- DOXOLOGY Collegium Fellow
- Senior Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church, Mayer, MN
- Elected LCMS MN-South District President
American Christians live in a sexually explicit society. Marriage and family structures are being undermined. Unhealthy, unnatural, and immoral sexual expressions are being intensely fostered by our increasingly secularized society. Transgender acceptance pulls biological sex apart from gender. Our youth are especially susceptible to this new cultural morality. Parents feel helpless. Pastors are frustrated. It’s time to be bold about reclaiming Christian family virtue and a robust sexual virtue!
Possible Topics: (choose 3 – 6)
- Session 1 “Where Are We Now? Taking Stock of Our Culture and Church”
We evangelize, preach, teach, and care for souls in a world without a story – it has no sense of transcendent meaning, purpose, or direction other than the incessant urgency of the “now.” How do we navigate with confident hope in a world that has lost its rudder?
- Session 2 “What is Marriage? Natural Law and Biblical Witnesses”
Before we can rebuild a robust marriage culture within the church we need to define what marriage actually is. In this session we look at how reason and natural law undergirds marriage and how the biblical witness to holy matrimony has defined church life and pastoral practice in other tumultuous centuries as it does to this day.
- Session 3 “What Led to Same Sex Marriage: A Pastoral Perspective”
The foundational assumptions leading to the redefinition of marriage in Obergefell v Hodges (2015) have been effectively embraced in our land for generations. In this session we take a pastoral look at questions of sexual attraction, self control, chastity, marital faithfulness and the pastoral care of sexual souls in light of these fallacies.
- Session 4 “Reproductive Technologies & the One Flesh Union: How should we approach this?”
In this session we survey the rapidly shifting landscape of reproductive technology and how this impacts pastoral guidance and care of childless married couples. What are the principles rooted in the Christian vision for marriage as a one flesh union that can guide your care of couples looking for answers to the thorny questions of bioethics raised by reproductive technology?
- Session 5 “God made me: A Lutheran Theology of the Body”
Many have noted a resurgence of the ancient gnostic heresy that deconstructs the holistic biblical teaching of the human person as a soul/body unity. How can we more clearly teach respect and reverence for the human body as reflecting the image of God in its male or female created identity, redeemed by Christ Crucified, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit to be His temple?
- Session 6 “Teaching with Faith, Hope, and Love: Parent Partnership Workshops”
In our sexually-charged world, parents are confused about raising children who are comfortable in their own bodies and confident of their identity as boys or girls, created by God to live sexually pure lives in what they say or do as adult men and women. In this session we will present a practical way to equip parents with the tools they need to teach sexuality confidently and effectively in age-appropriate ways.
People are emerging in a world that seems to have lost its meaning. Technology, entertainment, and individualism distract them and leave them searching: “Who am I? What’s my story?” The North American church is trying to compensate, but increasingly finds herself tossed about in a sea of cultural tumult and internal confusion. For the sake of the lost as well as the faithful, the Holy Christian Church needs to tell her story, clearly and regularly, as she has done for ages. Not by our own reason or strength, but by the Gospel, the narrative of Christ—seen in both worship and witness—the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, and enlightens the whole Christian Church on earth. Twenty-first century Lutheran pastors serious about the evangelism challenge will find joy, optimism, and faithfulness within this Third Article paradigm for mission.
- Session 1 “A World Without Meaning”
We will look at the postmodern context of our culture and its narcissism epidemic: subjective individualism run rampant, reflected and enabled by such technologies as iPod, YouTube, Wii Play, etc. To engage such a world we’ll need to equip Christians to confidently tell their own story as people created, redeemed and sanctified by God the Holy Trinity to live in the community of the Church with meaning, identity, and purpose.
- Session 2 “A Word that Gives Meaning”
In this session we explore the great confession of the Holy Christian Church as epitomized in the Apostles’ Creed, centering in the story of Christ crucified and risen for us and our salvation. We review the implications of Third Article theology for evangelism and mission beginning with its radical core: “…not by my own reason or strength.” We unpack the practical application of mission rooted in God’s initiative and power: 1) we do not make God’s Name holy, but rather keep it holy through faithful preaching and living; and 2) we cannot make God’s Kingdom come, but rather it comes to us when He gives us His Spirit to believe His holy Word and lead godly lives according to it.
