The C.O.P. and Arleigh L. Lutz Leading LCMS Congregations into Chaos
A review of Lutz's response in the book titled "Church and Ministry: The Collected Papers of the 150th Anniversary Theological Convocation of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod."

by Rev. Jack M. Cascione


A book titled, "Church and Ministry" was sent to every congregation in the LCMS in July of 1998. In this book, Rev. Arleigh Lutz, District President from North Wisconsin and President of the Council of Presidents, demonstrates his total ease in publicly teaching two contradictory views on the doctrine of Church and Ministry for the LCMS at the same time. True to form for a Chairman of the COP, Lutz begins by railing against "problem pastors" (page 68), and then he closes his response by railing against "problem pastors" (page 74). Lutz clearly shows that the greatest problem in the LCMS is "problem District Presidents." He never explains what problem pastors do wrong. Why should he? He will let the pastors know what a problem is when he sees one.

Lutz presents himself in the verbiage of a theological regional union boss risen to the level of boss of bosses. Of all the topics to which he attempts to show his opposition, he chooses the problem of congregations restructuring like corporations and pastors acting like CEOs. In a move right out of the William Clinton book on Leadership Training, the very thing he objects to is what he is also now promoting throughout the Synod.

In a number of LCMS "Reporters", Lutz and the C.O.P. are featured as endorsing PLI, Pastoral Leadership Institute. PLI is designed to teach 225 LCMS Pastors, screened by the C.O.P., to run LCMS mega-churches like corporations and teach pastors how to be CEOs. Naturally there will be accreditation from Dr. John Johnson and the St. Louis Seminary.

Before I say more about PLI, the following are quotations from the book by writers, including Lutz, who are against the very thing PLI is going to teach pastors, that is to run congregations structured like corporations while they serve as CEOs.

A.L. Barry

"Or, interestingly, they may begin to conceive of the church according to the model of a business in which they own stock but in which they have little or no active involvement unless they want to."(Page 6)
"Thus, the Pastoral Office is not simply a pragmatic human response to a need for leadership on the part of the group of Christians who gather themselves together and then,merely for the sake of good order, appoint one from among them to "do their Ministry." (Page 9)

Dr. Arleigh L. Lutz Chairman of the Council District Presidents (COP)

"Following Abdon's advice, new constitutions were adopted by a number of congregations in which the church council was replaced by a board of directors, and the office of chairman by the position of executive director, and the ancient office of elder by something called the board of lay ministry. Whatever the original intent, this change of structure introduced a cultural business model into the life of the church. This model implies that we are not "set apart" from the surrounding culture but are, in fact, a part of it. Among other things this has resulted in a significant change in attitude and understanding of the Pastoral Office." (Page 73)

Dr. James Kalthoff, Missouri District President

"A corporation mentality has entered the church. Congregations are now into such things as performance evaluations of pastors and other professional church workers. And the Synod and District Presidents are asking questions of pastors concerning how they view their ministry, where there ministries have moved, what goal they have set for themselves in the year ahead--questions that flow from more of a corporation mentality." (page 141)

Extremes to Be Avoided.
"...And(2) the "staff-driven" often in larger congregations approach seen so where all key decisions are left basically to the pastors and other professional church workers while laypeople pursue other interests." (Page 149)

"It is no secret that in many cases, multiple staff ministries in our churches are not healthy." (page 151)

Rev. Ray Hartwig, President of the South Dakota District quotes Oz Guniness "Dining with the Devil"

"Anyone who doubts this shift [pastor to CEO] has only to look at church-growth literature and check for such chapters as ‘portrait of the effective pastor.’....The bulk of the chapter is taken up with such themes as delegating, confidence, interaction, decision-making, visibility, practicality, accountability, and discernment-the profile of the thoroughly modem pastor as CEO....

[These] leadership qualities could apply in a hundred other organizations-- after all, they once did, and were simply borrowed. Worse still, the disadvantage of the CEO-Pastor, as increasing numbers of them are discovering, is that those who live like CEO's are fired like CEOs--and spiritual considerations have as little to do with the ending as with the beginning and the middle." (Page 196)

Doctor, Masao Shimodate, President of the Theological Training Program in Tokyo, Japan

"President Hartwig points out the shift in the pastoral profile. It seems to me to be rather extreme, but pastors are like CEO's and are better qualified as secular rather than spiritual leaders." Page 222.

