I’m at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly as a voting member, and there has been some very encouraging discussion on the requirement for the church to become a missional church. Those of us in emergent/missional conversations know this to already be true, but making this a strong emphasis across a mainline national church body is a welcome move.
However, I wonder how serious we are willing to become a missional church.
There is enough controversy at this assembly with the sexuality debate before us, but there is another controversial debate that this church must wage in order to become driven by God’s mission. It is an ecclesiological debate that effects the very fabric of local congregations and their practice of the faith as a community. It is a huge structural, logistical, and bureaucratic nightmare to even think about addressing. But if we do not begin to ask these questions, we will not enact foundational change in local congregations.
Ordination must be rethought.
If we are going to be a church free to move swiftly with the movement of the Spirit, a church that takes seriously the priesthood of all believers, a church rooted in local community, a church that believes that all are called by God and equipped for ministry, then the current structural handcuffs that go along with ordination, seminary, the call process, the sacraments, and the host of other issues related to ecclesiology must be removed.
I know the implications of this suggestion. I have lots of further thoughts, but don’t have the time to spell them out right now. This is a debate that will eventually be had, but I am simply advocating we have this debate before it is too late.
I’ve considered proposing a resolution to the assembly to begin a process to re-evaluate our ecclesiology, especially concerning ordination, but don’t think that I will have the time to do the necessary legwork before the deadline tomorrow morning. I would surely be defeated, but would put the issue before a host of people to whom it matters most.
I welcome your thoughts. More to come from me later.