This blog will be the last in what became a weekly series of 128 blogs. I have run out of productive things to say.
My emphasis from the beginning was to understand the decline of traditional mainline congregations with our distinguished histories. The underlying question is how to turn this trend around. Answers are to be found in more creative ministries. To that end, I invited readers to expand their appreciation of the role of the Holy Spirit in our church work today.
Mainline church traditions did not pick up on the major role of the Spirit in the Apostle Paul’s understanding of spiritual life both for individual believers and especially for their churches. We rightfully celebrate the centrality of grace in Paul’s theology. But he actually referred to the Spirit twice as often. We focus on being “in Christ.” But, again, Paul referred to the Spirit twice as often.
In the most recent round of blogs, I choose to probe the edges of traditional conservative biblical truths. My intent was to promote greater understandings of the riches we have in the inspired, infallible Scriptures. That has made some uncomfortable. I was thinking too much like a professor and not enough as a pastor. I value the broader audience.
My thanks go to all who were such faithful readers over the last two and a half years, and especially to those who offered their many comments and insights.
Michael Knauff says
I am saddened to learn this open conversation is coming to a close. You’ve blessed me with your insightful way of revealing how traditional Lutheran theology doesn’t have to overemphasize the Father, and the Son at the expense of the Spirit in individual and corporate faith life. I’ve been blessed to hear your thoughts on where the movements of Entertainment Evangelism and Marketing Christianity have “gotten it right” and gone down the wrong road. I thank you for bringing a distinctly Lutheran voice to many a sticky topic and expressing yourself without rage or hyperbole (a rare thing in our day and age). Thank you for that. I’m sorry to know its ending. Nevertheless endings of one conversation hopefully lead to the beginning of others.
Marilyn L Weitzel says
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and knowledge , and love with us. My understanding of the Holy Spirit ha deepend and became more personal through the last 2 years. It is the Spirit who was and is my personal comfort and guide through life’s tragedies. You have permission to take a break and wait for guidance as to what to do next. :)Love in Christ, Marilyn
Thanks for your insights and ministry. They have richly blessed my life over the years. I pray God will continue to bless you in the coming years.
Ken Kerr says
Thank you David, I am a Baptist associate pastor, retired at 82 because of wife’s health, and throughly enjoyed the thoughts you have given. It is applicable across the spectrum of Christianity, not just the ‘main-line’ churches as we all face the same problems. One of the biggest is the increase of members who do not know Jesus Christ as their saviour, just as a friend or whatever and never have the Spirit to start with, even pastors (Baptist) who deny the deity of Jesus: how does one spiritually grow a church in these conditions becomes the question and you have given a lot of insight into the answer.
Lee Larsen says
Thank you for taking time to challenge us to examine our faith and are we living it out the best way possible to glorify God and expand His Kingdom..
Tim Bohlmann says
Thank you, David, for allowing me to take this journey with you! I learned and grew and was challenged – all for the good of my task as Pastor. Blessings to you in the next steps…
Elaine Schomaker says
Dave, Thank you for all your blogs. I have printed them out with the wonderful pictures attached. Quite a valiant effort. So appreciative of you taking the time to put your thoughts down on paper and sharing your wisdom and foresight in your many writings.
Quite a blessing and a treasure.
Paul Winningham says
David, I have appreciated our blogs, most of which I read, though time kept me from ever venturing into the comments. Thank you for your concern and passion for doing this. God continue to bless you!
Paul Koehn says
Thanks, Dave! Your writing has stimulated much thought and discussion over the years. I have copied, printed and forwarded any number of your blogs to elders at the church as well as other pastors and church leaders. We certainly do need the Holy Spirit emphasis! Without Him the Church is a shell of ineffective ritual!
Hey, would you be at all interested in being part of a monthly zoom meeting with the “RIM Remnant”? If so, send you best email and I, as poor as I am at technology, will try to get you the meeting info for September 22 at noon EST.
Richard Gibson says
Thanks for your insightful and dedicated work. Blessings to you.
I have really enjoyed your blog. You are very knowledgeable and intelligent!
Rev Ray Cummings says
I am an LCMS Pastor, semi retired.Still involved in the same congregation for 51 years.I’ve enjoyed your blogs and have
experienced the blessing of a greater focus on allowing the
Spirit of God to lead myself and the congregation.And also to
assist the saints in their own understanding of what it means to Walk in the Spirit.Since I’m semi retired and so I have a little more time,I’ve taken opportunity to re read the Confessions paying special attention to references to the Spirit of God.
I’m amazed at the very clear understanding of the Spirit’s work
in the life of the believer and also the church.Very refreshing.
Linda Kosakowski says
I will miss your thoughts each week. Thank you for challenging us to dig deeper.
alfred schubert says
Thank you for provoking some thought. I have saved all of these email missives. I recently took a call to a parish in Mississippi. I look forward to discussing many of your thoughts with this congregation. God’s blessings!
