New Book for Lay People:
How to Start or Keep an LCMS Congregation
By Rev. Jack Cascione


This author is publishing a new book on the LCMS for lay people. It is titled, "How To Start Or Keep Your Own Missouri Synod Lutheran Church: A handbook for lay people who like Missouri Synod congregations the way they began and want to be certain about the presence of God in their worship services."

This new book is designed as a "how to" and a "resource" book for lay people. It is 120 pages long with 30 chapters and 198 footnotes. It can be read in an hour and half unless the reader wishes to spend more time examining the footnotes from Luther, Walther, Pieper, The Lutheran Confessions, Fritz, Mundinger, and the LCMS Constitution explaining the basis for a Lutheran congregation.

With all the controversy over pastors who think they are Willow Creek/PLI CEO's, or want to return to pre-Waltherian European Lutheran hierarchy, the question in the minds of many lay people is, "Will any one tell us what is the Missouri Synod supposed to be like? This book answers the question with the highest Lutheran authorities.

It sells for $5:00, plus handling and shipping and can be ordered by calling 573-237-3110 or emailing or replying to

From its beginning, the Missouri Synod gave absolute assurance of the presence of God in all its member congregations through the means of grace.

The amazing thing about the LCMS today, is that it identifies its teaching, but it will no longer clearly explain what the Synod is.

The Missouri Synod's greatest mystery is the Synod itself, namely, what is the Missouri Synod, where did it come from, and what is it supposed to be like? Answers to these questions were published in books that have long since gone out of print.

Lay people started most of the LCMS congregations and lay people pay for all of them.

This writer asked Concordia Publishing House, North Western Publishing House of the WELS, and Augsburg-Fortress of the ELCA if there was any book in print that told lay people how to start or organize a congregation. The answer from all three publishing houses of the largest Lutheran church bodies in America was, "No!"

Concordia offered me books on church careers, how to start a Lutheran School, and evangelism. Wisconsin offered information on stewardship and evangelism, and the ELCA offered the same.

How to start and organize and keep an LCMS congregation was once the foundation of the Synod. Walther's "The True Visible Church" and "True Form of the Lutheran Congregation Independent of the State" helped organize 1200 congregations in his lifetime, and 3000 congregations by 1922.

Today, organized Lutheranism doesn't think this kind of information is necessary for lay people. "Church planting" or opening new congregations is now the specialized domain of district "experts." Concordia Publishing House suggested I call the local District Office.

By not defining itself, the Synod's bureaucrats allow themselves maximum flexibility with a minimum of accountability. They have also mistaken the layman's apathy as their new "leadership role."

By and large, LCMS congregations are presented as amorphous, nebulous, structureless, gatherings that assume the form preferred by the "leader." Hence there is no answer to the question, "Why Missouri?" This approach doesn't sell cars any more than it sell's church bodies. The LCMS has lost more than 200,000 members since 1969, while the US population grew by 60 million.

This little book makes no pretense of being anything more than a primer on the subject of how lay people can start or keep their own LCMS congregation. It covers a very broad area with only a brief amount of information on topics that take up volumes of material on any one of the individual chapters.

A Missouri Synod-Lutheran Church is one of many different kinds, types, or styles of Lutheran Churches. An LCMS Church confesses the Bible and the Lutheran Confessions. It also practices congregational autonomy and self-governance as taught by C.F.W. Walther, the first LCMS President. Hence, any Lutheran congregation practicing the church government or polity taught by Walther is a Missouri Synod style church, even if it doesn't belong to the Missouri Synod.

Christ tells us He is present where two or three are gathered in His name. He is only present through these three means of grace: the preaching of Law and Gospel, and the administration of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. From its inception, the Missouri Synod has thus guaranteed lay people the presence of God in its congregations based on clear texts of the Bible.

This book is written for those lay people who wish to maintain the presence of God and the office of the ministry in their congregations through the means of grace. The office of the ministry is only identified after Scripture identifies the means of grace.

To help explain the content of this new 120-page book the following are the titles of the 30 chapters.

How To Start Or Keep Your Own Missouri Synod Lutheran Church
A handbook for lay people who like Missouri Synod congregations the way they began and want to be certain about the presence of God in their worship services

  1. How the Missouri Synod Began and Grew
    Page 1
  2. What Are Some Advantages of Starting or Keeping an LCMS Congregation Over Other Church Bodies?
    Page 4
  3. When and Why Start Your Own LCMS Church?
    Page 6
  4. Who Can Start an LCMS Church?
    Page 8
  5. How to Organize a New LCMS Congregation
    Page 10
  6. How to Be a Lutheran Church and Not a Religious Corporation
    Page 14
  7. Why Laymen Should Govern Their Congregation Through a Voters' Assembly
    Page 17
  8. Luther Taught That All Christians Are Members of the Priesthood of All Believers
    Page 28
  9. Why and How Voters Judge Doctrine
    Page 30
  10. Voters' Assemblies: Why We Should Keep Them
    Page 34
  11. How Did Walther Start the First LCMS Congregation?
    Page 36
  12. What Was Missouri's Original Position on Voters' Assemblies?
    Page 46
  13. God's Word Gives 2 or 3 Christians the Authority to Establish Their Own Church
    Page 48
  14. Why the Congregation Not the Synod, is a Church
    Page 52
  15. God's Word is the Final Authority in the Church
    Page 56
  16. How Do You Know If Your Assembly Is a Real Church?
    Page 58
  17. How Do You Know If Your Church Is Teaching the True Gospel?
    Page 61
  18. How Do You Know If Your Church Has True Baptism?
    Page 65
  19. How Do You Know If Your Church Is Distributing the Real Lord's Supper?
    Page 68
  20. How to Maintain Christian Fellowship At the Communion Rail
    Page 73
  21. How To Add Members By Confirmation and Remove Members By Excommunication
    Page 76
  22. How Do You Know If Your Congregation's Call to a Pastor Is a Call From God?
    Page 86
  23. Why Ordination Is Not a Sacrament, But a Human Work
    Page 89
  24. How to Write Your Church Constitution
    Page 93
  25. What Are Some Pitfalls To Starting Your Own LCMS Church?
    Page 95
  26. How to Finance Your Own Church
    Page 96
  27. The Congregation Calls, Elects, and Ordains Its Own Pastors
    Page 98
  28. God Has Made the Congregation the Highest Authority Over Pastors, District Presidents, and the Synod
    Page 101
  29. Walther's Qualifications for Laymen of LCMS Congregations
    Page 104
  30. What Should a Lutheran Worship Service Be Like?
    Page 112

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

May 30, 2001