Dr. Edward G. Kettner, Professor Concordia Lutheran Seminary Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

"On the other hand, the pastor may become one who sees himself merely as a CEO or 'facilitator' who is little more than a motivational speaker, an "equipper" whose job is to work himself out of the job by training others to do the "real work" of ministry." (Page 225)


Dr. Arleigh L. Lutz Chairman of the Council District Presidents (COP) Does a Double Reverse in the "Reporter"

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 mega-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. Walther's "Church and Ministry" as they see fit without consulting the 1998 LCMS Convention.

"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.


Norbert Oesch To Train LCMS Clergy in Church Growth and Leadership Training.

Dr. Oesch, who was chosen by the C.O.P. to be in charge of retraining 300 LCMS pastors, spoke on the subject of leadership at the Congregational Services Conference of the LCMS, in February, 1996, as follows:

"It was only nine years ago this past month that the first conference on "Worship and Music as it relates to Evangelism and Discipleship" was held in my home congregation in Orange. Before this, as far as could be discerned, only 15 congregations used alternative forms of worship not formally approved by the Synod and/or the Board of Worship. Today it has been validated that over 3500 Lutheran congregations, both in the LCMS and in the ELCA, are using alternative forms of worship." Page 14

"Even the Senior Pastor position has changed. This position is often no longer called Senior Pastor, but the Senior ADMINISTRATIVE Pastor." Educated Americans in large congregations "...expect him (the senior pastor) to serve as the CEO of the congregation. I can testify to that personally since I was interviewed for a Senior Pastor position last Fall in the grand state of Texas. The job description specifically stated the Senior Pastor shall serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the congregation, that he shall develop a staff driven organization, and the way to set up an organizational structure that would allow for that." (Page 20)

"Our congregation will most likely move toward calling an Executive Pastor who will serve as a C.O.O., Chief Operating Officer. My role will be to become more specialized in the area of preaching and teaching and holding up the vision, and let a specialist in administration run the staff and the congregational organization." (Page 20)


Oesch Announces Resignation from Congregation in February 9, 1998, to Start PLI

In a three page letter to his congregation, dated February 9, 1998, Pastor Norbert Oesch, pastor of St. John's 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 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. 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 passion to grow the church by the Spirit's power currently go to events and training schools outside our denomination, precisely because we offer nothing to them inside... Other pastors do not go for outside training, and they suffer for lack of knowledge and skills. There is an axiom that holds weight: "No church can grow beyond it's leader." And around eighty percent of our congregations in the LCMS are not growing. Thus this training program.

I thought the growth of churches depended on Christ and God's Word, not on the talents of the leader. May God remove all such leaders so He can get the blame for the collapse of His church.


PLI to Receive Accreditation

Oesch states that those who wish to pursue a Doctor of Ministry degree, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, is preparing to give 27 credit units of the 54 required for that degree. It will have academic and practical excellence.


Who will pay for 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. We stated unanimously, 'Help develop a training program in leadership for pastors.' They encouraged us to expand from four to eight.... In November the idea.. .received very warm support by the C.O.P."

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 (Cascione) to please cease from making any further such comments about LCEF." The LCEF simply uses the laity's money to change the congregations from its historic constitution to corporations and put the laity out of "Lutheran" churches. You can be sure the pastors at PLI will not be "retrained" in the Lutheran Confessions and C.F.W Walther's "Church and Ministry," nor do the lay people want this from their pastors.

There are a number of assumptions behind this program (PLI) that was unanimously adopted by the C.O.P.:

1. The C.O.P. agrees that eight years of training in Word and Sacrament at the seminaries do not properly prepare pastors for their congregations in 1998.

2. The C.O.P. is now relying on "leadership" to make LCMS congregations grow.

3. We can see how the C.O.P. and their District Office staff have been indoctrinated by and have adopted the management theory of Peter Drucker over C.F.W. Walther. If preaching Law and Gospel does not grow a church, any other leadership and growth is from hell. The Church Growth Movement uses the Gospel as a pretext to market the church according to the principles of the Harvard School of Business.

