17 May 2008

Revitalizing Lutheran Congregations

Pastor McCain (with some distracting background music - here we're thinking of an earthly problem and he distracts us with heavenly music!) very helpfully cites from District President Cripe about the challenges facing pastors when they realize that their parishes are not - despite the signs - Lutheran. I used to tell my PALS guys: most of you are going out as Lutheran pastors to serve non-Lutheran parishes. Remember that and it will help keep you out of some trouble (and land you in other kinds of trouble). Kudos to Pr. McCain and DP Cripe for sharing what is at the heart of so much heart-break in the LCMS.


Anonymous said...

I have a question... and I promise I do not mean to be a smart alec... just trying to understand.

The Ohio DP begins.. or seems to begin, by empasizng Ablaze. His signature also references Ablaze.

It seems to me, that at least what I have seen of some of the Ablaze tactics and Church Growth marketing technigues etc.. that Ablze as a methodology for revitalization is taking the Lutheran CHurch further away from being distinctly Lutheran. Are not the goals, objectives and most importantly, the methodologies of the Ablaze "revitalization" contrary to a real revitalization of Lutheranism?

Matt B.

William Weedon said...

Ablaze means many different things to different people. I think even Pr. Cwirla's congregation participates in Ablaze. It's not big in our District because, among other things, our DP recognized it as being perceived as a political movement and therefore declined to push it. I dislike what usually comes with the thing, but what is usual is not what is always there - and Ohio District President Cripes offers a refreshing assessment of the problems before us.

Carl Vehse said...

"Ablaze means many different things to different people."

Isn't that the problem described by Rev. Cripe, where "Lutheran" came to mean different things to different people in Missouri Synod congregations?

Or how the "Missouri Synod" has come to mean something different than my grandfather's synod?

Scott Larkins said...

Good Stuff!


Jim Huffman said...

what does this ("most of you are going out as Lutheran pastors to serve non-Lutheran parishes") tell us about the nature of the LCMS? And if most LCMS parishes are non-Lutheran, how are we to define "Lutheran"?

William Weedon said...


It means that many of our parishes are in a state of crisis, willing to be Lutheran in name, but not in deed. The gentle way to lead them back to their own heritage is what President Cripe advocates. It can work! But it means recognizing that the LCMS is in a world of hurt, and that the Lord to whom we plead for renewal is indeed the Lord who does not break the tender reed or snuff out the dimly burning flax (as Pr. Cripe said).

Just an example. This one shocked me. I went to a District youth gathering and in the "getting to know each other" phase at the beginning (sigh!), we had to agree on songs we all liked. I naturally thought we'd have success with the songs of the Church. I said: "What about 'A Mighty Fortress'? Doesn't everyone like that?" A DCE from a parish in our District said: Yeah, how does the CHORUS to that one go again?

Chorus??? DCE not knowing 'A mighty Fortress'? Yeah, a world a of hurt. But the pastors are sent forth to call these parishes BACK to their heritage and birthright, some of which have long since abandoned it, and if there are those who receive their ministry, there is hope.

Anonymous said...


This is where a couple of decades of National Youth Gathering have brought us!

NYG is loaded with non Lutheran speakers, music, topics...and then they tell the kids, "Go back to your pastor and DEMAND "worship" like this"!
NYG has been the Trojan horse for "entertainment church" IMHO.

Therefore, HT, for anyone who wants to be Lutheran.

Rev. Al Bergstrazer said...

^ NYG has a certain 'change management' aspect to it. Glad to see others have caught on.

Family of Michael & Jen-Yi Paul said...

Here in Taiwan an American "Lutheran" youth music/drama team visited for a few weeks and when I asked them what kinds of activities they did the leader's first response was "We teach people how to lead worship." Yikes! When we talked about what "songs" they sing he mentioned the worship/praise stuff and then said, "When we were in nursing homes in the US we would sometimes sing hymns." I requested them to sing hymns from LW for our youth group, and fortunately he was (albeit surprised) fine with that.