The Lutheran Witness

Unworthy Servants

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Comments (22)
  1. Avatar Lora Horn says:

    I was a field interviewer in a few studies where statistics are gathered regarding religious preference. I would like to see if Catholics’ rise in numbers also bears out in attendance, because I think baptized Catholics as infants are far more likely to say they are Catholic without having entered a church any time afterward. It used to be parents would prioritize by first communion and confirmation, but from the many Millenials and Gen X’ers I have interviewed, that no longer seems to be the case.

    If we are comparing general statistics with our own congregational reporting, it would be like comparing apples and oranges.

  2. Well said, President Harrison – It is somewhat of a long read for some, but we all know we have been sent by our Savior, but there is always time to dally on the way. It is obvious the Lord didn’t give us a salvation quota or we wouldn’t be Lutherans knowing we can’t work our way into heaven.

    Of all the religions and doctrines in this world our future doesn’t define itself on failure, it defines our future on acceptance of the Lords unchanging word only….

    Consider that Christ sent out the 72, but he was expecting results in a given time – that had to be the case, as his goal was to fulfill prophecy, and or get the job done! He undoubtedly knew the minds of his outreach crew and knew their personal potentials. Witnessing what is in ones heart is not a special person in the congregation’s job, it was given to us all and all confirmed members should know that.

    We do sing, “Here I Am, Lord” but we need to do the song, not just hear it.

  3. Avatar Laura says:

    Would you like to hear from a former Lutheran? I renounced the Lutheran faith as heresy and became Eastern Orthodox 4 years ago. For the past 20 years, I had noticed that the LCMS became more interested in right wing politics than in helping their members develop a relationship with God. Members of the LCMS were more interested in “proving” 6 day creationism than caring for their neighbors.
    If the LCMS continues to worry more about right wing politics than people with real needs, it will continue to decrease in size. Turn yourselves around, and remember that God is not political.

    1. Avatar Tim Schenks says:

      Laura, the LCMS has believed in six-day creationism from the beginning, not just in the last twenty years. If you think that “right-wing” politics, ie. anti-abortion, etc. is wrong, then it is probably a good thing that you left.

      1. Avatar Karen says:

        Why such hostlity, Tim? Why not share what you know to be true and invite Laura back to an LCMS congregation?

        1. Avatar Tim Schenks says:

          Karen, what did you interpret as hostile in what I wrote?

  4. Avatar --helen says:

    One district president told me recently, “It’s time for repentance. We haven’t started a mission in a predominantly Anglo neighborhood for over 15 years.”

    Texas hasn’t started any mission that a confessional Lutheran would attend in over 20 years. In at least one case, where a mission was started by Lutherans, a polo and khaki “vested” pastor was brought in. When the Lutherans asked for one traditional service with the Pastor traditionally dressed, [He knew how; he was a PK] they were asked by a district rep. to leave the congregation, which they did. A little farther down the time line, the mission failed.

    We hear a lot of noise about the “entertainment” mission starts, but “crickets” when they go under. Meanwhile under served areas which would support a traditional pastor are not given the option by the district.

    Could it be that is why Missouri is shrinking? When you are transferred by business in Texas, confessional Lutheran options are thin on the ground. If ELS or WELS comes in (and hasn’t started using “Creative [playthings] for the Parish, yet!) whose fault is it, if that’s the best LCMess Lutherans can find?
    Many will read sermons/hear services on line before they’ll succumb to “5/2” rubbish! But they won’t show up in your statistics that way.

    From down here in the pew, you haven’t “done everything”, as far as we can tell. For confessional Lutheranism in Texas, you haven’t done anything, while the district is doing its best to wipe it out.

    Lord, have mercy on the sheep! Their “shepherds” won’t.

    1. Avatar Randy Yovanovich says:

      Helen speaks the truth. The Mid-South District is the same. No confessional church plants. However, money is being funneled to these church plants:

      -Lakepoint Church Planting Training Center, Hot Springs
      -New Tribe, Memphis
      -Bridge City, Chattanooga
      -Rhythm City, Nashville

      1. Avatar Tim Schenks says:

        I’ve seen something similar in the MO District. When I attended a Mission Partnership meeting that was discussing their Calling of a new pastor, the District President pulled the “missional” vs. “maintenance” (his own words) argument out of his hat and waved that in front of them.

