Harrison encourages church workers in videos

In two new videos, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison encourages church workers — ordained clergy in one and all other church workers in the other.

To view the 6-minute video encouraging clergy, visit lcms.org/video/forpastors. And visit lcms.org/video/forchurchworkers for the 7-minute video encouraging other workers, in which he also asks congregation members to encourage their workers.

In two new videos, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison encourages church workers — ordained clergy in one and all other church workers in the other.

In two new videos, Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison encourages church workers — ordained clergy in one and all other church workers in the other.

Harrison addresses preaching in the video of encouragement for clergymen — quoting St. Paul in the Book of Timothy to “preach the Word.”

“That task is an extraordinarily difficult one,” Harrison acknowledges, pointing out the regular weekly and other opportunities (such as Lent and for funerals) when pastors preach, on top of other duties. “It’s not easy business being a preacher.

“But I want to encourage you,” he continues. “The Word of God is living and mighty and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing unto the marrow. And the Word of the Lord does not return void. So, don’t lose heart, brothers. The Gospel does its business, even through you and through me.”

He suggests reading Martin Luther’s Invocavit sermons that he preached in Lent of 1522, as an exercise of how “he drives things home personally” to his congregation by talking directly to them. Harrison adds that he has been reading those sermons lately.

“I would just recommend [to] all of you brothers, as an exercise, [to] take a look at the Invocavit sermons, particularly during Lent, and then note all the pronouns that Luther uses and where he uses them.”

As an example, he points to the first of those sermons, found in volume 51 of Luther’s Works, starting on Page 70.

“He says ‘I’ — talks about himself as a person who is a believer and also who is concerned about the congregation — is responsible as a preacher,” Harrison says of Luther.

“Look at all the places he uses the word ‘you’ when he delivers the people the Law: ‘you are sinners, you have fallen short.’ And then, also, he does so with the Gospel. He talks directly to people in front of him, people he knows, people he talks directly to, people he talks to face-to-face and he looks in the eye.”

“The Lord bless your preaching,” Harrison says as the video ends. “It’s challenging business. There are many different ways, of course, to preach. But take a look at Luther and I think we’ll all be blessed.”

In the other video that focuses on “all the other church workers — the DCEs, the teachers, all the people working in our schools, our secretaries, everybody who makes the church work in addition to the pastor,” Harrison asks viewers to “repent of taking advantage of and taking for granted all of our church workers.

“You know, they put in unbelievable hours, they don’t get paid very well compared to the going rates in most places, and they deserve our great thanks and our love.”

He asks congregation members: “Would you do something this Lent? Would you please look at the church workers in your congregation and reach out to them? Reach out to them, thank them for their service, would you please? That’s vital. Say something positive about them.

“Would you pray for them? Would you pray for them daily?,” he asks. “Would you give them something, would you take care of them, would you give them the keys to your cabin, would you give them a little time away, would you be an advocate for them for an increase in salary, would you be generous to them? Would you join me in thinking about how these church workers can be honored in your midst?”

Quoting Martin Luther and St. Paul on the need to care for one another as members of one body, Harrison adds, “We’re a body, a fellowship, and in Christ we love and care for one another. Please, love and care for — speak well of, speak to and be an advocate for — our DCEs, teachers and all the other church workers who are such a great blessing to us.”

Posted April 2, 2014

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4 Responses to Harrison encourages church workers in videos

  1. Randy Yovanovich April 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

    I commend the wonderful LCMS pastors who “do it right.” You know, the ones who stay true to our Christian/Lutheran Doctrine and Confessions, stand firm regarding ordination vows, and conduct worship through our rich and scripturally based liturgy (Divine Service).

    Unfortunately, too often these days we (the laity) see many LCMS pastor’s disregard that which makes us Christian and Lutheran in favor of the latest “fad.” An LCMS pastor is not supposed to generate his own version of the Faith, nor should he promote and/or facilitate false teachers/teachings. Finally, those who tolerate such actions are accomplices to the heresy.

    • Kyle (Student) April 23, 2014 at 12:05 am #

      I think that LCMS pastors are able to “do it right” regardless of the style of worship that is used. God can speak to all cultures in all contexts. What worked when the original Liturgy was written does not necessarily work with all people today. If I were to reach out to youth with the Divine Service, they would not be interested and respond. Especially the youth at the correctional facility I work with. If I were to come at them with Liturgy, they would not listen and not want any part of it. Moreover, if I went in the facility as a Lutheran, I would not be able to speak to any of the youth. By going in as just a Christian, I’m able to speak to all of them and reach out to them. God calls us to stand beside the broken, feed the hungry, make disciples of all nations. I understand that people could teach them the significance of it, however, it is not their culture or context. Just because a pastor or a church is successfully growing and communicating the love of Christ to a culture in a completely new way does not make them heretical. They are just being missional.

