Again this month you will find a table of “Exploratory Services” which first ran in the February issue. Information such as this is helpful only if it is current, which is why the Board of Missions has asked if it could appear periodically with updated data. For example, this month’s table adds Denver and Colorado Springs; shows that the St. Cloud group has relocated its worship site to Kimball; and corrects the location of the outreach effort in Washington state.
Chairman Ohlmann says he has heard favorable comments on this guide to exploratory services, adding that “at least one CLC member is attending one of our services since being contacted because of the article in the Spokesman.”
Let’s be spreading the Word!
SUBMISSIONS WELCOMED Readers have noticed that on occasion the Spokesman has reprinted sermons, chapel talks, bulletin articles, annual reports etc. which have been submitted. Please be encouraged in this. More often than not our pastors and teachers are hesitant to submit something they have spoken or written. But if you, the person in the pew, hear or read something that has helped you along the way, suggest that it be forwarded to the editor for his consideration.
SUBSCRIPTION RATE INCREASE
As everyone knows, in this world we live in there is a price for “progress.”
Benno Sydow, our efficient business manager for many years, is (at this writing) sending a report to the Coordinating Council asking for a rate increase for Spokesman subscribers on all fronts — bulk to congregations (from $6.50 to $7.00 yr.); individual rates (1 yr. from $7.50 to $9.00, 2 yrs. from $14 to $17, 3 yrs. from $21 to $25); and foreign rates (1 yr. from $9 to $12, 2 yrs. from $17 to $23, 3 yrs. from $25 to $34). It is recommended that the increase go into effect immediately (Late note: approved by the CLC).
Not only have printing and mailing costs gone up, but so have the editor’s office expenses. For example, back in 1984 roughly $100.00 was needed every six months to cover “snail mail” postage and long distance calls. Twelve years later the requisition to Benno is about $200.00 every three months — to cover, besides postage and long distance calls, computer, fax/modem, and America Online expenses.
Currently, to cover expenses the Spokesman needs $1200 monthly. Under the old rates a deficit of $1500 is expected by the close of our fiscal year (June). The need then is obvious.
When we speak of “progress” we put the word in quotes. Other than the cost increases mentioned, little about this magazine has changed over the years. We know that many consider this commendable. The following comes from a well-known Lutheran author: “I read all of the official church magazines and the Lutheran Spokesman is the best one. Always has been…”
To God alone the glory. When it comes to church magazines the first criterion to achieve a “best” rating is, as far as we are concerned, faithfulness to the verbally- and divinely-inspired Scriptures.
Thirty years ago this month the following appeal appeared in the Spokesman:
“In these last days — shouldn’t your friends be reading the Lutheran Spokesman regularly? You are very concerned that the Gospel is being distorted more and more in many pulpits? How can you comm- unicate the life-giving truths to your friends and relatives? Why not show your concern by sending them a subscription to the Lutheran Spokesman”
Speaking of subscription rates, prospective subscribers were then (back in 1966) offered a yearly subscription for $2.00, $3.50 for two subscriptions, $4.75 for three.
In those early years our Savior’s comment that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) was regularly on the cover of the Spokesman. Though it no longer appears regularly on the cover, that theme remains. There are no bigger and better things toward which we aspire than not to destroy, but to communicate, proclaim, and apply God’s word of Truth to the current situation. This the staff seeks to do within the limits of its varied gifts and abilities.
CONVENTION TIME The theme of the 1996 synod Convention is “We Appreciate The Means of Grace.” The three essays assigned will address different aspects of this theme. As a parish pastor I have found that the term “Means of Grace” is one of the most difficult concepts to convey to children in confirmation class. What comes to mind when you hear the term? Do you know what is meant by it? Do you know what the Means of Grace are? How would you answer if you were asked to define the term and/or to tell what it refers to? The term is not, as such, a scriptural one, so I suppose it could be argued there is little or no need to define, describe, or even to know it. But neither are terms like “Trinity” and “Triune” scriptural terms as such, yet we want them as part of our Christian vocabulary. So with the term “Means of Grace.” One catechism in use among us asks and answers: What is meant by the Means of Grace? By the Means of Grace are meant those things by which God offers and gives His gifts of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. Which are the Means of Grace? The Means of Grace are the Gospel of Christ in Word and Sacraments. What makes the chosen theme for the 1996 Convention so timely? You have heard of the Church Growth Movement (CGM). A prime fallacy of this movement which has been infiltrating segments and synods of Christendom is the veiled suggestion that God wil offer and give His gifts of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation through means other than the Gospel of Christ in Word and Sacraments.