In the first century of our Synod, pastors studied theology to improve their preaching and teaching skills Now, we see what a mistake all that was. What the pastors really need is more expertise in business management theory, marketing, group dynamics, cultural relevance and mind control techniques to build successful, effective, dynamic churches.


LCMS "Reporter" September, 1998, Announces PLI Headed by Norb Oesch

"In the fall of 1996, Vic Bryant and the late Art Haake, executives with the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF), asked a group of pastors what new ministry might significantly help the Missouri Synod carry out the Great Commission, if start-up funds could be provided."

"With initial funding from LCEF through the Pacific Southwest District the result is the Pastoral Leadership Institute (PLI), a Sant Ana, Calif.-based program being developed by Dr. Norbert Oesch, PLI's staff executive."

"There were things I sought as a younger pastor, but never found," Oesch said. "One was adequate exposure to effective congregations in our Synod who were doing things right. And the other was in-depth conversations with veteran pastors of these congregations. Had those things happened, many mistakes could have been avoided."

Here we have a program based on total subjectivity being peddled to "effective congregations" in our Synod who are "doing things right. The nebulous criteria are based on whatever Oesch thinks is effective and right which, necessarily, means statistics, results, and market tested standards of success. John the Baptist and twelve apostles never pastored such congregations. The pastor at Ephesis in Revelation also need not apply.

Again, Oesch states, "Now, through PLI, we hope to give significant time for mentoring experiences and exposure to the ways some of our best pastors are doing ministry in large congregations.

PLI will be applying for and receiving "Recognized Service Organization" status. In other words, the District Office in California gives a call and organizes a program to retrain 225 LCMS pastors that receives St. Louis Seminary credits and a degree before it is recognized by the Synod. The C.O.P. intentionally did not bring PLI to the LCMS Convention Floor for delegate approval. The LCMS Convention has only given the right to teach pastors in the LCMS to two seminaries. The C.O.P. blatantly ignores that so it will not have to explain to the Synod how they are going to teach pastors to reorganize LCMS congregations like corporations. Naturally, pastors who want to be one of the special 225 must apply through and be recommended for the program by their District President.

The C.O.P., under the "leadership" of Dr. Arleigh L. Lutz, is now taking direct control of what was once the responsibility of the Synod's seminaries. President Johnson and the St. Louis Seminary Board of Regents have given up what was not theirs to give away. There is little doubt why the program was not brought to the attention of the LCMS Convention. After just ten minutes of floor debate exposing the shallow, secular techniques of management theory and the new world order from Leadership Network (, Peter Drucker, and the Harvard School of Business in place of C.F.W. Walther's "Church and Ministry," the delegates would have thrown out the entire program and the C.O.P. for their rank fraud and conspiracy against the Synod and the church of Jesus Christ. The delegates of the LCMS Convention were cheated out of their right to vote on the program by Dr. Arleigh L. Lutz and the C.O.P. Meanwhile, in the book sent out by the Synodical President to all congregations, Lutz speaks as if he is against the entire process of corporate congregations run by pastor/CEOs.

Yes, President Lutz, you are quite a problem. But what if I'm wrong? I challenge you Doctor, Reverend, Chairman, Problem, District President to publish the signatures of all the LCMS District Presidents agreeing to the following statement:

"We, the District Presidents of the LCMS only support Walther’s "Church and Ministry" as the polity for all LCMS Congregations. We renounce the secular management techniques promoted by the Church Growth Movement, The Leadership Network, Peter Drucker, and the Harvard School of Business as replacements for Walther "Church and Ministry" in LCMS congregations. The current training at our two seminaries is sufficient for men to be pastors in all LCMS congregations. We want the name Lutheran on all LCMS Congregations, Orthodox Lutheran hymnbooks and Catechisms used in all LCMS Congregations, and we only endorse the three general Creeds for confession in LCMS Worship services."

I won't hold my breath.

Rev. Jack Cascione is pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church (LCMS - MI) in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. He has written numerous articles for Christian News and is the author of Reclaiming the Gospel in the LCMS: How to Keep Your Congregation Lutheran. He has also written a study on the Book of Revelation called In Search of the Biblical Order.
He can be reached by email at

October 14, 1998