The following paragraphs quoted from an article by Paul Proctor should resonate with anyone familiar with what is going on in the LCMS. For our exercise, wherever you read the word, "church," think "synod."
The author may need a little Lutheran education in re the Church, but what he writes is dead on given a proper understanding of Church as not only a gathering of the elect, but the gathering of the elect around Christ and His means of grace for the salvation of souls.
ARE YOU A CHURCH WORSHIPPER?
By Paul Proctor
August 11, 2009
"Well, another Leadership Summit has come and gone at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois – a yearly conference led by its senior pastor and Willow Creek Association’s Chairman of the Board, Bill Hybels. . . .
". . . There are a lot of misguided Christians today who have a misplaced faith and hope in their church. This makes them easy targets for church growth consultants who know all too well how to play on the egos, ambitions and insecurities of both laymen and staff wanting their church to be bigger and better than the one across town.
"When we covet the 'success' of others, we make ourselves vulnerable to smooth-talking opportunists who will gladly step in and exploit our weaknesses and shortcomings upon invitation. The result is that we end up depending on them and their programs, techniques, strategies and surveys instead of God and His Word. . . .
". . . The church growth movement, you see, worships a two-headed god called 'Results' and 'Relationships' where nothing gets in the way of either – even God’s Word. It was first encountered in the Garden of Eden. . . .
". . . why should you and I rest our hope in a local church – especially in the compromised, corrupt and declining state that many of them now find themselves? . . .
". . . . What I am saying is that we need to stop putting our hope and faith in people and their self-exalting, self-justifying, self-serving organizations and institutions, local or otherwise. It’s time to start reading, learning, obeying and proclaiming God’s Word – all of it – instead of snappy slogans, corny clichés, vain visions and the silly strategies of men. . . .
". . . Today, many trained facilitators in leadership positions have infiltrated the church and convinced gullible and covetous Christians that if they rely on market principles and surveys, they’ll get the Results they’re after – which may or may not have anything to do with the Word and Will of God."
To read the entire article, click here: http://www.newswithviews.com/PaulProctor/proctor186.htm
Does all of this sound all too sadly familiar? If so, why? When will we have had enough? And why did congregations and pastors who consider themselves to be Lutheran ever buy into this chicanery in the first place?
Oddly enough, a former U.S. president, Herbert Hoover, may give us a clue. He once wrote, "Every collectivist revolution rides in on a Trojan horse of ‘emergency’. It was the tactic of Lenin, Hitler, and Mussolini. . . . And ‘emergency’ became the justification of the subsequent steps. This technique of creating emergency is the greatest achievement that demagoguery attains."
Why have LCMS congregations and pastors taken a dive into Willow Creek? The Trojan horse of souls being lost every time a facilitator snaps his fingers in front of a gathering of guilt -ridden, unsatisfied Lutherans desirous of growing their church like the local "Christian Life Center" packing them in just down the road a piece. That and some sort of ecumenically enlightened disdain for the very confession that makes them Lutheran--like the explanation of the Third Article of the Creed in Luther's Small Catechism.
But here I may be jumping to an unwarranted conclusion based upon an unkind construction. In order to disdain something, you have to have some idea of what it is. How many of those who have jumped into Willow Creek have taken the time to plumb the depths of the Small Catechism and examine the riches of the rest of our Lutheran Confessions? Don’t you think it rather a panic to abandon the ship of things Lutheran to float down some upstart polluted, though popular waterway before even cracking the surface of that which has been keeping believers with Jesus Christ in the one true faith for almost 600 years—indeed even since the time of the apostles?
In the vast landscape of the LC-MS, what is much, if any different than what Luther found previous to his authorship of the Small Catechism? Read Luther’s Preface to his Small Catechism. Then you tell me.
Perhaps if we listen to our namesake, and more importantly to the one true faith he handed down to us, we might find what has really never been missing at all among true Lutherans—our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit He has sent to baptize, preach, teach, and commune souls in the forgiveness of sins that is the only way we have been given to save the lost.