      2. Avatar Laura Escue says:

        Check out Messiah in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. A new mission located in one of the fastest growing areas of Arkansas.

        1. Avatar Randy Yovanovich says:


          I can’t find any info on that church and the Mid-South website/financials don’t indicate any money going to that parish. Perhaps it’s a great church plant, but perhaps the financial support came from somewhere other than the District. I can only go off the data that the district provides. Additionally, I can find a vast amount of boasting on the Mid-South website about the church plants that I listed, but I can find only one reference to Pea Ridge – It was a wonderful confirmation photo.

          1. Avatar Laura Escue says:

            Hi Randy,
            It was a mission of Faith, Bentonville. It grew fairly fast and didn’t require district assistance. Thanks for commenting. God bless all of our Lutheran churches. Hope you will get to visit Pea Ridge someday!

  5. Avatar Amy says:

    In my district, startup funds for new church plants only go to the planting of unorthodox churches that result in contemporary or, at best, “blended” services and a blending of denominational teachings. Ultimately, they are non-denominational churches funded by the LCMS. To be quite honest, I don’t see how this could possibly serve to “grow” the shrinking LCMS. Non-denominational churches are a dime a dozen and can be found around every corner. There is no help or support available from the district for traditional churches, except for the type of help that would “revitalize” a traditional church and make it more “relevant.” I ask you, “What could be more relevant than a church focused on God’s pure unaltered Word and our confessions?”

    Traditional, liturgical LCMS churches are few and far between here. Confessional Lutherans often must travel far to attend an orthodox Lutheran church. Sometimes the distance is too great. Many would rather not attend at all rather than attend a non-denominational church funded by the LCMS. After all, we are warned in Scripture to flee false teachers. How can the LCMS expect to grow if they are ashamed of their true identity?

    My family used to attend the only LCMS church in my town. The pastor delivered the same 40 days of purpose sermons as the non-denominational church around the corner. The youth pastor used the same purpose driven curriculum as the non-denominational church around the corner. Needless to say, works righteousness and decision theology were creeping into the church. Purpose driven materials are Baptist after all. Few in that congregation had ever heard of the Book of Concord, and there was certainly no attempt to teach about it.

    We no longer attend the local “LCMS” church but instead drive quite a distance to attend an LCMS church that uses the liturgy as laid out in the hymnal, follows the lectionary, confesses the Creeds and uses CPH materials for Sunday school. The pastor understands the importance of preaching God’s unaltered Word and keeping Christ front and center. He is passionate about teaching and warning the laity of false teachings.

    I hope this doesn’t sound like a rant. This is a serious problem in our LCMS. Please, consider this a plea for help. I pray for our leaders daily.

    Lord, have mercy.

  6. Avatar Tom Moeller says:

    The “Unworthy Servants” article is very near and dear to my heart. Every day I think about the great truths our church possesses and yet we decline in numbers. In my very own church which once averaged 300 per Sunday is now 120. I can give you many cases on what happened, but it all comes down to what Christ Himself said is the greatest of all and that is Love. We lack in Love of our fellow man, and it shows. This I can also expound on in detail and it gives me great pain. I would drive to St. Louis to talk with Pastor Harrison if that would help! Or at least I could find churches, and I’m sure of Synod could, of churches that are growing. I would assemble a dozen or so of the LCMS Pastors that have a record of church growth where ever they go and find out. It’s the Love they show and the way they lead their congregations in showing that Love in their communities. May God Bless the Pastors and congregations that show this “Love of Christ”. Amen

  7. Avatar Michael Simon says:

    I, Me, Ours, There’s, I feel, I see, We, All of these starts or main points to the comments spoken are a part of the society we live in. This self centeredness in Christian vocabulary in the congregations and pastors seems to be a problem today. When talking to people on the streets about Jesus ,they don’t want to hear I, Me, I think, I believe or personal quips to Gods word . The people God knew were His before the beginning of time want prayer, truth of Gods word and Jesus Is real. God has allowed His word talk to people of all races , demographics, and stations in life. When Jesus love comes across to them with out doubting , and truly caring for there well being God speaks to them. This isn’t a boiler plate evangelism! This is living the Christian life the way God intended it. People on the streets watch facial expression, body language and sincerity. Their lives depend on being able to read these things for there survival. All this to say that Gods Holy Spirit through absolute Faith in Jesus will complete the work the church was called to do. If we as Lutheran’s forget this and follow Luther and the church as it is God will allow our church’s to diminish. But if the lead of Luther’s following Gods prodding to do His will In Jesus is followed God will grow His church in and through His people. I pray for God’s will for His people to be clear and understood for those He has called .

