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Making “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Evangelistic

By Rev. David Sprang, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Evangelical Mission

On Sunday, September 12, 2021 many folks across the ELCA will wear their “God’s Work. Our Hands.” shirts out into the public arena as they serve others. A noble endeavor to serve the community. And many will hope that others read their t-shirts and they will know who it is that is doing the work and why they do it. 

But what if? What if we also tell them who we are, why we serve, and listen to hear about their lives, their stories, their faith, their joys and their sorrows?

When Jesus sends the disciples out for the first time in Matthew 10 he says: “Go to the lost sheep and tell them ‘The Kingdom of God has come near’”. Think about ways your congregation’s “God’s Work. Our Hands.” project will let people know the Kingdom of God has come near.

Here is a beginning list of ideas – and I hope you might add to it:

  • Take worship to where you are serving – a nursing home, park, with first responders, etc.
  • Listen to the people being served – listen to joys and sorrows, laments and COVID struggles
  • Bless people – find ways to pronounce a blessing upon the people being served
  • Invite friends or other family members to serve with you
  • Ask those being served or those serving with you: What can we pray for?
  • Hold a Welcome Event after God’s Work Sunday and invite all the people you encountered on September 12 to come to the event
  • Ask people to tell you their faith journey story – find ways to invite them into further conversations
  • Recruit a listening team to accompany workers so some are working/serving and others are listening to those being served
  • Ask  those being served what they think are things the church should be doing to help the community
  • Keep the list going…

Talk about Jesus. Invite folks into conversation. Listen to their stories. Be transformed!




Six Things We Have Learned Since the Publication of Autopsy of a Deceased Church

By Thom Rainer

I was stunned.

When I wrote Autopsy of a Deceased Church five years ago, the response took me by surprise. While all authors expect or hope their books will be bestsellers, I frankly didn’t see it coming. Hundreds of thousands of book sales later, Autopsy became the all-time bestseller in the genre of church leadership.

Why? Why did church leaders, both vocational and laity, respond to the book with this level of interest? The concept was simple. We interviewed church members of churches that had closed their doors or died. We performed an autopsy of deceased churches. We found out why these churches died.

After about a year of receiving questions and comments from readers, I saw a common theme emerging. The readers wanted to know what they could do to prevent their churches from dying. Ironically, a book about the death of churches became a book about hope for churches.

While the sales of the book remain strong to this day, I think it’s worth noting what we have learned in the five years since I wrote the book. On this fifth anniversary celebration of Autopsy of a Deceased Church. Here are six things we’ve learned.

  1. Most members of dying churches didn’t see it coming. Many of the members were still dealing with the shock of the death of their churches when we interviewed them.
  2. Many of the members and leaders of these churches would have begun revitalization efforts if they knew how. I am so grateful for the revitalization revolution taking place today. Churches have resources and knowledge they didn’t have five years ago.
  3. “Minor” issues kill churches. Most of these churches did not die because of some major heresy. They did not die because of a mass exodus of the population surrounding them. They died because they lost their focus. They died because they fought over things that really did not matter. They majored on minors to the point of death.
  4. The silent majority killed churches. Some members saw the problems. They knew the power brokers in the church. They knew the personnel committee ran off a pastor without cause. They heard the constant chorus of not-so-well-intending critics attacking church leadership. But they said nothing and did nothing. Their silence was a dagger in the back of these churches.
  5. Some members waited for the silver bullet. Many of them said they kept waiting on that young pastor who would attract new young families. Some of the churches got those young pastors, and they ran them off when change began to take place. Most of the churches, though, never got the young pastor. They waited until death.
  6. A church does not have to die. Death is not inevitable. But most of the members of these churches would rather see the church die than change. They got their wish.

Thanks to all of you who purchased a copy of Autopsy. I am honored and humbled by the response. Now, for the first time ever, we have a video resource for the study of this book. Perhaps it’s time take a group through this book and see what God will do to move your church in the right direction.

I pray your church will not be the next autopsy performed.

Originally posted on thomrainer.com. View the original article.




Evangelism is the Greatest Form of Discipleship

By Josh Daffern

Many churches have a general mission statement that goes something like this: “To glorify God by making fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.” By the way, that’s the mission statement at the church where I currently serve and it’s a restatement of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to go and make disciples of all nations.

The real question is: what does it mean to make “fully-devoted disciples”? That’s the point where many churches can diverge. To make fully-devoted disciples there has to be an element of evangelism. We can’t make new disciples if we are not effectively reaching people outside of the faith. That’s the first step to making fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.

