A closer look at Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC)
What is Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC)? This question jumps to the fore with the realization that a turf war is looming between LCMC and Lutheran CORE/NALC. “LCMC and NALC will be splitting a small pie” in the words of one LCMC pastor who is skeptical of Lutheran CORE’s announcement of the formation of a new denomination to be called The North American Lutheran Church (NALC). It seems that some folks in LCMC are warning CORE/NALC, “don’t you be stealing our sheep.”
One LCMC commenter suggested that LCMC is “low church” while CORE/NALC will be “high church”. I assume this means LCMC congregations offer a non-liturgical worship style and LCMC as an “association” functions as a lesser ecclesiastical structure than the proposed “denomination” of NALC with a bishop at its head.
A perusal of the LCMC website certainly confirms their limited organizational structure. They apparently have a paid staff of two persons! Congregational autonomy is the watchword. LCMC publishes a list of certified pastoral candidates and a list of congregations seeking pastoral leadership, but that is the extent of their role in the call process. LCMC offers group health insurance and pension planning to pastors through third parties but without any subsidy or contribution from LCMC.
There is a “resources” page on the LCMC website which merely contains links to documents, videos, photos and other websites. LCMC has no colleges or seminaries, but they claim an affiliation with five listed seminaries that would seem to have a greater Baptist influence than Lutheran (two are Baptist, one is evangelical, one is a Lutheran online/internet entity out of Brookings, South Dakota (with a limited faculty that includes James Nestingen!), and the fifth is non-denominational but with ties to the Minnesota mega-church movement (North Heights, Woodland Hills, Redeemer of Fridley) and Fuller Theological seminary of California.).
Obviously, LCMC is conservative, and the website contains a “pastoral admonition” that “it is God’s will and intention that human sexual expression and fulfillment take place only within the boundaries of marriage between one man and one woman”. Their website also states:
Our association is firmly committed to accepting the normative authority of the Bible. We reject the notion that science, personal experience, tradition, or other human endeavors have equal footing with the Bible. We are certainly aware that these endeavors contribute to our conversations and deliberations, but the Bible must be our final authority in matters of faith and practice.
Actually, this is not as conservative as CORE’s statement about Biblical authority which fails to acknowledge any role for science, experience, or tradition. Also notably lacking in the LCMC website is the brusque harshness of CORE polemics. There is no condemnation of the ELCA as “unchurched” or “unbiblical”; in fact, there is no mention of the ELCA at all.
Many of the ELCA congregations that have voted to leave the ELCA or are currently in the voting process have already affiliated with LCMC, and their roster of congregations has swelled to around 300 in the US (covering 38 states). So, at this point they are still relatively small (for comparison, the ELCA has over ten thousand congregations and even the WELS has over a thousand).