Babbles on Reform

ABC DistrictGoing into this weekend as a delegate at the ABC District Convention I have been thinking, reflecting, reading, and praying about what is to come. I put this forward as a discussion point:

As many know, I am not a “life-long” Lutheran, I found Lutheranism after dalliances with atheism, occultism, and a serious look at some Eastern faiths led me to Christianity in its most Charismatic form, and then after that particular brand nearly destroyed my faith, I walked the wilderness of Christianity for a time. I didn’t know much, but I “knew” that Jesus died for my sin, the Bible was the Word of God, and somehow I was “Heaven-bound” because of it all. I wandered from congregation to congregation, applying my litmus tests, as ill-considered as they were (Do they answer my questions about the Bible, or brush them off?) and trying to figure out who I was. Eventually, I found myself in the evangelical wing of the Lutheran church. I stayed there; it had a depth to it that other evangelical churches seemed to lack. During my time there I decided that further formation and theological study was called for, and I headed out to a Lutheran university with intention to attend a Lutheran Seminary. I discovered the liturgy, the Confessions – and in many very real ways – the fullness of the Gospel during this journey.

It is perhaps due to this long personal journey and struggles with the faith that I am constantly at wonder that those that grew up with it all seem to take it for granted. And I am often gobsmacked that they passionately revere institutions that to my mind not only were ancillary to Lutheranism but at times were antithetical to it.

Is it possible that I am of a generation that questions the need for any institutions and when that institution cannot then justify itself I am quite ready to discard or reorganise it? Or perhaps it is because it was not my family and friends and even person who were involved in the blood, sweat, and tears, which it took to build our institution and so, have little or no emotional connection to it? Or maybe I am just excessively utilitarian in my thinking on the matter? I’m unsure.

I will say this, however: There is a small but vocal community of us that have been highly critical of the way in which our synod has been organised. Some of us, admittedly, because we don’t understand the historical reasons and compromises that it took to create the Lutheran Church – Canada, though I assure you I am not of that camp. I have taken my time to study the history of our synod, reading minutes of meetings, talking to people that were part of the negotiations, and during my time at the archives, just being exposed to the vast material that was produced to get us here. I get it.

Here’s the thing, most of us who are critical have been saying one thing over and over and over again, “This isn’t sustainable and it doesn’t make sense.”

No one, were they to plan a means by which our tiny synod would be governed, would today arrive at the system we have. It is a historical anachronism, an LCMS hangover, designed for a context and experience not our own and kept by people at a time when change to anything new was a scary prospect.

I honour and understand why they did it. But we must not be beholden to them any longer.

It is terribly sad that it had to come to this in order to energise the synod towards reform and for people to not only begin to examine and discuss it, but for that to line up with a time wherein the political will is aligned with reform.

Personally, I am thinking forward. The situation is plain, our District is financially destroyed, we face an increasingly hostile population, an increasingly secular society, and those that remain volunteer and serve in numbers far, far, lower than their parents or grandparents. And us Generation Xers and Millennials value the institutions very little beyond the local congregation. A population that sees PowerPoint as a backward and dated technology cannot help but see the bureaucratic, top-down, bloated, functions of our District as a less than charming metachronism.

My situation is plain. I now am responsible for my own piece of the next generation. My daughter will grow up never having known another faith or confession. She was baptised a Lutheran and if I have anything to do with it, will have her first Communion a Lutheran, and so on.  I want as strong a Lutheran synod as I can for her to inherit, and I feel as though without radical reform, she won’t have one.

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