Fr. Gregory Hogg is right whether you like it or not. The LCMS is a non-profit corporation as it identifies itself in its Constitution. The only “church” in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod are those congregations which are members thereof.
He also wrote, “Toward his own people, a man may function as minister; toward the broader group, he is a field-office manager.” I recognize the rhetoric here, and he may not be far off. To Redeemer, I am their Pastor. But I also belong as a member of the Synod, and if not a “field manager,” then some position of responsibility in the Synod.
The background of his post is the cancellation and termination of a popular radio show on KFUO. In many senses it was the voice of Confessional Lutheranism in St. Louis. Since it was syndicated and available on the Web, its voice was also heard around the world. The show didn’t pull many punches, and sometimes the rhetoric was pretty thick. But it reflected a certain strain within the LCMS–the “Conservative” side if you want to call it that. The host and producer were employed by the Synod and now the corporation has removed them this week, without warning. Why? We don’t know. Who? They are not saying.
I don’t know the specifics, but I do know the radio show expressed a version of Lutheranism that is not reflected much in the Official Publications of the LCMS (That’s safe to say, I think). The pastors of the LCMS are also under authority, and as members of the Synod, expected to toe the company line, to some degree–perhaps not as much as if your check has “LCMS, Inc.” on it, but some nonetheless. I cannot be fired from the Synod, since they don’t pay my wages. Most of us are not high-profile enough to be noticed. Maybe.
Here’s some wisdom for those who aren’t used to answering to corporate bosses. The article was entitled “Four Things You Should Never Say to the CEO” by Bill Lane:
2. Making fun of a corporate program.
Yes, there are lots of vapid initiatives trotted out by marketing or PR or HR people: “Year of the Customer,” or “Zero Mistakes,” or “Zero Inventory,” or “Zero Drinking at Lunch.” And sadly enough, bad CEOs often buy in and pay these goofy ideas half-hearted lip service. Feel free to make fun of this stupid stuff–as long as you’re willing to leave the company the next day.
Once at GE, the chief financial officer poked gentle, martini-fueled fun at a Welch initiative, from the podium at a company dinner. Welch fired him shortly thereafter.
I ran with most of what Welch promulgated, because it made sense to me. As a communicator, my job was to take it to another level — often to the point that Welch had to rein me in, calling me crazier than he was. This might sound like butt-kissing, but not to me. I believe in “signing on or signing out.” If you don’t believe in the corporate mission, either keep your mouth shut or leave.
This kind of advice is a bitter pill to swallow these days.