Thursday, December 20, 2012

Talk of missions

Strange to open up a web page at a First Things blog and find talk there of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, specifically the Texas District, and, more narrowly, about planting missions.  You can take a gander yourself by clicking here.

FWIW I do know that Texas, like the Mid-South District of the LCMS, has leaned heavily upon the stealth mission plant.  That is, they have planted missions which neither look nor act nor sound like anything Lutheran.  They don't have the name Lutheran in their name and you have to be Sherlock Holmes to find the Lutheran association on their print and web materials.  They have the big band/worship diva/ contemporary sound (at least for their non-immigrant missions).  They eschew vestments and sacraments in favor of something that might be more akin to what another Texan, Joel Osteen, does on Sunday morning (though the sermon may be different.

That said, if this is the kind of growth we are going for, it will not be long before the official web site of the Synod will have to begin hiding their Lutheran identity as well.  The more we move in this direction, the less Lutheran we will be (and not only because we have no "Lutheran" adjective in front of our names).  I am not fond of such missions and fear that this growth may increase the numbers but decrease the Lutherans in our Synod.  BTW, Texas and Mid-South are not the only ones who plant stealth missions.

In case you are interested, let me point you to another blog post about the missing Gospel in two very different congregations.  It makes you glad for the liturgy and downright happy for good old traditional 3 part sermons on the text (usually the Gospel) of the day.  Read it all here.

There is a snowball's chance in hell the LCMS might ever look like St. Nicholas Orthodox Cathedral but the odds are much better we might end up looking, acting, sounding, and believing like the McLean Bible Church.


Janis Williams said...

Heaven forbid. My husband and I went through years of "hell in church" to find the LCMS. If she goes down into the mush that is seeker-sensitive evangelicalism, what will we do? What will all we former Baptists and other evangelicals do if she becomes just another 'jello nailed to a wall' body?

Not that I'm afraid of that in our local church body. There would be at least a few dead bodies should someone come in and try that. People die, or are called away, though. So we pray for our own parish, and for all the districts causing Walther unrest in his grave.

Anonymous said...

This Lutheran convert is concerned about certain incremental changes that aren't as shocking as the Texas examples but troubling nonetheless.

Over a period of months several changes have occurred in one local church, from use of creative worship materials to a "youth-led" contemporary service and a "children's church" that has children leaving their families for part of the Divine Service.

Reminds me, sadly, of what I experienced in a "non-denominational" setting almost 20 years ago. Tired and recycled ideas imported from non-Lutherans.

The children's church is particularly troubling because the Lutheran view of baptism is such a comfort to this former Calvinist. This children's church idea is so ... what's the word ... sectarian or some such? Am I overreacting or is there cause for concern about whether this raises doctrinal issues? Just wondering. This seems to be happening in several LC-MS churches in many areas.

-- Lee

Unknown said...

There was NO missing Gospel in the Orthodox Liturgy. It was all there. Of course, I'm not sure what you, Fr. Peters and the person who wrote the blogpost, mean by Gospel. Do you mean the totality of Jesus' revelation to the world or only a few chapters at the end of the Gospel books? Those are two radically different things.

I love how people come into Orthodox churches expecting to find the same language of prayer in their evangelical churches and then are aghast with horror when it's not presented that way. Maybe there was a little language barrier, but again, I grow tired of non-Orthodox insisting that our services be entirely in English.

I also grow weary of complaints that there should be a bulletin with the order of service. You can't really do that with the Liturgy since it is very long. many Orthodox parishioners don't need an order of service simply because they know the Liturgy since it doesn't change whereas you go into a Lutheran church where you could have 5+ liturgies to choose from or none at all.

The Gospel was preached in the Beatitudes combined with the hymns from the canon of the Resurrection (I'm assuming St. Nicholas uses the standard Russian typicon of beatitudes instead of an Apolytikion of the Resurrection heard in the Greek and Arabic churches), it was preached in the WOrds of our Saviour giving the commandment to Do this. It did so in the Creed; it did so any number of places. I suspect for that person as well as for most non-Orthodox, they have to get past just the otherworldliness of the Orthodox worship ethos to even get at the words. but that's not our problem--that's YOUR problem.

I would have left this on the blogpost itself, but it was not allowing me to comment. Too bad.--Chris

Anonymous said...

You did not read the post through. He said there was no gospel in the SERMON but he was thankful for the gospel that was there in the liturgy. He was comparing sermons and was specifically grateful for the liturgy. If you had read the whole thing you would have read that. He was no stranger to Orthodox worship but he knew that the Liturgy ofq St John Chrysostom is not the only one used. Y the Orthodox and was looking for a bulletin for this reason.

Unknown said...


I did read the post. As far as the Gospel, why make a distinction then between preaching and the Liturgy? The Liturgy is preaching. It's an unnecessary distinction. Plus, the fact that His Eminence, Metropolitan TIKHON did preach the Gospel, which is the totality of the Christian life not a mere few chapters or what you call "chief articles," an innovation if I ever saw one.

Secondly, the only other Liturgies that are used in the Orthodox Church are those of St. BAsil (during Lent and 5 other times of the year) and that of St. Gregory (Pre-Sanctified during Lent). It is still useless to put out a bulletin with an order of service since the Liturgy has so many variables that change. The main structure is there with psalms and such, but the interspersing troparia change. Again, I grow weary of non-Orthodox insist that our services be slowed down or that there is commentary so visitors can understand what's going on. Orthodox worship is for the Orthodox. If you want to learn about the liturgy, come regularly, but don't expect or demand us to stop everything just for you.

BTW, when addressing me, it is common courtesy to use your name.

--Dr. Christopher Palo

Pastor Peters said...

Dr. Christopher Palo,

I made the comment and the power went out and I did not even know it had posted until later when the electricity went on. No disrespect was meant.

FWIW I knew Fr. Schmemmen, Meyedorff, and met many others. I served only a hour or so away from St. Vlads and attended the Divine Liturgy many, many times. My parish has an OCA mission using our chapel while they decide what they will do. My best friend was catechized by Bishop Kallistos Ware and served an parish in South Africa. Not all Lutherans are oblivious to the East.

The author was specifically comparing SERMONS. You can take offense but it was a simple comparison of sermons in two very different churches. He did appreciate the liturgy. He mentioned simply that as an outsider, a bulletin of some kind might have been helpful.

BTW the mission meeting in my parish's chapel DOES have a printed order for visitors and those new to Orthodoxy.

I appreciate your reading and posting and I do not think the post was so much critical as a surprise given his respect for Orthodoxy as a whole.

Pastor Larry A. Peters

Christopher Esget said...

For those who missed it, Dr Palo and I have had several exchanges over on my original post:

Thanks for the link, Pr Peters, and your overall work here on this blog!