A past post “Day of Renewal Time to Reflect on Bold Service and Future Directions for ELCA,” discussed a new process being put forward by the ELCA to determine future directions and priorities, “Called Forward Together in Christ”.
As was mentioned, this is a process begun by Bishop Eaton to help leaders make decisions about the future identity, direction, and priorities of the ELCA. She wants to hear from people at all levels across the church.
Our synod has had these conversations at Synod Council and our Rostered Leader’s retreat, Day of Renewal and there will be an opportunity to discuss this again at our Synod Assembly.
But we need more input from congregation members. This means pastors and congregation leaders need to initiate these discussions in their ministry settings.
To learn more about this process and download a toolkit, see Called Forward Together in Christ.
There’s actually a social media component in the toolkit.
Along with discussions in your congregation, you can start an online discussion. Why not pick a day of the week for a series to ask questions each week using the hashtag #ELCAFuture?
Come up with creative ways to ask the questions.
Photos always get more traction. So when you ask about identity, post a photo of something that everyone might agree is outwardly distinctive like a hymn book and ask if this is true for everyone and what else might be distinctive.
Or post a photo of a coffee cup and say “Lutherans like their coffee, but so do Methodists. What distinguishes Lutherans from other coffee drinkers?”
Share a news story about poverty, violence or racial injustice with this question “What is God calling us to do in a world that is facing unprecedented levels of poverty, conflict and violence, inter-religious tension and massive displacement of people?”
Do a “What is a Lutheran?” Photo a Day challenge. Have folks post photos of what is distinctive about Lutherans.
When you share news about new members ask “What drew you to this congregation and what helps you feel connected?”
Share the website of the ELCA with this question “ELCA is a church of more than 9,000 congregations, with a presence across the U.S. and the world. What would you like to know about the wider church?”
If you are a pastor, share something from your seminary and ask “What do we expect from our church leaders? And, how do we recruit, invest in and support them to lead this church into the future?” This question would go well with Lutheran colleges, Lutheran campus ministry, youth and young adult ministry.
You get the idea, help people think about the questions and ask them to share what ideas the questions give them and ask them to share on social media as well.
The times they are a changing, and so is the church.