There has been a lot of work done in the district conventions of the LCMS. Much of what has been done is to be commended, such as those resolutions that were passed to encourage that we all believe and practice the same things. Too many people still see gift as law, and that culture needs to be changed through prayer and study.
One thing I have noticed, though, is the use of the Lord to justify unwise financial decisions.
My own district passed a resolution to take out a loan to give to Concordia University-Ann Arbor to pay for salaries and other projects. The district would then repay the loan with a capital campaign from all the churches. The attitude and justification, generally speaking, was that the Lord will provide.
The Minnesota South district is selling a permanent chapel dedicated to campus ministry to fund much more temporary church missions on other campuses. All in the name of the Lord, of course.
Doesn’t this sound like we are putting the Lord to the test?
Absent a direct, “Thus says the Lord,” on how we are to spend what He has given us, shouldn’t we let the laws of nature and economics provide some guidance? Are we not to be “wise as snakes?” Do we not, as Christ says approvingly in Luke 14:28 to make another point, first sit down and count the cost?
It makes no economic sense to take something permanent and make it temporary. The university will spend the money, and the district will be left with the loan. The chapel will be bulldozed, and money is spent on relocation, a district salaried position, building rentals, sound systems, and other desires.
We take out loans for houses because we believe they will be there after the loan is paid. Ohio will be paying on this long after the money has been spent. The net loss from the sale of a campus chapel in Minnesota — location, location, location — can’t be calculated.
It’s like we’re saying, “Here, Lord, we are throwing your good preacher into a hole. Make a Joseph out of him. We dare you.”