The WELS has its synod conventions at the end of July of every odd-numbered year. So, there isn’t one this year. Recently, however, I ran across words that President Mark Schroeder spoke to the 2009 convention, the first one after he was elected president. They remind us of an important truth.

As our synod carries out its mission of sharing the gospel with the lost and caring for the souls of the found, we dare never forget that our success will not be measured in terms of numbers or statistics. Ours is a theology not of glory — striving for mere outward achievement or measurable accomplishments for their own sake. Our success will be measured only by our faithfulness — to God, to his effective and powerful Word, and to the work he has called us to do.

Rather than a theology of glory, ours is a theology of the cross. Our theology centers on a message that came to us wholly and completely because of the love of Christ. It proclaims a message that calls sinners to repentance, directs them to the cross, and that assures them that in Christ and his love all of their sins find full forgiveness.

Admittedly, the theology of the cross is not attractive in our postmodern, self-gratifying world. Unlike the theology of glory, the theology of the cross makes no promises of instant relief for the ills of life in a sinful world. It does not beckon people with the lure of financial or personal or professional success. It does not seek validation of its success in terms of numbers. It does not offer a practical “how-to” manual to achieve temporal happiness or to mine the depths of human potential. The message of the cross cannot be packaged to be palatable and cannot be soft-pedaled to be acceptable. It is a message that this world does not understand and does not desire.

In fact, our message — if we are faithful to it — will always be regarded as utter foolishness, just as Paul reminds us, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The unbelieving people in our world look for things that make sense to their own way of thinking; they crave a message that reinforces the Matt Evenson, ir own self-centered view of life. They will not find that in the harsh preaching of God’s law. And unless God changes their hearts, they will not appreciate the sweet message of grace in the gospel. If we somehow make the message of the cross attractive and reasonable to those who are perishing, we will have changed the message — and will have failed in the mission God gave us. God help us always to say with Paul, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. But to those whom God has called, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

In summary, Pastor Schroeder is encouraging us to do what Holy Scripture encourages us to do: Just be faithful and God will take care of the rest.

To read the newsletter in its entirety download here.