The Stories that you never hear about in the LC-MS

I was conversing with my mother-in-law today about a parish nearby their home. The pastor apparently went to visit California and the Crystal Cathedral and came back to his parish with all sorts of new ideas! The result? Several families left the church, not for other LC-MS churches, but for baptist and non-denominational. See what happens when people do not find anything different between a Lutheran service and theology and Baptist theology? The point is, this is one of those stories that never gets told. What stories do we constantly hear about? The ones where an orthodox pastor comes into the congregation like a “bull in a china shop” and “destroys” the parish, dividing it this way and that. He is always the “big-bad-wolf” who is more concerned about doctrinally pure worship and teaching (like, um, King Josiah) than he is about peoples’ feelings. Just once I would like to hear a District President at a Conference or Convention use his time to tell stories about wacked-out, fruit-cake pastors come into a decent congregation and divide it because of their FALSE teaching and practice. And then I’d like to hear them tell a few stories about doctrinally concerned pastors who come in and the church becomes stronger because of the purity of his teaching and practice.


About Rev. Paul L. Beisel

Graduate of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN in 2001 (M Div.) and 2004 (S.T.M.); LC-MS Pastor and Adjunct Instructor for John Wood Community College; Husband of Amy and father of Susan, Elizabeth, Martin, and Theodore.
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2 Responses to The Stories that you never hear about in the LC-MS

  1. Lawrence says:

    It is always easier to blame the pastor than the congregation as a whole.

    In every case I know of, the divides within a congregation are general due to existing rifts, not because of the pastor. The congregation often forces the pastor’s association, right or wrong, to one side or the other. And if he doesn’t choose a side he finds all factions sided against him.

    Only once am I aware of a situation where the pastor was most of the problem, rather than the congregation. And he currently on ‘administrative’ leave from pastoring.

    Furthermore, if the congregation doesn’t want to heal the rifts, the pastor can’t make them want to. All the pastor can do is set a proper Christological example and let Christ sort out who will and will not stay.


    It can be argued that sometimes a rift with in a church that causes specific people to leave may be good for the long term health of the congregation. But still, the pastor still gets most of the blame.

  2. OSC says:

    Actually, I blame the pastors. I blame the pastors who have made their unilateral decisions to go out and look like the Methodists and non-denoms. Their permissiveness regarding doctrine makes anyone with a spine and a quia confession look like a an unloving jackass. Not only that, but they encourage the stereotype. In my circuit I’ve been called “naïve,” “inexperienced,” “closed-minded,” “bullheaded,” “unloving” (my personal favorite), “conservative” (a pejorative term), “too doctrinal,” “a confessional/theologian” (also pejorative), and the like. This from pastors and always followed by “give it a little time.” Well, I’ve been waiting. I guess I’ll continue to wait.

    This is all a residual effect of Seminex. The attitude of Seminex was that they would have to wait for several generations of pastors to die out and then they would have their day. Think of them as “sleeper cells” within the synod. I believe they are looking at the last 5 or so years of seminary graduates and looking forward to the next years of retirements and deaths and getting scared that it won’t work. So they’re more vocal. But now, thanks to Rick Warren and his cohort, some of the newer pastors in the synod are buying into the “give lip service to the Confessions and wait to do ‘real ministry'” mentality. So the struggle continues.

    I’ve got a story for you. The majority of my congregation didn’t know a whole lot about Lutheran theology before I got there. An adult class has been through the Large Catechism and is working on the AC and Ap. They’re starting to appreciate doctrinally-sound music and liturgy. Some have left. They were the ones who have bounced around and will likely continue to bounce until they find a place that will tell it like they want to hear it. But others have come. And gradually, slowly, more do come. The elders have begun to study more. The members are studying more. Their pastor is like a “big bad wolf,” taking blowing down straw houses of heresy with the Word of God. But he is also a shepherd who knows that the flock is safer within the pen of true doctrine. Mixed metaphors. You get it.

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