Monday, September 15, 2008

Order in the Church

At the great blog Four and Twenty Blackbirds there has been discussion of late regarding some sort of rule or order within the LCMS that would help to promote unity of practice. This would not be an issue of fellowship within the LCMS - not a church within a church - but a voluntary association of pastors and congregations within the LCMS that agree to carry out the Ministry in a certain way. This would include the use of the liturgy, the practice of closed communion, and several other things. The percieved need for such a group has arisen from the wide variety of practice that one finds in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. While all claim to be LCMS not all practice across the LCMS is consistent.

This has got me thinking. What about in Lutheran Church-Canada? Could we benefit from something like this? Or would it be divisive? Or might it serve as an encouragement to be faithful and an example to others what a blessing unified practice can be to the Church? What would such a rule and Order in Lutheran Church-Canada look like?

I suggest a variation on what I read at Four and Twenty Blackbirds. This is merely a brainstorming type of proposal. It is a far more modest and less structured venture than what you find at the Blackbirds' site. Remember I am just "spitballing" here.

A Preamble (Off the Top of My Head)

All members of this society who agree to these rules are members of LCC or members of member congregations. The society would essentially be self regulating. Membership is purely voluntary. The society does not intend to impose its practices upon any others. Membership is not a sign of being "more faithful," "more confessional," etc. Membership in the society merely indicates a desire to carry out the Ministry in LCC in a uniform manner and receive support and guidance from others who desire the same. The society will not address issues of practice that are already addressed by membership in Synod (e.g. closed communion - while this is clearly the Synod's practice though widely disregarded - it will be assumed that as a matter of integrity a pastor and congregation of LCC will practice closed communion or be striving to do so).

1. All members agree to use only the Services out of TLH, LW, or LSB.

2. All members agree to use only the hymns that are found in TLH, LW, or LSB.

3. If your parish is presently using a hymnal other than TLH, LW, or LSB (e.g. LBW or heaven forbid Evangelical Lutheran Worhsip) you will actively seek to replace that hymnal with one of the above.

4. Every member will commit himself to praying each day at least one of the Daily Offices (e.g Matins, Vespers, or Compline). Perhaps it would be helpful here to encourage the use of the upcoming Treasury of Daily Prayer from CPH. That way all members of the society would be following the same daily readings, readings from the Confessions, etc.

5. All members will seek to make use of private Confession and Absolution and make themselves available to their parishoners for private confession and absolution.

6. The celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion each Sunday is encouraged.

Well, that is a start anyway. Any comments or suggestions?


Rudemann666 said...

Honestly, bro mike, I gotta go with Cwirla's comments about all this New Rule stuff. Check out his response to the Order in the church discussion on the four and twenty bb group/blog. Go here (
and look for Cwirla's comments beginning with: Believe me, I have nothing against bishops.
(be sure to read his ENTIRE response).
There is something very much "emergent" and "postmodern" as in relabelling something with a different name and ignoring the old adage "A rose is still a rose by any other name" thing. Paradoxical, no? Just my 3 cents...

Mike Keith said...


I have read his response. I have been following the thread with much interest. I agree with the concerns he raised. That is why what I propose is not nearly as narrow. In fact - I would suggest it is rather "do-able." Use the hymnal. Seek to have Holy Communion frequently. Make use of the blessings of private confession and absolution. Pray one of the Daily Offices. Would these not be good steps in both pastoral practice and in unity of practice in LCC? I believe these to be modest steps. To what can one object? Likely the exclusive use of the hymnal would be the one. Very well - then one does not need to join. However, I still believe if we were all using one of TLH, LW, or LSB it would be a benefit to the Church.

Furthermore - these may be things for which we strive in our congregations. One cannot snap their fingers and demand such changes. But one can teach and guide.

EGK said...

While all of the things you list are well and good, given that we are all sinners I fear that societies like this will easily degenerate into being 1) triumphalistic ("see how much better at being Lutheran we are that those other guys")or 2) schismatic ("those other guys are not doing these things, so they are not really Lutheran'). There is nothing in our handbook that demands use only of hymns and services from the hymnal, though we rightly might ask why people would not avail themselves of these resources. To say we will only use hymns that are in the hymnal would deprive us of many great hymns, like those of Vajda, Starke, Dudley-Smith, Franzmann and others. True fellowship means we will work to get these things vetted so that we have a common core from which we can expand. Encouragement of the brethren is what is necessary, but societies tend to create a fortress mentality that does not allow for real discussion.

Mike Keith said...


The concerns you raise - particularly regarding sectarianism, triumphalism, etc are valid. It is possible for such societies to fall into those pitfalls. However, is it necessarily so?

Perhaps the formation of a society is not the way to go. However, I suggest that if the practices I have outlined were followed by more pastors and congregations (and I am not perfect in such practices myself) that it would only be good for LCC. So - hwo does one go about in promoting such practices?

Ritewinger said...

"So - hwo does one go about in promoting such practices?"

I wonder if the first step is to have some form of informal organization of confessional, liturgical Lutherans that would try and ensure their representation on BoDs, youth event committees, etc. Knowing what is coming up, how to get involved, and who to help promote for leadership positions could be beneficial.

Mike Keith said...


The only thing about that is that it is not a politically motivated kind of thing. Nor should such practices be imposed upon another. These are practices that you want people to want to do.

Ritewinger said...

"These are practices that you want people to want to do."

I fully understand that, but when if all the boards and committees get filled with those who promote church growth techniques or contemporary worship then there will soon be no room for those who want to do the Lutheran practices.

You asked how to promote these practices, and I'm saying by having people in "high places" promote, not "impose".

For example if everyone planning a youth event puts in place all "contemporary" worship then the youth get the impression that this is where the church is going, that this is what Lutheran worship is.

Mike Keith said...


Valid point - fair enough. I guess I have a tendency to shy away from organized politics in the church. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. However, perhaps that is simply naive.

Ritewinger said...

Just for clarification the loose organization I was talking about would be separate from the "order" that your original post was about. I would encourage both.