Let’s Have a 100% Participation

That’s what a postcard from LCMS, INC. HQ said.  And they even quoted the Bylaw, emphasis on the second syllable, which says this really isn’t a “let us” but a “you had better.”

What Bylaw was behind the heavy hand of HQ?  Why numbers, statistics, of course! What else is more important to an institution, a company, a corporation than numbers? Bureaucrats especially eat, live, bleed numbers. For what is a bureaucrat without numbers, without statistics?

In the 80s they beat parish pastors over the head with numbers. “Even Jesus counted sheep you know? You know how many parables of Jesus were about numbers?” On and on and on they went. One circuit meetings were devoted to the advent of the computer and how it would help ministry.  Pastors were going back and forth about their computers – which probably didn’t have enough computing power to get you to the next room let alone the moon. A retired pastor asked if anyone of those pastors so animated about their new computers could tell him how many members they had. Not one could or did.

But the above is not really my point. My point is this. I would love to see a postcard saying lets have 100% participation not in this or that Bylaw but in our Constitution.  Let’s have a 100% participation in rejecting unionism and syncretism. Let’s have 100% participation in closed Communion and unity of worship.

I have never seen such a postcard, such an admonition, such a stand on our agreed upon doctrine.  You can read such in the synodical convention proceedings up through John Benken.  Then you get a lot of thanking, praising, and crowing about how we have more unity than most, how synod means walk together, and since we’re sinners,we can’t expect perfection.

They sure as h-e-double-hockey-sticks expect 100% participation when it comes to reporting numbers to them.  I say until LCMS, INC. does the things we explicitly formed a synod to do, they have no right to our numbers. Wouldn’t it be great if they actually disciplined a pastor, better yet a congregation, for not sending in numbers?

Full disclosure this was originally written in February; I caved in July. I gave my district president the numbers of souls I have, confirmed and baptized. I told him the laity was supposed to be counting the Sunday attendance and they don’t do that reliably. He said guess. I said that it was under a 1,000.

Why did I cave? He was just so cotton-pickin’ nice in the way he asked. I told him I stopped sending in numbers in 2003 in protest for Synod’s acceptance of praying with pagans. He said that he could understand that, not agree but understand, and I could go on protesting. I decided 12 years of protest was enough. I mean if you have under a 1,000 people in church on Sunday you only have so much weight to push around.

About Paul Harris

Pastor Harris retired from congregational ministry after 40 years in office on 31 December 2023. He is now devoting himself to being a husband, father, and grandfather. He still thinks cenobitic monasticism is overrated and cave dwelling under.
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