Archive for July, 2010

Concordia Writers Cooperative

Posted in Uncategorized on July 27, 2010 by Country Preacher

CPH has, what very well might become one of the most exciting new opportunities for the church.  It’s called the Concordia Writer’s Cooperative.  You produce materials, you upload, CPH sends it through doctrinal review, people find it and (hopefully) purchase it.  Here is my initial reaction.

Good :

1. A great way for CPH editorial to find qualified writers.  They can peruse it if they are looking for a specific genre of writer, find the best, and then use them for resources from the main catalog.  Or, they can look at sales stats and see what is selling, and develop more of those resources, or use those writers for other things.  Who knows, perhaps the next Bo Giertz is scrawling away in some small church in Kansas as we speak.

2. It gives pastors a chance to not only polish their materials, but also send them through doctrinal review.  Perhaps some pastor will send something off, find out he was in error, and correct it in his teaching.

3. It offers a potentially great resource for pastors to find other materials.   CPH is bound by the rules of the publishing industry – they must at least break even at the end of the year.  For every volume of Gerhardt that is published, they have to sell a lot of offering envelopes.  They can’t have 37 bible studies on “Confession”.  None of them would sell more than 2 copies, and funds would have to be diverted from the Gerhardt project.  Now, pastors can search through more resources, and find just the right one for their situation.

4. Most pastors are small time publishers anyway (Bulletins, newsletters, pamphlets, etc.) This offers a place to share ideas inexpensively.

Areas of Caution :

1. Thy may need to get more doctrinal reviewers.  Just saying.

2. It could become, like many other parts of the web, so much information that it becomes useless.  The search algorithms will be very important, and I hope the computer guys are up to the task.

3. (I’ve commented on this to them, but we’ll see) They will need to develop some sort of  policy statement for using the CPH copyrighted “fundamentals”, ei. the catechism, McCain edition of Concord, CPh hymns, etc.  If they don’t do that, the copyright department will be inundated with requests for “This hymn verse” or “That article of the Augstana,” or “the collect for the feast of Saint Aloysius”.   When you are just doing it for your own parish (non-saleable educational materials) you can get away with a fair use claim if you are using short portions, but if you are publishing – on the CPH website no less – you will need to get permission.  This may have the good benefit (finally) of CPH issuing specific statements about use of collects, catechism, etc, along the lines of the Crossway statement about the ESV, which really should be the industry standard for permissions for the fundamental texts of the church.

UPDATE : 4. They should allow writers to upload in other formats.  While PDF could certainly be the standard, if a pastor wanted to have a Children’s service, and allow it to be edited as needed by the end-user, allowing a Word Document (or some other editable format) would be very helpful.  A pastor might even say, “Here is a bible study, now you edit it…”  or “Here is a sermon manuscript, make it your own…”   I was going to suggest it, but I think I have bothered them enough for one day.  Incidentally, I’m not the only one in our synod to think that PDF is overused.



Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 by Country Preacher

Sermon for Trinity 8, in which I rehash the seminex battle, take some serious swipes at the baptistic movement in the LCMS, skewer the fallen man, and warn against complacency, as that itself is one of our hearts favorite idols.

I was afraid it was not quite right.  Then I reworked large sections, deleting almost a third, and then adding as much back at other points, taking the whole thing a slightly different direction.  The upshot is that I quite liked it.  I thought it was a good fit for Wolf-among-the-sheep Sunday.  Reaction to it seemed tepid.  Anyway, I liked it.  Click HERE to listen and decide for yourself.

Surprised? You will be.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 26, 2010 by Country Preacher

The New President has already picked his executive staff.  There were really no surprises – they were all people he had worked with in the IC, and were renowned for their integrity and intelligence.  However, I expect that in the next few years, there will be a few surprises along the way.  What might they be?  Well, here are what I think are the


10. In order to be placed, all candidates must have a mustache.

9. Uses 2013 National Youth Gathering to launch bid to become supreme ruler of the world.

8. Every Issue of Lutheran Witness to feature “Matt Harrison Photo Gallery”.

7. Overcome with the burdens of his office, he forgets he has a new job, and starts giving cows away to random LCMS members.

6. His election.

5. Dan Gard removed from clergy roster after failed coup attempt.

4. CPH starts new “Presidential Fashion” division featuring Khaki Clerical shorts and vests.

3. Synod adopts new name : Lutheran Church – Old Dead Guys Synod.

2. When giving orders to IC staff, ends every sentence with “Bwaaa-Haaa-Haaa-Haaa!”

1.  Dispute resolution done away with.  All future disagreements to be settled by “dueling banjos”.

Of course, after publishing this list, the one unsurprising thing will be a phone call from my District President.  I think he has me on speed dial.

