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What Luther Says

The LCMS Addiction To Small Groups

At the LCMS Church that I belong to, we don't just offer Small Group Bible Studies centered around Evangelical best-sellers and led by laymen, we actually celebrate them as being central and absolutely necessary to our shared faith. Lord, have mercy!

I'm sorry, but I simply cannot let this go unaddressed. I know I'm just a layman (a young one at that) who's still deprogramming from my old Non-Denominational American Evangelical mindset, and that there's still a lot left for me to learn (and unlearn), but I do know a thing or two about why the Small Groups model is dangerous and deceptive.

Over the years, Humanistic Psychology and a little bit of false Reformed/Pentecostal Theology describing attainable "levels of sanctification" have caused people to think that they need Small Groups to "really connect" to God through others and have some kind of meaningful spiritual experience. I should know, I used to be one of those deceived ones!

Apparently, connecting to God through our Lord and Savior's body and blood in the Divine Service is not enough for some people who are so emotionally starved that they become addicted to their Small Groups and cannot bear the thought of leaving them -- at any cost -- and they would not leave them even if it were proven that such Small Groups were guilty of blasphemy and/or heresy.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here. I know I'm not the first Confessional Lutheran to write about these things, that I won't be the last, and I know for a fact there are many others who have long ago done a much better job of communicating what I'm hoping to say here today.

Case in point, this brief critique offered up by Pastor Tim Rossow who we'll be referring to quite often throughout today's message.

I have other issues with small groups theory and practice, primary of which is that they are built around a relational model instead of a proclamation model. The Gospel forgives my sin whether I relate to it or not. As a matter of fact, that is the Gospel. I really don’t relate to it. I relate to the seductive words Satan spoke to Eve. But thanks be to God, there is no condemnation for Eve and me because the Holy Spirit has worked faith in me and he did so before I was even capable of a relationship -- on the eighth day of my life. God proclaimed me his child.

Again, while that really says it all very nicely and there's really nothing new that I could add to this discussion, this still needs to be shared I think, because this is "Exhibit A" when it comes to proof of the Evangelical infestation within the Synod.

The "Super Christians" within the church I belong to are at it again I'm afraid. They recently decided that they would host a "Celebration Luncheon" for everyone who took part in the 8-Week Small Group Bible Study series on Francis Chan's CRAZY LOVE book.

The joke is that they called it a "Bible Study" when God's Word played second fiddle to the Pied Piper of Pietism, Francis Chan, who wrote this best-seller that basically tells Christians why they're "lukewarm" and should question their salvation if they don't exhibit the kind of "crazy love" and "radical" lifestyle for Jesus Christ that he believes is worthy of that description.

I'll have to get around to publishing my book review on that destructive heresy soon since there are so many Christians who are swallowing it hook, line, and sinker primarily because it strokes the Old Adam's ego.

As important as a post like this is, it still always saddens me to write something like this. No, not just as an ex-Evangelical who knows what kind of spiritual damage a book and a message like that can and will do to my beloved brethren, but because the brother in Christ who was responsible for organizing all of this at our church is a very close friend of mine.

In fact, I even met with him on three separate occasions (for a total of 12 hours!) with our Bibles open in hand trying to make the case that it would be dangerous and irresponsible of him to proceed. My pleas fell on deaf ears, and he decided to move forward.

I'll never know if it was an attempt to placate me or to assuage his guilty conscience before Almighty God, but he even pressed forward after admitting to me that he had ripped out a couple of pages in each book and inserted a note explaining to each Small Group participant why. This is what an addiction to Small Groups has come to -- a reluctance to do the right thing and let go even when it's been proven harmful to one's spiritual health. What is it the Bible says about a little leaven?

As mentioned yesterday, a lot of the reading I've been doing while I've been sick for the past several days has had to do with a critique of the modern-day LCMS addiction to Small Groups, especially as it all relates to "Emergent Christianity," the "Church Growth Movement," and "Contemporary Worship."

Get a load of this brief write-up found in this month's Newsletter from the church that I belong to.

Anything immediately strike you about that self-congratulatory note?

For me, it was the chorus of cliches and myths that are constantly associated with this addiction to Small Groups. Things like...

*- "...to share the value of what Trinity offers in this vital ministry."

*- "It's how we make Trinity smaller and give more people a chance to connect relationally as well as grow spiritually."

