the Name of Leadership
By Pastor Jack Cascione
Observations on the sources of influence and philosophies promoting the Church Growth Movement/Leadership Training in the LCMS including, The Council of District Presidents, the Leadership Network, Peter Drucker, Harvard School of Business, Dr. Norbert Oesch, Pastoral Leadership Training (PLI) for LCMS Pastors, the "Michigan 102" and new congregational constitutions being modeled after American Corporations instead of the structure taught in Walthers "Church and Ministry"
We now delve into the most bizarre and outrageous attack on the Gospel in the 150 year history of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. (LCMS) To call it a conspiracy would mean that this assault on the Gospel is a secret. Actually it is public and open for all who care to investigate. Under the heading of "Leadership" the Gospel is being publicly assaulted by LCMS clergy promoting management theory adapted from the Harvard School of Business, the Leadership Network, and others in congregations. The principles of contemporary business administration, market research, behavior modification, mind control, and consumer psychology are replacing the Office of the Keys and the priesthood of all believers in the name of Church Growth. Most LCMS Lutherans dont even notice what is happening because this is what they experience in the secular world.
The movement toward secular leadership is replacing doctrinal leadership. This chapter will show that the major force behind the change from doctrinal to secular leadership in the Missouri Synod is the Council of District Presidents (C.O.P.) and most of the district offices throughout the Synod. The LCMS, consisting of 6200 congregations, is divided in 35 districts. Each district elects its own president. Michigan and Texas are the largest districts with approximately 9% and 8% of the 2.6 million baptized members of the Synod. A majority vote on the C.O.P., in effect, establishes Synodical policy in the LCMS without a vote of the LCMS Convention that meets once every three years.
The Future Tense Church
Previously, the church prepared its people for the return of Christ according to Acts 1:11. For the past three years, Michigan and other LCMS districts have introduced congregations to a new brand of millenialism called "The Future Tense Church." According to the "Future Tense Church"1 the key to growth is "Relationship, Not Religion."2 Our religion used to be based on the Bible not human relationships.
Instead of telling congregations to confess three and only three Creeds, congregations are now being taught the gospel of "leadership" according to the Leadership Network and the Harvard School of Business in the published materials distributed from LCMS district offices. Congregations are being taught to apply secular management, marketing, and behavior modification techniques to guarantee a statistically secure church future without any mention of faith.
On Tuesday, February 17, 1998 I obtained a copy of the working document used to train pastors and lay people for Church Growth leadership in the Michigan District3 conducted by Rev. Michael Ruhl, Michigan District Executive. The 14 page document is part of a seminar conducted by the Michigan District to train pastors and lay people for "leadership" in LCMS congregations. Ruhl obtained his information in Irvine, CA, on April 28, 1995, at "The Future Tense Church" for Evangelism Executives/Chairpersons Conference, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, presented by Carol S. Childress, of the Leadership Network, Tyler, TX.
Lay people of the LCMS are unaware that they are paying their district staff to "change" and restructure their congregations on the basis of secular leadership principles. The opening sheet contains a chart on "Leadership vs. Management: People vs. Things," by Covey Leadership Center, Inc., 1992. Covey is a Mormon who conducts management training seminars. The next sheet has information from The McIntosh Church Growth Network.
We are reminded of ten psychics listed on the front cover of the National Enquirer, when the Michigan District teaches "Ten Keys for the Future"4 of the LCMS. Formerly, the only keys the church claimed for itself were the "Office of the Keys." We could call these ten keys the Gospel according to Church Growth.
- Relationships, Not Religion;
- Authenticity Over Hype;
- Connections and Community;
- Burnout and Balance;
- From Success to Significance;
- Times of Transition;
- Growth and Groups;
- Soul Care and Spirituality;
- Ministry before Membership;
- Multiply Disciples, not Decisions.
These statements are based on a market analysis of social, psychological, and demographic profiles. The research shows how the church should view the needs of potential worshipers/consumers. Potential church members are looking for fulfillment, meaning, balance, relationships, mentors, a sense of community, and, first and foremost, "Relationship, not Religion." The best way to described The Future Tense Church to the uninitiated is a weird combination of the philosophies taught by the YMCA, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Dr. Benjamin Spock, and the Harvard School of Business without Christian doctrine.
The two keys in the Bible are not about relationship but religion. "But the Keys have not the power of binding and loosing except upon earth, according to Matt. 16:19: "Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.... For Christ speaks of a spiritual kingdom. And the command of God is that the ministers of the Gospel should absolve those who are converted, according to 2 Cor. 10, 8: The authority which the Lord hath given us for edification."5
The new law, "Ten Commandments of Strategic Thinking and Action," appears on another flip chart from Reginald McDonough, Executive Director, General Board of Virginia Baptists. Michigan draws its doctrine for church and ministry just as easily from the Baptists as it does from the Harvard School of Business. The ten commandments for the "Future Tense Church" are:
- Focus on a vision of the future;
- Learn all there is to know about the situation;
- Concentrate on the big picture;
- Look for breakthrough ideas;
- Be willing to color outside the lines;
- Be alert for patterns and cycles;
- View change as an opportunity for growth;
- Be willing to confront tradition;
- Beware of the pooling of ignorance;
- Give your ideas a reality check.
