Saturday, June 15, 2013

Better methodology... Really!

I was sent a copy of remarks by Synod Presidential candidate David Maier (apparently on Facebook which I am not on more than once every few months).  According to the email, his campaign committee recorded his response to an informational forum in Florida.  There he is reported to have said, I believe that God wants us to spend more time finding better methods for equipping, encouraging, and supporting our laity in the mission work within our neighborhoods and communities – especially as we face the rise of secularism and Islam – and less time examining the doctrinal purity and practice of others.

Methodology?  That is our greatest problem?  We need better models and paradigms?  Really?  I do not believe that there has ever been a time when there have been more diverse methodologies for equipping, encouraging, and supporting our laity in the mission work within our neighborhoods and communities. We have a plethora of choices available to us, a staggeringly confusing array of people, programs, and perspectives on how to fix Mother Mo (LCMS to the outsider).  We have as many different plans as there are Districts, Synodical offices, parachurch organizations, recognized service organizations, auxiliaries (you know, LLL, LWML), etc...  Everyone I know has an answer for what ails Missouri.

I am stunned by the idea that we have too few choices before us.  I have found just the opposite.  We have so many choices we do not know what to do.  It is like going to a restaurant with a 20 page menu.  We cannot figure out what we want to eat -- not because we have too few options but precisely because we have too many.  Sure, many of them are similar but they still offer us choices beyond reason and within them is the possibility of more fully customizing the plans and programs even further.

I do not know David Maier.  I am sure he is a fine man and a good pastor and an effective District President.  I know that many people believe he is THE man for this time in Synod.  But I cannot get past his basic point.  Our problem is a lack of methodologies.  I beg to disagree.  We were most effective when we had fewer methods, fewer paradigms, fewer choices...  We were most effective when we all seemed to be in the same play book, working together for the same purpose with the same game plan.  It is not the past I wish to repristinate.  It is the unity and unanimity within our Synod that I long for.  I wish for the day when we had more uniformity to the content of the catechetical endeavor.  I long for the day when we can expect to find Word and Sacrament on Sunday morning in any Lutheran parish.  I pray for the day when we have a semblance of resemblance to what takes place in the Divine Service -- not slavish obedience to rules but one born of common conviction that this is who we are and how we worship.  I lament how the staggering array of choices have left us all confused about who Lutherans are, what Lutherans believe, and how Lutherans live.

I refuse to vote for more choice, for more paradigms, for more nuanced distinctions, for more overt differences, for more methodologies, or for more diversity.  We have tried that and it has left us bleeding people every year, suspicious and skeptical of each other, unsure that God will work through His Word without a little extra help from us, and more divided than every before.  I have watched our church body borrow more and more from others outside, blindly following the next big guru, and quick to jump on the next big band wagon.  What has it gotten us?  Are we more confident of God's Word and promise?  More united in faith and practice?  More positive and trusting?  More united and charitable toward each other?  No.  The answer is "no".  We have a myriad of choices and, like the diner in the restaurant, we are still not sure what will be best, what to do without regretting our choice, and what will live up to the hype.  No, President Maier, we do not need more methods.

10 comments:

John said...

How, exactly is it possible for us laity to be properly equipped, encouraged and supported in mission without first being taught the beliefs of the folks whom we want to reach?

Thank God for pastors who educate us in the teachings of others in order to strengthen us in the faith!

David Gray said...

You do not need to understand a falsehood in order to proclaim the truth. If you want to recognize falsehood study the truth.

Pr. Dennis Bestul said...

Good analysis of a bad idea. When methodology trumps theology we're definitely on the wrong path.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Peters wrote: "We have so many choices we do not know what to do.  It is like going to a restaurant with a 20 page menu.  We cannot figure out what we want to eat -- not because we have too few options but precisely because we have too many."

Too many of those entities within the LCMS are fighting each other. Forget seeking out other church denominations for altar and pulpit fellowship - for now. Let's figure out a way to merge many of those internal splinter groups within the LCMS so that there are fewer choices and less rundundancy.

Pastor Peters wrote: "I refuse to vote for more choice, for more paradigms, for more nuanced distinctions, for more overt differences, for more methodologies, or for more diversity.  We have tried that and it has left us bleeding people every year, suspicious and skeptical of each other, unsure that God will work through His Word without a little extra help from us, and more divided than every before."

Where did the money go? Instead of being honest and admitting that following the next big guru or the next big bandwagon "isn't working" because "more of the same" is needed, why not admit that trying to change the LCMS into a non-denominational mega-church "in order to attract more young people" has failed miserably. I am still waiting for the audits, haha.

Anonymous said...

Correction to the last paragraph of the above post:

If a program is a failure, then kill the program instead of rationalizing that more money and additional time is needed for the failed program to work. How many more decades will the LCMS continue to "rationalize."

Janis Williams said...

IMHO as a layperson: I come from the kings of methodology, programs, and "training" (Baptist). Until we recognize the vocation of pastor; Until we laypeople live in our vocations; Until we truly believe people die and go to Hell without faith in Christ; Until then, it will be useless to foist methodologies on us.

Stay with Word and Sacrament. That's what brought my husband and me out of the methodology mill.

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like David Maier is just reading out of the Jerry Kieschnick playbook.

Pr. Schroeder said...

How did the Church,from AD33 to AD312, get along without task forces, commissions, conventions, models of ministry ad nauseam?

Paul Becker said...

Anyone who needs to add something to this -- and they devoted themselves to the apostles' doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers -- is not someone I could trust with my spiritual welfare much less the leadership of the church.

Carl Vehse said...

"I do not know David Maier. I am sure he is a fine man and a good pastor and an effective District President."

The LCMS roster page does list David Maier as District President, but Maier is not listed as a pastor (with a Divine Call as a full-time, part-time, or even a noncompensated assistant pastor, having occasional preaching, limited visitation, and no administrative responsibilities).