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Expanding Our Frames: A Call for Unity and Growth in the LCMS

I’m biased. So are you. I like things my way. By nature, I resist change. I have my frame through which I view the world. The world makes sense through my frame. I feel safe looking through my frame. I wonder why others don’t look through my frame. Life and leadership would be much easier if this were the case. 

There is only one problem. Everyone else looking through my frame would lead to death. 

Death of the family–no one likes a “family frame dictator.” Death of the ministry–my frame is utterly inadequate to encompass the entire range of future ministry possibilities. 

Death of the local church and/or denomination–my small frame feels overwhelmed by competing cultural frames. Instead of abundance and “frame” possibilities from the entire Body of Christ, I choose my comfortable, small frame. Over time, people–even those with healthy frames, eager to merge their frame with yours to produce a beautiful tapestry of ministry possibilities, take their frame and find others who find it useful. This is happening in the LCMS. It makes me sad. 

Let me be clear, our individual “frames” are not the Gospel. We agree on the Gospel given through Word and Sacrament. Our “frames” are our contextual confirmation biases. Only through merging our collective frames, under the banner of the Gospel, can unity be achieved. 

In other words, different parts of the Body hold their respective “frames.” Will they be acknowledged and respected or hidden and disregarded? The latter appears to be the case in many pockets of the LCMS. 

If you’ve read or listened to me speak for any number of months or years, you may not agree with me on everything I say. That’s okay. I don’t agree with everything I think or say, either. I’m a work-in-progress sinner. However, I pray in my writing and speaking you hear a genuine call for the LCMS to listen and value and unite all parts of the body up into Jesus, our Leader. 

Unfortunately, there are pockets of the LCMS on both sides of the “confessional/missional” spectrum that do not feel safe publicly sharing their frame with those who may have a slightly different frame. This is not healthy. Over a dozen leaders in high levels of leadership in the LCMS have denied the request to speak on my podcast. I am not offended. I’m not a big deal. I’m just surprised they wouldn’t want to learn from a different frame. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Frames are hard to merge with other frames. 

The LCMS has many opportunities for growth. I care about them all. Let me name a few. 

Church-worker recruitment to fill over 700 pulpits 

CUS long-term viability

Declining and closing churches 

Litigious battles over the CTX struggle 

Dissatisfying quarterly council-of-president meetings.*

(*I’ve heard this from numerous District Presidents.)

Circuit pastors and churches struggling in collaboration to spread the Gospel 

These are all symptoms of a deeper root cause. Closed frames. Closed minds. Narrow vision. Unrepentance. Pride. Inability to learn new things. Inability to respect diverse ministry contexts. This all results in petty bureaucratic power-plays over an increasingly smaller piece of Jesus’ “Kingdom Frame” in the United States. 

We can do better. We must do better for the LCMS to stay “Kingdom relevant” in the coming years. 

Expand your frame today. The ULC is here to help. 


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1 Comment

Just a thought, and I don’t mean this as a criticism at all, but maybe others are a bit intimidated or feel threatened by the idea of a podcast but would talk to you personally to begin a dialogue? I agree, I wish there would be some shared conversations and will continue to pray for this to happen.

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