Conversation and information about music and liturgy from a confessional Lutheran perspective.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


With apologies to my Wisconsin Synod friends who are expecting me to resume my series on the Three-Year Worship Plan this week, I'm going to hold off a couple more days on my next installment in order to bring to the readers' attention some important information for all members of LCMS congregations. We at Liturgy Solutions do intend on keeping this a site for discussing church music, but trust our readers will appreciate the import of the following news.

Are you all aware of something called the Blue Ribbon Task Force in the LCMS? I wasn't - until recently. I admit I have a lot more to learn about this, but let me suggest that you do too if you are a member of a congregation of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. Otherwise, you may be surprised next year when the name of our church body gets changed or your congregation starts getting less representation than the megachurch across town.

Basically, the task force is something put together by the Kieschnick administration in order to reform our synod's governing structure. There are pros and cons to this approach to reform. On the one hand, I can certainly see where some reforms might be needed, and the use of commission or task force recommendations is a common political tool for getting difficult things done. Indeed, I remember the US Congress using this approach to close obsolete military bases in this country. They couldn't shut them down one-at-a-time because of the power of local congressmen. But, realizing they all needed to bite the bullet, they set up a commission and then had an up-or-down vote on the commission's recommendations, so that each congressman had some "cover" when they voted to shut the bases down.

However, the same approach also leads to things like earmarks, "poison pills", and other problems. Sometimes I think most of the bad that comes out of Washington comes to us via things tucked into those omnibus bills they give names to like "The Love Your Mother, Fight the Terrorists, Feed the Hungry, and Protect the Puppies Act of 2007". So, while I appreciate that things like special commissions for omnibus bills or task force recommendations can be good and useful, I also see that these tools can be used to bring about things those in government want that the people don't want.

So these task forces or commissions can be good or bad. The real question, then, is what are they proposing? So we can all see for ourselves what this Blue Ribbon Task Force is proposing to our district conventions, and have an opportunity to let our own voices be heard, our own Stephen Johnson has joined with some fellow laymen to make the Task Force's survey available to the church-at-large. They will forward the results to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Synod Structure and Governance, who to their credit have been promoting "broad-based input" in an effort to reach "consensus". I suspect they will be thankful to our friends for helping them do their job, as it seems to me that they should have been doing polling like this months ago on this if they really want people to accept sweeping changes in our church body in little over a year.

So I encourage all members of LCMS congregations to click here and take the survey. It is presented in the same form as given to the delegates at our district conventions, with all of the Task Force's reasons and rationales for their proposals. For balance, additional commentary gleaned from various pastoral sources on the internet is also provided. It is clearly printed in blue type so as not to be confused with the Task Force text.

Personally, I think some of the proposals are good, some not so good, and some pretty bad. So I hope they get voted on separately, and that only those that earn solid majorities are enacted. There is enough division in our church over serious issues ("wine, women, and song"). The last thing we need to do is throw fuel to the fire and add ecclesiastical changes that would be unnecessarily divisive.

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