Friday, April 30, 2010

to be lutheran.

Pastor Chris Nelson, who was my pastor in my 20s, talked to a group of pastors in the Metro DC this past week. He mentioned an exciting new church that didn't have the word Lutheran in its name. Did the people going there know they were Lutheran? Not necessarily. Would they articulate an understanding of Christianity that was recognizable to someone in the know as Lutheran? Definitely.

I'm leading an informal class on Sunday mornings on what it means to be Lutheran. We've offered this in various formats about once a year because we know that many people join our congregation without a Lutheran background. They want to know and I want them to know about this great church tradition. The 2nd of the 4 classes will be this Sunday at 9:45. Everyone is welcome.

A woman in the class last week made me completely re-think how to lead it. She mentioned that she intuitively loves our church and now she wants to know what it is about Lutheranism that has made such a community.

This is the same kind of thing that Pastor Chris was talking about. Increasingly, people don't join a church out of loyalty to the denomination of their youth. They look for authenticity, genuine community, and opportunity to serve.

Yet it matters to me that once people are here, they can articulate what it is in the Lutheran tradition that works for them. It also seems to matter to those who join our church that they know what it is to be Lutheran. This is not the case with everyone or everywhere, but here, people want to know.

In the class last week I gave a bit of historical reference and basic theological background. I also brought up 4 Lutheran catch phrases that are good to know about: saint and sinner; law and gospel; priesthood of all believers; saved by grace through faith. I tried to show how they play out in the life of our community.

This week I think I'm going to do something different. I'm going to ask people what they've experienced, heard, seen in our congregation and show how that is (or isn't) in line with Lutheran traditions.

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