    1. Avatar Bernie Grebe says:

      I concur, Michael! The best Mission/Missionary…is the example we as Lutheran Christians lead on the street, in the work place, and everywhere. Sometimes our greatest enemy in mission work is ourselves, by the way we walk, talk, etc. If a person may be searching, i.e., thinking they may want to start going to a church, they sometimes watch the actions of folks that call themselves Christians, and see that the walk, talk, etc. is not always followed!! Sometimes a kind word, a show of concern to a person opens the door for further dialog, which in turn, can lead to an invitation to church. However, we must not water down the Law & Gospel in any of our congregations, either in a new mission church, nor our established churches!! I find it amazing, though…that we seem to be focusing more on International Missions rather than starting new missions here at home.

  8. Avatar John says:

    First, I want to say to President Harrison that, from down in the trenches, I feel well-lead and encouraged. I think he is making good choices and leading well in this rapidly dying fiercely anti-Christian world.

    I would like to suggest a refinement to what President Harrison said: If part of the approach is to have us rank and file visit our neighbors then we need to “visit” based on sustained prayer for specific individuals, *before* we visit them. We need to ask to be made ready and equipped for the moment when our specific neighbor is ready to be “visited”. We need to wait for the Spirit but we need to be praying to be ready at all times. If the Holy Spirit does not prepare them to receive us and us to visit, visiting is pointless. So we need to be taught how to “visit” that way and directed and encouraged to “visit” that way.

    ( Not my idea; I learned this from an LCMS missionary. )

    So I do need to repent not doing that. I’d like some help getting better at it.



  9. Avatar Ross says:

    “We shall confess-he shall build. We shall preach-he shall build. We shall pray to him-he shall build. We do not know his plan. We do not see whether he builds or tears down. It may be that the times, which by human standards are times of collapse, are for him the times of great building. It may be that the times, which by human standards are times of great success, are for him the times to tear down. It is a great comfort that Christ gives to his church: confess, preach, and bear witness to me. I alone will build as it pleases me. Don’t give me orders. Do your job-then you have done enough. You are all right. Don’t seek out reasons and opinions. Don’t keep judging. Don’t keep checking again and again to see if you are secure. Church, remain a church! But, you, church-confess, confess, confess! You have only one Lord-Christ alone. By his grace alone you live. Christ builds.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons (Grand Rapids:Zondervan, 2005), 80.

  10. Avatar Ralph says:

    I pray that President Harrison has read these comments and acts accordingly.

  11. Avatar Stephen says:

    How can you reach out to care for others when you cannot care for our own? You still have over 800 rostered church workers who don’t have a call. The best you can do is set up a committee of men who have never been on candidate status to talk about how to help them. The elected leaders don’t take the time to call upon and care for the ones entrusted to their spiritual care. How can you expect the lay people to do the same? Lead by example. Care for the Lazarus sitting at your gate.

  12. Avatar Kenneth Bush says:

    Two comments: First, the attendance at Higher Things conferences continues to grow; these youth attendees and their adult chaperones value the Law and Gospel as proclaimed to them in the traditional liturgies of the church. These youth are the future of the LCMS, and they value the truth of what they are taught by pastors and adult leaders at these conferences.

    Second, when an official of one’s district tells a vacant congregation that if it has been doing the same thing for the last 20 years (proclaiming Law and Gospel using traditional liturgies), one must change, something is wrong with the District’s thinking. If the District cannot remain faithful to the Word, how can it expect the members of its congregations to remain faithful?

  13. Avatar jim says:

    My mom, who is now gone to heaven, placed a little note in my bible for me to find. It took almost thirty years for me to find it but it read as follows. jim I knew you would find this note, I only hope your reading the bible for comfort and not to find fault with others. Our church was founded with a reading from the bible as such. you can not enter the kingdom of heaven by doing good deeds but only by believing in the one true God who is Jesus Christ. Lets quit finding fault with all the other religions, what they do is their business. Believe, Believe just Believe in God, That’s all that matters. our church will grow