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Embarrassing Mormonism

by Paul Sauer — September 27, 2008

I was embarrassed for them. In this equatorial country where the only time neck-ties are worn is when you are in court as a defendant, the Mormon missionaries stood out painfully with their long pants, long shirts, ties and name tags. It was almost as if they went out of their way to not fit in. At present there are about 51,000 Mormon missionaries around the world. They are volunteers working without pay and traveling at their own family’s expense in a place they have not chosen. They simply submit their names to the church and then the leadership of the church sends them out. They have no say, they simply obey...

I was embarrassed for them. In this equatorial country where the only time neck-ties are worn is when you are in court as a defendant, the Mormon missionaries stood out painfully with their long pants, long shirts, ties and name tags. It was almost as if they went out of their way to not fit in.

At present there are about 51,000 Mormon missionaries around the world. They are volunteers working without pay and traveling at their own family’s expense in a place they have not chosen. They simply submit their names to the church and then the leadership of the church sends them out. They have no say, they simply obey.

On my journey back from Ebeye in the Marshall Islands this summer I got to know two missionaries who were on their way home following the completion of their two year mission. After our shared flight home was cancelled, we were forced to spending 6 hours in a holding area, before being deported from the US military base on Kwajalein back to Ebeye for the night. The next day brought another 6 hour session in the holding area and plenty of opportunity to talk. They knew who I was as a Lutheran Pastor, and of course who they were and what they did was obvious even without the name tags. So all pretenses and unspoken motivations were laid aside and we were able to just sit down and get to know one another as human beings.

Each of them described how life changing their experience as a missionary was. Neither of them had heard of the Marshall Islands before begin assigned to work there. Both of them had learned the language within six months of arriving. Their work was simple. They were to walk around the island, stand out in the community, and talk to the people in their own language. In short, they were to get to know communities and build relationships within them.

Their work has met with mixed success. The Mormon church is growing in the Pacific, but it is hard to tell by exactly how much. But the success of the mission on the young men who serve is unmistakable. Here were two young men who will forever be committed to a church, not just as members but as missionaries with a zeal for sharing their faith.

I could not help but contrast the experience of these missionaries to my own period of pastoral formation at the seminary. We had expectations of full-time jobs that paid livable salaries when we graduated. We would be able to choose to some extent where we would and would not be willing to serve. By and large people were able to choose places to serve where the people they would be serving looked and sounded just like them. No language learning necessary. A comment made at a pre-vicarage meeting typifies in my mind much that is wrong with our church’s approach to pastoral care today. A young man, there with his wife stood up and asked, “Does where we go for vicarage have any bearing on where we get our first call? My wife and I wouldn’t mind serving in an inner-city parish for a year, but we wouldn’t want to get stuck there for our first call.”

Even if the Lutheran Church could muster the resources to develop a organizational structure that would allow us to develop a program of missions similar to the Mormon church, it is hard to imagine it meeting with the same success. Lutherans, by and large, just seem to not be motivated enough about Lutheranism to make those kind of sacrifices. For better or worse, (yes, I know, the worker is worth his keep) seminarians and pastors spend time talking about salary scales, pension plans, health plans and the like, and calls are sometimes accepted and declined on that basis. A Pastor’s personal preferences for ministry (yes, I know, spiritual gifts) lead him or her to fill out forms that say, “I would prefer not to go to the Midwest or to an inner city church, a black church or a Hispanic church.” The fact that the forms even have these options available show that in Lutheranism the Spirit indeed works through some rather specific worldly means. If clergy are limited in the sacrifices they are prepared to make, is it reasonable to expect that our lay parishioners should not be?

One significant difference between pastors and Mormon missionaries is that the missionaries are not married while pastors often are. Families complicate things. Time and again at the seminary we were told that for a pastor his (it was a Missouri seminary after all!) family must come first. But what does that say about the mission of the church? Is it secondary to our own personal needs or concerns? What does that say about the trust level that we have in God’s ability to provide “all that we need to support this body and life.”?