Look out Mount Sinai, the "Future Tense Church" is heading straight for Babel.
The Michigan Future Tense Church is dominated by the Law, not the Gospel. Once upon a time the churches were taught, "But the Christian Church consists not alone in fellowship of outward signs, but it consists especially in inward communion of eternal blessings in the heart, as of the Holy Ghost, of faith, of the fear and love of God; which fellowship nevertheless has outward marks so that it can be recognized, namely, the pure doctrine of the Gospel, and the administration of the Sacraments in accordance with the Gospel of Christ."6
The "Leadership" materials teach that "The Future Tense Church" is plagued by new 21st Century sins and must be aware "Why Denominations and Churches are at Risk."7 One of the great sins is "Deeply held sacred methodology." In other words, congregations are at risk if they keep using their hymn books, traditional Lutheran liturgies, and catechisms. Another sin is "Failure to create a new way of thinking." No one knows what the new way of thinking is unless it brings in more people and generates more funds. Contemporary worship is a phrase you may define any way you please. Tradition is the enemy.
There are also new kinds of suffering for the "Future Tense Church." In the past Peter warns "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you]." 1Pe 5:10 Now the "Future Tense Church" suffers from an "inability to escape the past" and an "inability to invent the future." Such failures, if not corrected, will surely bring the great tribulation of corporate failure.
The next flip chart in the presentation shows where all this information adapted by the Leadership Network is coming from. It is titled, "Why Do Great Companies Fail."8 They fail for the same reasons churches fail, "inability to escape the past" and the "inability to invent the future." The word of God and doctrine are not in the equation. At the bottom of the chart it says "Source: Competing For the Future, by Gary Hamel and C.K. Prahalad. Harvard Business School Press. 1994. Page 117."
In other words, the line of communication for disseminating the new ideologies to "save" and "grow" LCMS churches in the future is the Harvard School of Business, to the Leadership Network, Dallas, TX, to Evangelism Executives/Chairpersons Conference at Irvine, CA, to LCMS district executives, to the congregations whose pastors and elected officers are being retrained for positions as CEOs and members of the board of directors of congregations with new church constitutions. This is how they are "leading" the LCMS away from Christian doctrine.
At the end of the presentation in 24 point type it reads, "Leaders are people who help others make the transition from the past to the future." We used to teach that pastors lead their congregations with the word of God. Now we know that LCMS "leaders" are people who are trained in Church Growth techniques adopted from, among many other sources, The Leadership Network, Fuller Theological Seminary, the Harvard School of Business, Covey, The McIntosh Church Growth Network, and the General Board of Virginia Baptists.
The Michigan 102, Forward, Leadership Network, C.O.P., Destroying the Gospel in LCMS
A month before the 1997 Michigan District Convention, 102 pastors and lay delegates signed a statement encouraging the Church Growth Movement and encouraging pastors to ignore Article VI.4. of the LCMS Constitution. The 102 encourage pastors to make up their own Sunday worship services every week in the name of Christian freedom.
After having made a shipwreck of the Michigan District, the Michigan "102" are now joined in a campaign to "Michiganize" the entire Missouri Synod. The tired old LCMS 1960s and 70s Liberals, who publish their newsletter titled "Forward," have gained new life by forming an inevitable unholy alliance with the "Church Growth" faction of the Synod to topple the LCMSs once immovable doctrinal position.
"Forward" is now planning to use the Michigan solution. The Liberals, outnumbered in Michigan, achieved a 79% voting block by uniting with the proponents of "Church Growth." "Forward," in league with the Michigan 102, at this writing, has a statistical advantage in 1998. One third of the delegates to the 1995 LCMS Convention, the "Church Growth" faction, voted against the name "Lutheran," hymn books and catechisms. Now, with at least a 20% liberal alliance, they have a clear majority.
On the front page of the Feb. 1998 issue of "Forward," in an article titled, "How to Change LCMS Conventions for the Better," Rev. Dave Davis, spokesman for the 102, claims the 1997 Michigan District Convention was not dominated by the "hyper-politicization that has characterized the last two Synod conventions." The fact is that the 102 are the public spokesmen for an overwhelming 79% of the Michigan District who endorse the "Church Growth Movement." What Davis calls "extremism" is anyone who condemns "Church Growth" style worship and the restructuring of LCMS congregations for "leadership."
During the 1997 Michigan District Convention a motion was made from the floor to endorse LCMS President A. L. Barrys book "The Nature and Basis of Lutheran Worship," while he was at the convention. The motion was soundly defeated. The 102 say any pastor who insists on following the order of worship on page 5 or 15 in The Lutheran Hymnal or the Divine Service in Lutheran Worship, has "Romanist" tendencies.