*- "It's kind of neat that Small Groups is a knee-jerk answer given by a variety of people when asked what they value about Trinity."

*- The pressure to conform by either joining a Small Group or inviting someone to a Small Group and if you don't comply a simply "Why?" is leveled against you as though you're the problem because how could Small Groups ever be considered a "bad" thing?

*- "It's made a lasting impact in my life. I can't imagine being at Trinity without it (Small Groups). I've learned so much and also have some lasting relationships because of it."

Some of you may be wondering, "What's so bad about any of that? Aren't those good, harmless, positive responses to Small Groups?" I used to think so. In fact, I was once my church's biggest proponent of Small Groups, and if you didn't at least make an effort to attend one every now and then, well, then surely you were just a Christian-In-Name-Only.

Heck, I even led a couple Small Group Bible Studies myself as a layman who was only a Lutheran and a member of the church for a little over a year!

Perhaps I can help to clarify what I've learned since that has changed my perspective entirely. I pray this helps to explain why we must be wary of the Small Groups system. To do so, I'll be referencing some of the commentaries and studies that helped to open my eyes to the truth.

Here's an EXCELLENT critique of Small Groups by Pastor Tim Rossow. Please read the whole thing for context, but here's the spiritual meat that you need to chew on for awhile...

#1 – Small groups are the right thing to do because they work. James has experienced “success” in his small group. They have successfully created an environment of care and camaraderie. That’s good. But, we do not do things in the church because they work if they are contrary to God’s way. God’s way of studying Scripture is with God’s called teacher of Scripture. James has fallen prey in his logic to American pragmatism which judges truth based on “what works.” If it works, it is true. The Scriptures reject that logic. We do things in the Church that are taught in God’s Word or are consistent with God’s Word. Laymen teaching other laymen and having authority over them is not Scriptural. Who is the divinely ordained authority in the small group? James does not have authority over any of the other men in his small group. This brings to mind another principle at work here. Small groups are consistent with American individualism. There is some truth in this individualism but it is not the organizing principle of God for delivering His means of grace. We are all equal in Christ but we are not all teachers. The pastor is the teacher and the authority called by God to oversee the Word in the congregation. At work James is in authority over those who work for him. At the church men’s club, the officers of the group have authority. When the Word is being taught in the parish it is the pastor who has the God-given authority to supervise. Without a pastor present, it is simply a free for all.

#2 – Small groups are the right thing to do because they create “fellowship.” James is confused about what the Bible teaches on “fellowship.” He uses the Greek word ‘koinonia.” The word koinonia in its base meaning can refer to the sort of camaraderie that James finds in his small group but in the New Testament it is used in a much more profound way. It is used to describe the fellowship that we have with God through the forgiveness of sins and participation (fellowship) in the body and blood of Christ in His Supper. The camaraderie that James speaks of (people helping him when he is sick) is important but it is not what the Bible is referring to when it refers to the importance of “fellowship” in the parish. The sort of camaraderie James refers to is an outgrowth of the administration of Word and sacrament delivered by the stewards of the mysteries of God – the pastors (I Cor. 4:1). In the Small Catechism’s Table of Duties Luther reminds us that there are two main vocations in the church. There are preachers and hearers. The preachers owe it to their hearers to preach the pure Gospel. The hearers owe it to their preachers to obey them insofar as they preach this pure Gospel. This simple pair from the Table of Duties shows us the Biblical organizational principle for the parish and the alternative to small groups.

#3 – There is no other way for Lutherans to create “fellowship.” Here James is just simply overstating his case and setting up a false alternative. There are all sorts of ways to organize so that the parish takes care of its members. Our parish delivers meals to those in need. We provide rides to church. We visit the shut-ins. We provide housing for two different member families and more. James’ small group has helped him. I do not deny that but that does not mean that small groups are the only way we can care for each other and that we must have small groups if we are going to care for each other. I am also in favor of camaraderie. That happens in the divinely intended small group known as the family and secondarily with the family of God at church in various activities. I am looking forward to the camaraderie of enjoying the Super Bowl tomorrow with our Brothers of John the Steadfast chapter. I also enjoy camaraderie with the several neighborhood and civic activities that I participate in (tennis league, neighborhood dinner out night, etc.). Camaraderie is a sacrament (small “s”) of the left hand kingdom. Fellowship as spoken of in the Bible, is a Sacrament of the right hand kingdom and comes from the altar, pulpit and font. I encourage James and others to change their view of what the church provides. If you look to your church to provide the one thing needful, the mystery of unity with Christ through the preached and sacramental Word, you will be free to find camaraderie in other places. When camaraderie happens at church it is a good thing and it should be a part of our planning at church but it is secondary to the plans we make to administer Word and sacrament.

