Missouri Synod Church in Downtown Memphis
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Pastor’s Posts

Motivation for Mission

What is the mission of the church?  What kind of impact can your church and your life have on your community?  What does the Bible say about a local church’s calling to influence a lost world? Motivation for Mission is a new five-week study to help our congregation focus on our purpose as individuals and as a church. It seeks to answer the question, “Why are we here?” This study covers the following: Why is the Church on Earth? Lost In America Change? You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me The Search The Power of a Team The series begins this Sunday, February 18 and concludes March 18.  If you like to talk in class, this is a great group for you, because it is totally interactive! We will meet in the Fellowship Hall @ 9:15 a.m. on Sundays. God does not want anyone to perish, and God is looking for people who share his heart for those who are perishing.  This study lays a strong foundation for each of us to minister to people who need the Gospel.  It will help launch us on a great adventure that will change the world around us. Get ready to impact people with God’s love! Pastor Tieman

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BHM Spotlight – Immanuel Lutheran College

BHM Spotlight - Immanuel Lutheran College

This article first appeared on TrinityMemphis.org on Feb 2, 2014 In celebration of Black History Month, TableTalk will feature a series of guest posts about the Lutheran Church’s historic and continued dedication to diversity and the Civil Rights movement. Immanuel Lutheran College Greensboro, North Carolina 1903-1961 For a majority of the twentieth century Immanuel Lutheran College was the training ground for Black Lutheran teachers and pastors. Immanuel, started by Rev. Niels J. Bakke, opened its doors in the city of Concord, NC March 2, 1903 with five young men. It was located on the second story of a school house. This second story served as both classroom and dormitory. After the North Carolina Synod pledged funding for a school to educate and train Black ministers and teachers, the school was moved to Greensboro in 1905. The school grew and in 1907 left the temporary facilities and moved into its own permanent building on a thirteen-acre campus. That same year Immanuel celebrated its first graduates. Immanuel began to regularly graduate Black teachers and ministers and, by 1927 sixteen members of the Church’s mission board were Immanuel College alumni. The school boasted a seminary, college, and high school. This school that trained Black pastors and teachers was of great benefit to the Lutheran Church. In North Carolina alone, the new leadership led to new congregations and the revival of old ones. In 1927, there were 1300 Black Lutherans in the state of North Carolina, the most ever up until that time. In

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Life Cycles and Church Vision

Life Cycles and Church Vision

Like people, all churches have a life cycle, including Trinity. It can be graphed as a bell-shaped curve starting with birth, growing toward maturity and declining through retirement to eventual death.  Also, like people, a church’s life cycle typically takes place over a period of 75-100 years. Some congregations close earlier and a few (like Trinity) have exceptionally good genes for longevity, but the point is that no congregation lasts indefinitely. The good news for churches, though, is that unlike people; churches can have more than one life cycle.  Undoubtedly, Trinity has had more than one life cycle.  The transformation that took place when the congregation transitioned from German to English as its primary worship language would be a good example.  Another would be when Trinity decided to “stay downtown for good”, rather than move to the suburbs.  In some ways, a new life cycle constitutes a “new beginning” or “starting over” for a congregation. With regard to the human aging process, all that we can really do is to live our lives as healthily as we can and hope to delay our demise as long as possible. With congregations, a proactive approach can result in much more than mere longevity. Proactive congregations can start a whole new life cycle.  In fact, that’s my plan (and prayer) for Trinity! So where is Trinity on its current life cycle?  To find out, come this Sunday to my Bible Class in the Fellowship Hall @ 9:15 am.  We will be asking everyone

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People of Passion

People of Passion

As we continue exploring “A New Season for our Church” at Trinity, we are entering a time of preparing and visioning.  To help our entire church family to gather around the dream of connecting many new people to God through faith in Jesus, we are starting a new group called “People of Passion.”* Who are people of passion?  They are baptized believers in Jesus who: Love Him (and want other people to know and love Jesus the way they do.) Have strong feelings for Trinity Lutheran Church – a deep desire for our church family to be everything God wants us to be. Have compassion and love for the people in our community and neighborhoods (especially those who don’t know Jesus and His love for them.) You do not need to be a “person of position” – a board member or elected leader or church worker.  You could be, but you’ll probably have more time, energy and passion for mission activities if you aren’t already committed to other meetings, etc. We are praying for at least 12 “People of Passion” to emerge to work with Pastor Tieman and the Board of Outreach.  We will meet approximately twice a month for the next six months, beginning around the first of March.  This will not be a Bible study group, but instead, a Bible-doin’ group.  We will learn and practice things like prayer-walking; community surveying; service projects; crafting a personal testimony; planning outreach events, etc. If you are interested in being a

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Mission Impossible?