Yes, the 102 are drawn by a "common cause," to destroy Lutheran worship, an action which must result in the loss of the Gospel. Not one of the 102 or their supporters responded to an 8 page rebuttal of their "Evangelical Lutheran Newsletter" from this writer which was mailed to every church in the Michigan District. They only acknowledge that I named them the "102." They will not respond or debate but they will preach and they will recruit you.
During the 1997 Michigan District Convention, the 102 captured every seat on the Michigan District Board of Directors, all four positions for the Vice Presidents, the District Presidency, and nearly every one of the 44 circuit counselors. Through adoption of a new constitution they succeeded in restructuring the entire District according to "leadership" principles. Nearly all the other Michigan District boards were removed. The Michigan District Board of Directors were given control of funds, programs, and calls issued for district staff at the 97 Convention in the name of leadership. These are the same people who now write in "Forward" that they want to "maintain the historic positions and practice of the LCMS." They love corporate hierarchy.
The 102 now want to help save the entire Synod from the "extreme, non-Missouri positions" of Synodical President, A. L. Barry as published in his book "The Nature and Basis of Lutheran Worship." They want to free the LCMS from the legalism (and Prussian Union, as John Heins, Chairman of the C.O.P. calls it) of mandatory use of Lutheran hymn books and catechisms according to Article VI.4 of the LCMS Constitution.
It is no coincidence that "Forward" is promoting the former Texas District President to be the next Synodical President (the current Texas District President, in full sympathy with them, declined their nomination) and the former Michigan District President, John Heins, as First Vice President of the Synod. Michigan is the largest district and strongest supporter of the "Church Growth Movement" in the LCMS, followed by Texas, the second largest district and also the second strongest supporter of Church Growth. These two districts combined make up 1/6 of the LCMS. The mission of the Michigan/Texas/Forward axis is to free the LCMS from unalterable statements about the Gospel, namely public confession of the precise wording in the three Creeds, for the future good of the Synod.
102 Michigan Fanatics Promote Growth Through Leadership
The Evangelical Lutheran Newsletter, endorsed by the 102 in May of 1997, is addressed in the second chapter of this book. As a group, the 102 are "change agents" who defend the principles of the Church Growth Movement through leadership. The following statement is their theological defense to change worship in LCMS congregations as they choose.
"What is necessary for those who plan worship is time spent in the truth, the Word, and in prayer. In the atmosphere of Word and prayer, those who plan worship will receive wisdom on how best to minister in the contemporary setting where God has placed them. We live and minister in a society where change is the order of the day."
By the above logic, dont Mormons read Scripture and dont Mormons pray? Therefore, Mormons are also qualified to invent worship for LCMS congregations. In order to be good "leaders" the 102 must introduce "change" for the sake of growth. They justify their innovations in pastoral practice with business management theory and market research. The 102 believe they are business managers for God. They believe God wants them to use mind control techniques developed from market researcher analysis and demographic studies on LCMS congregations.
Their questions about worship are based on the effect it will have on the crowd such as, will 15, 20, or 25 minutes of praise medleys draw more "consumer/worshipers"? Will business suits, or open collar shirts be more effective than traditional robes? Are 15 minute chancel dramas too long or too short? Are prayers filled with emotional suppliant requests to God accompanied by Moog Synthesizers more effective than the Creeds and the Lords Prayer? The answer to these and others are the kinds of market research questions that are used as justification to replace everything that is recognizably Lutheran.
What is the motivation here? Let me quote Luther. "For as we see, all human things yield money, but Gods word bears nothing but the cross, which no one wants. St. Peter could not have found a more fitting example in all Scripture than this Balaam to indicate the nature of the papists. (II Pet.2:14-19) For basically the whole spiritual government is nothing but money, money, money. Everything is geared to making money."9 To put it in contemporary terms, "What goes around comes around." Now we call it Church Growth.
What is the driving force? It is all only a simple question of mathematics. There are 2.6 million LCMS Lutherans in the United States. There may be 12 million people in all who claim a Lutheran persuasion. However, theoretically, there are well over 120 million Reformed/Pentecostal/Baptist Christians and over 60 million Catholics. If the Lutheran worship service takes on more of the form of a show and entertainment so that these non-Lutherans are not offended the potential market share increases by 2000 percent. Need I say more? Hence, out with the theologians and in with the leadership of "change agents." If some of the "old Lutherans" are offended by the "change" it is a small loss. They will be replaced in their own building 20 to 1. So if they are going to leave then please do it quickly to make room for the people who will take their place.
Leadership Network Advises C.O.P. How to Restructure the LCMS According to Management Theory
The 102, the Michigan District, and C.O.P. obviously didnt come up with all these innovations on their own. They are following the advice of "The Leadership Network" and many other leadership training institutions.
The Leadership Network consultants have been giving seminars to LCMS District Presidents and LCMS District staff in Irvine, California, St. Louis, and other locations. The Leadership Network publishes eight different magazines. They give "Church Growth/Leadership" seminars all over the country. The following information is an excerpt taken from their website at www.leadnet.org on March 8, 1998.