Shirley C Ehler says
Thank you for our insights. I have enjoyed reading your blogs.
Kristine McAfee says
I am so sorry to see your blog series ending….I hope you are planning a new one! You have challenged your readers and elicited a lot of great conversations! I wish you all the best and truly hope the Spirit leads you in a new direction and you continue to write! Many blessings to you Pastor Luecke!
Richard Peterson, retired LCMS pastor says
I have deeply appreciated your blogs regarding the Holy Spirit in the life and ministry of Christians.
I have been part of the Charismatic Renewal since 1970. I have also been a member of RIM (Renewal in Missouri) from the beginning until it was discontinued after accomplishing its purpose of speaking to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod on the Biblical legitimacy of the Spirit’s ministry today. The leaders of RIM, under the leadership of men like Pastor Del Rossin, met with a number of the LCMS leaders on several occasions to deal with misunderstandings of the LCMS regarding the Lutherans involved in the Charismatic Renewal. I believe that RIM leaders acted humbly and thoroughly in answering the concerns of our LCMS leaders. The RIM leaders distinguished our understandings from that of Pentecostal understanding on many issues.
I also was a part of the larger group called Lutheran Renewal–a ministry to all Lutherans involved in the Charismatic Renewal.
Those two organizations were truly a blessing to me and my ministry. In the last three congregations, where I served, I openly taught regarding the Holy Spirit’s gifts and the ministry of the Holy Spirit today.
I am now retired and continue to share wherever and whenever I can regarding the vital importance and necessity of the Holy Spirit’s ministry and gifts today in our lives and congregations.
I did not see your blogs as speaking more from a professor than from a parish pastor. Thank you for your vital ministry.
Alan Fox says
Thank you for your steady faith, your scholarship and allowing the Holy Spirit to use you to touch many. God has used your work to help my work in the local church.
Until we meet for the first time! Thank you
Allen Kramp says
Thank you for your thought-provoking examinations in your weekly blogs over the past few years.
I appreciate that, while I didn’t agree with your every assessment, your timely thoughts expressed
nudged me into deeper consideration of the challenges facing the LCMS and other church bodies
in connecting with the culture around us. Thank you for the discussion of God the Holy Spirit’s work
in this regard.
Thank you for addressing Spirit and sanctification as you have. I have been following for about two years and always paused to read your writing. Your work has helped me as a pastor (professionally) and as a Christ-follower (personally). I will miss your reflections.
James L Hoefer says
I have always appreciated your efforts, and your understanding of the necessity of fellowshipping with the HOLY SPIRIT of JESUS if we are to succeed in HIS MINISTRY. There is only ONE MINISTRY, and it is NOT OURS!
Dan Bell says
You were the only person I knew who was giving us a longer view of not only what was happening around us, but also why. I thank you!
Barry Keurulainen says
Thank you David. Your thoughts are brave and stimulating. Your voice carries a prophetic tone that honors Christ and blesses my soul.
Kathy Graumann says
Thank you for your faithful ministry.
Frank Janzow says
Thanks for all the thought and work that you put into addressing issues in theology and church today. I know many are quite discouraged about declines and plateaus in congregations in these days. Me too. But I have a simple faith in Jesus’ promise, “I will build my church.” And course, the Spirit you referenced is the spirit of the risen Lord ever at work in and among us. Thanks David! Best blessings.
Rev. Bruce E. Rudolf says
Sorry to see this end Dave, but I’ve saved and am re-reading old ones. Without a doubt the highpoint of my spiritual walk was in my second congregation when we experienced the renewal of the Spirit among us, He waited for me sluggishly to get on board but then what a great time in Christ. An emphasis on the Spirit resulted in our appreciating Jesus as LORD much more. Thanks and hopefully there will be something more like this in the future. Bruce Rudolf
Patricia M Black says
Thank you so much for sharing your insights. I now am 85 years old, baptized and raised in the Lutheran Church, MS, and at times during my life have had the privilege of experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit through workshops and worship. Now it seems the church is closed to speaking and teaching about the third part of the Trinity. In times like these in our world, the power of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives are so needed, along with the church. I am thankful for your teachings and may He continue to use you to bring His great gift of the Holy Spirit to life! What situation in this world and our personal life is the counsel of the Holy Spirit and His Power not needed? No situation that I can see. Thanks again.
Thanks, Dr. L! Your constant drive to seek the Holy Spirit is a good one, and though I became aware of your blog in Fall, 2019 I enjoyed the ones I read. Will you be putting them into a book format like you did with a number of them last year?
Michael Burmeister says
Smart move! Proverbs 27:8
Paul Ulring says
Thank you , David…..for your faith-fullness. These have been many great “reads” for me. Growing up in conservative Norwegian piety, being in seminary in the transition years of historical critical method, serving UALC for most of my ministry in three different roles and positions…….your words and thoughts have been both comfort and challenge.
