Who are We?, or Beating a Dead Horse

Hi. It’s me again. Been so long since I’ve been on here that I forgot all my passwords and stuff.

The reason I’m back today is to recap some recent conversations and to make a suggestion. First the recap.

Recap: 

Back on Reformation Sunday 2018, our congregation gathered, having passed 94 Reese’s (I swear I didn’t eat the 95th!) attached to the sanctuary door. We worshipped together, and we collected YOUR theses for the Church 501 years after Luther’s postings at Wittenberg. Vicar Kara and I collected them and have boiled them down to a few statements, which you find here below.

You said that Church is:
1. A Community
2. A Place (for gathering that community)

You told us that the Church Community values (in no particular order):
1. Love
2. Healing/Wholeness (which we might call Shalom)
3. Reconciliation
4. Comfort for the afflicted
5. Christ as the Center of the Christ-reflecting community
6. Peace
7. Celebration of Diversity
8. Authenticity

You told us that the community values having a place for:
Worship, sanctuary, refuge. Some of you called it a haven.

You told us that the community should:
1. Help people
2. Emphasize teaching and learning
3. Boldly speak out for justice

You also mentioned sustainability/survival of the institution in some of your responses.

Suggestion

First some quick background. I know that we’ve been thinking about mission and vision and purpose statements and the like for a number of years. We’ve been in flux as a congregation, and I’ve modulated back and forth between thinking business-like statments are really important to believing they’re a cultural capitulation that the church has made to the modern, Capitalist world. These days, I admit to not knowing where they fit at all, but I do see that they CAN at least be helpful in some scenarios.

What I suggest below seems to fit some kind of “statement” model, which both folds in everything you reported back on Reformation Sunday AND gives us some pithy things to say about ourselves to others and to ourselves as we seek to guide our decision-making in the foreseeable future. You tell me if I’m way off base.

First Lutheran Church strives to inspire hope for a wounded world
through worship that both uplifts and challenges
and by building blessed relationships inside and outside the walls of our building.

I believe this will help guide us in worship planning, sermon preparation, giving shape to budget priorities, hiring/calling practices, framing our business meetings and social gatherings? You tell me. It feels to me like this is ready to publish. This is something we can do whether we gather in our own current structure, or whether we meet in the park or at another house of worship, or even whether we pick up and move shop to some other location. Whaddyathink?

[NB: I didn’t explicitly include the words “God” or “Jesus” in this statement. “God” is such a nebulous term that even Luther struggled with it a bit, stating in his explication of the First Commandment in the Large Catechism, that to have a “god” is to have something in which you place your ultimate trust. That could be THE God, but it could just as easily be an idol. In any case, by explicitly using the word “worship,” “God” as an unnamed direct object is implied. The same goes for “blessed” in “blessed relationships.” That we are a “church” also implies directly that we follow Jesus Christ. Again, though, that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I just kind of wanted to avoid the whole assumption claptrap and instead keep things simple as a way to invite folks of all stripes and backgrounds to “come and see.”]