"I was privileged to attend a June meeting with over 120 denominational leaders in St. Louis. These were mostly from the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Tradition. The meeting reflected emerging trends in judicatory operations. Alan Klass and Lyle Muller put the meeting together. The emphasis was on how judicatories could learn to help churches one at a time. Presentations were given from Lutheran, Episcopal, Baptist and United Church of Christ backgrounds.
- Its Gods work so learn to get out of the way.
- We must focus on trust and relationships.
- We are moving from programming to process.
- Our focus and mission must be on outsiders.
Alan Klass (LCMS) gave a draft of his paper reflecting 2 years of research on the topic. A full version is available through him. Contact at AlanKlass@aol.com (Klass is President of Change Mentoring Partnership Phone 414-830-1223)"10
The Leadership Network endorses the work of Lyle Schaller, Willow Creek Church, George Hunter III, John Maxwell, Karl George, Alan Klass, George Barna, Peter Drucker, Covey, Harvard School of Business and many others. "The Leadership Networks" goal, according to the following quote, is to dismantle traditional American Christianity and replace it with a new social order based on the Harvard School of Business management theory, group dynamics, market research, contemporary music, and behavior modification.
In "The Leadership Network" magazine "NEXT" published in December, 1996, Charles Trueheart writes in an article titled "Welcome to the NEXT Church" as follows: "Seamless multimedia worship, round-the-clock niches of work and service, spiritual guidance, and a place to belong: in communities around the country, the old order gives way to the new....
"No spires. No crosses. No robes. No clerical collars. No hard pews. No kneelers. No Biblical gobbledygook. No prayerly rote. No fire. No brimstone. No pipe organs. No dreary eighteenth-century hymns. No forced solemnity. No Sunday finery. No collection plates. The list has asterisks and exceptions, but its meaning is clear. Centuries of European tradition and Christian habit are deliberately being abandoned, clearing the way for new, contemporary forms of worship and belonging.
"The Next Church in its fully realized state can be the clearest approximation of community, and perhaps the most important civic structure, that a whole generation is likely to have known or likely to find anywhere in an impersonal, transient nation."11
"The mainline denominations are bleeding. Their churches have more pew than flock, and unless they change, they have more history than future."12
"...the Next Church strategy as succinctly as I was to hear it. We give them what they want, he said, and we give them what they didnt know they wanted - a life change."13
References to the Harvard School of Business and Willow Creek Church permeate the Leadership Network Website. There are numerous references to business management instead of church and ministry. They never speak about sin, repentance, forgiveness, or justification.
"Five Windows Into the 21st Century Church"
The five windows are (1) effective leadership, (2) lay mobilization; (3) cultural connectedness; (4) authentic community; and (5) Kingdom collaboration. (Within each of these windows are a number of individual innovations.)14
Under window (5) we read: "21st century churches are open to partnerships and alliances that cross denominational lines for the purposes of mission, both locally and globally."15
Under "Web Watch," The Leadership Network lists a table of contents and lists of websites under the following headings: Advertising and Marketing, Books and Book Publishers, Business, Christian Organizations, Education, Generation X, Government, Leadership and Training, Magazines and Newspapers, Non-profits, Radio and TV, Search Engines, Think Tanks.
Bob Buford, the founder of "The Leadership Network" and former Chairman of the Board of "The Peter Drucker Foundation for NonProfit Organizations," writes:
"Peter Drucker, my mentor, friend and great teacher, has said that "the emergence of the large pastoral church is the most significant social event in America today. I believe the church is intended to be the mediating institution which transforms belief into behavior that results in service to others, and that we are at a moment in church history in which this transformation is becoming more of a reality than ever before."16
Peter F. Drucker was Born 1909 in Vienna, Austria and educated in Austria and England. He fled from Hitler in 1933 to England; and holds a doctorate in Public and International Law from Frankfort University. He has published 28 books which have been translated into at least 20 languages. He is an editorial columnist for "The Wall Street Journal." He is considered the worlds leading expert, innovator, and thinker on management theory. He has been a consultant to many of the worlds leading corporations. Druckers theories, adopted by many "Church Growth" authors, have been the basis for much of the Church Growth Movement in the United States. Drucker, in essence, is the LCMSs replacement for C.F.W. Walthers log cabin era doctrine of church and ministry.
"Drucker lists several types of incongruity in his book for the reader to consider. In broad terms he labels incongruity as the difference between what is and what ought to be happening within the organization. This is a major source of innovation in the current process of reengineering [the church]. It is often hard for those inside the congregation or organization to see these incongruities."17
The genesis of the Church Growth Movement can be traced from writers associated with Fuller Theological Seminary. However, much of their innovation is nothing more than the adaptation of Peter Druckers genius for management theory. The name Drucker appears more than 43,000 time at the Harvard School of Business website. The Leadership Network comes to the Church Growth scene late in 1984. However, with Bob Buford as the chairman of the board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for Non-Profit Organizations, the Leadership Network only lays claim to a movement in American denominations actually initiated by Drucker. Why talk to the Church Growth and leadership writers in the church sphere when people can go to the source at the Leadership Network. In practice, the C.O.P. has elevated Druckers brilliance in the management of non-profit organizations, as well as his monumental work in the corporate sphere, above the LCMS doctrine of church and ministry.
