|Paul Kelm made a career by from exemplifying|
what Luther warned against,
and WELS rewarded him for it.
Herein lies a parable.
When I discuss gardening with people, the first things they mention are what they hate. I will mention why the objects of their scorn are valuable to them.
Dandelions are herbs that grow easily, mine calcium from the lower soil levels, renew the soil, feed the insects, provide nest lining for birds, and the most nutritious salad greens.
Starlings travel in flocks - oh no! - and swoop down to rid the garden for its insect pests. Their group baths are entertaining. Grackles, their big cousins, are even more adept at poking grubs from the soil. Both are partial solutions to the Japanese beetle problem.
Moles mix the soil and gather earthworms into food banks. They reach and devour the insect larva gardeners despise. The enemies of our horticultural enemies should be our friends. Is that too logical?
Spiders inspire fear and loathing, even among those most devoted to nature. No creature is more likely be found where insects abound. When I cut the stem of a flawless rose, a tough spider's web is often just below it. Various insects said to themselves, "Here is an easy meal. I will just climb up and raise my family near the nectar of the bloom, in a cloud of perfume." But they only fed the spider whose progeny grew up in the same noble calling.
Readers ask, "What is the meaning of this parable?"
Answer - God has appointed Means or Instruments to distribute His grace. As Luther said, the Atonement is the great treasure of the Gospel, because Christ died on the cross for all sins, for all time. But the treasure lies in one heap until it is distributed by the Holy Spirit in the Word. God never works apart from the Word, whether in teaching, preaching, or the Sacraments, so each person knows where God's grace, forgiveness, favor, and love are to be found.
People took the Biblical sermon for granted, so expository sermons were replaced with success stories, time management lectures,and Left-wing political activism. A great teaching opportunity to heal with the Gospel of grace and bear spiritual fruit was exchanged for the efforts of carnival barkers and closeted Bolsheviks.
Congregations grew tired of great, classical Christian hymns and the majestic supporting music of the pipe organ. They ripped out the pipe organ to make space for amateurs banging on percussion instruments and howling about their personal experiences.
Denominational managers looked at the hour of worship and said with palpable excitement, "We can use that time to promote our programs, books, and future agenda. We have them locked in place, too polite to walk out on us. Let us kill the fatted calf and make merry with our expanding budgets." Incrementally, honoring the Third Commandment was transformed into a time where the parish could be urged
- To support the annual once-in-a-lifetime giving opportunity,
- To grieve about the falling revenues of the headquarters, and
- To silence doubts about the wisdom of those destroying the synod for their own gain.
| Every Church Growth program in every denomination|
is based on Management by Objectives, by Peter Drucker,
a putative business expert.