  Your mission should you choose to accept it… God’s Word is very clear about His mission for the church.  Shortly before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His followers to, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  (Matthew 28:19-20a) In essence, these are Jesus’ marching orders to the church and they haven’t changed in 2,000 years.  The message from headquarters is clear and precise:  Go and make disciples!  The question isn’t, “what is our mission” but rather “will we accept the mission”? Unfortunately, many in the church today think that making disciples isn’t their responsibility.  They rationalize by saying (or thinking), “that’s the pastor’s job” or “I’m not gifted in evangelism” or “I don’t have enough training” or                            fill in the blank with your own excuse.  Personally, I think the biggest reason we don’t take Jesus’ command to make disciples more seriously is because we are afraid!  We are afraid of rejection; we are afraid that people will say ‘no’; or worse, they will say ‘yes’ and then what do we do? In each episode of the Mission Impossible movies, Ethan Hunt is always given a very difficult assignment with the caveat: your mission should you choose to accept it…Of course, he always accepts it and then finds some kind of miraculous, spine-tingling way to accomplish the mission. What about you?   Will

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A New Season…at Trinity

How do you feel now that Christmas is over?  One mother says that she is always sorry when Christmas is over because she knows that after her family has hung up their stockings on Christmas Eve it will be a whole year before any one of them will hang up anything again! Most of us are sad to see Christmas pass.  For myself, it’s probably the most enjoyable time of the year.  That’s true, first of all, because of the wonderful celebration of Christ’s coming to the world in human form and all that means for us, but also because it is a special time of the year to reflect on the blessings of the previous year and the promise of the new year to come. As I reflect back on this past year, I am amazed (and perhaps you are as well) that I am the Interim Pastor here at Trinity.  If someone had predicted this a year ago, I would have inquired about the medication they were taking! Now I am excited about getting to know you and your ministry and to work together in exploring new possibilities for the future. As the calendar turns from 2017 to 2018, it is a great time to dream big dreams and plan boldly, and to trust God to “do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of” (Eph. 3:20b ERV).  Now, I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty vivid imagination, and I can think

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The Hand that Holds the Trumpet

The Hand that Holds the Trumpet

For a few years now, I’ve kept a box on the shelf in my prayer chapel next to the church office. It’s a simple wooden carton, filled with people’s names and conflicts, burdens and joys, all of which I’ve scribbled onto scrap paper and handed over to God as an offering. These are my prayers for all of you; prayers of complete submission. Struggles and marriages. Addictions and deepest fears. I write them down and give them over to the God who holds them with or without our submission. So many of your names are in that box. Your husbands, your wives. Unborn children and budding relationships. Two of your daughters and one of your sons; names written with ink stained with the tears of pre-funeral prayers. My son’s name is in that box too. Ministry is more than just caring for people. It’s living together with them. Weaving your life together with theirs in the hope that somewhere within that tapestry Jesus is weaving His life together with ours. It was never about any of us; it was always about Him. Scripture reminds us that the Spirit scatters His Word through a humbling array of messengers. He spoke through Moses; through Jeremiah and St. Peter. And just when that starts to go to your head, that same Spirit reminds you that He also spoke through a pack mule when His people once got too stubborn (Numbers 22:28). It reminds me of Paul, writing to the Corinthians when they got

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The Corrosion of Myth

The Corrosion of Myth

The spirit of Independence that birthed this nation of ours sends us into the unknown bearing the values and the mind of our country’s founders. They teach us how to form our own future boldly and without compromise.

