A sleeping giant?
The December 15, 2010, Reporter news article, “LCEF conference targets ‘oneness,’ partnerships,” reported:
Rev. Ken Klaus, who retired Dec. 31 as speaker of “The Lutheran Hour,” discussed the church’s priorities, including unity, during his keynote.
He recalled hearing Billy Graham say 40 years ago that “The Missouri Synod is a sleeping giant and if she were ever to awaken, she would … .
“I’ve forgotten what it was he said we were gonna do,” Klaus said, “but I’m pretty sure it was something very, very special. And back then those words made me feel good.”
“Is it possible that Dr. Graham’s assessment of us was wrong?” Klaus asked, as he introduced the prospect that internal strife over the years has hindered outreach and that “unused spiritual muscles slowly atrophied.”
The claim that Billy Graham referred to the Missouri Synod ( … or the Lutheran Church … or Lutheranism) as a “sleeping giant” has been noted many times over the years by numerous Lutherans.
But the only statement of Billy Graham I found was from his June 1970 Foreword to James Kennedy’s Evangelism Explosion book, first published in 1970, in which Graham wrote:
“In the words of a Canadian pastor who saw 103 members added to his church in the first eight months of implementing this ministry, this plan of Dr. Kennedy’s is ‘the most revolutionary technique for personal evangelism to mobilize the sleeping giant of our laity to be discovered in the twentieth century.'”
So here Billy Graham was quoting a Canadian pastor [of an unidentified denomination] referring to the laity as the “sleeping giant” to be mobilized by Kennedy’s technique for “personal evangelism.”
Thus the “sleeping giant” reference to the Missouri Synod by Billy Graham appears to be an urban legend like Martin Luther’s fabled preference for a “wise Turk” ruler over a “foolish Christian” or Luther’s fictitious ink-throwing episode.
8505 Putnam Dr.
The portion of the story that read “He recalled hearing Billy Graham say 40 years ago …” (as quoted in Rick Strickert’s letter) has since been corrected to read, “He recalled hearing some 40 years ago a quote attributed to Billy Graham … .’ ” — Ed.
Posted Jan. 7, 2011
Congratulations to Lutheran Youth Fellowship (LYF) on the thorough Youth Poll conducted during the huge 2010 National LCMS Youth Gathering.
The November Reporter article about the poll mentions the “fragility of teenage faith” when youth participants get back home and that “when they get back home, the same faith connection could easily fall apart” in secular society.
In these days when 50 to 90 percent of our youth drop out of church when they go to college, how about encouraging youth to work with Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ (OAFC) or Deliberate Intentional Evangelism (DIE) between big youth gatherings?
In OAFC and DIE, they meet with positive peers monthly, sharing Jesus and strengthening their faith while training others to do the same.
Dr. Kent Hunter, in his analysis of OAFC, said OAFC “helps youth go beyond intellectual and temporal faith, to a fuller comprehension of saving faith” that can stand in our secular society.
Let’s work together to prepare our youth to be missionaries to the potential church dropouts in college. In these trying times, we who lead youth must do everything possible to keep our youth with Jesus and in the church. Remember that as leaders, we “must give an account for [our] souls (Heb. 13:17).”
God bless LYF, OAFC and DIE as they seek to keep our youth with Jesus and our church.
Rev. Fred C. Darkow
Rev. Fred C. Darkow is founder of Ongoing Ambassadors for Christ (a Synod Recognized Service Organization) and director of Deliberate Intentional Evangelism, an independent Lutheran organization that concentrates on evangelism and mission.
Posted Dec. 21, 2010