Wednesday, September 16, 2009

It takes all kinds of churches?

Pictured to the left is Pastor Greg Bearss of LakePointe Church in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Pastor Bearss happens to be a classmate of mine from Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne.  I guess I missed the class that taught us to replace the altar with a drum set and lead the Service in our jeans.  Come to think of it, after visiting LakePointe's website, I guess I missed a lot of classes.  Either that or Pastor Bearss has decided to ignore what we were taught at seminary and is out there doing his own thing.  I'm inclined to believe that it's the latter.

Anyway, Pastor Bearss is quickly becoming famous in our synod.  About a year and a half ago, our synodical president, Gerald Kieschnick, in his monthly letter to LCMS pastors, mentioned Pastor Bearss and the congregation he serves, informing us that LakePointe was a "perfect example" of an Ablaze! Covenant Congregation.  Now, Pastor Bearss and LakePointe are back in the synodical news, as they're featured in this month's edition of The Lutheran Witness.  In the article, Rev. Yohannes Mengsteab, LCMS World Mission national director for new mission development, agrees that congregations like LakePointe don't sound like "typical" LCMS congregations and goes on to say, "It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people."

This way of thinking comes straight out of the Satanic "Church Growth Movement" playbook, where the Church is told that she must change and adapt to the culture if she is to survive and grow; that she must follow the principles of the secular business world and treat the Gospel as her chief product to be creatively marketed for the consumers she is trying to reach, namely the "un-churched."  "It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people" is code for "the church must do whatever it takes to reach the lost."  I must have missed this at seminary, too, since I thought I learned that the lost were reached by the pure preaching of the Gospel and the faithful administration of the Sacraments according to Christ's institution, not by "whatever it takes."  This whole "whatever it takes" business runs contrary to everything I have learned in Holy Scripture and our Lutheran Confessions.   

LakePointe is a perfect example of a congregation that has adopted the principles of the Church Growth Movement.  I am happy to see that no one has yet forced them to include Lutheran in their name, 'cause they surely are not Lutheran.  But, that begs the question:  Why are they (and congregations like them that do not include Lutheran in their name and do not show any hint of being Lutheran in the public witness of their doctrine and practice) endorsed, promoted, and put forth as a "perfect example" of an Ablaze! Covenant Congregation?  I don't get it.  Someone please explain this to me.  Does Rev. Mengsteab mean to suggest that it takes all kinds of churches, even non-Lutheran churches, to reach all kinds of people in our Lutheran synod?  That must be what he means.  Where did he go to seminary?  What Bible is he reading?

Remember the good ole' days when congregations following the principles of the Church Growth Movement in our synod were simply tolerated.  We knew they were out there, but we pretended like they weren't and kept everything hush-hush.  In today's "not your grandfather's" LCMS, such congregations are not only allowed to come out of the closet, so to speak, but are praised as the wave of the future.  Our current synodical leaders are telling us that the future of our synod will be made secure by planting more and more non-Lutheran churches, since, after all, "it takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people." 

So, if the direction our current synodical leadership is taking us continues, what can we expect the future LCMS to look like?  Well, that's simple - it will look like a hodgepodge of "all kinds of churches" (some Lutheran, some Methodist, some Baptist, some Pentecostal, some non-denominational, and so on).  Come to think of it, the current LCMS already looks a bit like that, doesn't it?

One more thing:  Anyone have a clue what the heck a "Baptism Bash" is?  I know I never learned about that at seminary and I can't find it in any of the Service Books or Agendas I have.   

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