      In an interview I read on http://www.rjgrune.com/bill-woolsey/. Here are a few points that highlight the significance of reaching out:
      “I’ve gotta love you, and it’s my love for you and my respect for you even if you never love Jesus, even if you never come to faith, even if you never agree with me, it’s my love for you that leads me to jettison certain values that I used to hold dear in order to adopt your values that you hold dear so that I can earn the right to bring you the ultimate value that I hold dear, namely Jesus. So, it’s a true missionary approach to life, but it flows from this wonderful, deep love for people who are not like you, who don’t know Jesus and who live outside the kingdom. And so, I will change my music, and I will look for the beauty that God has put into the culture in which I live. Now, one of the questions I ask guys is, “So, do you love the culture or do you hate the culture?” Now, there are things about it you may not agree with, but it’s hard to reach a culture if you hate a culture, okay. would purport to you that one of the biggest struggles right now in our denomination and in all mainline denominations is that while some people give lip service to loving lost people, their value for the way they’ve always done it or their value for how that particular kind of worship expression speaks to their heart trumps their changing that and repositioning it into the language, the cultural language of that person. So, it really is, it’s gonna look like some basic stuff. This is not rocket science, but it’s a heart science, and so it really is positioning my heart or positioning my heart to embrace the things that are loved by others so that I can bring Jesus to them and get into their lives.

      I can do life with them. I can listen to their music. I could even utilize their music. I can speak their language in illustrations or the way I dress or whatever. I’m earning the right to be invited to the table, and I can do that in large settings. I can do that in small settings. 

If I’m gonna do it in large settings, i.e., a congregation setting, then I’ve got to have enough leadership chutzpah to convince the people to go there with me. We need to create a worship environment that speaks the language of what we call “lawnmower guy,” the guy who would rather be at home mowing his lawn than sitting there in Sunday morning or in a worship expression.”

      It is time for a change and a time to be willing to speak to the people we are ministering to, rather than ignore them for the sake of tradition. If we are truly desiring to be missional and reach out to ALL people in the entire world and the United States, there needs to be a time of evaluation that takes place. We cannot put up any more barriers and start realizing that we can be in partnership with other churches and we can, in fact, sit with sinners and people who are Christians. We are all here for the same mission: to reach people and tell them the good news of Jesus.

      • April 28, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

        Thanks for sharing a snippet of the post! I’m glad it was helpful for you.

        I’d suggest that what worked in the original Liturgy is actually the very same thing that works in a non-traditional worship service… God is working. We receive the gifts that only Jesus can give and we respond to those gifts.

        And in order to do so and invite others into it, we need to speak the language of the people we are trying to reach.

        For youth, you need to speak the language of the youth (and by speak, I think we can expand that beyond words into styles). For our overall congregations, we need to speak the language of our communities. As a denomination, we at some point decided to do our services in English.

        Heck, we recently began a service with a re-written version of the Kyrie and a moment of Confession/Absolution, this isn’t really changed from what would be considered “traditional,” it just looked and felt different in our context.

        Kyle, God’s blessings on your ministry at the correctional facility!

  2. Randy Yovanovich April 28, 2014 at 12:43 pm #


    First, I’m curious if you’re a seminary student. If so, I’m especially troubled by your theology. Regardless, I firmly believe that Doctrine and Practice are completely tied to each other. Therefore, if you change one, you will ultimately change the other. Furthermore, a true leader is one that stands on their founding principles and doesn’t sway with the current breeze. Those pastors who give up on the Divine Service just don’t understand that there is far more than “tradition” at stake. When you alter your method you alter your theology. For instance, what’s the theology in most praise songs? Most of the time there is either bad theology/doctrine or no theology/doctrine at all. Nothing is being taught, or nothing good. Regarding contemporary worship styles, the name of the game is generally emotion. The pastor (or worship leader) seeks to elicit an emotional response from the congregation, and in doing so believes he has made a real difference.

    Kyle, we should NEVER change in order to gain acceptance. That’s relativism and it has no place in the Christian church. Sadly, relativism has permeated the LCMS at all levels. Regarding the Great Commission, I don’t believe scripture says we must “do whatever it takes.” The means do not justify the ends. Instead, the Word should be spoken and taught purely and the Sacraments administered rightly.

    Anyway Kyle, regardless of your situation, please give some thought to what I said. I’m just a layman, but I took my public confession of our Faith seriously when I was confirmed.

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