Sunday, May 16, 2010
The Strength and Weakness of our Church
A national leadership cannot save a congregational church body from the weaknesses of her congregations but a national leader who holds up this truth, who speaks it boldly, and who enthusiastically encourages her congregations to a Confessional renewal, can and will make it possible for those congregations to reexamine their life, belief, and practice in the light of those Confessions.
Though sometimes we Pastors are loathe to hear it, whether you are in a church body like the Roman Catholic Church with a highly centralized structure and authority or a very congregational church body like the Missouri Synod, the strength of the Church is always around one altar, one pulpit, one font, one people, and one Pastor.
So for those who think that a change in national leadership will save a church body, I am sad to tell you, "No, he will not." For those who believe that we can continue with so many of our congregations doing their own thing, understanding their faith their own way, and Pastors leading them without a connection to the faith confession in the Book of Concord, we cannot continue on this path or it will surely lead us to destruction and the disintegration of the very church body we claim to love and in which we serve.
The goal on the local level is clearly a renewed identity, flowing from our Confessions, shaped by these Confessions in both appearance and practice, led by national leaders whose vision and witness lead us to have confidence in these Confessions and encourage us to live out this identity with boldness in mission and faithfulness as a community.
Every Sunday morning I think about this. The whole of the Missouri Synod (or any other church body) is only as strong as what will happen here at 8:15 and 10:45 am, when the baptized people of God will gather in His name to hear His Word, receive His gifts, and respond with prayers, praise, service, and sacrifice. It is my hope and prayer that in every congregation throughout our church body, Pastors are rising today with the same sense of urgency, importance, and calling. For it is here that the battle for our life and identity as a church body is waged first and foremost and only by extension in the structures of a larger regional or national level.