You have been wise, Biblical, healthy charismatic, balanced, psychological, sociological, and a churchman in all of this. Some blogs I’ve savored; others I’ve read and moved on, perhaps. But they have been great, especially nourishing in these COVID times.
I realize it’s hard to keep at this kind of thing. It’s time for a break……until you find another Wind/breeze that once again fills your sails and moves your boat in another journey or direction.
Thanks for all of this. I have commented very little if at all. But I am one of those who has enjoyed and often feasted at the feet of your pastoral heart and wisdom.
UALC, retired and doing some visitation when not at the lake in Minnesota.
Daniel Flucke says
I haven’t commented before, but I’ve appreciated your series of posts. Thank you for your ministry!
Lee Kofahl says
I am sorry to see your blog come to an end. While I didn’t read it every time, I found value in what I did read. As Jesus adapted ministry His to the people He was addressing, so must the church today be adaptive and creative in presentation without changing God’s word. We need authentic, creative church leaders who are grounded in God’s word and energetically strive to connect the Word with people ‘s hearts. Blessings to you, David, and your ministry.
Rev. Ron Schultz says
I love your thoughts and get a great deal from Your Scriptural application.
Specifically, there are so many “Talking Heads” as Malcolm Muggeridge, the British journalist and late in life convert to Christianity. The same fits so many of us [Pastors, teachers and others].
You wrote refreshing words and was a good news for a pastor of 40 years and now in retirement a vacancy and interim pastor. Thank you for being such a good source of encouragement.
Yours in Christ, together with you, my brother in Jesus’ grace! Ron Schultz, 1011 College Ave. Holland, MI 49423
Rosemary Althodd says
I will very miss your blog posts.
I too have watched with consternation as my LCMS churches have ignored the role of the Holy Spirit in making the three Sola’s a reality in people’s lives.
Amen and thank you for helping me see this.
Irvin F. Stapf says
Dear Pastor Luecke,
I haven’t read all of your 128 posts seeking to understand the decline in mainline Christian churches. The few I have read have been good, useful, and to the point.
I am a retired Lutheran pastor affiliated with The American Association of Lutheran Churches, having served in Maryland for 50 years. The decline has been visible and progressive for a long time. Certainly even more so in the past couple of years. Further, we all (not just Christians) recognize the litany of problems we face today – virus, storms, climate, economy, etc., etc., etc.
And from the Christian perspective the gender issues, decline in family life, divorce, general acceptance of sexual intimacy apart from the marriage covenant, etc., etc., Especially the great decline of biblical literacy which opens the door for all the others.
When we say “Christian church” I think we need to broaden the group of people we are talking about. As Lutherans we, I believe correctly along with other confessional Christians, take the sacraments very seriously as a means of God’s grace. They are not to be taken casually as just a traditional thing we do. Or as with some baptisms (I dislike the work Christening) simply to please grandma. Sacraments are to be received as a gift of God through faith in Jesus Christ. They are not magic, but they are powerful unto salvation for those who believe. However, as I understand St. Paul in his chastising the Corinthians about misusing Holy Communion, (I Cor.11) if used for the wrong reasons or without faith they can have serious consequences.
I am carful here not to attempt any strict or legal cause and affect. i.e. “You stumbled and broke your leg because you did thus and so.” But I must ask the question, Do the trials and long list of serious problems we face have anything to do with the way we have denied, warped, misused, and rejected the good way our Lord invites us to follow? (Jeremiah 6:16)
I have been taught to understand “the Church” not just as those who are “true believers in Jesus” but as the “company of the baptized”, all those who have accepted baptism in the Name of our Triune God. They are the collective “we” I’ve use above. Whether they have been baptized in true faith, or just because grandma wanted them to, and it keeps peace in the family, or some other “traditional” non-faith reason. Much of today’s Church is in this latter group. This could certainly be true of America, and the West, which in general has a long Christian foundation. We sing in our churches “The Is My Father’s World” but then we continue on our way to the good life we’ve created, even though “He is the Ruler yet.”.
Forgive me, dear brother in Christ, for being so lengthy, but I must raise these thoughts. Is our gracious Lord asking to take a serious look at our present life? Is He looking for us turn to Him in repentance? Do we believers use our salvation in Christ, along with His blood won forgiveness as a “get out of jail free card” allowing us to continue the good life we’ve created? I see very few believers even thinking of this possibility. Maybe it’s time we did.
God’s abundant grace, blessing, and peace be always with you in Christ our Lord.
I will miss reading your insights. The church in general has fallen to the god of social justice and, unfortunately, true gospel teaching has been lost. Thank you for your reminding us the role of the Spirit in our lives
michael hoopingarner says
Thank you Pastor Luecke! I sincerely appreciated, enjoyed and was challenged with your blogs. I wish you future success and peace! May God continue to bless you and your family!
Todd Moritz says
God bless you friend!