Originally posted August 31, 2011, at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog. Republished with permission of the author.
Recently, a pastoral candidate reported to me that in his interview with a call committee, the committee members were unaware that the ELCA was about to have a Churchwide Assembly.
On August 28, in the congregation where I worshiped, the prayers were well done, using our denominational resource. But there was no mention of the people in the northeastern states who were at that moment, being impacted by tropical storm Irene.
The worship “tagline,” “Go in peace, serve the Lord” was traditional. Some Sundays, it would be great to hear, “Go in peace, remember the poor.”
We need to remember the poor! We need to be engaged with the issues of this church and our world!
An important part of the ministry of the ELCA is to “weave” the matters of the Lord’s work and the world’s realities into our worship and communications. We know or have access to the mission stories of this church.
We need to be aware of what is happening in our world and in our church, and I believe we are.
But do we share our awareness?
With a little intentionality, with another 15 minutes of preparation, we can enhance the messages of ministry. We can interpret the mission. We can tell the stories. We can connect the dots between life in the pew and Christ’s mission in the world.
I know we try to keep announcements during worship to a minimum. But announcement time is an opportunity to briefly mention what is going on in the wider church or perhaps to point out something that people ought to know about.
Sermons that are theologically astute, could with a bit of effort, be illustrated with a mission story of the ELCA. Bulletins and newsletters can be vehicles for teaching about what our church does, both locally and churchwide.
Several congregations have communications on screens, as well as on traditional bulletin boards. These avenues are opportunities to tell the stories.
Two years ago, I was scheduled to preach in one of our congregations the Sunday following the Churchwide Assembly, where we made controversial decisions on sexuality.
The actions of the ELCA had made the newspapers. I was a little apprehensive. After the service, I asked one of the members, “Are you or any of your people upset over our ELCA actions related to the sexuality statement?”
He replied, “Our pastor has been talking about the issues. We went through the recommended sessions. We don’t all agree with the actions, but we’ve already dealt with that. We’re OK.”
Congregation councils always get an update on finances. Do they also hear about what is going on at the synod and national levels? Do they get updates on our agencies and institutions? Do they know of the mission opportunities coming down the pike?
Tell and “weave in” the stories. Enjoy the fullness of ministry.
Find a link to Darrel Peterson’s entry at ELCA Southeastern Synod Blog at Lutheran Blogs.