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Sunday, February 17, 2008 

'Soul Winning' Congregations?

From the Reporter, Official Newspaper of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod,
The Commission on Worship's insert on page 4 reads:

"The commission is working on developing a survey of the top 5 percent of LCMS 'soul winning' congregations, defined as those congregations with the greatest number of adult baptisms, adult confirmations, and professions of faith. This survey is to determine what happens during the most visible hour of a congregation's week that helps them be the soul winners that they are."


There is absolutely no way to put a good construction on this whatsoever. The official newspaper of our beloved synod now declares that outward signs are what the church is to measured by. No longer is the standard that the Word be preached purely and the Sacraments be administered rightly.

And to make matters even worse, congregations are now able to be soul winners. No longer will we look to the Holy Spirit for faith but rather we look to ourselves and our own work. Swell. I guess we can say that we should be condemned with the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works, contrary to what our confessions state. Maybe we should call Rome and tell them that they where right about us all along. Has anyone got the Vicar of Christ's cell phone number? If you do, pass it on and I'll call him myself for crying out loud...

For a more in depth look, Pastor Rick Stuckwisch has a good post on the matter here. I swear I have no idea how these guys, the priestly caste, are even able to open their emails and remain sane.

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You'd think at least that having a great number of infant baptisms would also count as "winning souls." Why do only the adults count? ;o)

Kelly,

There are two reasons for not counting infants… 1) they don’t have wallets (or purses) and don’t understand the intricacies of a proper business model because they haven’t attended the local community college, gotten a business administration degree, gotten a job, lost that job, and finally, here where it gets good, been convinced by their circuit councilor that the Madison avenue types just didn’t realize the full potential of what he or she had to offer and that they just need to get a new full time job promoting evangelism through detailed credit card sales marketing studies.

2) remember, these are the same good folks that said that baptism was not to be counted under the Ablaze! program because baptism was only an outward sign in spite of the fact that Scripture says baptism is a means of grace.

But I know that your question was rhetorical and you know that Baptism isn’t just a law or command that we do but rather a sacrament that has God running the verbs.

Frank,

Where does the LCMS state that baptism ws only an outward sign? Could you please post a link or the document that states that. Currently I am in support of the Ablaze! movement but if this comment is true I will have to consider changing my position.

I was told by a friend who serves with LCMS World Mission that the reason they do not count baptisms is not because they do not see them as important or scriptural but they needed to have one specific measurable variable to measure. In order to encourage all LCMS members to not fear speaking with friends, family, neigbors, and those they meet the LCMS choose to count the conversation. It seems to me that no one is saying that the conversation or the one having the conversation is bringing someone to faith. As believers we do have the wonderful priviledge to share the hope we have in us with others.

As a non-believer until the Holy Spirit moved friends of mine to proclaim their faith, I am for encouraging people to not fear the conversation and to be an active part of God's mission. If my two high school female friends did not share the hope they had I may still be wandering in darkness. I praise God for using those wonderful ladies.

Finally my dear brother in Christ, I would also state that your first comment seems a bit over the top and I almost did not finish your post. The 1st point has no basis of truth and is mean spirited. Is this how Christian brothers speak to one anouther?

B

B, For the first few months of the Ablaze!'s website run, it claimed that baptism was only an outward sign and therefore would not be counted. That page has since been pulled down and for that reason I can no longer provide a link to it. There is no doubt in my mind if you surf the right messages boards you will find a screenshot or two.

This is was only one indication that either Scripture and what we confess either doesnt matter or that people with absolutely no theological training or oversite are running things.
And no I do not believe my statement is over the top as our confession speak specifically to this issue. Read ACV:

"That we may obtain this faith, the Ministry of Teaching the Gospel and administering the Sacraments was instituted. For through the Word and Sacraments, as through instruments, the Holy Ghost is given, who works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel, to wit, that God, not for our own merits, but for Christ's sake, justifies those who believe that they are received into grace for Christ's sake.They condemn the Anabaptists and others who think that the Holy Ghost comes to men without the external Word, through their own preparations and works."

The winning of souls has nothing to do with what we do but rather it is the work of the Holy Spirit working through the Means of grace. If Scripture and our confessions state this, and the Reporter’s statement is in direct conflict with them, how is what I wrote over the top or mean? The Reporter is the official newspaper of the synod and should at least be able to pass a doctrinal review. In this case, it failed that test.

If you would read my blog you will find out that I’m all for a good dialogue with all who would listen. Two days ago I stood in evangelical covenant church and spoke of my faith in Christ. We speak where we are able. But what we don’t do is water down our theology to match Americanized Christianity and the CGM by saying it is our own works that we measure.

It is my hope that you will be able to have a dialogue with me as well. You will find, while I may have a few rough edges, I’m not mean or bombastic and would love to chat. How’s that sound?

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