Are the 102, the Michigan District, and The Council of Presidents being deceived by Satan to destroy the Gospel? Can this possibly happen to your church? The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has already collapsed doctrinally. More than 12,000 ELCA clergy, including the Seminex professors who walked out of the St. Louis Seminary in 1973 and their students now in the ELCA, have lied to their membership about the Gospel. In their 1997 Convention the ELCA overwhelmingly voted that the 16th Century dispute between Luther and the Pope on justification by faith alone was a matter of semantics. They also voted that the symbolic view of the Lords Supper held by the Presbyterian USA, United Church of Christ, and Reformed Church of America is no barrier to fellowship. They believe that Zwingli was right and Luther was wrong. Satan is not dead and the ELCA is being deceived.
I speak for no organization or group. "Affirm" and Balance Inc., a conservative publication and organization formed in the 60s by LCMS clergy and lay people, have ignored the rise of "Church Growth Movement" which is now consuming the Synod. The lay people must wake up before its too late. They must remove the C.O.P. or they will lose control of their congregation, church property, Office of the Keys, and the clear proclamation of the Gospel.
The devil as well as the Church Growth Movement are opposed to a "legalistic" historic definition and proclamation of the Gospel, namely the Creeds, in LCMS congregation. The Michigan District Board of Directors calls me a legalist because I will not agree to any pastor writing his own creed and making his congregation confess it. This is mind control and manipulation of the first order in the name of freedom of the Gospel, growth, and change.
I challenge the writers of "Forward" to prove me wrong. I challenge "Forward" to publish the signatures of the 102, the Michigan District Board of Directors, the Michigan District President, and the C.O.P. all agreeing that they are opposed to the practice of pastors writing their own creeds for their congregations to confess and that they only endorse the three Creeds as suitable for public confession when they choose to confess a Creed. The publishers of "Forward" cannot and they will not publish these names because "The Leadership Network" says we have to free ourselves from the traditions of European Christianity and be an American Church. No one can become a citizen of the Unites States by pledging themselves to the flag with their own words or by writing their own Declaration of Independence. Yet this writer is publicly condemned because he refuses to confess alien creeds by the Michigan District Board of Directors. Why? Isnt it because my opponents want to remove the true Gospel from the minds of laity?
Choosing appropriate selections from the catechism, or confessions, or choosing to sing a creedal hymn in place of the Creed in a communion service is an acceptable practice. However, the Lutheran Confessions only recognize the three Creeds of the ancient church as the official, historic, public confession of the Christian faith. Convincing lay people that anyone elses creed is acceptable for confession is a direct assault on the Gospel, fellowship at the Lords Supper, and the existence of the church.
Norb Oesch to Retrain LCMS Pastors for Leadership
The December 1997 issue of the "REPORTER" noted on page three that the Council of District Presidents (C.O.P.), under the "leadership" of newly elected President Arleigh Lutz, who carries on after the retirement of John Heins, plans to retrain 300 selected LCMS pastors over a period of six years. Without prior notice and without consulting the LCMS Convention the C.O.P. accepted funds from the Lutheran Church Extension Fund to retrain LCMS pastors to lead and start "Church Growth" style congregations in the LCMS. The following quote demonstrates the boldness of the conspirators to "change" LCMS congregations from their historic structure based on C.F.W. Walthers "Church and Ministry" as they see fit.
"In other business, the C.O.P. heard a presentation on a plan to involve LCMS pastors--300 of them initially-- in a four year process aimed at making them more effective in their ministries by training them to be more effective leaders.
"Rev. Norbert Oesch of Orange, Calif., and Rev. Stephen D. Hower of Pacific, MO., told the C.O.P. that the Pastoral Leadership Institute they helped to organize has obtained funding and intends to begin working with 100 pastors next year. They asked the C.O.P. to help identify pastors who would benefit from the training and to help the organizers refine their training model.
The plan calls for participating pastors to:
- attend conferences led by recognized experts in leadership training;
- be assigned in groups to congregations that would serve as mentors to them;
- participate in one or more international servant events; and
- experience at least one cross denominational leadership training event during their four years .
The institute was organized by a half-dozen LCMS pastors who want to share some of the lessons of their experience in leadership development with other pastors of our Synod, Hower told Reporter."18
In a three page letter to his congregation, dated February 9, 1998, Pastor Norb Oesch, pastor of St. Johns Lutheran Church, Spiritual Growth Center, in Orange, California, announced that he was resigning from his congregation to head up "The Pastoral Leadership Institute" (PLI). He writes, "It is a challenge that I believe with all my heart the Lord wants me to do. I will need your prayers and your blessings upon me." Oesch now sees "leadership" as the savior necessary to augment the Word and Sacraments.
