ELCA

01 August 2013

Make Your Neighborhood Your Cathedral: My Pilgrimage to Humble Walk

Posted in ELCA, Emerging, Church

humblewalkweb

When I was younger, I pilgrimaged to medieval cathedrals. Now I pilgrimage to new mission churches.

Last week, I made pilgrimage to Humble Walk Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, a mission start congregation of the ELCA.

Humble Walk is true inspiration to me. Their pastor Jodi Houge is just amazing and gave one of my favorite interviews in Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible. As she told us there,

"We recognized that most people don't come looking for a church, in our demographic. And so, we through from the beginning, 'We know this. The church is sinking.' The facts are on the table for the mainline denominations. So, we're not going to these big glossy things that try to draw people to our cool, fancy, hip church. We're going to be where people already are and try to be the church where they are."

19 December 2012

Social Media Strategies for Synods and Dioceses

Posted in ELCA, Resources, Social Media

iphone-iconsChurch judicatories, such as synods and dioceses, have a unique set of challenges and opportunties when it comes to employing digital social media to further their mission and ministry.

In this webinar I led for ELCA synod communicators, I suggest some crucial and often overlooked steps in developing a judicatorial social media strategy by applying the approach to social media for ministry that Elizabeth Drescher and I put forward in our book, Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible.

In the course of the webinar I quote Elizabeth, who once noted that, "Institutions don't do social. People do social." One of the dangers of judicatories and larger church institutions is that with the understandable need to disseminate news and information, we lose sight of the point of social media—actually developing relationships, not only with the judicatory or its staff, but congregation to congregation, person to person. It can be more difficult for larger instutions to make the shift from broadcast to social media, marketing to ministry, from the instituitional to the personal—but this is what will ultimately prove most effective.

Much of the advice here also applies to congregations and individuals.

05 December 2012

Remembering The Rev. Dr. Ronald Thiemann

Posted in ELCA, Leadership, Church

On December 5th I had the honor of preaching the funeral sermon for my mentor and friend, The Rev. Dr. Ronald Thiemann. We lost him too soon and will miss him greatly.

ron thiemannFirst Meeting

I remember the first time I met Ron Thiemann. It was 1996 and I was a newly minted first year Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School and Ron was the Dean. I was invited, along with all first years, to the traditional welcome cookout at Jewett House, the Dean’s residence. We shook hands in the receiving line and said hello. And that was it. In that brief moment, neither of us could have possibly imagined that our journeys would somehow lead us here today.

I never had a class with Ron, a fact he would later tease me about frequently. I tried to explain that he just wasn’t in my area, but he didn’t buy it. But I did see him often. You know, at Harvard, professors are our versions of celebrities and Deans all the more so. I remember seeing Ron walking hurriedly across the Div School campus. I’d say, “Hey, there’s the Dean!” It was like seeing a theological rock-star. I knew that he was brilliant, important, and busy teaching and guiding the Divinity school, which he did for 13 years.

So, perhaps you can imagine that when Ron and Beth appeared unannounced for Sunday worship here at Redeemer when I was serving as pastor, I had to do a double take. I peeked into the sanctuary from the back door and said, “Is that the dean? That’s the dean!” I walked up and, I’ll never forget, I nervously said, “Hello, Professor Thiemann, I’m Keith Anderson.” And Ron said, “Yes. I know.” Eek! And then I had to preach in front of him a sermon I didn’t particularly like. My heart thumped in my chest as it did for my sermons in the weeks to come. After weeks of calling him Professor Thiemann, he finally had to say, “Keith, please, call me Ron.”

And in the time since, I came to know Ron, not only as the incredibly accomplished scholar and institutional leader, advisor to political, religious, and business leaders, but as a colleague, a wise mentor, and, truly and most of all, a friend.

16 July 2012

Dumbledore is Dead: The Death of Mainline Denominations

Posted in ELCA, Church

dumbledore fallingMainline denominations are not dead. They may be dying. At the very least the way they once were, the way we have known them for the last 100 years, is dead. So why do we keep looking to them for answers to the challenges we now face? Why do we keep expecting that they will somehow roar back and save us?

Clergy waste so much time lamenting the state of their denominations. It’s exhausting and fruitless. And I'm beginning to think that it says more about clergy than about the denomination.

Could the problem be that we are looking for something that they simply can no longer provide? Could it be that find it easier to lament and blame the denomination than to create our own solutions?

16 February 2012

The Five Things I Hope For In Our Next Bishop

Posted in ELCA, Leadership, Church

crozierThis spring our synod is discerning what qualities we seek in a new bishop. From my vantage point, this has been a good and engaging process. The ideas, opinions, and insights from people in the synod have been great.

However, many of the responses (including my own) have been very general in nature. We say the bishop must be a good administrator, handle conflict well, be Biblically grounded, patient, pastoral, and visionary. You know, just slightly better than Jesus.

All these things are true. I concede all these general ideas of what a bishop should be. But this only gets us halfway to where we need to go.

The key question for me is: what particular qualities do we need in a bishop now, in this time, and over the next six years?

05 May 2011

Shifting from Institution to Networks: The ELCA LIFT Report

Posted in ELCA, Church

LIFT ReportOne of the promising aspects of the ELCA LIFT report (some background here in my previous post) is its urgent call to begin to understand our church, not as a monolithic institution, but as a collection of overlapping and interconnected networks.

It “calls for immediate attention to this church as a grouping of networks. Caring for these networks, some of them virtual networks and social networking relationships, is an immediate necessity.”

Further, it recommends that we “initiate ways to encourage congregations, synods and partners to develop flexible networks for varying purposes, recognizing these networks can increase collaboration and connections across this church and include emerging leaders from all parts of the ecology.”

This is incredibly helpful and I want to make some suggestions about how we might do this.

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