Former LCMS President, Jerry Kieschnick, sends out a weekly (or so) newsletter.  one I received today, I think he really nailed it.  Here it is … and while it is sobering … we need to do what we can do to finds ways to mend the fences.

Our Synod has a great history, and I pray to God we will always learn from that history. We stand on the shoulders of giants who bequeathed to us a magnificent theology. It’s a theology that does not change, and yet it’s a living and breathing theology. It’s what makes the LCMS a living and vibrant church.
But are we as alive and vital today as we ought to be? Will the church we hand down to our children and grandchildren be as strong as the one our parents and grandparents gave to us?

In some respects we’re not as robust as we used to be. We’re stuck, plateaued, running in place, falling behind, and shrinking in size and relevance. The statistical facts show that total membership in the congregations of our Synod has fallen by some 600,000 people over the past 40 years—I repeat, 600,000 people over the past 40 years. There are many reasons for this decline in our membership, and some of the blame lies at our own feet.

This spring at a pastors’ conference in Minnesota I talked about the report of our convention-mandated Task Force on Synod Harmony, specifically, the seven “Aspects of the Present Disharmony in Synod.” As I listed them, you could hear a pin drop. The men in the room sat silently, some with heads bowed. I think what made them so still, so pensive—even melancholy—was that they realized just how much truth was contained in these points. Here are those seven aspects of disharmony among us:

1. An inability to deal with diversity in such issues as admission to Holy Communion, worship substance and style, the Office of the Public Ministry and the role of laity, and the service of women in the church.

2. A lack of civility that leads to rumors, lies, slander, sarcasm, and cruel satire, doing violence to the Eighth Commandment and sorely wounding our church.
3. A politicized culture that has turned our Synod into “a denomination of parties.”

4. These problems “are primarily a clergy problem. Pastors are in the forefront of practices and attitudes unbefitting God’s people.”

5. Poor communication across the lines that divide us hampers the ability, or the will, to listen to one another.

6. A lack of accountability for sinful attitudes and behaviors, falling on the shoulders of district presidents and circuit counselors to counsel, admonish, teach, encourage, and model churchmanship.

7. Distrust, particularly among clergy, resulting in increasingly partisan politics. Delegates to this convention have witnessed or experienced some of these firsthand. As disconcerting as these aspects of disharmony are, it is important that we acknowledge them. For only by facing up to our problems can we hope to fix them. Unity, harmony, and concord among us are not what they ought to be and need to be improved significantly.