I live in the South and I suppose that might have something to do with it but what I hear from other corners of our Synod tells me this is not so much a factor as one might think. More and more mission congregations are being planted that are less and less Lutheran in form and practice. What I mean is this, there are more and more mission congregations which eschew the name Lutheran on their signboards, do not use the hymnal or any liturgical form on Sunday morning, and borrow their methods and practices from whatever works in the idea marketplace dominated by evangelicals, fundamentalists, and non-denominationals.
Mission planters are continually held up as the cutting edge of our church and mission congregations are held up as the shape of all congregations to come. While you may debate this conclusion, I believe it is safe to say that if these congregations grow as they have been planted they become strong influences over District and Synod and over the other Lutheran congregations around them. Over time they will have great impact in changing the shape of the Lutheran landscape without any resolution being passed, any convention focus being reviewed, or any referendum being held. What happens in the mission congregations is changing the Church in a way that people have not and often cannot stop -- it is change through a side door without the full implications of this change being debated and resolved.
I believe it is probably fairly universal among mission execs in our Synod that in order for the Lutheran Church to grow we need to plant congregations that look and act like the mega or nondenominational congregations around them. Methods are borrowed from these churches without the Church considering how their use will eventually change us as a Church. These generic missions with their cutesy names (The Alley, LakePointe, etc.) are current in all the technology and we can tune in to YouTube to see what they look like and what is going on there. But... what we see looks nothing like the majority of Lutheran congregations on Sunday morning. You do not see a hymnal, liturgy, church year, creed, etc. You do not see the symbols of the Church (but you do see large video screens). You do not see vestments but you do see Pastors in polos and tees whose personality and personal identity is often the driving force in these missions.
What bothers me most about this is not that this is happening but there has been no debate in the Districts or Synod about this. The changes our mission styles are bringing are entering the Church unchallenged and unevaluated except by those who are convinced of their value and effectiveness. Not in the least of this is the way we judge everything by what works -- and what works is what fills the seats (cannot say pews because they do not have them). I would like a public debate about this and if the Church votes to embrace this, then I will know where I stand with my Church. But at least I will have had an opportunity to speak to this issue. Change which comes in the back door nearly always comes back to bite you in the behind and this is largely because it has not benefited from a full and honest debate.
If you want to see what Missouri will be in the future, you do not need to look at either Kieschnick or Harrison. Just take a gander at the kind of mission congregations being planted by our church body with your mission dollars. That is what the future will look like -- for good or for ill.