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Follow Me: Putting the Pieces Together

In August 2010 I attended Follow Me: Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World, a conference hosted by the ELCA for synod communicators and campus ministry pastors and students.  You can find video, presentation slides, and other resources on the Follow Me webpage.

On the whole, the Follow Me conference was quite good.  We heard three different and yet interrelated presentations (plus supporting workshops and reflections from Bishop Hanson) on life in a 2.0 world, which is highly connected and interactive, a flat world that puts us in close contact with people of differing believes and convictions, is increasingly secular, in which technology is integrated into all aspects of our living, where there is a deep longing for meaning and community, as well as a word of hope and grace.
Some of my gleanings:
  • Know and love one's own tradition, but be in continual conversations with others.
  • Be grounded in the Gospel and the Sacraments.  Trust that the heart of our Lutheran theology and practice speaks deeply to people who haven't heard it before
  • Seek to deeply understand culture and our particular cultural settings in all their complexity
  • It is essential to understand millennial culture
  • Listen and engage with others with no expectation of conversion
  • Know who you are as a church and be able to express why it should matter to people
  • Practice witnessing
  • When we speak of faith, focus on Jesus and not on the institution of the church
  • Be willing to try, experiment, and fail.

I leave Follow Me with one persisting question, one which I posed to Nadia during her conversation with the Bishop:"How do I, a pastor in a traditional congregation, go about helping our congregation to do a new thing, and not just recapture the glory days of the 60's?" How do I appropriate the learning and practice of emerging ministry models for Redeemer?· I hope we will unpack this more as we prepare for our 2011 Convocation.

This question has been a source of anxiety for me over the last year.· However, I'm departing Chicago actually feeling better and confirmed in what we are doing at Redeemer, although there is much more to do.· We are trying to expand our welcome and our notions of who is a part of our community.· I think we are doing a much better· job living into our context as a Boston Metro congregation.· We're not attracting millennials (yet), but we are effectively reaching young families, which fits our context well.· In the coming months, I would also like for us to define more clearly who we are, what we're about, and be able to make the case of why people should engage.· The reason, of course, is to encounter, experience and know for themselves the grace, love and mercy of God.

Finally, I am very appreciative to the·New England Synod and the·RedeemerFoundation for providing the funding so I could attend - and to Linda and Steven for letting me crash at your place.

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