#4 – Small groups are the right thing to do because it helps new members get to know other members. (See #3 above.)

#5 – Small groups have become too big of a thing and the church is just helpless to make then go away, even if they are wrong. We began with American pragmatism and we end with it. James’ argumentation is really bad here and really scary. We just can’t get rid of these things so let’s just keep them. I will let you be the judge of that line of reasoning.

Let me add a few more thoughts. Small groups are not necessary. That is why we have church buildings. We build church buildings in order to bring a large group of people together to hear the Word and receive the sacraments via the called servants of God. Our church building is large enough that we can have hundreds of people studying the Word of God with their pastors teaching it, several times a day. There is no time nor space crunch keeping our members from learning the Word of God from their pastor. The only thing that seems to be limiting us is the unwilling spirits of sinful people. That will always be a challenge for the church. Setting up a faux means of administering the Word is not the solution. Here is a helpful question that gets to the heart of the notion that small groups are the uneccessary and often harmful “churches within the church.” Why don’t we administer Holy Communion in small groups? If laymen can teach the Word in small groups to great effect then we also ought to be able to administer Holy Communion in small groups. Yes?

Here is another thought. People claim that they get the Word more effectively in the informal and casual small group setting. Holy cow! That kind of thinking totally diminishes the power of the Word by submitting it to environmental affects not to mention how it diminishes the divinely ordained office of the ministry. If the church must have small groups then let us go all the way and emasculate ourselves by doing away with these expensive buildings and expensive pastors with their costly benefit plans. Here’s to small groups! They get the Word to us in a more effective manner and they solve all the cash problems of the church.

Above all, there is no mandate in Scripture for small group Bible study. The only place we see anything like it is in I Corinthians and there it is ridiculed, not encouraged. Everywhere Paul goes he appoints pastors to supervise and administer the Word and the sacraments. This is what God mandates in Scripture (Ephesians 4).

There are some good confessional theologians who get a little squeamish about abolishing small groups because they do not want to eliminate the duty and right of the laity to know and study Scripture. I don’t either. The laity need to be listening for the voice of Christ from the pastor and if they do not hear it, they are to rebuke him and see to it that the pure Gospel is preached. But this is not the same as saying that the laity have the right to assemble around the word apart from the pastor. Rights never have a home in the church. Christians do not demand things based on their rights. They search the Scriptures and look for their duties and vocations. This is a question of vocation. If someone argues that they have a right as a layman to study the Scriptures in a small group apart from a called teacher of the Word (i.e. a pastor) then they have entered an arena of rights and demands that does not square with the Scriptural teaching of vocation and servanthood. That takes us right back to the post where we started. As Rev. Woodford points out, even the church growth gurus are figuring out that vocation is the issue and that small groups are not the way to go.

I hope you found that to be as helpful as I did.

I would later discover that Pastor Rossow has been patiently trying to sound the alarm about this subject for years now.

What seems like just yesterday, although it has actually been nearly 25 years now, I sat at the feet of scholars that many still honor and revere in the LCMS and from them I learned how to be a pastor. I studied under exegetes Dale Meyer (now the president of the seminary), Erich Kiehl, and Horace Hummel to name a few. I also studied under historians David Daniel (who long ago left for Eastern Europe and now I think I know why) and Quentin Wesselschmidt. I also studied under Systematicians Norman Nagel, Ronald Feuerhahn, Richard Klann, and John Johnson. I listened to their teachings against Pietism and small groups, compared it to Scripture, accepted it, confessed it and am now passing it on to others.

Here is a summary of what I learned about small groups from the theologians of our father’s church and of my seminary:

The Historical Department: Philipp Jacob Spener founded the movement called pietism which sought to highlight individual piety often over and against the traditional, ritualistic and liturgical piety of the church. The ecclesiai in ecclesia (little congregations within the congregation, i.e. small groups) were the chief tool of the movement. Not surprisingly Pietism influenced John Wesley who founded Methodism, a similarly reactionary movement rooted in methods of sanctification and a more emotional piety than is typically wrought by the liturgy. The LCMS has a curious tie to Pietism. Martin Stephan, the ousted Bishop of the Saxon immigration (which would become the LCMS) attracted many young seminarians, students, pastors and laity to his emotional nighttime, pietistic prayer services, a young C. F. W. Walther (the ultimate founder of the LCMS) included. Young Walther would eventually see the error of his ways and became a staunch opponent of things pietistic and Methodist.

