Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Letter to LC-MS Board for Communication Services

I sent the following letter to David Berger today to take with him to the Board for Communication Services meeting tomorrow and Friday, as suggested here. I almost immediately received a nice email note back from him assuring me that he would personally submit my letter and others he had received.

April 16, 2008

To the members of the Board for Communication Services:

From the LC-MS Ablaze! Website, we find the following:

Christ’s Great Commission:

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

The focus of the 50 Days Ablaze! Mission Outreach Journey is spiritual growth and increased missions and outreach. The emphasis is on Christ’s grace and redeeming love for us. The mission response is seven-fold:
Learn, Pray, Give, Tell, Send, Go, Celebrate

When I look at what Christ said in that Bible verse, I see several action verbs, only one of which, “go”, is present in the seven-fold mission response. The action verbs that I see are: Go, Make, Baptize, Teach

Our church has been struggling financially, just as the Synod as a whole is struggling financially. But we are trying to continue the Great Commission in spite of financial difficulties.

We operate a grade school. The fees we charge to the families who send their children there are less than half of the actual cost. It has been suggested that we close the school because of the expense of operating it; however, the school is the best outreach tool we have. Every year, we baptize, catechize and confirm several adults and children as a direct result of the school. Rarely does this happen from any other form our outreach efforts have taken.

Therefore, we have cut expenses to the bone. We are operating as lean as we can. We have anticipated having to close our doors for several years now. We have nearly depleted special funds. We agreed over a year ago that we would draw them down to nothing before we would close the school, and then we trusted that God would provide what we needed as long as we were doing His will.

In the year since we decided that we would draw on the special funds until they no longer existed, we have not had to borrow from them. We are still struggling, but just when it looks like we’ll have to borrow from the funds again, the money comes in from somewhere.

In short, we are prepared to do whatever it takes and suffer whatever the consequences in order to continue reaching out, making disciples, baptizing and teaching.

It is understood that the Synod as a whole is struggling with financial issues as well; however, it seems wrong to me to cut costs by recalling missionaries, canceling Issues, Etc., and what I am afraid may be next, selling the broadcast license of the oldest Christian radio station in the U.S. These are wonderful forms of outreach. They should not be viewed in terms of “profitability”, and every effort should be made to continue them.

Listeners may not have been supporting KFUO-AM and Issues, Etc. to the level necessary, but I believe we are willing to do so. The problem is that no feedback has ever been provided. I’ve sent money from time to time, and I’ve heard the frequent appeals for financial support, but I’ve never heard any information on whether the support has been sufficient or not. If the program was canceled for financial reasons, why did this occur at the start of a new fund-raising appeal? Why were listeners not warned? Could we not have been given a fund-raising goal, a date by which the goal must be reached and regular feedback on how much had been raised?

We know that the Gospel is an offense to the unbeliever. There is no way to sugarcoat it through marketing methods. If you want to market the church to the culture, you have to change the message, and if you get people into the church by avoiding the Gospel, you cannot then deliver the true Gospel message. That is perpetrating the fraud of Bait and Switch, and those thus fooled will leave; however, if you continue to provide Gospel Lite to keep them, you may have warmed the pews but you will not have made a single disciple.

If you truly care for souls, the only way is to continue to preach the Gospel in all its truth and purity, and those who have ears, let them hear.

1 comment:

JeanneD said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this. We also have a school, but despite the hard times, it is doing well.

I had not thought of comparing Ablaze to the Great Commission. I'm glad you did it.

Thank you for this. I'm going to keep a copy in my Council file.