Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Just Imagine. . .

On a typical Sunday morning in the LCMS, perhaps 25-30% of the total baptized membership is actually there for the Divine Service.  In other words, two out of every three LCMS baptized members is not in church -- of course, all with good reason.  Yet with this statistic, and realizing that the numbers decline by a few percentage points each year, our church body is able to do rather amazing things.

Although a bit more than half of our high point in sending forth missionaries (1950s with 250), we now support about 130 missionaries and could send out another 165 if we had the funds and the people.  In other words, with less than a third of us in church on a Sunday morning and offering financial and prayerful support of the work of the kingdom, the numbers of missionaries is on the rise again.

For the first time in memory, both seminaries of our church body have offered free tuition to those preparing for the pastoral ministry.  Both of them have worked to provide support to help offset the full cost of preparing pastors -- which we have laid largely on the backs of the seminarians and the seminaries themselves.

Our congregations continue to increase their giving and their spending on the work locally.  That dollar number increases every year!  Even with the numbers in church declining and the drop in baptisms and confirmations, the LCMS sees slow but faithful growth in the support of that local work.

My point is this.  If with less than a third of us active we are able to this much, just imagine what we could do if half our people were together around the Word and Table of the Lord each week. . . or two-thirds or three-quarters or nearly all of us!!!  We already have the largest non-Roman Catholic systems of preschools, grade schools, and high schools.  What could we do if we had the support of all our people or even most of them??!!  We have a vast array of services provided for the poor, for the cause of children, for the pro-life witness, for programs to feed, clothe, and serve the needy in ways too many to chronicle here.  And we do all of this with between a fourth and a third of our people in worship every week.  Just imagine what we could do if we had half or two-thirds or three quarters or, dare I say it, all our people in church on Sunday morning?!?!

The Lutheran Church Missouri Synod does a vast array of great things in witness and in service at all levels of our organization and we do this without having even a majority of our people in church on Sunday morning.  Just imagine how the work might explode with the greater support of more people gathered around the Word and Table of the Lord!!

So think about this.  Every week we say "as often as we eat of this bread and drink of this cup, we proclaim the Lord's death until He comes. . ."  In other words, merely getting up, getting ready, getting in the car, driving down the street in our neighborhoods, and getting out at church to walk in to the church building on a Sunday morning is a witness.  It is a witness to our family and to the folks who live next door and all the people along the way as well as the people in the pews around us!  Wow.  What a simple but profound way to give witness to the hope that is in us!

I say this to encourage you to consider the ripples of the simple choice to make sure you and your house are in church on Sunday morning.  If we are able to do all of this with the numbers we have now, think what we could do by simply multiplying the numbers of folks in church on Sunday morning -- folks who already identify as members of the congregation.  So when you think about whether or not you will be in church on Sunday morning, think beyond yourself to the many whose lives you affect by that simple act of deciding to be where you belong.  And then consider how this might affect the larger work of the kingdom.  You can and do make a profound difference in this way!  Really, you do!!!


Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate if pastors see the people in the pews as dollar
signs. Instead of worrying about the folks who are not present
on Sunday morning, we should be meeting the spiritual needs of those
who are present through the Word and Sacrament.

Anonymous said...

It is unfortunate if you think Pastor Peters sees people in the pews as "dollar signs."

Anonymous said...

7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

Psalm 96

Anonymous said...

Did you really read what this post said and conclude it was all about $$$? Wow. Did he hit a sore nerve? I cannot imagine anyone not lamenting those who claim to belong and choose to absent themselves from the ekklesia of Sunday morning and I cannot imagine a pastor who does not also feel the pain of it. It is wonderful what we are able to do together with the minority in church on Sundays but it is likely we cannot even imagine what we might do if they all showed up.