- Session 3 “The Church’s Story: Great Confusion or Great Confession?
This session explores the use of the Great Commission both within the Lutheran Confessions and the great protestant missionary movements of the 18th and 19th Centuries. We review a range of methods designed to reach an increasingly paganized environment: the Church Growth Movement, Missional theology, the Emergent Church, and more recent developments. Finally we propose a Great Confession: recovering the practice and place of theology in the church’s story.
The wheel that moves the church begins with liturgy, then leads to vocation. Christ’s presence in Word and Sacrament transforms each Christian for baptismal living and witness in daily vocation.
Seven minutes. That’s it. That’s all a preacher gets nowadays. After that hands fidget, minds wander, and bodies are restless. Yes, 420 seconds is all that’s left of the average attention span. That means seven short minutes is all that the average person is willing to listen to a sermon. Exceed the given time limit, and preachers are at the mercy of a congregation struggling with a digitally induced attention deficit disorder. Of course, most preachers do actually preach longer than seven minutes, but understanding how hearers are conditioned to listen and how long they’re prone to remain engaged is vital for good preaching. This topic will explore how to implement various sermon structures and oratory styles in the context of our digital world without compromising solid law/Gospel preaching.
- Session 1 “The Narrative Art of Law and Gospel”
Preachers have at their disposal the greatest dramatic narrative ever conceived: the entrance of God Incarnate into the world to ransom, redeem, and transform. Yet familiarity breeds contempt. This session reviews the classic oratory skills of logic, rhetoric, pathos, and ethos as tools to connect with contemporary hearers.
- Session 2 “Preaching the Story: Not by My Own Reason or Strength”
This session explores preaching as a narrative art: telling the spectacular story of God’s rescue of a world lost in sin with dramatic coherence and vitality, faithful to His Word of both judgment and grace.
- Session 3 “Preaching the Virtues of Christ”
As Dr. Luther teaches in the Large Catechism, “Every Christian has enough in Baptism to learn and to do all his life. For he has always enough to do by believing firmly what Baptism promises and brings: victory over death and the devil, forgiveness of sin, God’s grace, the entire Christ, and the Holy Spirit with His gifts” (LC, IV 41). This session shows how preachers can proclaim Christ as not merely our righteousness, but our holiness as well in a way that connects with the Christian’s daily calling.
In our disordered and immoral world of false belief, despair and great shame and vice, Lutherans have a grand sacramental theology to care for the souls of our time and catechize disciples of Jesus. Pastors do well to utilize a baptismal habituation in the care of souls. Baptism forgives, cleanses, and strengthens the believer, but it also frees the believer for daily virtuous living, drenching them in the virtues of Christ and the fruit of His Holy Spirit.
- Session 1 “Baptismal Identity: Living with Faith, Hope, and Love”
Identity informs behavior/action. Whose you are determines who you are and what you do. In this session we will explore what Baptism does and gives as a powerful work of God the Holy Trinity, connecting us to the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus to live each day by faith, with confident hope and in empowering love.
- Session 2 “A World of Hurt: Countering the Lies of Our Disordered Culture”
False belief, despair and other great shame and vice are very much with us in the disordered world we live in. This session reviews the popular Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why” and how it portrays common pressures among contemporary adolescents – a world of bullying, rumors, gossip, sexual exploration and expression – ultimately leading to despair and suicide.
- Session 3 “Teaching Baptismal Virtue Ethics in World of Vice”
This session reviews the classic “deadly sins” (vices) as diagnostic tools for the care of the soul, then outlines how the moral life is to be cultivated in an immoral culture. To form a moral people in immoral times they need daily renewal through baptismal therapy: dying to sin and rising to live the new life empowered by Christ Jesus and characterized by the virtues they have by baptism into Him. This is the baptismal life: to walk by faith, to live in hope, to rest in love.