Monday, April 18, 2016

The ELCA is not a person: Eight theses

1. The ELCA is not a person, nor is it the Borg. It's a badass assemblage of persons gathered around Word & Sacrament and centered in Christ, and by and large it's making the move to greater inclusion of all God's children. 
2. It still has a long ways to go on ethnic diversity. As one of my friends said recently, "Mainline Protestants prayed for diversity. God gave diversity to the Pentecostals."
3. Nadia Bolz-Weber is a rock star, a theologian of the cross, and 99% of the time when people diss her stuff it's because they're one of those 20% of the population that doesn't understand irony.
4. We are people sorting out what it means to be Christian in post-Christian society. I like to call us progressive Christians. My conservative members say we are the hippy-dippy Lutherans. But not all of us are. And that's okay. 
5. We still have the biggest social ministry organization in the United States, Lutheran Services of America, and ounce for ounce we do more refugee resettlement and disaster relief than pretty much any group of Christians on the continent.
6. Some of us like lefse. Others like injera. I like both. But what centers us is not our ethnic supper preferences but Christ and his benefits, and our gathering up in him in love of neighbor.
7. Haters gonna hate. Sometimes, if it is in defense of a vulnerable person or group, the responsibility is to push back. Sometimes, if haters are just being ridiculous, the responsibility is to love the enemy, and do good to those who hate us. 
8. We would all benefit from remembering that the largest group of people around us aren't Christian or connected to a faith community at all. The Spirit's asking us, "As progressive Christians, would you, for the love of God, reclaim your evangelical origins, and go preach the gospel? Like, right now?!"


  1. This is an interesting post, and I'd be interested to see #2 laid out in some more detail. While I agree that the ELCA should try to be more racially and culturally inclusive, I worry that the focus on moving the statistics takes the focus off of people and leads to strange incentives. I think it would be helpful if we could get better data from the parochial reports and had a metric for people reached or served in the community who aren't members. There are lots of people who benefit from the ministry of congregations who aren't interested in becoming members for one reason or another.