The second step is the one we all love: discipleship. Once a person comes to Jesus, there’s a whole host of baggage that needs to be unpacked from their life before Jesus. There’s the sin nature to wrestle with, addictions to break, mindsets to change. Transformation needs to happen through biblical community. People need to grow in their Bible knowledge and grow in their faith. But if that’s where we stop, we haven’t yet made fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ.

And that’s just it. That’s where so many churches stop, on a never-ending treadmill of more and more Bible knowledge (which is great) and more and more fellowship with other believers (which is needed). But a fully-devoted disciple is not simply the Christian with the most Bible knowledge. Bible knowledge in and of itself does not equal spiritual maturity. In Jesus’ day, the people with the greatest Bible knowledge were the Pharisees and the Teachers of the Law, who ended up being Jesus’ greatest opponents.

The final step in creating fully-devoted disciples circles all the way back around to evangelism. The mark of a fully-devoted disciple is a disciple who is making other disciples, a disciple who is bringing others to the faith either through personal evangelism or bringing others with them to church to introduce them to Jesus. That’s why I’ve said for years that evangelism is the greatest form of discipleship.

If we in our churches are not creating disciples who regularly create other disciples, we are not succeeding in the mission of making fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ. In the end, all we’re making at best are Doctrine Police and Bible Trivia Experts and at worst are Couch Potato Christians who sit and soak rather than serve and send. If you want to see who the fully-devoted disciples of Jesus Christ are, don’t necessarily go to the biggest churches or find the Christians with the most seminary degrees or the ones who are the most confident (i.e. arrogant) about their doctrine. Find disciples who are making other disciples. Evangelism is the greatest form of discipleship.

QUESTION: What do you think? Can a Christian be a fully-devoted disciple if they are not making other disciples?

Born and raised in California, Josh graduated college from California Baptist University and spent two years as a missionary in Africa before coming back to America and finding the love of his life (Robin). Josh graduated from New Orleans Seminary with a Masters of Divinity and a Doctor of Ministry. Josh has been involved in full-time ministry for over twenty years. He enjoys hiking, beach volleyball, reading, playing anything competitive, and rough-housing with his kids. Josh, his gorgeous wife Robin, his outrageously handsome boys Zeke, Shepherd and Lincoln and his princess Elle, live in northern Virginia. Josh also blogs on Beliefnet as Next Steps: Inspiration From Scripture for Your Next Step of Faith and you can find links to all his content on joshdaffern.com




Keeping Christianity Weird – Embracing the Discipline of Being Different

Michael Frost is an Australian theologian and author. He is the Director of the Tinsley Institute for Mission Study and Head of the Missiology Department at Morling College in Australia. He has been called “a leading voice in Missional Church Movement.”

“All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful” – Flannery O-Connor

In his new book, Keeping Christianity Weird – Embracing the Discipline of Being Different, Michael Frost asserts that Jesus is different and challenges Christians to be different, eccentric, and unique. Frost challenges us to conform to the patterns of the world and to instead see the world differently than the world sees itself.

Citing research from his book, Surprise the World – The Five Habits of Highly Missional People, and The Patient Fervent of the Early Church by Alan Kreider, Frost asserts that that Jesus promoted a life of living differently and counter-culturally, specifically citing the Sermon on the Mount as a directive to live differently. To support the directive to live differently, the Early Christian Church served as a counter-cultural community. Frost then challenges Christians to “live questionable lives,” meaning to live a Christian life so differently from the world that people will ask “why?”.

Below are some key takeaways from this new book on how to keep Christianity weird and embrace being different:

Creative Eccentric People

  • Examples: Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Picasso, Jim Henson, Martha Graham, Caesar Chavez.
  • Examples in Christianity: St. Boniface, Francis Xavier, Zinzendorf, Anne Hutchinson, Mother Ann Lee.
  • “Eccentric” comes from the Greek “ex” meaning out of and “kentron” meaning center, to mean out of center. Richard Beck explains it as “The focal point life is turned from self to God,” similar to Luther’s explanation of “Incurvatis in se” or “the self curved inward”
  • God is eccentric – outside the system or status quo
  • “We have to learn the often-changing truth that God exists beyond our agendas”
  • Who are some eccentric figures in history you admire?

 The Weird Cities Movement is on the edge of something different

  • Examples: Austin, Seattle, Ashville, Denver, Boulder, New York
  • Weird cities have different values and are attracting young people. For example, Austin, TX values beautiful buildings, divergent lifestyles, and defying cultural trends.
  • Mansions are sitting empty, malls are closing, millennials are buying houses, and learning to be neighbors.
  • Weird churches are growing. They are connecting to a place, environmentally sustainable, tolerant of the views of all, welcoming diversity, and rejecting corporate styles of leadership.
  • How do we maintain a distinctive Christian witness and be responsive to our community and setting?