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The Illusion of Choice, or: How to Stay Sane in an Election Year

The Illusion of Choice, or: How to Stay Sane in an Election Year

There is no authority except that which God has established.  The authorities that exist have been established by God. ~ Romans 13:1 “Lord, you know everyone’s heart.  Show us which of these you have chosen to take over…” (Acts 1:24).  That was their prayer as the disciples hurled a Buffalo Nickel into the air to choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot.  “Heads, it’s Barsabbas.  Tails, it’s Matthias.”  No partiality. No favoritism. Inclination is blind when decisions are made by casting lots. I remember watching the News in early February as the story broke that Bernie Sanders had lost the Iowa Caucus by a series of six coin tosses.  It turned out a bit exaggerated, but the talking heads were up in arms none-the-less.  That’s not how the Republic chooses leaders. In a Democracy the people choose.  Or at least we have the illusion of choice. The illusion of choice makes for good television. It also cranks the stove on an already-angry electorate, encouraging our collective anger and dissatisfaction to boil over into our homes and office buildings.  Tension grows from the soil of perceived control; each team convinced they’re championing a holy cause, fighting for a weak God who sometimes doesn’t get what He wants because people aren’t listening. To the Church in Rome: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”  Of the sociopath, Nero Claudius Caesar: “The authorities that exist have been established by God” (Romans 13:1).

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Shame. Distance. An Open Letter

Shame. Distance. An Open Letter

“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.  Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on, you will catch men.”  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.”  ~ Luke 5:8-11 The shame is palpable. You can almost hear Peter’s heartrate quicken.  Smell his palms begin to sweat as his body collapses to the hull of his fishing boat.  “Go away from me, Lord; I’m too broken to be around you!”  That’s how Shame talks. First within, to the self; then outward, giving birth to isolation. Distance. Everybody has “stuff.” The baggage you carry is heavy and it’s real. That much is evident. The weight of a thousand bad decisions, of misspent nights and misspoken words whisper first from within, “You’re not quite good enough. You’ve messed up too much.  And you’ll probably mess up some more before you’re done.”  Hesitant to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing, to sit close because you might do the wrong thing, you look for any excuse to turn around before you make it to the front door. Surely God would want you to do better, to be better before you drop by His House on a Sunday morning? Guilt whispers, “I’ve

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The Midnight Protest

The Midnight Protest

“The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer Where do you come from? In John chapter 19, Jesus is standing trial before Pontius Pilate. The people He came to save were gathered in the Praetorium courtyard demanding His crucifixion. Pilate, who was growing more fearful by the minute, comes to Jesus and he asks Him, “Where are you from?” That’s the question of Christmas, isn’t it? And while Matthew and Luke both give us some great insights into the human origin of the incarnation of Christ – that beautiful story of Mary and Joseph; the baby Jesus lying in a manger – I’m just not sure that’s what Pilate was getting at. St. John’s is more what we might call a “Cosmic Infancy Narrative.” His Gospel gives us a Heaven’s eye view of the Incarnation. For John, the answer to the question of the origin of Jesus goes back a little further than just His birth in Bethlehem. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness. And the darkness has not overcome it… The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world…

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The Day Before Tomorrow

The Day Before Tomorrow

They asked the wrong question. The religious upper-crust went once to Jesus and wondered, “When will the Kingdom of God come to be?” I’ve been waiting for tomorrow for over a year now. On December 18th, the Imperial Countdown Clock will expire, my childhood will be redeemed from Prequel Purgatory, and Star Wars Episode VII will catapult me once again to a galaxy far, far away. Tomorrow. And yet… Here we are. The sun having set not long ago, my be-Leia-bunned wife and I are sitting this very moment in a crowded theater on, of all days, the day before tomorrow. We’re early, and yet right on time. Because as it turns out, our anticipation; this thing we’ve been waiting for was never a date on a calendar. It was always an event. And that event came early. The religious upper-crust went once to Jesus and wondered when the Kingdom of God would come to be. They were waiting for some settled future. A date on a calendar. Instead, Jesus spoke of awareness and scope; of presence and awakening. “The Kingdom of God does not come with careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the Kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:20-21) Time is an illusion. A learned constraint that we must somehow unlearn. To wait and look forward – always forward – as if the answer comes in time. A manifestation of a brighter present sometime in the settled future. It’s

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