[All comments in brackets were added by this writer]
Oesch continues, "Our church body has wonderful Seminaries that do a fine job of training men for teaching, preaching and pastoral care. Few do it better. [This writer wants to know who the few are?] But, leadership needs to be taught in context, and it needs to come after the problems have been faced....Many of our men who have a passion to grow the church by the Spirits power [the Spirits power, is Oeschs phrase for the Harvard School of Business management theories.] currently go to events and training schools outside our denomination, precisely because we offer nothing to them inside. This is not all bad, for they get a broad picture of the church. But they also get some bad theology, and often it is hard to think through properly how poor theology can effect practice. Other pastors do not go for outside training, and they suffer for lack of knowledge and skills. [The great sin is not knowing the skills taught by "The Leadership Network."] There is an axiom that holds weight: "No church can grow beyond its leader." [When the leader is no longer Christ, how right Oesch is.] And around eighty percent of our congregations in the LCMS are not growing. Thus this training program."
There are a number of assumptions that can be deduced from this program that was unanimously adopted by the C.O.P.. First, the C.O.P. agrees that eight years of training in Word and Sacrament at the seminaries do not properly prepare pastors for LCMS congregations in 1998. Second, the C.O.P. is now relying on "leadership" to make LCMS congregations grow. Third, we can see how the C.O.P. and their District Office staff have been indoctrinated and have adopted the management theory of Peter Drucker over C.F.W. Walther, the founder of our Synod. Anyone who thinks the theology of retraining pastors for "leadership" by a Reformed/charismatic group versus retraining the pastors for "leadership" in the LCMS is an improvement is under a strong delusion. If preaching Law and Gospel does not grow a church, any other leadership and growth is from hell. The Church Growth Movement is draining the Gospel of its content. It uses the Gospel as a pretext to market the church according to the principles of the Harvard School of Business.
What is the Program?
Oesch explains how PLI will be structured as follows: " I have been asked to bring PLI, created by eight pastors of the largest and most effective congregations in our Synod, into reality. [Effective means lots of new members who dont know the six chief parts of Christian doctrine.] It will be something like a "Seminary without walls," as it will utilize up to thirty of the campuses of our finest churches and staffs for training. [Feel the power. This sure beats Walthers log cabin.] After one year of start-up planning, the first class of one hundred is to be enrolled by June of 1999. In 2000, one hundred more are to join them, and by 2001 still another one hundred. With help, I am to recruit the participants, [the most apostate power loving guys we can find] develop the training modules and execute the ministry. It will take six years to get these initial 300 through, as it is a four year in-service curriculum. For those who wish to pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, [now going the way of all flesh] is preparing to give 27 credit units of the 54 required for that degree. It will have academic and practical excellence."
It was once thought that the greatest gift a pastor could possess was that of a great preacher. To perfect their gifts, pastors studied and earned advanced degrees in theology. Now we see what a mistake all that was. What the pastors really needed was more expertise in business management theory, marketing, group dynamics, cultural relevance and mind control techniques to build successful, effective, dynamic churches. Oh, you little mindless ignorant pew people, now Oesch and the C.O.P. are going to give you what you really need, padded theater seats and big screens in the front of your church with the latest word processor mantras from Willow Creek Church.
Who will pay for this?
Now, you ask, who is going to pay for all of this? Oesch writes, "Historically, three other pastors and I were asked by the Lutheran Church Extension Fund what they could do to make a difference in our church body. [i.e., How does the LCEF protect its investments and make more money?] We stated unanimously, Help develop a training program in leadership for pastors. [It all sounds so grass roots, doesnt it? Save the Synod by making more pastors just like mega-church super heroes.] They encouraged us to expand from four to eight. [This is a good church growth principle.] One year ago this coming March, the eight of us met for the first time [i.e., eight guys I know from the mega-church conference]. The initial concept was taken to Concordia Seminary [who buys every fad that comes along] in May, and LCEF assured us of some funding. [They have lots of money spread around.] Shortly afterwards it was taken to the Executive Director of Synods Board for Higher Education. In August, our third meeting, we were approached by a second funding source. In October a District President gave us counsel on how to get the approval of our Synodical leaders. [It could have been any one of 29 out of the 35 district presidents.] ...in November the idea...received very warm support by the C.O.P." [Did the reader think otherwise?] Oesch continues with more details about support from Pacific Southwest District President Kramer, and unanimous support from the C.O.P. in January of 1998.
After a number of heart rending farewells to his congregation Oesch writes, on page 3, "And if God fully blesses my new ministry, perhaps 300 more pastors can infect 300 more congregations [infect is just the right word here] with a zeal and a passion for reaching the lost [with the best management principles the world has to offer in place of the Gospel], and they will have the skills, the heart, [thanks to Peter Drucker and the Leadership Network] and the attitude necessary to lead their congregations [like CEOs] and do it [statistically] well. What a blessing that would be! [God save the corporation!]