Jesus was weird and eccentric

  • The gospel of Mark gives us an impression of a wild Messiah wandering the roads of Israel accompanied by wild beasts an angels with sickness and demons flying off in every direction.
  • He was a homeless, unmarried, thirtysomething rabbi who recruited a bunch of young mostly uneducated men to hit the road with him and proclaim that the Kingdom of God was coming and the best way to prepare was to repent of sins.
  • Example stories of Jesus’ weirdness: Nicodemus, Woman with the flow of blood, and Cleansing of the temple (Matt 21:14-15 – to let in the blind, the lame, and the children).
  • What impresses you and the weirdest thing Jesus did?

The Church at its best is always weird

  • Citing research by Alan Kreider, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, Frost says: “What he found was that, far from the common view that the church grew like wildfire across the empire, the people of God slowly and patiently fostered the conditions that turned them into a force that could not be contained in three fundamental ways:
    1. Embodying a patient eschatological hope, trusting in what God has said about the future
    2. Committing themselves to countercultural communal practices or habits
    3. Discipling newcomers via a formal catechesis”
  • In other words, the earliest Christians taught themselves to be weird like Jesus and created habitual practices to help keep that weirdness in place.
  • True weirdness – Jesus-like weirdness – is so contrary to our natural impulses and interests that embracing it requires focus, patience, and discipline. Being weird like Jesus is a slow is a slow deliberate process.
  • Examples of Christian Weirdness: Hiberno Scottish Missionaries, Cistercians, Anabaptist, Pentecostals, not all of these groups survived. Not all kept their weirdness. But they were all viewed suspiciously by the stayed and culturally acceptable church of their time.
  • What other examples of historical Christian weirdness can you think of? (Reformation Lutherans?)

Why is it a battle to keep Christianity weird?

  • Paul insists that one’s own mind is the battlefield. The default is conformity. God demands a “renewal of the mind.” Ephesians 4: “futility of the mind”, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” – Romans 12:2, and also Peter, prepare your minds for action” I Peter 1:13-14
  • Example: In basketball, Wilt Chamberlain and his granny shot
  • Being weird and eccentric is not just learned behavior, it takes a change in one’s mind. A supernatural work that can only be done by the Holy Spirit. (Transformational Ministry!!)
  • Clues to affect the renewal of the mind: My eyes were open, adopting a posture of humility and worship, seeking to become more like Jesus.
  • What keeps us from being weird is fear, shame, and risk.
  • Are you a person that easily conforms or do you have a high threshold of collective behavior?

 Weirdness is not carefree abandon

  • It is a disciplines community that dedicates itself to teaching, worship, and service to foster a new set of habits that aligns itself with the values of the kingdom while still functioning in society and the political landscape.
  • Be like salt and light; a lamp on a hill.
  • Jesus’ new order is: a voluntary society, an integrated society, a countercultural society.
  • Society cannot bring about the kingdom. “We can’t be confident in a political process to deliver the liberation Jesus promised. The church is called to offer such a space: a social reality that displays the Kingdom of God.”
  • We need to look up to the example of Jesus and try to figure out what weird, unlikely, Christlike behavior should look like.
  • Look up to Jesus, look down or around for context.
  • Rice and Soerens Parish Collective: Five signs of the Parish Movement: Centering on Christ, Inhabiting our Parish, Gathering to Remember, Collaborating for God’s Renewal, Linking across Parishes
  • What do you do when you feel pressure to conform?

 Not crazy weird

  • “Christianity needs to retain its weirdness to continue its ancient tradition of being unconventional, surprising, and eccentric in the true sense of the word.”
  • Our identity is found in God not ourselves.
  • We are weird because, we embrace an entirely unconventional ethic at odds with the world
  • We are weird because we believe in some really crazy stuff – incarnation, resurrection, incarnational mission, power of love, grace, and forgiveness.
  • How do you practice your weirdness as a Christian?



Seven Traits of Healthy Churches Today

By Thomas Rainer

I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.

Indeed, put me in a room with nine other people, and I am likely to be the tenth in intellect.

So, I compensate for my cognitive deficiencies by listening, observing, and researching. The wisdom of others is far greater than any chance of intellect I may have. Indeed, I love listening to church leaders. I love watching what other churches do. And I love reporting these observations to you, my readers.

