As in previous LCMS convention years, Reporter asked the five nominees for Synod president this year to answer in writing questions related to issues in the Synod — some of which will no doubt be considered during the Synod convention July 14-19 in Houston. Here are those questions and the answers from nominees, in alphabetical order.
Question 2: What other issues do you think need to be addressed in the Synod over the next three years?
We must thank all the professional church workers in the LCMS, including our seminary and university faculties, for the leadership they bring to the church. They are instrumental in caring for the church today and raising up leaders for tomorrow.
In the years ahead, we must be focused on recruiting and retaining professional church workers, developing new ways to fund university and seminary education, deploying more missionaries into the mission field, embracing diverse cultures by providing Gospel proclamation to all people; identifying and incorporating new funding models for the church, maintaining strong youth ministry, engaging the aging, and expanding volunteer opportunities here and abroad.
- Integration of doctrine and practice, acknowledging our solidarity in doctrine while addressing disagreements over how, in a culture largely indifferent or hostile toward Christianity, to put that doctrine into practice.
- Continuing encouragement for congregational leaders to recruit future church workers and to support our seminaries, colleges, and universities in training them for 21st-century mission and ministry.
- Proper compensation and care for professional church workers, many of whom struggle or leave church work due to financial concerns or other stress.
Nothing is more precious to sinful people than the message of forgiveness that is ours through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. In our society that is becoming increasingly more secular, it should be the goal of every pastor and congregation in our Synod to reach as many people as possible with this saving Gospel message. This outreach will happen when God’s Word is proclaimed clearly in our own congregations. The Holy Spirit will then, through the power of His Word, strengthen and motivate our pastors and laypeople to bring the message of the Gospel to those around them. Growth strategies based on marketing models popular in the secular world are not appropriate in the church, nor will our church be blessed through the use of such programs. Our Synod was created and is designed to help the congregations, not to rule over the congregations, and thus will be most effective when it operates from the bottom up instead of from the top down.
To reduce politics and heal divisions, we need to return to an early polity of the LCMS with each congregation sending one pastor and one layperson to the national convention. Representation brings involvement. Involvement brings prayer and financial support. Impossible? If the LCMS youth can bring together 30,000 people, then the adults surely should be able to get together 12,000 people for a triennial convention!
To help an ailing plant, Jesus said, “Dig around it and put in fertilizer.” We need to cultivate and fertilize the roots — Christ’s people — in our congregations (Luke 13:8-9).
We should strengthen pastoral education, as well as improving the care of our pastors and other church workers, studying attrition and retention rates, salaries, congregational relations, and encouraging evangelical mentoring. We must maintain excellent Lutheran education in all of our schools. And we should examine restructuring on synodical and district levels to provide the best stewardship of resources, while maintaining our traditional polity that balances clergy and laity.
(Click here to read responses to Question 1: What, in your opinion, is the most pressing issue facing The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod today? And how would you, as president, address it?)
(Click here to read responses to Question 3: The Synod’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for Funding the Mission has submitted its report, which offers 11 recommendations to the 2007 LCMS convention. Please share your thoughts about the task force report.)
(Click here to read responses to Question 4: What’s your opinion of Ablaze!, the three-year-old Synodwide initiative to share the Gospel with 100 million “unreached or uncommitted” people worldwide by 2017?)
Posted June 4, 2007