The Exegetical Department: Among other insights I remember learning from the exegetes that the so called “house church” phenomenon used to support the notion of small groups is a myth. The argument goes like this. All through the New Testament we see the disciples meeting in small “house churches” therefore this is the model for the church today. I learned there are at least two problems with this notion. Actually, these “house churches” were not small. They were hosted by the likes of wealthy people like Lydia who would have large outdoor areas (possibly covered by a roof) where their slaves would have dined and gathered. As many as 100 people could meet in these courtyards all in the comfort of the mild Mediterranean climate. Keep in mind there was no middle class like we have today. There were the poor and the wealthy. There were no middle class suburban homes that could house a group of 10-20 people where so many small groups meet today. Instead, the so called house churches were large gatherings. Secondly, as soon as Christianity was legalized the church bought large, open and public buildings for the liturgy. The gatherings in the courtyard house churches were not by design but by necessity.

The Systematics Department: From these scholars I learned respect for the means of grace and the office of the ministry. I learned of the poor translation of Ephesians 4 that makes it sound like the pastor is the equipper of the laity for the work of ministry when actually the better translation makes the “work of the ministry” one of the three things the pastor does. It matters where the commas go which is something that no small group would ever discern as they sit around seeking to learn what the text “means to them.” I also learned from them it is given to the pastor to teach the word. The Confessions are clear that no ought not to teach without being properly called.

Again, I pray that this is helpful to you as it was to me.

However, at this point, it's equally important that I clearly communicate what I am not saying just so that there is no confusion.

For instance, and to paraphrase Pastor Rossow on three key points he makes, I am not suggesting that laymen cannot and should not study the Bible on their own or without a Pastor present. Laymen need to know the Scriptures and the Confessions. Of course, we know that laymen have the authority to rebuke the Pastor armed with God’s Word should he teach false doctrine from the pulpit.

In addition, I'm also not suggesting that laymen do not have spiritual authority in their home. They most certainly do. You need to read the Bible and read the Confessions regularly. Men, you are the spiritual leaders in your own home. The problem arises when two spiritual leaders get together. There is no more authority because neither of them has spiritual authority over the other. It is either a free-for-all or a stand-off, isn't it? Regardless, neither is Scriptural.

Furthermore, I'm also not saying that laymen are not to talk to each other about theology. This is a very good thing and something that should be commended whenever it occurs. Discussing theology at work or over coffee and setting up a Small Group Bible Study are two completely different animals. Nowhere in the entire Bible do we find God's Word instructing laymen to teach each other. Nowhere. Instead, the Bible consistently teaches that Pastors are to teach His sheep. This is their vocation. The Bible is crystal clear on this point. Laymen have other vocations. Teaching the Bible to confirmed members of the congregation is not one of them. Plain and simple. The Scriptures never come close to saying that the sheep ought to gather to be fed by other sheep. The Scriptures are very clear that the Pastor is the shepherd. The only place in Scripture where we see anything close to lay-led Small Groups is in Corinth and we all know what Paul thought about them!

Finally, I'm also not saying that Small Groups are sinful either. They are simply bad practice and outside of how the Scriptures speak of the means of grace being administered.

A good rule of thumb? Again, here's Pastor Rossow on the subject...

The pastor is called to publicly preach and teach the word. So, if something looks like a public teaching of the word (pre-planned, organized, etc.) then it is probably outside of the vocations as outlined in the Scriptures and catechism. I fear the answer to your question is much like Justice Stewart’s definition of pornography. He was not sure he could define it but he was sure of it when he saw it.

Now, before you conclude that people like me and Pastor Rossow are a couple of "Confessional Crackpots" for our firm stance on this issue, I ask you to please consider what Pastor Martin Noland wrote in response to the piece I referenced above as he provides us with both the Biblical and the historical context.