A member of the Church Answers community recently asked about the characteristics of healthy churches today. Immediately, I began to review churches that were having great community impact, whose members regularly had gospel conversations, and whose leaders faithfully preached the Word with power every week.

I noted several characteristics of the thirty plus churches that I would unequivocally designate as healthy. When it was all said and done, I had nearly fifty different traits. But I was able to put most of these traits into one of seven categories.

  1. They truly believe in the power of the gospel. Sure, most church members and leaders would affirm their own belief in the power of the gospel. But few would actually act on that belief. Few actually move into areas and directions that can only be accomplished in God’s power. For most churches, it’s lip service. But not so for these healthy churches.
  2. They have courageous leaders. I call them “Joshua leaders.” They are ready to lead the people into the community and storm the gates of hell. They remind the members to be courageous, even as they are courageous. One pastor put it this way: “I don’t want to live a life without making a difference in God’s power. I will accept the challenges, the risks, and the criticisms to be able to make a difference.”
  3. They embrace change. Most church members, and some church leaders, fiercely resist change. They idolize the past, the way we’ve always done it. Or they fear the future and God’s provisions for the future. But the healthy churches on my watch list embrace change as long as it does not go counter to biblical truth. These churches don’t spend their energies and resources trying to convince people to move forward. They are ready to go!
  4. They are not nostalgic. Sure, these church members honor and respect the past. But they don’t live there. They are constantly anticipating what God will do in the present and the future. They don’t have time to be nostalgic, because they are too busy moving forward.
  5. They see reality. They don’t just see reality; they make highly intentional efforts to see reality more clearly. They often have secret guests evaluate their churches. They use tools to help them improve. They don’t fear finding something negative with their churches, because those findings become areas for improvement.
  6. They intentionally intersect their lives with non-Christians. They see their weekday vocation as a mission field. They see their neighborhoods as their Jerusalem in Acts 1:8. They intentionally work and do business with non-Christians. They are highly intentional about inviting people to church.
  7. They accept responsibility. Too many church members and leaders blame the changes in culture. Healthy churches see those changes as opportunities. Too many church members and leaders blame their denominations for not providing for them. Healthy churches accept their own responsibility for impacting the community. Too many church members and leaders blame other churches for taking their members and guests. Healthy churches realize the fields are truly white unto harvest. They believe other churches are partners in mission, not competitors.

Obviously, my list is not exhaustive. But these are the seven main buckets of traits I saw as I surveyed the landscape of healthy churches.

What would you add to this list?

 

Originally posted on Thomas Rainer’s Website. View the original: https://thomrainer.com/2018/08/seven-traits-healthy-churches-today/




Three Ways Churches Will Be Impacted in the Revitalization Wave that is Coming

By Thom Rainer

Yes, I tend to be an optimist.

I am not, however, that type of optimist who refuses to face reality. If you have been a reader of my blog or listener to my podcasts, you know I am not hesitant to face harsh realities head on.

So, when I say a revitalization wave is about to come to our churches, I am serious about it. Indeed, I am obnoxiously optimistic about the future of congregations. In this post, I will address how churches will be impacted from a high-level perspective. In my post on Wednesday, I will share why I see this major trend on the horizon.

First, let’s agree there are 350,000 churches in North America. You can quibble with our estimates. Some say less; some say more. The exact number is not that important.

Second, let’s also agree there are 300,000, or 85%, of all churches needing some level of revitalization, from modest to radical revitalization. Bear with me until my Wednesday post where I make my case for these numbers.

So, how will these 300,000 churches in need of revitalization be impacted by the wave that is coming? Let’s look at three major categories.

  1. About one-third of these churches will revitalize organically. I wish you could see what I am seeing. Never in my life or ministry have I seen church leaders seeking a path of revitalization for their churches as much as I am now. I wish you could see on a smaller scale how many of these churches are using the Church Health Report™ for their congregations. I wish you could see the hunger, the desire, and the willingness to pay the price to revitalize. About 100,000 congregations will likely revitalize organically. In other words, their revitalization will take place from within, rather than from a merger or being acquired.
  2. About one-third of these churches will revitalize through replanting and/or being acquired. Another 100,000 churches will not be able to revitalize organically, but they will have the faith and sacrificial attitude to give their facilities and other assets to another church for a church replant or acquisition or both. Frankly, this new attitude and willingness was largely unheard of just a few years ago.
  3. About one-third of these churches will decline and die. Unfortunately, 100,000 of the churches will not revitalize organically, nor will they be willing to give away their assets to another church. Some of these church leaders and members are in denial. Others have just given up. They give new meaning to the hymn, “I Surrender All.”

