Rethinking synodical affiliation...


If you go to the WELS Congregational Services site and click on the bright yellow "The Foundation" button, you will discover (and you probably already knew) that synod puts together "themes" for each season in the church year corresponding with the three-year lectionary. (The season after Pentecost, of course, gets broken up into five or so themes because we have to keep things "fresh" and "relevant"). 

The resources include not just artwork but a podcast sermon for each week, "publicity checklists", worship planning resources including summary paragraphs and hymn recommendations, and so on. I encourage you to dig for yourself and see whether your pastor is merely parroting synodical recommendations and cribbing off the podcast for his sermon, or if he's just utilizing the art and doing his own homework. Certainly, there is value in "walking together" and listening to brother pastors may add a wrinkle to sermon development, but in the end only a Pastor can understand his local congregation and determine what they need to hear.

I take issue with the title of this theme "Rethinking Religion" and in particular find it offensive that Christ, it seems, is pointing to it as if He is endorsing it. Let's think how this hits different people within the church.

To the visitor, it's catchy and edgy perhaps, but it might lead them to wonder if there is anything stable about our church, or whether we are on the treadmill of re-envisioning what the church is and constantly trying to keep up with the times. Having screens, unvested Pastors and a praise band setup might reinforce this conception. 

To the new member, it might make them wonder whether their catechetical instruction was sufficient or whether it is a progressive revelation like so many false religions in order to capture membership and retain their interest.

To the longstanding member, it might make them ask if what they have been taught all these years by their Pastor is the full counsel of God, or whether there is now a new 'edge' to the doctrine that has been kept from them all these years or 'discovered' more recently. 

Words matter. We all know initial impressions matter. The initial impression of needing to rethink religion is an overwhelmingly negative one. We have a sure prophetic word (2 Pet 1:19). We build on the Rock that is Christ (Mt 7, 1 Cor 3, etc.). No "rethinking" required!