This author published a complaint about the LCEF financing the Church Growth Movement in the LCMS. This a quote from a response by Victor Bryant, Senior Vice President of Marketing for the LCEF, 10/15/97, "It is simply ridiculous to associate LCEF as being in any way responsible for the...ever increasing power of the Church Growth Movement....Again I must ask you to please cease from making any further such comments about LCEF." The LCEF simply uses the laitys money to put the laity out of "Lutheran" churches.
Why are they doing this?
Now, put this story together. The basis for Oeschs retraining program got started with the annual LCMS Mega-Church Conference. For a pastor to participate, his congregation has to have at least 1000 members and 500 in worship, or maybe more. Im not sure of the exact numbers. But sad to say, Im not the pastor of a mega-church, so I dont know. The Mega-Church Conference has been going for a decade, if not longer. The C.O.P. wants more mega-churches and fewer of the small 100-200 member congregations that use up a lot of manpower and skew the per-capita vote at District and Synodical Conventions. The Church Extension Fund, sitting on a billion or more dollars, wants to invest in mega-churches but cant find enough mega-church leadership Jim Baker-Oral Roberts-Jimmy Swaggert-types to trust with the money. I mean, a pastor has to know how to do Willow Creek Community Church if he is to be trusted with a 20 million dollar loan.
Were talking business here, not theology. Some seminary graduate with Pieper, author of the standard seminary dogmatics text books, under his arm could destroy a major Church Extension Fund investment if he starts forcing monotonous confession and absolutions, Creeds, and the Lords Prayer down a church growth crowds throat in regular communion services. He just wont understand why hymn books, catechisms, liturgy, and doctrine will kill mega-churches in the 21st Century.
How sad all this is. The very things the LCMS once treasured are the things the C.O.P. must now protect the Synod from if the Synod is going to grow. The LCMS just wont make it in the 21st Century without help from the devil. Luther believed God gave evil generations equally evil leaders because this is what they deserved; hence, the papacy. If the LCMS wants Bill Hybles, pastor of Willow Creek, and the Harvard School of Business instead of C.F.W. Walther and the Lutheran Confessions, God will give the LCMS its wish.
You can be sure the pastors at PLI will not be "retrained" in the Lutheran Confessions and C.F.W. Walthers "Church and Ministry," nor do the lay people want this from their pastors. The C.O.P. is behind this effort to reinvent LCMS congregations. It was their executives who were trained at Irvine, CA, in 1995, and in many other similar seminars. Former Michigan District President and Chairman of the C.O.P., Dr. John Heins, is now nominated to the Board of Regents at Fort Wayne and First Vice-Presidency of the LCMS. Here comes the leadership!
Corporate Constitutions for Corporate Churches
These sweeping new changes are introduced in LCMS congregations with new "corporate" style Church Growth constitutions designed for "leadership" management. The end result is that voters assemblies are disenfranchised. In place of Walthers "Church and Ministry," they have corporate hierarchy called "leadership." Lay people are systematically relieved of their participation in the priesthood of all believers, their hymn books, liturgies, the authority of the voters assembly, and the control of the deeds to their church property.
The worshipers become consumers, the pastor a CEO, the church counsel a board of directors, and the voters an audience. The authority of the Word of God is given second place behind administrative policy. The worship service, like a TV sitcom, is reinvented every week. Instead of traditional worship, the members participate in mind control techniques and behavior modification called contemporary worship. This secularized, efficient, corporate church is destined for extinction because it has no tangible product. Faith is a gift from God, not a commodity. Therefore, out of necessity, church leaders will have to invent new ways for the church to be "relevant" in the next millennium.
All of this is introduced by the C.O.P. to promote statistical improvement and control in the congregations. The "Future Tense Church" says nothing about the Gospel, Jesus, doctrine, etc. Concerning the future of His church, Christ says, "upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18) If we really believed these words we would remove the C.O.P. at the next convention.
Many of the current members of the C.O.P. were trained by apostate professors who denied the inspiration of Scripture and walked out of the St. Louis Seminary in 1973. Others were influenced by professors who were relieved of their positions by Dr. Robert Preus when he moved the Springfield Seminary to Fort Wayne in 1976. There is little wonder that members of the current C.O.P., who were taught to have a low regard for the Scriptures, have an even lower regard for religion and the church than their professors.
Congregations Restructured for "Leadership" in the LCMS by District Offices.
Let us now examine the November, 1995 constitutional revisions recommended by the Michigan District to St. Peters Lutheran Church, a 150 year old congregation in Eastpointe, Michigan, as an example of one among thousands that have changed from Walthers structure to a "Church Growth" style Board of Directors.
"The Board of Directors shall be charged with the month-to-month decisions and programs of the congregation. It shall be held accountable to the Voters Assembly for the progress of the congregation toward its stated purposes. The establishment and conduct of all organizations and societies within the congregations shall be subject to the approval and supervision of the Board of Directors. As the legal representatives of the congregation, the Board of Directors shall sign legal documents, make contracts, represent the congregation in court and hire non-called workers."
