Friday, March 28, 2008

Mollie Sums it up

Back when I was at the Seminary, a lot of folks knew who Mollie Ziegler was - she was an intelligent, single Lutheran gal - every single seminarian's dream girl. Well, she has done well (as well as gotten married) - and she writes - and even gets published in the Wall Street Journal.

I think it's down to one of two things - the theory that Mollie lays out is the political theory - that this is one of the opening shots at silencing those who desire to remain traditional Lutherans. The other theory (which the article will also help explain in a bit) is that perhaps the Synod just wants to sell off the radio station to help cover it's massive debts, partially incurred with the advent of "Ablaze." Have to get that Lutheran show off the air before you can sell it.

Here is a link to her article dealing with Issues, Etc.

Here's a chunk from the middle:

The program was in all likelihood a pawn in a larger battle for the soul of the Missouri Synod. The church is divided between, on the one hand, traditional Lutherans known for their emphasis on sacraments, liturgical worship and the church's historic confessions and, on the other, those who have embraced pop-culture Christianity and a market-driven approach to church growth. The divide is well known to all confessional Christian denominations struggling to retain their traditional identity.

The Rev. Gerald Kieschnick, the synod's current president, has pushed church marketing over the Lutherans' historic confession of faith by repeatedly telling the laity, "This is not your grandfather's church."

Since Mr. Kieschnick narrowly won election in 2001, the church has embarked on a program, called Ablaze!, that has the admirable goal of "reaching 100 million unreached and uncommitted people with the Gospel by 2017," the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Historically the church kept statistics on baptisms. Now, however, it keeps a tally of what it calls "critical events." On March 17 a man reported discussing Jesus with his waitress -- and the Ablaze! count went up by one.

One congregation near St. Louis took a $25,000 Ablaze! grant and used it to put up billboards with kitschy statements purporting to come from the devil (e.g., "JeffersonHills Church Sucks," signed "Satan"). A Michigan mission congregation replaced the historical message of Lent with a speaker series on sex. Following marketing principles, neither congregation uses the word "Lutheran" in its name or advertising campaign.

While "Issues, Etc." never criticized Mr. Kieschnick or his colleagues, its attacks against shallow church marketing included mention of some approaches embraced by the current leadership. It opposed, for instance, the emergent church -- an attempt to accommodate postmodern culture by blending philosophies and practices from throughout the church's history -- and the Purpose Driven Church movement, which reorients the church's message toward self-help and self-improvement.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

You know, every time I hear "This is not your grandfather's church." I get extra annoyed because my grandfather? LCMS pastor for 50 + years. He was 80 when he retired and then went on to assist however he could at another church near the retirement home he lived in. Aside from disagreeing with what Kieschnick means to imply by that statement, it also irks me because it seems to disparage all that my grandfather did as a member and pastor in this synod.