Stupid People Tricks

Posted in Uncategorized on July 22, 2010 by Country Preacher

Non-domesticated animals are called “wild animals.”  Notice the first word : Wild.  When the animal in question weighs as much as a small car – say a  Bison for example – the best thing to do is give it room.  Lots of room.  The best thing to avoid doing doing is tracking it with your video camera.   Which someone did. has the video HERE.

Incidently, if you are ever driving and a moose is in the road – don’t honk.  It only annoys him.  And in the “moose vs. your car” contest, your car never wins.

What Dreams May Come

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2010 by Country Preacher

A pastor was discussing the election of Pr. Harrison as our synod’s president, and worried that persecution such as he saw during Dr. Barry’s tenure would resume.  Now, assuming that he was right that there was persecution of pastors (a point I am not willing to concede, but will pass over here for the sake of argument), the pastor’s point was that this persecution occurred because he found it inexpedient to follow the “covenant of love” of our synod in regard to closed communion.

Again, laying aside the idea of closed communion being merely  a covenant of love, and supposing for a moment that the sum content of closed communion is a “covenant of love”, then to violate that covenant of love is not a small thing, but a sin against love and against our brother with whom we have made that covenant – or to put it more succinctly  : it is a sin.  Even ignoring this, and even if it was a problem under Dr. Barry, what does it say that pastors during the presidency of Dr. Keischnick have seen persecution for upholding the covenant of love which we share in regards to such things as closed communion?

I’m just curious what that means.  And I look forward to when such persecution ends.  That is to say, I look forward to heaven.

Show Us the Data

Posted in Uncategorized on July 17, 2010 by Country Preacher

In a recent e-mail newsletter, the What a Way (to go) campaign is addressing an obvious problem : how to recruit for the seminaries when a quarter of the class wasn’t placed in April. Or to put it in other words : rather than a pastor shortage, there is a pastor surplus.
Their answer : the same “studies have shown” that they have been using for the last two decades. The same studies that failed to predict the current un-shortage.
So, here is my idea : Let us see the studies. Show us the statistics. Let us see the hard data for ourselves. What mysterious studies are you talking about? Are they by the same people that were doing the studies when I entered seminary? Because they were of the opinion that by now, seminary graduates would be more precious than gold, yeah, much pure gold. They aren’t. They are a dime a dozen right now, because they have been struggling to place them for four years. This year, they finally ran out of congregations.
What assumptions are behind these studies? That the number of parishes will remain constant? Because that won’t happen. It will go up or down, but it won’t stay exactly the same. What about so-called “non-calling congregations”? Are they factored in? If they were not, that would explain it. Because we would need another 350-400 pastors right now. (This was unheard of when I went to seminary a very short decade+ ago.)
What sort of study has been done regarding the need for pastors? That is to say, have they analyzed the demographic trends of the congregations, and projected the number of viable calling congregations, or just “if the number of calling congregations stays the same…” Have they figured for the 2000 new Ablaze congregations? Have they figured the number of CRM guys that want to call, but are currently in our synod’s version of purgatory? Have they considered that many men are retiring, but then continuing to work essentially full-time? What about extended life spans? The economy, which has wiped out the life savings of many, and therefore delayed retirement in the secular world. What effect is this having on pastors and congregations?
In short : Show us the data. Let us read the studies. Don’t just keep spouting the same old “studies have shown” line. Because, quite frankly, we aren’t buying it anymore. Men considering the seminary aren’t buying it anymore. For now, it seems as if something is being hidden. And quite frankly, the admissions department telling me there is a need is like the admissions department of CUCinRF telling me, “with Womens Studies, the sky is the limit!” Somehow, I don’t think so…

UPDATE : I looked at the Christian Century article that they mentioned as proof that the the clergy glut will soon be over.  To be honest, phrases like this aren’t especially re-assuring for the prospective pastor :

“Everyone talked about a clergy shortage, but there never really was one,” said Chang. There has long been a surplus of ministers, she said. They’re simply not serving where they’re needed—in small churches.

But if you’re an unemployed minister looking for a church position with a livable wage, the prospects are bleak.

In other words : even should the projected need appear, it will not bring with it congregations that can pay.  In many cases, men are retiring from congregations that are thankful to finally be relieved of the burden of a full time pastor.  Not an especially Christian attitude, but also not one likely to lead to the long anticipated “clergy shortage”.

Hint for delegates

Posted in Uncategorized on July 16, 2010 by Country Preacher

If you introduce a resolution which the chair clearly opposes, but do it when the resolution is out of order, get called out of order, appeal the ruling of the chair, and lose the subsequent vote, don’t expect the chair to then tell you when you can re-introduce it. It will annoy him.