The Glory Has Departed

Lutheran book boxes sent to three African seminaries -
a third one has been sent now.

Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central Daylight Time.
Wednesdays Romans 1-5 in Greek

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

which works as too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Monday, December 1, 2014

WELS Documented - New WELS Blog Proves the Apostasy of the Abusive Sect

Monday, December 1, 2014

Church Growth: By the Gospel or By Gimmicks?

Are WELS churches in danger of turning worship into a flashy concert? Of watering down the message so nobody is offended; of forgetting the simplicity of the Gospel?

It is truly sad that modern churches use cheap gimmicks to get people to attend. The church service has been changed from heart-felt worship to Hollywood style entertainment complete with special effects. Churches that once focused on Bible study classes now compete against one-another like businesses for new members. In an attempt to increase numbers, they advertise pot-lucks, dinner theaters, bake sales, soup kitchens, bingo, camping trips, exercise classes and various support groups ... things which have nothing to do with religion or the Bible. If it brings in the numbers, they will do it. Yes, these churches are full every Sunday, but most members would quit if the "cake and ice cream" that initially attracted them were no longer offered. 

One of the troubling trends in evangelical churches is the rise of meaningless gimmicks that pastors are using. The use of gimmicks is a sure sign of just how desperate pastors are becoming as they see rising expenses, declining revenues, and a dispersal of their congregations to other churches. Sadly, these gimmicks in the long run will hurt their churches. 

Are some WELS churches in danger of becoming like these two churches simply to increase the numbers?

Scum of the Earth Church; Denver, Colorado – 
It doesn’t sound like a church name … on purpose. We really want to connect with people who have no interest in “church” by society’s definition. There are plenty of churches for “normal people” and we think we have a unique calling to reach out to our otherwise unreached friends. Our name is integral to that process. Michael Sares is an evangelical pastor who has made a ministry kicking against the current. He pastors Denver’s Scum of the Earth Church, an evangelical congregation famous for welcoming those other churches might turn away. Their monthly newsletter is called “Rubbish” and among the “rejected slogans” on Scum’s website homepage is “Our congregation can kick your congregation’s ass.” Whether outcast by society (e.g., punks, skaters, ravers, homeless people…) or by the church itself, many who come can identify with the name “Scum of the Earth” since they have been previously treated as such.

Crossroads/ Loft Church; Lansing, Michigan – 
A pastor in Michigan has found a new means to draw non-believers into the Christian fold. Kevin Brown, a pastor at Crossroads Church in Lansing, Michigan, is holding services not by prayers of repentance or songs but reaching his congregation by giving out free beer and popcorn at an upstairs bar called the Loft. Pastors of the experimental congregation have also promised to buy the first drink for everyone who comes to them the first time. Every first timer gets a free drink paid for by our pastors.   They have a good selection of mixed drinks, domestic, import and craft beers on draft and in bottles, as well as, soft drinks like soda, and Red Bull. "We think it communicates something to people that are very leery of church and very leery of the church being very judgmental about things," he said.

How do these WELS churches compare? Is this the direction they are heading also? If not, why not? Where does it stop?

The CORE; Appleton, Wisconsin (WELS) - 
The CORE exists to transform lives for Christ through faith that is Real, Relevant, and Relational. We come face to face with sin and the havoc it creates in our lives. You don’t have to pretend your life is perfect.  At The CORE you will find a friendly relaxed place where you will be encouraged, challenged, and taught through God’s Word how to connect to your Savior.

Victory of the Lamb; Franklin, Wisconsin (WELS) - 

Enjoy Hospitality – Goodies, coffee and all kinds of yummy stuff.  All completely free!

Dress Comfortably – Wear clothes. Whether they’re in style… that’s up to you!
Casual Atmosphere – Reclining movie theater seats with cup holders. Need we say more?
Modern Worship – Relevant messages, musical variety, helpful videos.
Relax – There are other people like you. We’re all just getting guidance for our lives.

Crosswalk Church; Phoenix Arizona (WELS)   -
If you hate going to church, CrossWalk was built with you in mind.  At CrossWalk we're casual in our approach, yet what we have to communicate is extremely serious stuff.  We strive to make every message and every service relevant and applicable to real life, as well as excellent in quality.  At the same time, you can come to church in your jeans, or your shorts (or even in your jean shorts) and feel perfectly comfortable in one of our services.  Grab a cup of coffee and a bagel on your way in and settle in for a high-octane hour of power-learning about God.

Christ the Rock; Round Rock, TX (WELS) - 
Christ the Rock strives to be a “church for unchurched people.” That means that we’re all about meeting people where they’re at.

Amazing Love; Frankfort, IL (WELS) - 

There is a celebration going on.  We feel Sunday morning is the highlight of our week.  We celebrate that God loved us so much he give his life for us. We use music that helps us celebrate whether it be a Chris Tomlin ( song you hear on Christian radio or great hymns like, "How Great Thou Art."

Hope Church; Oconomowoc, WI (WELS) – 
At Hope, we are here to create a church that unchurched people love. We are thrilled that we are having success in our goal of reaching unchurched people. However, we have a problem looming on the horizon that we must address if we are going to be able to continue to reach our community. We are trying to solve a seating capacity problem. Our vision is to reach unchurched people. If we are faithful to the pursuit of this vision, we are going to run out of space to welcome our unchurched guests. There aren’t any larger facilities available in our community that we can rent. We estimate that an adequate facility will have a total cost in the $3,000,000 ballpark.

The Bridge; Muskego, Wisconsin (WELS) -
The Bridge meets in the Trinity Gym, where you’ll find a casual atmosphere and modern music and lighting (video of service - The Bridge includes band-led singing, helpful spiritual messages, and moments for prayer and encouragement. You’ll notice that our pastors wear jeans. We are serious about our faith, but try not to take ourselves too seriously. The word “sacrament” simply means “sacred act.” These actions are personal, tangible ways that God says to you as an individual: “I love you. I forgive you.” The Lord’s Supper is another “sacred act” that Jesus gave us to assure us of his love. In the Lord’s Supper Jesus promises that when we eat the bread and drink the wine in this sacrament, in a miraculous way we are also receiving his body and blood to assure us that he died for our sins. Kids Club is our free Sunday morning kids program for children from 3 years old through grade five.  You’ll see the Kids Club check-in as you walk into the Trinity Café.