First I get a joyful message from Higher Things that they are now a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS (which means by the way they are in service to it). Then I have faithful members passing on the good news. Much like Garth Brook’s song I find these higher things highlight my lower places.
I know this isn’t what you want to hear, but it’s funny (or not) that an organization whose reason for being is the antithesis of what the LCMS is doing in youth ministry and worship would want to be a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS along with 298 other organizations “whose operations foster the mission and ministry of the church, whose program activities are in harmony with the programs of the boards of the Synod, and who agrees to respect and not act contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Synod” (http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=13433) .
I can certainly see why LCMS, Inc. would want this. Put those tent pegs out farther, broaden the base; it’s a coup to get those who believe youth ministry is Word and Sacrament ministry to, maybe not go along but at least, get along with those who for 30 years have believed it’s happy-clappy. As usually is the case in a pluralistic church body, one group is busy building what the other group is tearing down.
But let’s me clear on who, humanly speaking, will be the torn and the tearee. LCMS Youth, Inc. puts on a show once every three years that gathers 30,000 plus participants. Higher Things does their thing each year and gathers no more than 2,000. But now they’re an RSO! Now The Synod recognizes them and what they are doing, and they in turn recognize her and what she is doing in youth work. Something is lost by Higher Things, and something is gained by The National LCMS Youth Gathering.
Don’t get me wrong. My youth and I attend Higher Things. My congregation sends money to them each year; I think they are doing a great job. But we did this; I thought this before LCMS, Inc. recognized them. I thought highly of them when they were still a lowly organization without recognition, and I find they’re recognition by the powers from on high leaves me feeling lowly.
But, perhaps, as Martha Stewart would say, “That’s a good thing.” And Higher Things perhaps would say “to whom much is “Given” much is expected” while the National LCMS Youth Gathering might respond, “We believe.”
Now, not so gentle reader, compare the past themes of Higher Things gatherings “Dare to be Lutheran,” “The Feast,” “For You,” “Amen,” “Sola” with the “We Believe” of the 2010 LCMS, Inc. gathering. There’s theology in them there themes. Before it was openly considered different now that HT is an RSO it’s considered complimentary. Just when “reconciled diversity” is declared a dead ecumenical model (Logia, Holy Trinity 2009, 5), it resurfaces within our Synod. Truth be told, I think we invented it.