Perhaps Roman Catholics are right in not allowing their priests to marry. Or perhaps there needs to be some sort of happy medium: A Lutheran religious order of single men and women, lay or ordained where people can devote their lives singularly to Christ and his church in those places that have exceptional need;  A greater concern for empowering lay people with their varied and singular gifts to work in those exceptional climates;  A reminder to our pastors of the servant nature of their work and the providential care of God.

Beyond concerns of family life, however, there is simply the question of whether Lutheranism has any missionary zeal left within it. Brand loyalty to the Lutheran name is disappearing, and our American Lutheran church bodies seem to have little vitality left beyond the occasional ability to bicker internally or muster up the strength to argue with one another. All the while our churches continue their slow steady march toward irrelevancy and churches like the Mormon Church step up and fill the void. It is embarrassing indeed.

Mormon missionaries

Posted by Joseph at September 27, 2008 15:14
A professor of mine recently opined that the purpose of Mormon missionaries traveling so far abroad and sticking out so plainly where they are sent is not so that they will accomplish enormous missionary feats, but through two years of intense rejection they learn never to forsake Mormonism - a kind of initiation. Still, we seminarians and pastors are overly concerned with fringe benefits and salaries and their preferences.

commitment

Posted by Brian Stoffregen at September 29, 2008 05:49
Yes, I have also heard that Mormon missionaries do not convert many people, but they end up more strongly committed to their church.

The same phenomenon occurs, perhaps not to the same extent, when our youth go to Lutheran camps, Lutheran youth gatherings, Lutheran colleges. Then tend to be less likely to leave Lutheranism.

Success of Mormonism

Posted by Paul Sauer at September 29, 2008 12:51
Thank you for the comments. I have said much the same thing in various settings. There is no question the impact that missionary service has had on those who serve. Is that a legitimate enough reason to do it?
It would be interested to see a study which evaluates the real numbers of converts in areas where Mormon missionaries serve. Regardless of the number of conversions, however, at the very least the presence of Mormon missionaries (and Mormon dollars) in the Pacific has led Mormonism to have a far greater impact on the region than their size would otherwise command. On Majuro (Marshall Islands) alone there are 4 Mormon temples on an atoll where the population is only 20,000. They also send missionaries to "outer islands" regions where the populations number only in the hundreds. Areas which most Christian denominations would write off as not being sustainable for mission.

LDS (Mormon) missionaries in the RMI

Posted by formerly Elder Smith at December 08, 2010 22:52
Yokwe Paul,

I was an LDS missionary in the RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands)and completed my mission about 3 months before this article was written. I was wondering if you remembered the names of the missionaries that you traveled with?

I hope to clear up a few things. We do try and help with education where we can. The LDS church does have a school in Kiribati (the Gilbert Islands) and other places which the church offers scholarships to Marshallese and other ethnicities. The LDS church also has a perpetual education fund, which allows for higher education to members and non-members.

As an LDS missionary in the RMI I had the opportunity to help and instruct the locals in English, in exchange they helped me to further my vocabulary and understanding of the Marshallese language.

Kommol

Posted by Paul Sauer at December 14, 2010 15:18
Kommol tata for your comments Elder Smith.

I have been reading with some interest and appreciation in the last few issues of the Marshall islands Journal about the advent of some social service work among the LDS on Majuro (among other things wheelchairs for the hospital). I get the sense that now that the LDS have become more fully established in the RMI that they will be more engaged in ecumenical cooperation while there. If so, the important social service work that you are already doing (as you rightly observed - teaching English, etc. -and which I did not mean to minimize) will be multiplied into the wider Marshallese community. As you know there is no shortage of need.