The definition of the congregation and pastoral ministry has also changed in its stated purpose (mentioned above) from specific to less definite terms as follows:
The purpose of this Congregation is to provide a Christian ministry in the community by preaching the Word of God, by administration of the Sacraments, by religious education of youth and adults, by providing worship and prayer opportunities, by proclaiming the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and by serving the needs of all people;
In times past, LCMS pastors were called to a congregation to preach, teach, and administer the sacraments, and serve a specific membership in divine services not indefinite "communities" in "worship opportunities." Formerly, LCMS pastors served the needs of all people by preaching the Gospel and did not rely on other means in addition to the Gospel. An undefined pastoral ministry is no ministry.
In the Board of Directors structure, the power of attorney (the right to engage in legal contracts in behalf of the entire congregation) and administration of the congregation is taken from the many and given to the few in the name of efficiency and Church Growth. It also means that the majority of men no longer have the opportunity to judge doctrine and administer the Office of the Keys in their own congregation. They no longer have the authority of the "church" that Christ speaks about in Matthew 18:17-18 and explained by C.F.W. Walther, the Synods founder, as follows:
"Since, according to Gods Word, the congregation is the highest court within its circle (Matt. 18:17), and the preacher has church authority only in common with the congregation (Matt. 20:25-26; 23:8; 1 Pet. 5:1-3; 2 Cor. 8:8), the preacher must be concerned that congregational assemblies, both regular and special ones as needed at times, be held in Christian order to consider and carry out what is necessary for its governing (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:4; 2 Cor. 2:6; Acts 6:2; 15:1-4, 30; 21:17-22; 1 Tim. 5:20).
All adult, male members of the congregation have the right to participate actively in the discussions, votes, and decisions of the congregation since that is a right of the whole congregation. See Matt. 18:17-18; Acts 1:15, 23-26; 15:5, 12-13, 22-23; 1 Cor. 5:2; 6:2; 10:15; 12:7; 2 Cor. 2:6-8; 2 Thess. 3:15. Excluded from the exercise of this right are the youth (1 Pet. 5:5) and the female members of the congregation (1 Cor. 14:34-35) [see also 1 Tim. 2:8-15].19 [Women were not to vote for the same reason that they do no hold the pastoral office.]
"Remove not the ancient land marks which thy fathers have set." Proverbs 22:18. Synodical leaders who reject the correct teaching of the Synods founder have redirected the Synod away from divine order to the Church Growth Movement, the Leadership Network, Peter Drucker, secular management principles, sociology, group dynamics, and consumer psychology. They cover one failure with another. Now their goal is "relationship not religion," corporate idolatry not Christ.
The endnotes used in this work are linked from the note number in the text to the endnote at the bottom of the page, and vice versa. In addition, where a note uses "ibid." or "op. cit.", it is linked to the appropriate parent endnote information.
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1. Leadership Network, Carol S. Childress, 1995 Evangelism Executives\Chairpersons Conference, LCMS, Irvine CA, April 28, 1995
2. Leadership Network, Carol S. Childress, 1995 Evangelism Executives\Chairpersons Conference, LCMS, "Then and Now", Irvine CA, April 28, 1995
3. Agenda, Leadership Team Training, Sept. 16, 1995 "Leading the Church Into the 21st Century", Rev. Michael Rule, Executive Michigan District
4. Leadership Network, Carol S. Childress, 1995 Evangelism Executives\Chairpersons Conference, LCMS, "Ten Keys for the Future", Irvine CA, April 28, 1995
5. Concordia Triglotta, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis , 1921 Apology, article VI par. 79 page 307
6. Ibid., Apology, article VII. Par. 5, page 227
7. Leadership Network, Carol S. Childress, 1995 Evangelism Executives\Chairpersons Conference, LCMS, "Why Denominations Are At Risk", Irvine CA, April 28, 1995
8. Leadership Network, Carol S. Childress, 1995 Evangelism Executives\Chairpersons Conference, LCMS, "Why Do Great Companies Fail", Irvine CA, April 28, 1995
9. Martin Luther, Luthers Works, "Church and Ministry" Vol. 39, American Edition, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1970, page 265.
10. Dave Travis, Church Champions Magazine, Leadership Network, August, 1996, website, page 2
11. Charles Trueheart, NEXT Magazine, Leadership Network, December 1996. website, www.leadnet.org, page 1-2
12. Ibid., page 2
13. Ibid., page 3
14. NEXT Magazine, Leadership Network, December, 1997, website www.leadnet.org, page 10
15. Ibid., page 11
16. Ibid., Bob Buford, page 3
17. Church Champions #7, Leadership Network, "The Sources of Innovation" Part I, website, page 2
18. Reporter, Published by LCMS, St. Louis, December 1997, page 3.
19. C.F.W. Walther, Pastoral Theology, 1872, Lutheran News, New Haven MO, 1995, from fifth edition 1906, page 257
April 5, 1999
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