Thursday, March 22, 2012

Follow the Money

When police investigate crimes, it often becomes important to follow the money. Many a drug dealer has been done in by accountants. Al Capone was not indicted for murder or extortion; he was charged with and convicted of income tax evasion. Many terrorist organizations have been exposed when the trail of money leads to their benefactors. People protect their money and make appropriate accounting of their business transactions, so many criminals, dishonest politicians, and anyone involved in dubious dealings almost always keep a record of their financial transactions. The ELCA, for instance, leaves a wide money trail that exposes the priorities of this misguided denomination. Since the church is charged with doing God’s work, one would expect that much of their benevolence is dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel, since it is the church’s primary and most solemn responsibility is to bring people to Christ and save their souls for the Lord. This is obviously not important to the ELCA. The budget amount for the mission to proclaim the word to the world has dipped below the level of the 1988 budget amount. Missionary staff has been cut to less than 200. This is a church with a membership of over 4 million and a budget in excess of 100 million dollars. Anyone else sense a discrepancy here?

The ELCA now uses what they call “accompaniment” as a response to the changing context of global mission. Now that the seeds of their ministry have been planted throughout the world, they can step back and allow those churches to support themselves. This probably has nothing to do with prioritizing the funds left after the drastic loss in revenue due to so many churches leaving the ELCA. Let’s see, what should we cut, social justice or saving the lost? Apparently, the lost are going to have to be on their own for a while. The ELCA states that today, 70% of their missionaries are lay people who are invited by companion churches to serve as specialized medical personnel, development workers, librarians, accountants and teachers of English, science, math and computers. They typically serve two to six years. Funny, I remember that missionaries are those charged by the church to reach out to those who have not heard the word so that they too, may believe and be saved. Of course, in the ELCA, the word has been toyed with, been juggled, and has been made to submit to being explained, twisted, stretched, and revised to suit people and to achieve peace and union. The leaders of the ELCA have eliminated any secure or stable foundation on which human conscience might rely. – paraphrased from a sermon by Martin Luther.

If the missionaries of the ELCA wish to reach out to the lost and proclaim the gospel of radical inclusiveness and the doctrine of bound conscience, perhaps we should be glad that the ELCA budget for missionaries has been slashed. If the missionaries, like the one my congregation supported for eight years, believe that there are many paths to heaven and that there is no hell, then perhaps it is best that they not preach a false gospel to the world. This is why it is even more important for those churches that submit to the authority of Scripture and preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to step up and serve. A new mission clearing house has been established by Lutherans Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) where all Christians can get involved in mission work. The site is This site is for congregations looking to help or partner with existing missions, for those looking to start missions, and for those looking for help or partner with missions they are currently involved with. Our Wisconsin LCMC congregation partnered with a Methodist church in Missouri to provide mission relief work in Joplin, MO and will partner with them this April in Indiana, both areas that were hit hard by tornados. So, there are many opportunities to get out and do God’s work.

Continue to pray that God will lift up and make strong leaders within the ELCA that will help turn them back to the path that our Lord wants them to travel. With the help of God, nothing is impossible. Proclaim the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ that remain in the ELCA, with true Christian love.

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