I wish that I could remember the names of the two young men. They helped to bring some enjoyment to what was a dreary and stressful situation for my family. I may have them written down somewhere in my family files from Ebeye. I know that both spent time on outer islands, and also spent time on Ebeye. I believe that they both flew home around August 22, 2008 (if that helps).

reply

Posted by Stephanie Orgill at June 18, 2009 05:34
you have "heard" that mormon missionaries etc etc?
Did you ever ask a mormon any of this? or are all of these comments just assumptions about the mormon church? If you want any true answers about the mormon church, ask a mormon. please, don't go off hear-say. You will not get a true answer about anything mormon if you simply hear a rumor about it.

reply

Posted by Stephanie at June 18, 2009 05:32
if I may - I came across this column and was interested in reading it. I am not lutheran, but I am mormon. It was interesting to see a new point of view.
But, as a mormon, I think I may be able to answer a few of the questions or not-so-true points that you bring up in this column and in the comments that follow it.
Joseph: the purpose of mormon missionaries traveling so far and abroad is not in order to learn "never to forsake Mormonism" or to be initiated. You are "initiated" (even that word choice is.. "iffy" to say the least) as a mormon when you are baptised. Baptism comes when a person decides for himself or herself to join the church. No one can make some one else be baptised. The purpose of sending a missionary to a certain area is that that is the area that they will be of most use to firstly the people of that area, and secondly to them selves (as people who are growing and learning about themselves) and thirdly to the church. In those areas that are so foreign, with no pay, the sacrifices a missionary must make, it really makes a person decide what they truly believe. The challenges they overcome build them as a person, which also helps them in years to come. Similar to the quote "what doesn't kill us makes us stronger", missionary work is hard. It is difficult to leave your family for two years, it is difficult to face rejection on such a regular basis, it is difficult to go to a new, foreign place. it is difficult to adjust. But a missionary grows stronger and meets the challenge.
But I have a question for you now.
In this column, the very last line states that it is embarrassing to have churches like the mormon church fill the religious/missionary void in the world.
is it really such a bad thing that a church, whether or not it is your church, has members who actively work to strengthen the church and the the communities it touches? Should not the purpose of churches be to spread love, good grace, faith, and the belief that through Christ alone (through mercy and forgiveness)can we be saved?
Should religion really become a contest of "my church is bigger than your church" or "my church grows faster than your church"? What a wondrous thing it would be if all churches, despite differences, could work together to spread their common beliefs and common good throughout the world.
Don't you think?

A Reply

Posted by Paul Sauer at June 18, 2009 20:00
Stephanie,

Thank you for your posts, and welcome to Lutheran Forum.

The embarrassment of which I speak does not lie with the Mormon church, it lies upon the Lutheran Church. When you consider that many, if not most Lutherans consider the LDS a sect (i.e. outside of the traditional definitions of what constitutes a Christian church) it should be embarrassing to us that Mormons by and large seem more concerned with Christ's command to go and seek out the lost.

I resonate with your belief that it is not a bad thing at all for churches to work together "to spread the love, good grace, faith, and belief that through Christ alone we can be saved." My one main criticism of Mormonism is that it often works against that ideal. For example, the people of the Marshall Islands strongly identify themselves as Christian. Their needs are primarily physical (health, education, etc.) not spiritual. Most people in the Marshall Islands know Christ. Yet the LDS church has come into a country where Christians (Catholics, Baptists, Assemblies of God, Seventh Day Adventists, Church of Christ, etc.) work together already in a number of ways to better the status of people and have gone it alone. Mormons missionaries in the Marshall Islands have built 4 beautiful temples on Majuro but have not worked toward meeting the social needs of the people. No schools like the Jeuits, Baptist, Assemblies of God or Seventh Day Adventists, no health centers like the Seventh Day Adventists, instead the focus has been on making Mormons and growing the LDS church by "converting" them away from the traditional Christian churches. Such "missionary efforts" to people who already know Christ, does not grow the Body of Christ, it merely adds to division and leads to the tensions, mistrust, and marginalization that Mormons have historically had to endure.