We might suggest that the CGM promotes a means of growth for grace, rather than letting the Means of Grace be effective for spiritual growth. CGM’s “means of growth” include, for example, such methods as dropping the denominational label of your church to attract people, deemphasizing doctrine, and making right living a mark of the Church instead of the Word and Sacraments. Following through with this, the ramifications are dangerous, and in full bloom deadly, for the church. (The CGM’s “new methods” are among the “unchurchly activities” condemned by the Brief Statement).
Rather than stressing methods for church growth, the early church stressed the effectiveness of the Word of the Lord: “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied … greatly” (Acts 6:7); “But the word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12:24); “So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).
Let our prayer be that the synodical delegates come away from the 1996 convention with a renewed appreciation for the Means of Grace and their effectiveness for church growth.
There is no shortage of opportunities for those who are looking for avenues to help. We speak of opportunities to share the Gospel by deed as well as word — and beyond the contributions to the general fund budget of the CLC.
Last month Board of Missions Chairman Don Ohlmann wrote here of the pressing needs in the Mission Development Fund (MDF). As this is being written the mail brings the latest Mission Newsletter, which includes information about a “Children’s Fund for VBS in India.” The suggestion is for our CLC children to bring offerings designated specifically for outreach to their age group in India.
Not too long ago an article in another religious publication called attention to the fact “in this current generation a tremendous sum of money will pass from parents to their successors. How important it is that this be accomplished to bring blessing to children and heirs and also to promote the spread of the Gospel. Certainly God and His church deserve a place in planning for the future of the resources God has given the individual as His steward.”
The CLC is not the richest church body material-wise, yet most of its members have been richly blessed — even in terms of “a tremendous sum of money” — compared to people in other countries of the world. And as we have suggested, for all who are looking for special ways to serve their Lord as good stewards, there has been and will be no lack of opportunity.
Of the Means of Grace
21. Although God is present and operates everywhere throughout all creation and the whole earth is therefore full of the temporal bounties and blessings of God, Col. 1:17; Acts 17:28; 14:17, still we hold with Scripture that God offers and communicates to men the spiritual blessings purchased by Christ, namely, the forgiveness of sin and the treasures and gifts connected therewith, only through the external means of grace ordained by Him. These means of grace are the Word of the Gospel, in every form in which it is brought to man, and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and of the Lord’s Supper. The Word of the Gospel promises and applies the grace of God, works faith and thus regenerates man, and gives the Holy Ghost, Acts 20:24; Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 1:23; Gal. 3:2. Baptism, too, is applied for the remission of sins and is therefore a washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Acts 2:38; 22:16; Titus 3:5. Likewise the object of the Lord’s Supper, that is, of the ministration of the body and blood of Christ, is none other than the communication and sealing of the forgiveness of sins, as the words declare: “Given for you,” and: “Shed for you for the remission of sins,” Luke 22:19,20; Matt. 26:28, and: “This cup is the New Testament in My blood,” 1 Cor. 11:23; Jer. 31:31-34 (“New Covenant”)
22. Since it is only through the external means ordained by Him that God has promised to communicate the grace and salvation purchased by Christ, the Christian Church must not remain at home with the means of grace entrusted to it, but go into the whole world with the preaching of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacrament, Matt. 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16. For the same reason also the churches at home should never forget that there is no other way of winning souls for the Church and keeping them with it than the faithful and diligent use of the divinely ordained means of grace. Whatever activities do not either directly apply the Word of God or subserve such application we condemn as “new methods,” unchurchly activities, which do not build, but harm, the Church.
— Brief Statement