Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Transforming Congregations Network

I will repeat here what I wrote to the pastors of my circuit after seeing a presentation made explaining the Synod's Transforming Congregations Network. This was part of a meeting amongst the circuit to explore approaches and angles of outreach within our circuit, and possibly ways in which our congregations might work together.

Second, my thoughts concerning Transforming Congregations are not favorable. The initial assertion was that the traditional outreach methods we have seen are flawed - yet this is the same, tired business model based package that we have seen for the past 15 years, only it's called TCN instead of SMP or PLI. When the first congregation that uses the program is a Methodist congregation, there is no reason for any Lutheran Congregation to use it, for if it is acceptable to a Methodist congregation, the program will have a differing view of the purpose of the Church and worship.

The Goal of the Church is not to provide interesting and engaging services (physical or emotional) to people, but to proclaim Christ, to bring people not just to a "relationship" with God but into His very presence in His House where He gives us His own Body and Blood for the forgiveness of our sins. In all his presentation, there was little focus on Christ (and I say little simply because if I say "no focus" as I wish, I might have over looked a 30 second comment). It seems as though the focus is upon tricking folks into the door and hoping they learn something. That isn't outreach - for it's the same thing a snake oil salesman could do. This was disturbing.

Moreover, the presenter butchered the parable of the Sower. The parable of the Sower's point is *not* that we ought to look to try to find the good soil and focus our efforts there. We cannot see into the hearts of men, we cannot judge who is or isn't good soil - in fact, we shouldn't even judge the harvest of another - rather we should consider what our own hearts produce and repent ourselves. No, the parable of the Sower is that God sends His Word out everywhere - it speaks to the universality of our proclamation, while explaining why some reject that Word. His approach completely contradicted this. Moreover, what was pointed to as things which plant a harvest was not the Word, but rather neat, energizing activities on our part.

I will strongly, strongly recommend against any congregation using this, as from what I have seen the focus is shallow, works focused, and generic in doctrine. For too long the Missouri Synod has aped and mimicked the shallow programs of generic American Christianity - I am more and more convinced it is time to be Lutherans like Luther - staunchly and firmly and gladly focusing on the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ in all its richness amidst a world full of anabaptists and papists and enthusiasts who with their false doctrine place burdens upon men.

Just thought some of you who have not had the privilege of siting through the sales pitch would like some observations upon it. Mark and avoid - this is my counsel.

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