Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Synod Visioning

A couple of years ago, I was part of a group of lay leaders that met with the bishop of the Nebraska Synod of the ELCA (for those who are non-Lutherans, basically he's the elected leader of the Nebraska region of the ELCA Lutheran Church). He sent out the following questions ahead of time, and asked us to come with our input. Here are the questions:

  1. If you were Bishop, what would you do?
  2. How can we more effectively grow disciples?
  3. What is the best thing our church can do for this society?
  4. How do we better express Christian joy?
I found a Word document with my answers to those questions, and thought it was some interesting food for thought. Here's how I answered them:

If you were Bishop, what would you do?

  • Each week, specifically pray for 5 or 6 different NE Synod congregations (so I’d get through them all during the year). The week before I prayed for them, send them a postcard to let them know.
  • Continue the goal of visiting every NE Synod congregation.
  • Send a questionnaire to every congregation, asking these same four questions.

How can we more effectively grow disciples?

  • For those interested in rostered ministry, put candidacy info on the Synod website, all in one place. Put the ELCA’s candidacy manual, “Visions and Expectations,” copies of the different forms, contact info to get the candidacy process started, maybe a FAQ of some sort.
  • Expand Operation IDEA, its budget and scope, so that it is better able to get the word out about church vocation.
  • Synodwide focus on “Priesthood of All Believers.” Produce Bible study and sermon series on discipleship for congregations. Put together suggested liturgies, hymns, etc. Maybe along the lines of a Lutheran “40 Days of Purpose” type of campaign, with the focus being on discipleship, where all segments of a congregation’s life is geared toward discipleship for a period of time. Worship, Bible studies, service projects, fellowship opportunities.
  • Maybe the focus ought not to be on growing disciples as much as it should be growing apostles…a disciple is one who follows, but an apostle is one who is sent. Equipping the body of believers to be sent out to the world.
  • Often there’s a disconnect between Sunday morning and “Monday’s world.” While we may disagree with our evangelical friends about matters of theology, they do a lot right in terms of carrying faith throughout the week. Prayer partners, family devotions, small groups that meet in homes...

What is the best thing our church can do for this society?

  • Serve, serve, serve. As a part of emphasis on discipleship, ponder the question synodwide: “now that I know I don’t have to do anything, what am I going to do?” Find new, fresh, exciting ways to live out God’s call to love our neighbor. And make sure society knows what we’re up to…not for our own glory, but so that through living out our call, they might better discern their own calls as well.
  • Realize that in our theology and in our worship, we have something that the world both needs and is looking for. Quit allowing the world to define Lutheranism through the lens of Garrison Keillor and show the world what transformational, reforming, grace-filled life in Christ is like.

How do we better express Christian joy?

  • On Sundays, recognizing that liturgical doesn’t necessarily equal stuffy and contemporary doesn’t necessarily equal (as a pastor I know puts it) “Jesus is my boyfriend” music. Realizing that it’s possible to remain true to one’s roots and be relevant at the same time.
  • Watch for transformation. Don’t fear it. Embrace the joy of God’s surprises.



Rev Scott said...

This is great stuff. Look for a response at my place tomorrow.

Can't wait to see you guys on Saturday!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

good answers LH! now if only they'd take them to heart...

i believe rev.scott is fond of the phrase 'jesus is my boyfriend music'...not that's he fond of having jesus as a boyfriend mind you. whew...

and when's that baby due?

davenu said...

This is good stuff and all of your responses are things that ELCA synods everywhere should take a look at doing. But now that you have discussed it on the synodical level, how well do you think it will be received by congregations and pastors?

Rev Scott said...

My 'response' is up.