Dear BJS Readers,

Before you all start embarrassing yourselves by thinking that Pastor Rossow is “way off base” on this topic of small groups, you need to consider whom he agrees with: C.F.W. Walther and Martin Luther.

I just happened to be reading Walther’s “Die Rechte Gestalt” this week for other purposes, and came across the section where he talks about “small group ministry.” In the J.T. Mueller translation, titled “The Form of a Christian Congregation,” 2nd ed. (St Louis: CPH, 1864; translation, 1963), this is found on pages 91-97, section 25. Robert Preus, incidentally, was one of the editors who brought this great work into English translation.

Walther writes: “In order that the Word of God may richly and rightly dwell in a congregation it is finally necessary that the congregation shall tolerate no divisions by conventicles, that is, by meetings for doctrinal instruction or prayer conducted by persons not called and beyond the supervision of the divinely instituted public ministry” (page 91). Note that the PURPOSE of such meetings is either doctrinal instruction or prayer. Other small groups such as quilting bees, bridge clubs, scouts, youth fellowship nights, etc., are not being considered here.

In support of this position, Walther quotes:

1) Scriptures passages: 1 Corinthians 11:18, James 3:1, 1 Corinthians 12:29, I Corinthians 14:28, Acts 6:4, Romans 10:15.

2) Confessions passage: AC XIV.

3) Martin Luther: “Exposition of Psalm 82″ in SL ed., 5:721ff.; “Letter to Eberhard von der Tannen Concerning the Sneaks and Treacherous Prophets,” in SL ed., 20:1667-1675; “To the Nine Men or Cloister Rulers of Herford,” (1532), SL 21:1741f.

4) A Lutheran theologian and pastor in Berlin after the advent of Pietism and its conventicles, Rev. Jon Porst: “Theologia homilet. in exemplis,” [Halle, 1735], 788.

In his Exposition of Psalm 82, Luther explains the basic principle: “Every bishop or pastor has his own congregation or parish . . . In this [parish] no one else, no stranger, without his [the pastor's] knowledge and will, should dare teach his parishioners, either privately or publicly . . . and we must also maintain that no [Lutheran] minister, no matter how pious and upright he may be, dare preach or secretly teach the people of a papistic or heretical minister without the knowledge and will of such a minister.” (Walther, ibid., p. 92).

In his Letter to the “Nine Men or Cloister Rulers of Herford,” Luther also says “there is a great difference between a common or public gathering and a family gathering, for what a citizen does in his home is done in private.” (Walther, ibid., p. 96).

So for Lutherans, the house father is charged with teaching his children, his wife, any extended family members that live there, the servants, as well as resident-household guests through what we call “family devotions” or “catechism instruction.” All other Bible and theological instruction of adults happens by the called pastor of that parish.

It seems to me that, in certain cases, Luther allows for others besides the (senior) pastor of a parish to teach the Bible, if you read through all of the pages I cited in Walther. In Luther’s day, permission to do so would come from directly the parish pastor. In LCMS polity, Walther recognizes such things as “auxiliary offices,” which may be called by the congregation, but in every case must have the ongoing approval of the parish pastor (i.e., senior pastor)–see Walther’s thesis on Auxiliary Offices on how that must be done.

So if there happen to be persons qualified (in every way) to teach theology in a parish, such as a retired pastor, a theologically-adept parochial school teacher, etc., the parish pastor (i.e., senior pastor) can ask such persons to serve as Bible or theology teachers in the parish, and they must continue to remain under his supervision. Such persons serve only by invitation, not by right. It is proper that such persons be inducted into office just like we do to Sunday School teachers (for children) every year, so that everyone knows that such persons teach with the approval of the parish pastor (i.e., senior pastor).

In my experience, there are very few laymen (i.e., persons with no formal theological training in college or seminary) that are competent to teach such classes. Certainly not every congregation has men with this ability. The ones that THINK they can teach are often the worst in terms of attitude or abilities or orthodoxy. But then I have also been privileged to meet some older, and wiser, laymen that are obviously “gifted” this way. Still the “gift” is ALWAYS subservient to the parish pastor’s CALL in Lutheran theology and orthodox practice.

So Pastor Rossow is really upholding the LUTHERAN position. “Small Group Ministry” that does not pass Walther and Luther’s criteria is not Lutheran.

Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

Amen? Amen!

