Special Edition — LCMS Presidential Election

This weekend marks the process of election of the president of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. In recent months two electors from each of our 6,000 or so congregations had the opportunity to register for certification to cast a ballot in this election. The actual number of folks who registered is apparently known only by the secretary of our church body.

Through a password protected electronic process, officially registered electors have a window of time during which to cast their ballot for one of three nominees. If one nominee receives a majority vote on the first ballot, that candidate is declared elected.

If no nominee receives a majority on the first ballot, the recipient with the lowest vote total is removed from the second ballot, which contains the names of the two highest vote recipients. A second election takes place by the same password protected process as the first ballot.

This year’s nomination process has created an unusually high level of interest. The three candidates, Matthew Harrison, Timothy Klinkenberg, and David Maier, provide significant options for the electors.

Information, observations, opinions, and recommendations from a number of publications and groups have circulated the past several months. Here’s a brief general summary:

  1. Harrison is the incumbent LCMS president, just now finishing nine years of service.
  2. Klinkenberg is senior pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Orange, Cal., a large congregation with a highly respected Lutheran school.
  3. Maier is president of the Michigan District LCMS and chairman of the Council of Presidents, comprised of the president, five vice-presidents, and 35 district presidents.
  4. While all three candidates base their theology on a solid foundation of scriptural and confessional principles, significant differences exist in their leadership characteristics, financial management, personal demeanor, levels of humility, administrative skills, and vision for the future of our church body.
  5. All three candidates demonstrate keen awareness of the decline of our national church body but have expressed sharply differing proposals for meeting the challenge. One suggests increased childbirth. The other two offer increased focus on mission planting, cross cultural outreach, and intentional gospel proclamation.
  6. One candidate states publicly his belief that our church body is at peace. The other two have a differing perspective, being aware, among other matters, of pastors who do not commune with one another at pastoral conferences and of significant tension among Synod leaders.

If you are an elector, duly registered to cast a ballot this weekend, my strong encouragement is that you spend time in serious, careful, and prayerful evaluation of the candidates on the basis of the matters listed above. To assist in that process, here are some resources:

Biographical Summaries of the Nominees: https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=tQnq0OpQIlv8u7YCDyJrmsvpwRl3IYL2

A Special Q&A with each nominee:  https://blogs.lcms.org/2019/lcms-presidential-election-candidate-question-answer/

A live interview with each nominee conducted by the Southeastern District of the LCMS:
Interview with Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Interview with Rev. Timothy Klinkenberg
Interview with Rev. Dr. David Maier

Whether or not you are an elector, I encourage you to support this process with your prayers, asking the Lord for his blessing upon the election, these three candidates, and the future of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

Denominational Suicide

Credit: Joanna Myszak

Credit: Joanna Myszak

Here are excerpts from a recent article by George Bullard titled Is Your Denomination Slowly Committing Suicide?

Many denominations are slowly committing suicide. Suicide is not an intentional destination. It is, however, the unintended consequence of their collective actions over multiple years.

Denominational movements reach a point that they institutionalize. They do this because it is fashionable, to create organizations that will guarantee their survival, in response to requests from parts of the constituency that they provide more programs and management, to complete their rebellion against other Christian groups they do not want to emulate, because focusing on institutional things keeps them busy and gains them greater status and notoriety, and because the opportunity was available to them.

Eventually, they become hooked, and even if they wanted to quit, many cannot or are in denial of the fact that they are killing themselves. Here are seven ways their suicide is becoming increasingly inevitable. These are not the only ways, but they are effective ways of committing suicide.

First, they lose their first love, which is congregations.

Second, they fail to create and sustain a congregational multiplication movement that launches a number of new congregations each year.

Third, culturally, if not officially, denominations formalize education requirements.

Fourth, officially they formalize and perhaps centralize the ordination of ministers.

Fifth, understanding and hearing the voice of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit is misplaced.

Sixth, when denominational headquarters does not understand the difference between a strategic framework and a strategy, it may be committing suicide.

Seventh, when denominations regularly restructure, their focus is usually on rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

It is suicide. It is slow. It is sure. Many denominations seem unable to stop themselves, and it is devastating.

To read the entire article, go to http://www.abpnews.com/blog/leadership/is-your-denomination-slowly-committing-suicide-2014-05-29/#.U7XWpLHql9A

Frankly, I agree with some of these more than others and might add a few of my own some day. Articles like this may seem sensational or irrelevant to some. To others, the words of Jesus ring loudly and clearly: “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matt. 11:15)