reply

Posted by Stephanie at July 12, 2009 18:41
I see your point, that many missionaries are already in strongly-christian areas. but as you yourself said, mormonism is considered a sect, with some slight differences from other churches. So yes, there are missionaries in already christian areas. They are just there to show the differences between the churches, to explain the differences, though few may they be. The church has also been trying to get permission into areas where humanitarian efforts are really needed. Such an area is China, which, to the best of my knowledge, the area has not yet given permission for mormons to be there.
well, these pages may better serve you in learning about the mormon church's humanitarian effort, if you wanted to know more.

http://www.lds.org/humanitarianservices/0,19749,6208,00.html

http://www.ldsphilanthropies.org/

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/background-information/humanitarian-services


and thank you for the reply. it really help clear up some things that I had misunderstood, and I thank you for how kindly you wrote.
Religious fighting begins with such small things as words, so thank you.

(I know this doesn't have much to do with the topic, but when I first learned about Martin Luther, I decided that if there mormon church did not exist, I would be Lutheran. I have the highest regards for the Lutheran church)

baptism

Posted by earle merchant at January 13, 2012 13:47
It was said that no one can force another to be baptised, but isn`t that exactly what Mormons do when they get baptised for people who have died two hundred or so years ago,whether the person would have desired it or not.Perhaps they were atheist and were forced to be baptised because some Mormon today decide to be baptised for them.

Salvation, is not baptism.Trusting Jesus and His finished work on Calvary only, saves.

2 observations

Posted by Sarah Wilson at October 07, 2008 02:32
Thanks for this, Paul. Two thoughts occur to me.

1) The 51,000 missionaries out there are by and large NOT clergy. I think Lutheranism's long implicit clericalism is part of the problem--we subcontract our mission work out to the people who are committed to it for life. Either you are called to a religious vocation (mainly the ministry) or you have a secular vocation--equally good, of course, but ne'er the twain shall meet. The few non-future-clergy who care end up doing service work like Lutheran Volunteer Corps; certainly a good thing, but certainly not evangelism.

2) Anymore it's an extraordinary personality who'll do without the benefits and salary. There will always be those, but it's bad practice to rely on them. What we need is a whole church culture that is supportive and enthusiastic of this kind of mission work. How could we create a LAY culture that cultivated future missionaries, both lay and clerical?

reply

Posted by Stephanie at June 18, 2009 05:40
I just wanted to comment on something you said: "it's bad practice to rely on them", meaning full-time missionaries.
Something you may not know: the mormon church does not rely on its full-time missionaries. Yes, they help a great deal because of the time they spend on their work. But, the first step in missionary work comes from regular church members. If a church member has a friend or family member, or anyone for that matter, who is interested in hearing about the gospel, the church member may begin to answer some question that person has. It is only after this step that the full-time missionaries become involved, and that is only if the person is still interested. Full-time missionaries go around the world answering the deeper questions about the religion and the gospel, but the base of mormon missionary work comes from its regular, everyday members.
There are over 13 million regular members of the church, and 51 thousand missionaries. they work together. The church does not put the full weight of missionary work on the full-time missionaries.

Future of Lutherans

Posted by Larry at February 01, 2009 18:40
I am sorry to say this because I prefer Lutherans to Evangelicals, but I think the future belongs to Mormons and Evangelicals. May I suggest Lutherans set up a welfare system like Mormons? It might help.

Lutherans are still here and will always be.

Posted by Jim Ruberson at November 13, 2009 15:50
I am a Lutheran, and a dame proud one at that. We may not be the largest religin in the world.
but we are made up of many people, people that did not have to be paid to join. we came into becouse we wanted to, or was born into being Lutheran.
that is how God intened for us to be. not to be bought by a Cult.

Love the Lord and all our Christians firends.
Jim. PS sorry for the bad spelling.

