June 28, 2012
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17
The Lutheran Hour is the oldest Gospel radio broadcast in the world.
When our broadcast first went on the air, many churches were worried people would stay at home and stop coming to church. To everyone's surprise just the opposite took place. The broadcast told people what Lutherans believed, and they decided to find out more about the church.
That's why so many churches had signs which read, "The Church of The Lutheran Hour." (You can still get one of those signs.)
But times change. Apparently, today there are many people who are staying at home on Sundays and watching the gaggle of high-profile televangelists. As you know, these broadcasts feature a charismatic preacher; impressive music; great, smiling crowds; and no obvious congregational fighting. That combination makes these on-air "churches" quite appealing.
This takes me to a question asked recently by The Christian Post. They wondered: can such a broadcast take the place of a local church? If you don't mind, I'd like to answer that question. Ready? Here goes. The answer is ... no.
That's it: no. We can preach to the unbeliever, and we can support the message of a local parish. We can take the Gospel to places where it is banned and forbidden. We can speak to your shut-ins, your sick, your dying, your vacationers, your college kids, and a host of others.
But, neither Reverend Seltz, nor any of his predecessors -- nor anybody else on the radio or television -- can take the place of your local congregation.
We can't baptize your family members. We can't instruct your children. We can't visit you in the hospital. We can't marry you. There's more: we don't know your problems, pains or victories; we don't hear your confession or share the Lord's absolution or His body and blood.
We don't bury you when you die.
Want to hear more? Okay, here's more: listening or watching at home doesn't allow you to strengthen -- or be strengthened by -- your neighbors. It doesn't allow you to support the church in your own neighborhood, and it doesn't allow Holy Spirit-given gifts to be used in a fellowship that needs you -- and you need them. This is why we pray for these local churches and those who don't think those churches are needed.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, be with and bless the words and work of resident pastors and parishes. Grant them the gifts that will touch the local lost with the wonderful salvation of our crucified and risen Savior. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries