Two pastoral letters
Recently the Sun-Gazette published two letters from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastors: the first one by Rev David Letscher, and a response by the Rev. Ted Cockley.
Pastor Letsher’s concern was the decline into irrelevance of a number of church bodies, and Pastor Cockley responded with a number of facts about contemporary churches, the ELCA specifically.
Pastor Cockley’s present-day facts focused on numerous social programs. No church can be the Body of Christ without doing those things. But an organization can do all those things without Christ at its head. A church’s reason for being is the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples …”. That’s what is missing in many denominations today, and that is our concern.
A church body that doesn’t put that Good News first may be comfortable and helpful, but it is a fruitless, organization. You can feel good just by being a consumer of delivered services or as the provider of those good deeds. The organization is also dismissed by many in society as just another social arm of the welfare state.
While Pastor Cockley recently voted to shape national policy in the ELCA, many members of the ELCA are voting with their feet. That is a fact missing from his letter. While Christianity is growing worldwide, the ELCA (along with many other mainline denominations in North America) is
shrinking. Some of those leaving are going to other church bodies that have a renewed evangelical focus. Sadly, many are just dropping out. That is devastating to the church body and deadly to the individual’s soul.
Christianity will always be relevant, even when dwindling denominations caught up in their own plans are not.
Larry E Barnard
Submitted by Virtual Newsroom