Being "Bought" by a Cult

Posted by Benjamin C. Gessel at January 13, 2010 08:15
Mr. Ruberson, I'll assume, having never met you, that you are a respectable sort of person, well thought of by many. Consider then, if you will, that the word "cult" is not a word to be used lightly, and even approaches the profane. It is also, by definition, a highly subjective, ambiguous term. You would not demean an ethnicity or an entire group of people by using derogatory terms for them, would you? Then please refrain from doing so regarding my church (which is NOT a cult, by the way).

-Benjamin C. Gessel

On the Evolving Relationship Between Lutherans and Mormons

Posted by Benjamin C. Gessel at January 13, 2010 07:51
I sincerely appreciate the thoughts of Pastor Paul Sauer. I can sense to a certain extent, from his thoughts about my religion (and his), the nature of his goodly character and pleasant general disposition.
It is not easy to live in a world with religious contention, especially when that contention is among those with very similar core beliefs and values. I believe that kind of contention is absolutely counterproductive to all parties who engage in it, even spiritually destructive. The desire to contend, and the act of contending with others has always been contrary to the doctrine of true Christianity.
I personally know many Lutherans, have some friends who are Lutheran, and I have a few relatives who are Lutherans as well. They are very, very good people on the whole. I have been a counselor at the Lutheran Summer Music Camp. I feel completely comfortable in their churches and in their company. They are no different than Mormons in COUNTLESS ways. Their friendliness and commitment to living high moral standards is very much like the manner of those in my religion. It is a rare instance indeed when I contemplate religious differences between the two churches. I find it quite disagreeable to my nature to dwell on these seemingly small differences between two groups of people whom I hold dear. I prefer not to ever think about it, unless I am confronted with the subject by another.
Pastor Sauer, having been a missionary myself for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I know that there are many, many aspects regarding the LDS missionary program that are not very well understood by many outside of my church. Everything about the missionary program is directed by the Quorum of the Twelve, and the First Presidency. They receive revelation from the Lord himself, through prayer, about where each young person is to go and preach the gospel. This is extremely unique. No other church (that I know of) claims to go about missionary work in this manner.
The formal, clean, conservative dress of LDS missionaries helps to set them apart from all worldly concerns for the entire time they are on their missions. Everything missionaries do during their missions is oriented toward the spiritual growth and well-being of those they come in contact with. They do not work, go to school, date, or engage in their own recreational pursuits during this time. There are older couples who go on missions as well, but they are not as numerous as the young people serving missions. There are also service missionaries, education missionaries, social services missionaries, temple missionaries, and many other kinds of missionaries in my church besides proselyting missionaries, all with the overarching goal being the spiritual growth and well-being of all people in the world.
Perhaps one of the most misunderstood aspects of my church, however, is the reason why it exists in the first place. You may feel like you understand the doctrine of my church, but perhaps, it would be wise to review again why 'Mormons', as a religious body, exist. It is because of the doctrine of the Restoration of the Priesthood of God on the Earth (as it was lost from the Earth some time after the death of the chief Apostles-Peter, James and John), through Joseph Smith, and all of the attending doctrines following that restoration. No other church claims to have this ancient, true, restored priesthood (only the Catholic Church claims to have the Priesthood of God, unbroken, from Peter), and there can be only one priesthood that is of God, one church, one faith, one baptism, etc. That is the reason for the existence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to restore the light and truths that were lost over a thousand years ago.
Now, you need not suppose that the leadership of the LDS church will ever seek permission from the leadership of any other church(es) to be considered to be Christian. Such permission is not needed, for obvious reasons. There is nothing exclusive in the Nicene Creed about what is true Christian doctrine. No church today that claims authority from the Nicene Creed has any real authority from God to declare the beliefs of another church to not be Christian. The Nicene Creed itself is a compromise that was made between the various sects at that time in the Early Christian Church. Some of these sects even had pagan roots. The ancient Apostles were simply not in the slightest bit involved with the Nicene Creed. However, despite the polarizing, controversial nature of these statements I have made, you need not suppose that I am opposed to any church or any people. Simply consider that I know a great deal about the complexities of human history, especially in Europe and the West, and the last thing I ever want to do is to offend any Christian, who is a true Christian in their heart.
I am concerned with the nature of the individual relationships between members of the Lutheran Church and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I would hope that no Lutheran pastor is guilty of preventing potentially uplifting associations between Mormons and Lutherans. Nothing would make me happier than to see a greater fellowship between the two church bodies. Consider the pros and cons, and what is really good and evil when interacting with all sorts of people. I'm sure that you will find that there is nothing to be lost with a greater degree of familiarity, friendship, and comradery between the two faiths. Consider, at least, three similarities of note. The similarity of character in Martin Luther and Joseph Smith, and how they strove to correct the falsehoods and immoral practices that went against the true teachings of Christ in their day, falsehoods practiced by those churches professing themselves to be Christian. Reformation in the case of Martin Luther, restoration in the case of Joseph Smith. Next, consider the similarities in heritage between the early European members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (esp. from Scandinavia and Northern Germany), and the heritage of the principal part of the Lutheran Church in Northern Europe. Lastly, consider the common artistic and cultural heritage of the two churches, the conservative, Godly music that is played and sung on Sundays in both churches, and how both churches really are, in actuality, more alike in spirit and in doctrine than most people realize.
Having said all this, I am aware of many of the concerns that many people have about my church. For them, they need to know for themselves what is of God, and what is not of God. There is nothing, no part of my religion that is ungodly, pure and simple. It is such an abhorrent thought to consider my beliefs to be wrong and evil. There is nothing that has brought me greater joy than living by the doctrines of my church, the moral standards, the ennobling theology, all of it. This is what people need to understand better, what it really means to be Mormon. At least they can say, once they are more familiar with the people, the doctrine, and the general lifestyle of the Mormons, other Christians, etc. at large will no longer believe all of the crazy rumors that have been circulating ever since the 1830's.
You can respond to me at: benjamingessel@gmail.com . Please, take the time to really consider my thoughts in these matters, Pastor Sauer. At the very least, if nothing else, you will know more of what it is that makes my church unique and special. :)

