, the purely preached Word and properly administered Sacraments. The problem with too many confessional Lutherans is they do have the mentality: it is here, they can find it, if they do, great. We should be far more aggressive about reaching out to Evangelicals and stop being shy about precisely what makes Lutheranism so unique, or stop moving away form it ourselves in an effort to imitate others. But, as I said, you do make a good point here to consider. We don’t do what we do because it is “popular” but simply because it is what Christ has given us to do.
    I would only caution that there is far too great a knee-jerk reaction against anything practical, pragmatic or simply common-sense approaches to outreach among confessional Lutherans. That’s something to be worried about too.

  8. December 31st, 2008 at 11:57 | #8

    I agree with those assessments, and I welcome the warning against knee-jerk reactions.
    And I think the exortation to stop shying away from what makes Lutheranism unique is among the best advice that can be given.
    Now I’ve got to finish tonight’s sermon in case any disenfranchised Evangelicals happen to wander through the doors.

  9. December 31st, 2008 at 11:57 | #9

    Our church did a “worship survey” not long ago and solicited written comments from the congregation. I wrote a lengthy response that contains much of the same sentiments as iMonk’s article. The short version is, you’re getting it totally backward if you think “evangelical style, Lutheran substance” is a draw for people seeking out the Lutheran church (or just seeking out a church, period).
    I’m an ex-evangelical who came to the LCMS precisely because I (and many others like me, in the 30-40-year old age bracket with a college education) no longer was being fed by what evangelical churches were serving, and I perceived that the LCMS was offering something both catholic and evangelical at the same time. And yet, the best my church seems to be able to manage is a “blended” service that consists of half hymns, half praise choruses and only a fraction of the traditional liturgy, along with a full-on “contemporary” service which I don’t attend nor do I have any desire to attend. This is all done on the premise that worship — rather than being, well, worship — is at its heart an “outreach” program that must be palatable to the unchurched in order to be digestible at all.
    Our Christmas Eve service featured electric guitars and drums to “Silent Night” (?) and a bit of musical theatre wherein the “worship leader” sang a solo praise song about the Rose of Bethlehem, cradling and fondling a rose which she eventually walked up and placed on the altar — the precise opposite idea (we put stuff on the altar) to what Lutheran theology proclaims (God puts HIS gift on the altar).
    Is this supposed to be a *draw* for people like me? And yet, ironically, we do it in the name of being relevant and getting more people in the door. I cannot think, by contrast, of anything *less* relevant than stuff like this. In my letter, I suggested that we take the blended service and kill off the blend, making it a full-blown Divine Service — just for one cycle of the church year. (And we leave the contemporary service as is.) At the end of the church year, if people really just can’t countenance having the Divine Service around, then change it back. But try it! You never know what might happen. So far, there’s been no movement in this direction and no response from my pastor (who is very sound theologically and seems sympathetic to confessional Lutheranism).
    I’m too new of a Lutheran to know if the LCMS is letting this opportunity slip by, but it probably is, along with all the other mainlines. The one reason I do have for optimism is the existence of faithfully confessional blogs that are out there and resources like Radical Grace and Issues, Etc. that can at least provide some real spiritual food. What I would really like is for some church out there to record their Divine Service each week and put the whole thing in its entirety on iTunes as a video podcast, so that those of us who crave traditional liturgy can have it to some extent.

  10. Randy Bosch
    December 31st, 2008 at 16:37 | #10

    Thank you for re-posting that message and the update to it. Yes, there is far too great a knee-jerk reaction against anything practical, pragmatic or simply common-sense approached. Didn’t such over-reaction arise because of the great damage that has resulted from the “slippery slope” of wanting to be “cool” with the modern age, of being seen as not “unloving” in preaching the Theology of the Cross? The infusion of error into the church has once again (actually, “does continually” seems more appropriate) highjacked/counterfeited/ forged much of what is Biblical Truth, the Creeds, the Confessions and proper liturgy in the hands of poorly trained “teachers” with wandering eyes lusting for the power and prestige of modern approval.
    It isn’t “the people” who are leading themselves astray, they are the victims of poor shepherding.
    McCain: For whatever reason it has happened, the “bunker mentality” is of profound disservice to confessing Lutheranism. I know of far, far too many pastors who comfort themselves that they are “being faithful” while they barely lift a finger actually to make even the most basic of efforts to get out in their community, not to mention even their own congregations. It is a dysfunction that is as equally harmful to our church as the “ditch the liturgy” and the “cool and the gang” crowd. Truly, it is.

