My friend, Tammy, sent an email to fellow friends in youth ministry today. She quoted Hebrews 13:5-8 and then asked a few questions for our consideration. Her questions are in , my answers are beneath.
How do we let the Spirit move us?
This only happens if we become a praying, meditating church. We are good at teaching the intellectual nuances of Lutheran theology, but we are bad at teaching spiritual practices. It's messy, awkward, and invasive...yet it's this kind of accompaniment that opens us up to communion with the Spirit. We can't be called into action if we don't know how to listen to the Spirit's guidance.
Are we willing to get out of the way?
Probably not. We create systems and structures to try to make order out of chaos, but we ultimately become wedded to the institution and not the Spirit's moving presence. We aren't nimble enough to do this effectively in a fast-paced, on-demand world. This is the struggle with an intergenerational institution. There are at least four generations that gather for worship in any given congregation on any given weekend. We're lucky if two of those generations are pleased with our ecclesiology. This is the great challenge of institutions in our day.
Where is God calling us to action?
I think God still calls us to live out our baptism in the promises we make when we affirm our baptism:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear his Word and share in his supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of our Lord Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
How can we be content with what we have while learning new ways to be the church?
This is where the church becomes very contextual. Congregations are going to have to figure out what THEY are content with and discern the new ways THEY can be the church. This can't come from synodical, regional, or national structures (though they can provide guidance and support)...this must be a natural outgrowth of the congregations vision for ministry in their particular context.
How can we help bring healing?
Healing only comes about when a diagnosis is made. In other words, we have to figure out what is ailing us before we can heal our illness. This is why the LIFT task force is so important. Once a diagnosis is made, we can than move towards healing by looking at existing aspects of "the body" that are healthy. SYMBOL is a prime example of how "the new church" can be structured. It's a network of people, called to a particular ministry in a particular context, which exists to support one another and partner in ministry. Members of SYMBOL are, in many ways, "in-but-not-of" the larger church structure. Many SYMBOL members are on a synod staff, and yet they relate to each other in very organic, un-structured ways.