What if we met together . . . Oh yea we did.

December 21, 2009

I was reminded by Eric that we should do an update on our Possibility Thinkers get together. It was a great day, we began by risking our life on icy roads (ah the fun of Alberta driving). We then had a great presentation by Ken Nettleton who has helped the Baptist churches imagine about congregational health and mission. Afterwords we did our own listening about where God was calling us. In many ways we have come to realize that we are truly in a time of listing for God’s call, being re-formed by God and re-discovering the values that shape our mission.

We have also heard that we need to invite others into the conversation. So the plan is to have a time at the Pastor’s study conference to discuss possibilities. At our convention we plan to set up some chairs, brew some good coffee (hey we are Lutherans) and invite who ever will stop by to join us in talking about what God might possibly be calling us to. Next fall there is a possibility of a conference hosted by Our Saviours and there is even a dream of a retreat, a time of listening together and formation. And yes we will keep blogging. In all of this we hope, and wait for the spirit to guide us and for Christ, who is born in our midst, in ways that we could hardly have imagined.

And  a very merry Christmas to all.


Merry Christmas!

December 21, 2009

Thank you for participating in this exciting conversation over the past few months.  Join us in the New Year as we develop this discussion and, hopefully, meet face to face with you all in 2010 (so much more to come)!

Merry Christmas to all of our readers

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!


What if…1000 wasn’t too much?

December 21, 2009

A new website from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has just been launched, called anglican1000.  They’ve made a new proclamation that they intend to plant 1000 new churches in five years.  Now, I like to dream big, but that’s remarkable.  The ACNA formed recently with the aim of creating a “separate ecclesiastical structure” for Anglican faithful in North America distinct from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada.  They now have almost 800 churches.

I seem to be reminded, again and again, that growth often comes out of grassroots renewal.  Old-line churches are shrinking on almost every front, but groups that grow up out of stagnation often have new motivation to develop leaders, engage in missionary activity, plant churches, and evangelize in new ways.  The proclamation even calls on seminaries and parishes to develop new models of ministry. 

The ACNA is asking a series of great questions that I think we in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada can ask, and resolve to pursue.  Firstly, who is Jesus (Christology), what is he doing in the world (Missiology), and how can we join him (Ecclesiology)? 

In closing, I like this:

“Bishop-elect Todd Hunter sent delegates and participants of the Inaugural Assembly out with a charge to help build the Kingdom of God.  “No one cares about our ‘brand’ or our internal disputes.  It is about making new Christians.”

Amen.


What if…we supported missionaries

December 18, 2009

Actions follow values, and if the actions of the ELCIC regarding missionaries was any indication of our values, we would scratch our heads.  We would be left with the realization that we have a lot to learn about global outreach.  A while back, I was very interested to find out more about our member to missionary ratio.  What I learned from a little research what very surprising.  After a few emails and a little bit of time of various denominational websites, I found the number of members in several denominations and the number of full-time missionaries supported by these faith communities.  I am not a statistician, but what I found was surprising, however you crunch the numbers.

I learned that the Christian and Missionary Alliance have 46000 members and 203 supported missionaries; that’s 1 missionary for every 226 people (226:1)

The Baptist General Conference of Canada has a ratio of 1014:1

The Pentecostals (PAOC) have 1807:1

The Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada have about 1 missionary per church (a ratio of about 300:1)

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (that’s us), we have a member to missionary ratio of 54000:1*  That’s right, fifty-four thousand to one.

Now, I concede that I am not factoring in Canadian Lutheran World Relief and the various aid agencies that each denomination supports.  But a strict look a the missionary numbers leaves us to consider that we have not been reaching out as we ought to be.  What if, in 2010, each Lutheran church was to take a group on a short-term mission trip?  What if we were to foster a longing in our communities for cross-cultural engagement?  Perhaps these experiences will inspire us to live out the Great Commission and get-out-there again.  What if we were simply not satisfied with 54000:1

For a full breakdown of my numbers, here is a PDF of my findings with footnotes, etc: Member to Missionary Ratio.  I welcome refinements to my data and the addition of data from other denominations.

*That’s not all.  As of Summer 2009, the ELCIC Long-Term missionaries will be managed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; effectively this means that there will be no full-time missionaries in the ELCIC as of this summer. We will send any support for long-term missionaries to the ELCA. The Volunteers in Missions program (VIM) will be cut and any mission volunteers will have to work with our American counterparts in Chicago. Both staff people managing these missionary efforts have lost their jobs as a result of this restructuring. Instead of expanding missions, the ELCIC National Church Council has seen fit to cut missions.


Possibility Thinkers Gathering

December 9, 2009

Well we are having a get together this Friday to tackle a new question . . . Now what?

We have spent the last several months, blogging, listening and watching for what God might be calling us to as a church. Now we get to wonder what our little group might be called to next. So if you have any ideas or suggestions add a comment and let us know.


The Prodigal Table

December 9, 2009

By Guest Blogger Sean Bell

What if we knew the story that was only beginning at the end of the Prodigal son parable?

So what did the older brother do?

I’m guessing as a rule follower he went back in the house like his Dad said. He still probably wasn’t happy but, as always, he did what was expected of him, and then went to bed as soon as it was polite… or perhaps he went off and gathered his friends to discuss the unfairness of the situation (if the Prodigal had returned… and was accepted back… the Older son may have just lost 1/2 of his inheritance…)

I wonder what that family looked like 6 months down the road?

What were the evening meals like? Were they really tense? Could the younger brother tell stories of his trip and squandering and wild living? Or was it all covered up and never talked about? Did the pain of his sin still rule the the family meals… or was he truly forgiven? Had laughter returned? Was there intimacy felt as a family? Was there healing?

Imagine that it is now 2000 year later. The loving Father is still calling people in for the family meal. Generations of children now gather around the family meal that the Father is still offering.

It’s a daily occurrence now that the Father sits weeping at the door as someone takes there “fair share” and heads off into the world to find there own way. Some people can’t learn from a story alone that wondering off to the life of wild living is not ultimately going to make them feel whole… or even good.

It is also a daily occurrence that that Father shouts our with Joy and goes charging from the house, robe and sandals flapping about in an undignified way. Rejoice! Another Prodigal Son or Daughter has returned. Everyone, stop what you are doing… kill a cow! Light the fires! We must celebrate!

Again and again, the Father says kill the calf, let us celebrate. And… who comes in to the table when the father calls?

This is a vitally important question because this is what it is to be the children of God. God is setting a table for all… all are called. But do some choose to eat on their own? Do some of the non-prodigals decide to eat in the side room where we have proper manners and don’t have to watch the Father gushing over another prodigal child returned?

What does it do to the whole family when we look at the place where beloved brothers and sisters used to sit, and see that they have chosen a side room to eat in?

Imagine this scenario… the entire Family is called to the meal… and a whole group of the Family is missing. The Father goes about the house looking, and finds the missing group in a side room.

“Why have you not come?” asks the father.

“We’re waiting till they have eaten, and then we will eat.”

“But I called everyone… there is food for all”

“Yes.. and we will come, but we won’t eat with them…”

What if we all kept coming to the same table?

What if we could have our fights, and still come to the table?