Like I said, this is nothing new. In fact, proponents of Small Groups point to these same "benefits" so often that others like Pastor Rossow and Pastor Noland have already addressed them based on what the Scriptures and our Confessions have to say as outlined thoroughly in the above excerpts. Do make sure you read them all carefully since this is no small matter.

So, while this LCMS addiction to Small Groups stuff is nothing new, I'm surprised that our Synod has almost entirely forgotten her history with Small Groups born out of Pietism, or forgotten why she even exists in the first place. What a real shame!

Come to think of it, my own church's dance with the devil shouldn't be that surprising to me either. I mean, we have a "Mission Statement" that is "To Make More And Better Disciples of Jesus Christ" and that in and of itself is a gross distortion of Lutheran doctrine that I never noticed until recently either.

Man, and to think I used to love those words and even took pride that we were being so bold in our proclamation that this is what we were all about, but now I have eyes to see and ears to hear, and my heart is heavy that no one seems to care when it's pointed out how such beliefs and practices conflict with what we say we confess.

As Scott Diekmann once wrote...

So apparently it is about "you." It’s about you and what you’re doin’ for the Lord. It’s about your personal obedience. It’s about a Law-driven, guilt ridden, message. This prodding to "MAKE disciples" turns God’s good Law, in this case the third use of the Law as a guide, into a club and naked moralism, confounding Law and Gospel. Coercing people with the Law produces hypocrites, Pharisees, and despairing Christians, rather than the good works that flow from faith. (Reference C.F.W. Walther’s Thesis XXIII in The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel).

This twisted notion that "What Makes For Healthy Churches" is the existence of Small Groups is absurd and, quite frankly, dangerous too. I'll defer once more to Scott Diekmann...

This thought is completely foreign to Scripture and our Confession. Healthy churches are “made” through the power of the Word, preached, joined with water, given and shed, in which unworthy sinners are declared righteous through the substitutionary death and resurrection of their Savior Jesus Christ. It’s not about us and what we’re doing -- it’s about Jesus Christ and what He is doing to daily recreate us in the waters of Baptism, in His body and blood, and in the hearing of His Word.

Here’s how the Solid Declaration puts it:
Out of His immense goodness and mercy, God provides for the public preaching of His divine eternal Law and His wonderful plan for our redemption, that of the holy, only saving Gospel of His eternal Son, our only Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. By this preaching He gathers an eternal Church for Himself from the human race and works in people’s hearts true repentance, knowledge of sins, and true faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. By this means, and in no other way (i.e., through His holy Word, when people hear it preached or read it, and through the holy Sacraments when they are used according to His Word), God desires to call people to eternal salvation. He desires to draw them to Himself and convert, regenerate, and sanctify them. SD II, 50.
After years of pragmatism trumping doctrine, it has come to this: for those to whom numbers are so important that the Great Commission has become the material principle, rather than justification by grace through faith, the Book of Concord is no longer relevant, and doctrine takes a back seat to whatever works. This is a hard, sobering fact. It’s also a testament to lex orandi, lex credendi -- that practice influences doctrine and vice versa. These are not deductions on my part, or assumptions made from observation, they are the words from the mouths of district officials. It’s something they’re proud of, and trumpet as though they will not be held accountable.

I take no pleasure in writing these things, but they are the facts. And it is unlikely that this attitude towards our Confession is limited to this particular district. I am not attempting to single out specific people, but rather point out the problems that exist, so that we would return to the teaching of Christ. The time has come to speak out. We can no longer ignore these problems and pretend that things will be better in the morning. We must fight false doctrine, and the erosion of the true doctrine, wherever it is found.

Let us walk together in our Confession as we proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, building His Church through the means which He provides given from pulpit, altar, and font. Repent and believe the Gospel.

Amen indeed!

Look, I recognize that my church's emphasis on discipleship and the relational sharing of the Gospel is a good one, but only as long as vocation is emphasized. The Doctrine of Vocation is ignored completely whenever Small Groups are in full force.

One of the major faults of "Small Groups Theory" is that it teaches that if you get into a Small Group, then the Word of God is somehow "more effective" in your life and the life of others within your church body. The Father of Lies has made much progress with that one.

In a Lutheran Layman's terms, the addiction to Small Groups within the LCMS is very real, and it's a habit that could very well demand an eternal cost.

[NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with Lutheran doctrine -- in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word -- so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray. Thank you in advance for your time and help. Grace and peace to you and yours!]


About JKR

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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