Happy Reformation day everyone!
I was pondering Reformation Day, and began wondering: What is the thing most in need of reform in the church today? But there need to be rules. So I set myself some basic ground rules:
No fair identifying things about other denominations. Their problems, their reformation. So, “The Papacy needs to be reformed” is out. (It’s also true, but not the answer to my question.)
The Reformation began with a question about a specific practice. But it morphed pretty quickly into an attack on the entire philosophical system of Rome. Today, we should consider the same – what are the large and long-term philosophical problems. This means that “I know this RSO / Free Range Group that’s really annoying / heretical” is probably not the correct answer either.
“My Old Sinful Nature” is an obvious answer, but also not what I’m aiming for. Something systemic in the church on earth (what you non-Cyprianites call the “visible church”)is what I’m thinking.
So, here’s my take: I think the church would be far more faithful, more Christo-centric, less easily led astray, and more committed to the Word of our Lord if we returned to the practice of the early LCMS that pastors served in parishes. If you aren’t in a parish, you aren’t a pastor, and don’t need to be on the roster. (I’m not talking about CRM here.)
There are just too many “undersecretary for the office of the assistant to the President for Deployed Staff” ministers in our synod. District officers? Parish. IC workers? Parish. RSO director? Parish. Somewhere in the 1950’s, we got it into our heads that we needed “Experts” who could focus on how to do housing ministry, and these experts could not possible serve a parish while doing their important work. But the parish is the important work.
And when the IC calls good men out of the parish to do “Amazing work in Saint Louis”, what we really do is set up a bureaucracy that will change when the administration changes. That is, instead of faithful people, we will have less faithful people. How much better if, instead of that, we had people who were faithfully in a parish, who assisted with whatever it is that the IC thinks needs done, in their spare time.
If there is objection that there are too many responsibilities, too many things that need done, then the response is the same as to a child who is too busy at school to do his chores at home: It is a matter of priorities. If we are so busy with the work of “the church” that we don’t have time to serve the people of God with preaching and the sacraments, then we have forgotten what the church is.
That’s my take. What’s yours? What do you think needs reforming in the church? Try and be constructive with your answers.