  11. Jim
    January 1st, 2009 at 00:36 | #11

    My experience is not Michael’s experience.
    Let me first say that I love the liturgy and the Book of Concord. I love them. But I started going into prisons some 18 years ago (as a volunteer, mind you, not as an inmate). During that time, I’ve never meet another Lutheran (LCMS or otherwise), Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Methodist, or other “mainline” Christian among the other volunteers — unless I took them in with me. They have all been baptists, AOGs, Pentecostals or “charismatic,” or members of independent evangelical or “Bible” churches. All of them.
    Let me underscored that I am not at all tempted to leave the LCMS. But for all our orthodoxy, where is our orthopraxy? To be sure, I recognize that my experience, however long, is nonetheless limited to the small fraction of prisons I’ve gone into. I’m sure that there are many LCMS and mainline Christians in the prisons around the country (or in soup kitchens, or wherever). But I also have little difficulty believing from my experience that most of the Matthew 25 work in the U.S. today results from the evangelical traditions that Michael has so much trouble with these days (even while granting that many evangelical churches are as self-centered as mainline churches seem to be).
    My impression is that many potential-evangelical converts do not consider most LCMS churches because, without some sort of committment to Matthew 25 work, no matter how biblical the liturgy or the message of grace, they don’t think that LCMS churches represent a serious form of Christianity. Talk, after all, is cheap. Shouldn’t the church with the most orthodox message of Christ’s grace also be the church where that message is reflected in grace shown to the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, sick and imprisoned?

  12. Johnny Come Lately
    January 1st, 2009 at 00:36 | #12

    Add me to the list of uncomfortable with American Evangelical Christianity. I was quite ready to switch to LCMS (thanks to Issues Etc) and did so for several months. There is only one LCMS church in a 50 mile radius from my home. After singing a John Wimber chorus in between sections of Liturgy in their “blended worship service” (theire words not mine), my family and I couldn’t take it anymore … we went back to our former church just so that we don’t have to think about it anymore as there are no other options in our geographical region.
    I did speak up and said you have no idea how many Evangelicals of us are out here and very hungry for biblically rich liturgy and law-gospel preaching. I was running from Evangelicals … I do not understand why the LCMS church we attended wanted to become a contemporary American Evangelical Church.

  13. mark of brighton
    January 1st, 2009 at 07:38 | #13

    Robert, maybe you might want to try a different LCMS church. I was raised Roman Catholic and left the faith. God brought me back to faith and I spent a good ten years plus wandering in the evangelical desert. I stumbled across the Lutheran radio show, IssuesEtc, hosted by a Pastor Don Matzat who said the most bizarre things. When I argue with someone I always try to make sure I can restate their position, in an effort to understand what they are saying. I used to call Pastor Matzat to restate what he was saying, he was very patient with me.
    Pastor Matzat used to say that what mattered was who God is and what He had done / is doing in Christ. God worked through means, Word and Sacrament. This was the sticking point for me. It was like I could not understand what was being said. That God acted. Funny thing, we live in a time desperate to see God act and yet we reject Him precisely at the point He has promised to act, Word and Sacrament.
    My point is evangelicals focus on man and what he is doing. Lutherans focus on Gottesdienst, God coming to us to give us his gifts. The problem today is that the LCMS seems like they are changing their focus to appeal to evangelicals exhausted by themselves by using the same kinds of methods but only a little bit less rather than telling them, come and let God serve you. I am probably wrong about this but I have often wondered about the exchange between Peter and Jesus. Jesus washed his feet. Peter told Jesus he should not be doing this and Jesus told Peter that if he did not allow Him [Jesus] to serve him [Peter] then he [Peter] could have no part with Him [Jesus].
    One of the posters in a thread above pointed out that the Greek Orthodox Church is growing, not by trying to be evangelical lite but by remaining faithful. Maybe you need to find a different LCMS Church. I would suggest that the way is which the Liturgy is treated is a pretty good indication of whether the focus is on God and what He has done / is doing or on man and what he is doing. Good luck, not a lot of fun in the dessert.

  14. Rob
    January 1st, 2009 at 12:10 | #14

    On Christmas morning, a family (new to the neighborhood) visited our congregation. They were looking for a church with liturgical worship and traditional Christian beliefs. Such families are out there…
    This family was drawn by our website. Our website describes our Lutheran beliefs as evangelical and catholic. On it, I highlight our ‘worldwide fellowship’ by including all of the churches with whom the LCMS shares fellowship. This new family was from a major city in South America.
    The younger (baby-boomer and below), LCMS born and raised, members are the ones who are demanding contemporary worship. They have been raised with the plethora of materials from LCMS pastors and RSOs that have catered to and encouraged the idea that worship is an adiaphoron, and that they, as the ‘voters,’ have the right to demand and choose whatever they please.
    As one of my colleagues has observed: our LCMS programs for the young are very successful–the children join the non-sacramental, non-denominational churches that match the ‘style’ with which they were raised.
    If they do not leave to join them, then they stay and create them.
    Style is NOT neutral.