Lutherans and Mormons

Posted by Paul at August 04, 2010 13:03
Without going into too much detail in how I found this great site, I would just like to add my testimony to those I have read on this site, especially the words of Bro. Gessel.

My testimony is simple,

I know that my Savior lives. I know the only way to return to my Father in Heaven is through and only through Jesus Christ. This testimony I have gained in the Lord Jesus Christ has come through the teachings and gospel taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
As a missionary in Quebec Canada over 15 years ago, my only purpose was to help by brothers and sisters come closer to Christ. Whether it was through countless hours of service or proselyting, all I wanted to do was help bring souls to Christ. I never "converted" one soul as a missionary. The Spirit of the Lord converted them. The greatest success that I felt I had as a missionary was that I came closer to my Savior through the serving as a missionary.
My testimony in Jesus Christ has grown throughout the years. It has grown by means of conversing with those of other faiths and being able to serve those around me, regardless of the church they belong to.
To my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lutherans, I applaud you for yor testimonies of the Savior. Thank you for your desires to serve and help those you know come closer to our Savior.
I pray the Spirit of Christ will lead you continually as you seek to serve the Lord.

Thank You,
Paul

All Believers in Christ

Posted by Victor at May 12, 2011 17:55
As Christians we must understand that God must be the center in our lives. we must (All Believers in Christ) come together and do God’s Work and his great commission of saving lives and bringing the unsaved to Christ. our traditions and customs are very important to us but without God they are just traditions and customs. we all struggle and we all fall but together we can do great things. Today, and now we must be one with Christ and do what he requires – we all seem to forget that we are not in control of our life, God is and we must learn how to submit to our King and savior.



