I've had a little time to ponder the Synodical Convention, which met from July 20 to July 25 in Tampa, FL.

After visiting with delegates, and reviewing delegate reports, it's clear the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod benefits when we have a healthy dynamic tension. See photos of the Ohio District delegation and the convention HERE

Dynamic tension is formed when an organization has two core values that function as polar opposites. For example, a church with leaders who are deeply devoted to caring for members and leaders who are passionate about reaching the spiritually lost will experience tension. This tension is healthy when it keeps the church from obsessing on either only on members or only on those who are lost.

I think changes in society, and Christendom, were the catalyst for dynamic tension at the Synodical Convention. While it probably started earlier, since the 1960s society has become increasingly intolerant of orthodox belief and practice. In the past generation, entire denominations have jettisoned their historic confessions of faith.

In Tampa, I saw a church body responding to these pressures.

On the hand, the convention chose to "contend the faith once for all handed down to the saints." (Jude 3) As the culture pushes us toward compromise, the convention responded by reaffirming to the orthodox faith.

On the other hand, the convention recommitted to "make disciples of all nations..." (Matthew 28:19) The further society moves from God, the more society needs Jesus.

I think this dynamic tension was best seen in two themes.

The theme of the Synodical Convention was, "Joy:Fully Lutheran." In the face of our changing world, the convention reaffirmed confessional faith and life.

The convention also approved the theme of the next triennium as, "Making Disciples for Life." Just in case there is any question that this is a reaffirmation of God's Mission, the convention approved mission priorities for the triennium:

  • Evangelize the lost.
  • Retain the faithful.
  • Strengthen congregations.
  • Plant new congregations and schools wherever possible, especially in urban and multi-cultural communities.
  • Engage in international mission in partnership with Synod.

Clearly, the LCMS has members and leaders who are passionate about either defending or sharing the faith. At times, the politicking this season was irritating or frustrating. Other times, it was sinful, requiring repentance from personal attacks or inaccurate accusations.

However, the issue isn't that there are disagreements over how to contend for the faith or witness. Such disagreements are part of the healthy tension. The issue is when we sin in disagreeing.

As members of the LCMS, we will move forward with "Making Disciples for Life" during the next triennium. In the coming months, District leadership and staff will share resources for making disciples for life, especially resources provided at the convention.

(Photo of most of the Ohio District delegation at the convention.)