The March issue of "Jesus First" clearly demonstrates that the
"liberal" wing of the LC-MS has embraced the "Church Growth
Movement." However, in true liberal fashion, they rant, fume and emote,
but fail to identify any substantive flaw in the Committee's report.
In the opening article, Waldo Werning writes: "The tragedy about this
committee study is that it gives no evidence of speaking to or dialogue with
any experienced Church Growth leader or LCMS author."
Is that the sin of the Report? The Committee lists a number of Church
Growth books that it read in order to produce their Report. When did Luther
meet with the Pope? Why aren't the Church Growth books a sufficient source of
information? Werning doesn't identify one flaw in the report in his entire
article, except that he doesn't like it. If there is nothing wrong with the
Committee's Report, then the Committee must be right! He doesn't realize that
he actually endorsed the Committee's conclusions.
In the second article in "Jesus First", Paul Walter Mueller
writes: "Church Growth Study Strikes Out at Straw Men." Well, if the
men don't really exist, why is Mueller upset? He is really saying the
Committee isn't talking about him or the Church Growth Movement, in which
case, why should he take offence? Is Church Growth a religion, a secret
brotherhood, a sect, a lodge, a public confession, or something that people
join? How does Mueller know he is being attacked unless he is a member of this
Church Growth aristocracy?
Mueller writes: "Please give me the names of all those in the LCMS who
are the opponents of this oft repeated or similarly phrased refrain in the
document, 'the gift of faith is the work of the Holy Spirit operating through
the Means of Grace'." If there is no problem with the statement, why does
Mueller object? His objection is virtually inexplicable. What if the Committee
had quoted the Apostles' Creed a dozen times, would that also bother Mueller?
Yet, Mueller gets close to the mark when he suggests that the Committee is
operating in a polity vacuum, but he just can't get that "polity"
word out of his mouth. If he said it, then we would ask Mueller what his
polity is and that is a question he and any self-respecting Church Growth
advocate will never answer. For the liberal hoards the rule of thumb is,
"No Rules, Just Right" the slogan of the "Outback
Mueller plays the statistics card and asks if the Committee is interested
in the 75% of the unchurched population in the United States. This is the
typical Church Growth attempt to justify any doctrine and practice if it
brings results. Hardly Elijah's approach!
Mueller equates the Committee's request that congregations use Synodically
approved hymnbooks and liturgies with "bias." What Synod does
Mueller and his cohorts belong to? Mueller asks: "What form/style should
congregations use in their own cultural milieu to reach the ears of the
unchurched . . .?" Naturally, Mueller will not give an answer and he will
never utter the "Walther" word.
Ray Schkade writes in "Jesus First" about the Committee: "It
Misses What is Right With Church Growth." He wants to know why
"Church Growth" advocates were not on the Committee. Poor Ray! He
doesn't understand that the purpose of the Committee was to stop, not promote
the Church Growth Movement in the LC-MS. One might as well ask, why
Melanchthon didn't include Dr. Eck and some Cardinals in the writing of the
None of the writers in "Jesus First" even attempted to defend the
Church Growth Movement with quotations from the Bible and the Lutheran
Confessions, because they can't. They are all about desire, emotion, and crowd
manipulation with no content.
"Jesus First" has identified itself with the phrase "Church
Growth" one of the most innovative terms since "Pro-Choice."
The phrase "Pro-Abortion" had a real marketing deficit until they
invented, "Pro-Choice". The terms "fanaticism"
"cult" or "self-indulgence" had a similar marketing
problem until they invented the phrase "Church Growth." In the Old
Testament it was easy to identify idolatry until they came up with the phrase
"Baal Worship" which means, "Worship the Lord" in Hebrew.
With the advent of image building, marketing innovations, advocates of
"Pro-Choice," "Baal-Worship," and "Church
Growth" can now don an air of respectability. So what is Church Growth?
It is about bringing in a crowd and making money!
Our advice to the delegates of the 2001 Convention is that they follow the
advice of the Committee Report in getting rid of Church Growth but do it while
keeping the authority of the Congregation in the Voters' Assembly and out of
the pastors' office.