BEING CHRISTIAN AND SPREADING THE WORD OF THE LORD

Posted by altemirjustino@hotmail.com at May 30, 2011 00:41
I could feel some tension here while I read. I honestly don't intend to add any more ingredient to those arguments, but the reality of my country.
I am Brazilian, when I was a teenager I came in contact with the church through my friend and now father... that goes back 30 years. I am a returned missionary now, a leader in the church where I reside, not schooled to be a bishop but shaped through the difficulties my country offered me.
I gave a training this morning to nearly 150 people in my ward, some young men are going on a mission soon and we have to gather the resources to send them out to the field to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church of Jesus Christ has around 51 000 missionaries worldwide and that number is going to double in the next decade. Brazil has initiated heavy preparation to join the more developed countries in preparing the world for the second coming... in my heart I know everyone deserves to know what we know... it is the most precious gift God prepared for the latter days when Christ shall come. I told the brothers today that we as 150 people can support about 20 missionaries on the field. For the ones who don't know why we do this sacrifice I now want to say the reason... 'it is for every child of God to know and that one who was told of this should tell the others...'
I also spoke of how much people need to know why WE, the Church of Jesus Christ received the priesthood from the original apostles and John and that makes us the ones in charge of baptizing every Christian who will be accepted into the realms of God.
I sympathise with the Luterans and share the same belief towards Jesus our Savior and I love them and would love to have a chance to get them working for free to grow the kingdom of the Lord. We support ourselves through a life of service, not only as missionaries on the field. I teach, my wife is a lawyer and I have four kids to raise... I pay tithes, support the widows, last couple years we buried 7 of our brothers and their widows and children are under the care of the bishopric. We fast once a month and as it is the case this very month, more than once. The money from the food we didn't use goes to support the less favored brothers and sisters... we do not use any money from the church... it is sacred to us... we build chaples and temples to give comfort and shelter while our brothers and sisters will listen to words of Restored Gospel anywhere in the world. No matter how big or far from us... we are a great family and I so speak without any reserve... the brothers who already spoke here know it is true.
So I share my love here. The Church of Jesus Christ is precious to all nations and we are welcoming visitors into any of our chaples for adoration happens every Sunday morning throughout the world... we lay priesthood holders, full of mistakes and weaknesses and with families to support and gospel to preach are there at the head of services, making sure the gospel is spread and the children of God comforted, no matter their whereabouts. I live in a growing city, it is violent, the schooling is precarious, people are striving to make a living ... we are all common people doing a tremendous and undeniable good to mankind... and I can only credit all that to our Lord Jesus Christ for perfecting the body of the church in a way that the restored gospel would get a whole nation out of misery.
100.000 missionaries will tell the world Jesus lives and even when I am getting too old to bring the truth into light I prepare my sons and young men to go out there and boldly declare the urge of the latter days for Christians to stand and do good.

We are not dissappearing

Posted by Amanda Dicken at August 31, 2011 14:44
I read through the article posted and was enlightened to what was written. I was baptized in the Lutheran Church as a baby and then later accepted being a christian in the Lutheran way of worship when I was in middle school. I can't say I have lead the most perfect life and have lost my ways at time but I have always found strength in the Lutheran church in the end. I am still in my upper 20s and married with a son. Eventually I will be moving to an area where it is predominately mostly a mormon community but I was able to find 1 Lutheran church. As I will be seperated from an abusive husband. In keeping to Lutheranism and appealing to a younger crowd to build the church and not have it go away the older generation of Lutherans need to be more open about accepting new ideas such as technology to grow the church. People with younger children need more activities and things that are going to keep their interest. Using scripture and taking so that it goes with what is going on today for a better understanding.

Making Lutheranism more appealing

Posted by Shonna at February 16, 2012 14:17
I grew up...well...to be honest I didn't really grow up in any religion, but my grandmother was Lutheran and she took me to church/catechism when I lived near her, but when I was 18 I really studied a variety of religions. I read the Koran. I read the book of Mormon. I read about Buddhism and Catholicism and others. I came back to the Lutheran religion because it most represents what *I* truly believe. As an adult I was confirmed.