  15. January 1st, 2009 at 16:20 | #15

    @mark of brighton: Thanks. In fact, we will be attending a different LCMS church soon since my wife is having her work schedule changed so that she has to work on Sunday mornings. The only local LCMS church with a Saturday night service is about 15 miles farther away from us, but we’ve visited it before and it is solidly traditional. Kind of ironic since the Saturday evening service is something broadly proliferated among the megachurches.
    We haven’t moved to that church before because my wife comes from a charismatic/nondenom church background and she has remained dubious about the LCMS; for her even the blended service we have is extremely “high church” and she doesn’t think that’s a good thing. But, that’s another issue, and I’ll be taking it on myself to try and make a case for liturgy.

  16. January 1st, 2009 at 16:28 | #16

    I’m 24, grew up in the LCMS, fell away from the faith after attending a year or so of pre-sem at Concordia-Seward, joined the Army, began attending chapel, started attended a Pentecostal church, gravitated to a charismatic church, then to a non-denominational one, and now my wife and I are considering finding an LCMS church (she was raised unchurched). The authenticity and heritage are important to us, but tradition without understanding the meaning behind it and simply for the sake of blind adherence to history is useless. We have seen the “fluff” of mainstream evangelicalism, I’m tired of going to church and hearing messages with no mention of Jesus and few Scriptures every week. That is what is drawing us to Lutheranism — Jesus is the central focus.
    We’ve been part of the whole “Emerging Church” movement, and I don’t think it is all that bad. In many ways it is simply a reaction to the “seeker-sensitive” crap that my generation’s parents have embraced. Too many people confuse the two — they are very distinct. The Emerging Church would be much more at home with a traditional service than with what mainline evangelicalism typically offers. The bottom line is that it’s not about “reinventing church”, it’s about asking ourselves why we do things certain ways. Many things done in most traditions, including LCMS, have more ground in history and man’s invention than in the Bible and how the early church did it. Among these things that were man-made are the notion of “church” being a place or event rather than the people of God, the use of buildings, a professional clergy that is distinct from “laity”, etc. All of these are man-made inventions for the most part. That doesn’t make them evil, but it means we should question why we do them.

  17. January 2nd, 2009 at 06:11 | #17

    My church is currently vacant and experiencing a major leadership void. And in such a pastoral void, well-meaning people are trying to fill it in with whatever makes sense to them. I’m told that we need to attract more youth, that the youth need to do the bulk of evangelizing and bringing their friends to church. And to do that, we really need to take a hard look at “updating” our services. We should bring back a contemporary service (yes, we had one and let it die its own death due to lack of interest years ago), or at least have a blended one. What’s wrong with spicing things up with some songs that aren’t in the hymnal anyway?? Everyone knows that’s what you have to do to attract young people to your church!
    Ironically, it’s the youth who would be the first to complain if we abandoned the liturgy. They’re taking sermon notes for the first time in their lives – voluntarily – because the visiting pastor, who is a retired member of a nearby CG/CW church, tends to spend more time talking about personal stories, name-dropping, and telling jokes than he does talking about Christ and Him crucified for us. They know why they’re there, and it’s not to be entertained. If they wanted that, the big LCMS church in the next town over does it far better than we ever could, and the nondo church meeting at one of the high schools has a nationally-touring band playing for their services.
    One of the Bible studies that I don’t teach (it’s the men’s group the pastor started before he resigned), is not only without a leader, but has decided they’ll be better off going to the local “Bible Superstore” for new materials than using the CPH ones I recommended (since that’s my JOB as the Christian Education and Youth Director). I’ll just have to double my efforts to teach their wives to be Lutheran and hope it rubs off at home!

  18. mark of brighton
    January 2nd, 2009 at 19:57 | #18

    Robert, If your wife is willing, one of the finest series of programs on IssuesEtc was Pastor Wilken and Pastor Weedon’s series on the “Historic Liturgy.” They discussed each aspect of the liturgy and showed its grounding in Scripture. Just an amazing series.
    It is available at http://www.issuesetcarchive.org/03aug.php.

  19. Grace
    January 5th, 2009 at 21:41 | #19

    My husband and I have just concluded a long and painful flight from the world of evangelicalism. We had been slowly starving for years in that world (to greater or lesser degrees), and are now incredibly thankful to find ourselves in a wonderful LCMS church where God’s Word is faithfully proclaimed, and His sacraments are faithfully administered. At the same time we were traveling toward the LCMS, some relatives of ours (unbenownst to us, or to them) – longtime members of a well-known evangelical denom, seem to have been traveling the same path. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they didn’t end up in the LCMS very soon.
    I beleive that that the Evangelical, Charismatic, and Prosperity “Gospel” ships are taking on water, and many aboard them are already looking for a more seaworthy ship. The question is: who will be there to receive them? I think it is very unlikely to be those who jettison the life-preservers and shoot holes in their ships in an effort to emulate the sinking mega-ships.

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