Church Sponsored Community Outreach Programs and Why I Don’t Like Them

I live in a small community of roughly 1800 people. There are about six major denominations represented in the town besides us: Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Assembly of God, Presbyterian, and Calvary Chapel. The Methodist church recently “hired” a female “pastor.” The Episcopal church is being served by a pretty theologically astute and conservative priest. Recently I got a letter from the Methodist “pastor” requesting involvement of all the area churches in an outreach program to the youth in our town. This is the second such attempt at youth outreach that has materialized in the last couple of years. I didn’t become involved with the first one, and doubtfully will with this one either. Why? There are several reasons #1 of which is the fact that my involvement or participation in this “effort” to reach the youth of our town will give the impression that one church/confession is just as good as another. Perhaps the #1 reason ought to be that there is no way I could see myself cooperating with a woman who, without even opening her mouth, has already preached false doctrine by the fact that she claims the Office of the Ministry as her own. Perhaps one of my greatest objections to these sorts of things is that I am not called to be the pastor of everyone in this town. I am called to be the pastor of those who belong to the sheepfold at Concordia Lutheran Church. I don’t see why each church cannot just take care of its own, and do its own outreach and evangelism. Why would I want to participate in something where the teaching will be watered down to the lowest common denominator, or worse, where I would have to be tolerant of false teaching? Since I will not be participating, I will be the closed-minded Lutheran pastor who “thinks that only Lutherans are going to be in heaven.” Of course the answer to that is: No, but when people go to heaven they all become Lutherans (thanks + Prof. Marquardt +). If I am involved in outreach or evangelism efforts, it will be for the purpose of imparting Lutheran doctrine. Does anyone else have any wisdom to offer in this regard?

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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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One Response to Church Sponsored Community Outreach Programs and Why I Don’t Like Them

  1. Lance says:

    I live in the midst of old Methodist circuit rider territory, and I am surrounded by generally conservative Methodists and other American evangelical-types. I don’t know that I have any counsel for you other than to do what it seems to me that you’ve been trying to do all along: participate in the community “externals” that do not compromise our confession (Library board, teaching at small college, etc.) and try as best you can to put a smiling face on confessional Lutheran theology. In a small town it’s easy to demagogue the LCMS guy that’s in his office all the time, but it’s a lot harder to do that if you know the guy and see him helping out with various things. That type of thing may even lead, eventually, to a fruitful conversation.

    Blessings on your labors–Lance_+

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