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MARTIN CHEMNITZ PRESS

A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.

6421 W. Poinsettia Drive

Glendale, Arizona 85304-2419

623-334-8014; chemnitz@uswest.net

Publication site: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Pantheon/7366/

Martin Chemnitz Press/A Mighty Fortress site:  www.myplanet.net/chemnitz

Bethany Church site:  http://www3.cybercities.com/b/bethanylutheranchurch/

Very Unofficial WELS: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Atlantis/5256/

Very Unofficial CLC: http://www3.cybercities.com/a/aclc/index.html

Very Unofficial ELS: http://cfwwalther.tripod.com/

Lutheran Book Treasury: http://www3.cybercities.com/l/lutheranbooktreasury/

 

Friday, November 19, 1999

 

HAPPY 90TH, PETER DRUCKER

 

The Wall Street Journal announced today that Peter Drucker turned 90 today. He is now at the age where people say, “He’s still alive?” Perhaps you are not as impressed as I am. Peter Drucker invented management, specifically Management by Objective, MBO. Scholars of the history of management theory may disagree, but I believe Drucker is the genius behind the Mission Statement. Every department of every business must have a Mission Statement. The business or institution must also have a Mission Statement.

 

People are drinking coffee and wondering, “Why is he going on about this?” The Church Growth people latched onto Peter Drucker material right away. Donald McGavran, trained in educational theory, was keen about statistics. His secular mindset and opposition to the efficacy of the Word fit together perfectly with Drucker’s theories. At some point someone decided that management must also have a vision for the future, not to mention passion. So now we hear politicians babbling about their vision and their passion.

 

Church bodies too. I was trained in Management by Objective, first in the Lutheran Church in America. Then the same theories were promoted in the Wisconsin Synod. I remember Church Growth guru James Huebner turning white when I mentioned Peter Drucker and Management by Objective. WELS is the last Lutheran synod to discover a fad and then thinks it is a secret from everyone else. When I joined Northwestern Mutual Life, they sold me a 3 ring notebook in which I could write down my goals, objectives, strategies. It was MBO all over again, but more fitting in a business.

 

I was curious about the close connection between Drucker and Church Growth. (They adopted him. I doubt whether he thought much about Fuller Seminary.) Then a newspaper ran a story about a mega-church in Texas. The article made a point about Management by Objective being the Bible for this Texas church. I visited the narthex of a fine old Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina. The vestry voted to ask God for 10% increases in worship in each of the next three years! I thought, “Could this be? A Fuller graduate spoiling another church?” Yes, the priest was getting his Fuller degree and nagging his fellow priests about Church Growth at a future seminar.

 

In addition, when WELS and ELCA got together with the Missouri Synod at Snowbird, the president of the Drucker Institute spoke. In fact, all the speakers were either a) Church Growth; b) Management; c) ELCA; or d) liberal Reformed.

 

One WELS circuit pastor said this to me, “When WELS did not think much about itself as an institution, it ran well. Now that it is always talking about management, nothing is going well.” That was some years ago. I recall one of the seminarians bragging that the old fuddy-duddies were being pushed off the seminary faculty and out of the administration. WELS was going to be taught by sharp young pastors and managed by sharp young pastors. Some results: 1) a disastrous decline in membership while the population was growing and conservative churches were supposedly in style; 2) the arrest and conviction and imprisonment of various WELS church workers; 3) demoralization of the clergy; 4) closing two prep schools at a time of growing need and support of education, especially church workers; 5) a precipitous decline in church workers.

 

I just got an email forwarded about WELS health plan (VEBA) cost increases. Here is one sentence: “On Oct. 20, 1999, the VEBA Commission met to set the rates for Jan. 1,
2000. It had no choice but to raise premiums 25% on average. The rates
will vary by regions, but a family plan with $250 deductible will
increase in a range of $1,308 to $2,352 per year.”

 

I want to make something clear – the increase cannot be blamed on Church Growth or Peter Drucker. But this increase is another nail in the coffin. When synods go through huge increases in health care, the most flexible fund is the mission offering. When I was ordained in 1973, the health plan for my family cost $285 for the YEAR. It was paid in one lump sum as a minor budget item. My wife and I now pay about $4500 for coverage. When a synod goes through such increases, congregations are crushed by the increase. A large church has a large staff, so the pain is multiplied. A small church barely gets along, so it suffers.

 

Health care is going to be a major issue with any attempt to have congregations independent of the established synods. My wife was turned down by the CLC group health plan, in spite of promises made beforehand. But we were lucky to be moving to Minnesota, where a plan was established by law for uninsurable people. We were lucky again, if it can be called luck, to have the plan follow us to Arizona. Minnesota is happy to take our money on a monthly basis.

 

Happy Birthday, Peter Drucker. I would phone you and sing, but I think your lines are tied up by well-wishers from business magazines and church headquarters. There was a time when Lutheran leaders trusted another old man, by the name of Isaiah, and followed what he said. OK, he had some help in writing his book, but it was worth following for a long time. His version of management was a wee bit different:

 

KJV Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. 12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 

Luther also wrote about management:

 

"Those, however, who set the time, place and measure, tempt God, and believe not that they are heard or that they have obtained what they asked; therefore, they also receive nothing."

            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 172. John 16:23-30.        

 

"In like manner, St. Paul says that God's ability is thus proved, in that He does exceeding abundantly above and better than we ask or think. Ephesians 3:20. Therefore, we should know we are too finite to be able to name, picture or designate the time, place, way, measure and other circumstances for that which we ask of God. Let us leave that entirely to Him, and immovably and steadfastly believe that He will hear us."

            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed., John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 179f. Ephesians 3:20.     

 

"And although we do at times depart from the Word, we should not therefore remain altogether away from it, but return again, for He makes good His Word. Even though man cannot believe it, God will nevertheless help him to believe it, and this He does without man's reason or free will and without man adding anything thereto."

            Martin Luther, Sermons of Martin Luther, 8 vols., ed. John Nicholas Lenker, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1983, III, p. 76. John 16:16-23      

 

"If the world were willing to take advice from a simple, plain man--that is, our Lord God (who, after all, has some experience too and knows how to rule)--the best advice would be that in his office and sphere of jurisdiction everybody simply direct his thoughts and plans to carrying out honestly and doing in good faith what has been commanded him and that, whatever he does, he depend not on his own plans and thoughts but commit the care to God. Such a man would certainly find out in the end who does and accomplishes more, he who trusts God or he who would bring success to his cause through his own wisdom and thoughts or his own power and strength."

            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, III, p. 1151. Luke 5:1-11.  

 

"Let us, then, prepare ourselves to be patient and learn to bear the furious attacks and the blows of Satan, who is trying to tear the church of Christ to pieces and to establish his own church. We are not any better than the fathers. At the cost of much sweat and labor they, too, scarcely succeeded in their effort to preserve the Word and to snatch a few souls from the jaws of Satan."

            Martin Luther, What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., ed., Ewald Plass, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959, I, p. 280. Genesis 11:10ff.