The article in the January Reporter on the Transforming Churches Network (TCN) was informative.
To lay to rest any concerns expressed in various quarters about the TCN corporation and its work, especially given its close relationship to LCMS World Mission, the following assurances are important:
- Because every aspect of helping congregations to “look outward,” i.e., to proclaim the Gospel beyond their doors, has theological implications and is grounded in theological presuppositions, all TCN consultants and personnel subscribe to the Lutheran Confessions, and its resources (print and online) conform to Lutheran doctrine and practice.
- TCN vigorously promotes Word and Sacrament ministry, including thorough catechetical instruction (teaching) and Baptism of children and adults, as foundational to both a congregation’s outward focus and its internal spiritual health.
- TCN recognizes that the varied services in [the Synod’s hymnals], grounded in Scripture and in the historic practice of the communion of saints, clearly communicate and teach the Gospel; TCN thus discourages altering worship form and content to appeal to those whose first need is to be instructed in the faith, including how that faith is expressed and fed in the Divine Service.
- TCN promotes an open congregational polity that encourages all members to be alive in their faith in the work of the congregation and advises against vesting governance in a small, centralized body or in the pastor, whose call is to serve as spiritual shepherd of the flock.
- TCN upholds the scriptural principle of Christian vocation, i.e., the life of a Christian is one of faithful service to neighbor and family; in fulfilling various callings with our God-given abilities, we are “masks of God” through which/whom He calls others to Him. Cf. Eph. 4:11 ff., 1 Thess. 4:10 ff.
- TCN acknowledges that evangelism, God’s work of calling people to faith, neither supersedes nor replaces the Gospel itself — the good news of Christ’s saving work for sinners — as the heart and core of the church’s proclamation.
- Finally, TCN counsels against using membership size or growth as a standard of “accounting” for the faithfulness and spiritual health (or “success”) of a pastor or a congregation (cf. Eph. 1:4-14, Romans 8:28-30) and warns against turning grateful and loving witness, either corporate or individual, into a Law-driven activity.
Is it possible to check on these details and provide assurances regarding TCN theology and practice in a follow-up article?
David O. Berger
David Berger is associate professor of Practical Theology and director of Library Services at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a member of the LCMS Board for Communication Services.
Dr. Terry Tieman, director of revitalization with LCMS World Mission and executive director of the Transforming Churches Network, responds to Berger’s letter with the explanation that follows. — Ed.
Thanks to Reporter and Roland Lovstad for such a substantial, informative, and well-written article about the Transforming Churches Network (TCN).
TCN is a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS. As such, TCN has agreed to foster the mission and ministry of the LCMS, engage in programs in harmony with the Synod, and not to act contrary to the doctrine and practices of the Synod as outlined in the LCMS Constitution and Bylaws, the LCMS Board of Directors’ policies and LCMS convention resolutions.
In keeping with that agreement, TCN also is dedicated to assisting the LCMS in reaching its Ablaze! goal of revitalizing 2,000 churches by 2017.
TCN can assure Reporter’s readers that it is in compliance with the above agreement and will continue to do all that it can, by God’s grace and power, to be a blessing to the LCMS.
Please send letters via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. Please include your name, postal address, and phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. — Ed.
Posted Feb. 3, 2010