That's my background...not what I am having trouble with is finding a church that offers INVOLVEMENT! I want to go to church mid-week...I want things offered during the week in the form of outreach/witnessing...I want bible study. I want to be INVOLVED in the church and share my beliefs with others who both have the same beliefs and with those who may believe something else. I am finding that the Lutheran church is mostly a Sunday only...MAYBE Wednesday night type of church and that's about it. I want MORE.

Referencing posting by Paul Sauer, 9-27-2008

Posted by Bob at January 16, 2013 18:19
I was Lutheran and in my early 20's was approached by, taught, and became a Mormon. I did not do this because I thought Lutherans were wrong at the time, however the Mormons were extremely family oriented and very interpersonal. Also, my early and initial exposure to the Mormonism, seemed to be very much of a Christian nature, much like that of Lutheran Christian. In fact the Mormons go out of their way to say they are "very" Christian. However, over the years as I got to know more about in-depth Mormon theology, I became more and more troubled. After years of research and questioning - I came to realize how non-christian the Mormon religion was. Such things as Christ being a spirit brother of Satan, Joseph Smith's revelation that all other churches are abominations, God having been once a sinful man himself, God presently has a body of flesh and bones, Mormons can become a God over a world of their own in the Celestial Kingdom of heaven, saying that the Bible has not been interpreted properly - only the Book of Mormon is, singing praises to Joseph smith in church service, requirement that special hand grasps, phrases, and names are needed to get to Celestial level of Heaven, so on, and so on. After much mental struggle, I finally had to admit I made a mistake and I returned to the Lutheran Church. I should have never left. Having said that, though, I will say that we Lutherans need to encourage our members to be more outgoing and seek out people to tell the good news of our Savior. We should also look at what other churches are doing in other areas, as well, and implement items that work so we can greatly increase the Lutheran fold.

Embarassing Mormons

Posted by Jodi at January 26, 2013 07:50
Interesting discussion spanning over four years-
As a born & raised Lutheran who grew up in the Bible Belt and lived most of my adult life here, I can empathize with the Mormons for being misunderstood. I was confronted by a well meaning and devout friend once for "worshipping Martin Luther." Any Lutheran reading this is rolling his or her eyes, maybe laughing too. To any Mormons reading this, you should know that for the majority of the laity, even reading Luther begins and ends with the Small Catechism in Confirmation classes. In an earlier post someone asserted that the Lutheran basis for our understanding of the nature of Christ comes from the Nicene Creed. More accurately, we *use* the Nicene Creed to confess our faith, but the basis for our belief comes from the Gospels, particularly as Christ stated, "The Father and I are one." (John 10:30) In another post it was stated, paraphrasing, that only the Mormon Council of Twelve uses prayer and discernment in placing its missionaries. But we Lutherans know, although we don't talk about it much, that our pastors are called not just to their posts but called individually by the Lord to ministry and respond to the Call. I've never heard it stated but I assume the same is very true for our missionaries as well.
Pastor Sauer, your point is well taken. When I read it and also when I think of the LDS, Bonhoeffer in "The Cost of Discipleship" comes to mind. As Lutherans we love our "cheap grace" that's readily available to anyone, even though we know it was anything but "cheap". We love that our faith itself is a gift. The "undeserved love of God" is the cornerstone of our relationship to the Lord and our message. Mormon grace by contrast is not "cheap"; it requires discipleship and as you noted often being visibly "in the world not of it." We serve not from the assurance of a better Heaven but rather from the love we have for our Redeemer. So what's the answer? If our love was greater would our discipleship improve? Whatever, we know the stats for Lutheran congregations here in the U.S. One last thought to share with you came from a man who grew up in a fundamentalist denomination then became a Lutheran. He said, "All my life my beliefs have been Lutheran, I just didn't know what it was called." Here we sit with so much truth in our hands and we need to share it.

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