Concordia Seminary is the affiliated seminary of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in two locations St. Louis, Missouri and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Like other denominations, the LCMS is not immune to wokeness. However they are reticent to stand up against wokeness and eager to crack down on young Lutherans who oppose the liberal drift in their denomination.
As with liberal drift historically, seminaries are often where they start. A former professor of Concordia Seminary write an article on their blog titled “The Future of the Missouri Synod” which reads like an establishment Republicans strategy from 2013.
The current Synodical demographics do not correspond well with today’s demographics in the United States. The Synod is fairly strong in the middle of the country, but most of the country lives on the two coasts and in the South. Synodical congregations and schools are generally located in suburbia and small towns, but 50% of the United States lives in crowded urban areas. The Synod can fairly be described as middle class, but a lot of the country is lower income. Most of our members are of Germanic or Norwegian ancestry, but today 20% of the country is Latino, 12% is African American, 7% is Asian American, and many other ethnic people groups.
We are a small shrinking church body, and there is a mismatch between our Synodical demographics and the country’s demographics. Given the current status quo, the future of the Missouri Synod does not look good. What does this mean? It means that instead of resignation the people of the Missouri Synod should put on their expansionistic glasses and think in innovative ways about how to expand our presence, how to bring confessional Lutheranism to the masses of people throughout the United States according to today’s demographics. There is nothing sinful about being middle class and of Germanic or Norwegian heritage. But the good people of the Missouri Synod do need to ask how to reach Americans of lower income and in urban areas and people of different ethnic backgrounds. And the good people of the Missouri Synod cannot expect the clergy to do all the work. The laypeople have to step up and take some ownership of the future of the Missouri Synod in the United States. The rank-and-file Missouri Synod Lutherans have to put on their expansionistic glasses.
The author is Dr. Paul R. Raabe, a former professor. There are multiple glaring problems with his premise. If the LCMS is shrinking, that would mean its individual churches are shrinking. Perhaps they are blaming demographic shifts away from small towns, but the local churches should be the focus to empower the change needed to reverse the trend.
Instead, this reads as though the LCMS doesn’t like it’s current members and instead wants to have ethnic minority members in cities. Moreover, the LCMS layman are tasked in this article with the duty to assist urban church planting ministries. There are plenty of areas in which the LCMS can expand, even in states where it is more prominent, like Ohio. This is where the focus on urban ministries comes at the expense of rural ministries.
It’s not as glamourous to start a church in rural South Dakota. However, the churches in the rural areas will more than likely be more conservative than churches planted in metropolitans. So when a call to urban church planting is paired with a sentiment that a denomination is too white, this should rightly be viewed with suspicion in the general trend of wokeness.
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