Of Fools and Numbers

Easter falls on April 1 this year. Since this is an interesting date for Easter, I want to share a few of my thoughts.

Although April Fools’ Day is always on April 1, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to Jan. 1 — and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 — became the objects of jokes and hoaxes.

However April Fools’ Day originated, it has become a day to pull pranks on each other.

Having Easter fall on April Fools’ Day affords the Christian Church a good day to declare that Satan was the fool on Easter morning, when Jesus rose from the dead never to die again. Satan thought that he could thwart God’s mission by having the religious authorities kill Jesus and thereby ruin His mission. What a big disaster! Jesus’ death was exactly the sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of our sins and the sins of the whole world. Jesus’ death and resurrection left Satan defeated and our salvation assured. Easter is the worst April Fools’ Day for Satan. Enjoy this Easter celebration on April 1!

Numbers are interesting to me. I do not worship numbers or live my life based on them, but they do help to give insight. Even though not all districts participated in the Ablaze! initiative, and Synod did not accomplish counting how many new ministries have actually started from 2004 to 2017, Synod did track the number of chartered congregations started during this period of time.

A chartered congregation is a ministry that creates a constitution to be approved to become a voting member of the Synod. Until a congregation has an approved constitution, it is a new church start. Many do become chartered congregations, but many do not, primarily for cultural reasons. Our European background, including its organizational structures, is unfamiliar to many of our brothers and sisters who have immigrated to America. Synod has tried and will continue to try simplifying the process so that more new church starts become chartered.

From 2004 to 2017, Synod added 360 new chartered congregations. The Texas District led the way with 41, while the Pacific Southwest District had the next most with 28. During that same time, 465 chartered congregations of the Synod closed, 29 in the Texas District.

These numbers say to me that the Texas District needs to increase its mission efforts through congregations. It also says to me that The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod also needs renewal in mission planting because it is going through a sharp decline in congregations and members.

We are in mission to bring the Gospel to people who do not know Jesus and the eternal salvation He has won for all. We do not do mission work to improve our numbers, but these numbers do help to encourage increased mission work.

By Rev. Ken Hennings
President, Texas District

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