I get it. The near-term closure of 100,000 churches is not good news. But look at the other side. Two of three churches, around 200,000, will revitalize organically or through replanting. That’s incredible news!

If you want to see what many churches are using as first-step tools for revitalization, see the Church Health Report™ or join us at Church Answers™ where we are growing healthy churches together.

It’s an exciting time. It’s a hopeful time. It is my prayer God will use many of us as His instruments for a mighty wave of revival and revitalization in our churches.

Let me hear your thoughts.

Originally posted on Thom S. Rainer’s website: thomrainer.com. View it here.




Eight Unintended Consequences of Building a Church Facility Too Big

By Thom Rainer

I call it “the aftermath.”

A church goes through an intense time of planning and fundraising to construct a new facility. Then the members participate in a groundbreaking service. Finally, the building is constructed in the midst of great hope and anticipation.

Then the bottom falls out.

The great hope that accompanied the building of the facility becomes a great despair. The church realizes the building is far more than they need, that the expenditures were far greater than they should have been, and that alternative and smaller plans were wrongly rejected.

The church built too big.

And now comes the aftermath. I also call it “unintended consequences.” Here are eight of them:

  1. Debt becomes shackles. There are different schools of thought about churches taking on debt. Some would insist a church should remain debt-free. Another would be okay with moderate and reasonable debt. But in this case, the indebtedness is neither zero nor reasonable. It is burdensome and even debilitating.
  2. Morale is hit hard. The morale swing in the church is dramatic. It is one thing for a church to have low morale. It is another thing for a church to have low morale after experiencing high expectations and a great morale.
  3. Leaders spend too much time with a new narrative. They find themselves constantly explaining what happened, regularly defending their decisions, or falling on their swords with each new question and comment.
  4. Utility costs are too high and burdensome. Almost every church I have seen in this situation underestimated the costs of utilities in the new facilities. Those extra and often unexpected expenditures further cripple the church financially.
  5. They built it, but they didn’t come. It is not uncommon for churches that build too big to expect that growth will take care of the bigger facility. Rarely does a facility alone attract the unchurched and the nominally churched.
  6. The church becomes dangerously nostalgic. The members remember “the good old days” when they had smaller but more used facilities. They long for the past where debt was not such a burden. Any church that lives in the past is headed for a future that holds imminent decline and death.
  7. There are fewer financial resources for ministry. Most of the funds are used to pay personnel costs and the costs of the facilities, including indebtedness.
  8. The church has difficulty finding good successor pastors. It is not unusual for the pastor to leave, frustrated and fearful of the financial burdens of the church. It then becomes exceedingly difficult to find a good successor pastor, once the candidates see how few dollars can actually be used for ministry in the church.

Don’t build too big. Plan carefully before you do. Be careful you don’t get too zealous in the types and sizes of facilities your church will build.

You will pay dearly for your mistakes in the future.

 

Originally posted on Thom S. Rainer’s website: thomrainer.com. View it here.




Samaritas Statement on U.S. Zero Tolerance Deterrent Policy

Current news reports are filled with stories about the enforcement and results of the U.S. Zero Tolerance Deterrent Policy. The children affected in this situation, including those who have been separated from parents, are ones Samaritas often serves through our Refugee Foster Care (also known and Unaccompanied Refugee Minors) program. In fact, Samaritas is one of only two resettlement agencies in Michigan that does so. Samaritas’ goal for these children is not to find them new homes through formal adoption, but rather to reunify them with their own families.

Our laws protect the right to seek asylum. If someone arrives at our border asking for asylum or expressing fear of returning to the country of origin, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are required to refer that person to an asylum officer. These children and families are fleeing their homes seeking protection from violence, because their lives are at risk. We know the safest place for children is with their families and, if that is not possible, in communities that care for them and can ensure their safety and representation.

Children who are considered “unaccompanied,” either because they arrived alone or because they are separated from their parents, are transferred to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Once in ORR custody, unaccompanied children are screened for protection concerns and are placed with a contract agency within 72 hours.That is where Samaritas comes in as a contract agency. We help secure safe placement for these unaccompanied children, either in temporary foster homes or in a group home setting, where we connect them with resources for their social, medical, psychological, and legal needs. Often, a congregation or community group will serve as mentors for these youth.

On April 26, 2018, an official with ORR—the office responsible for the care and custody of unaccompanied children, including children who may have been separated from their parents at the border—testified that in its follow-up calls between October and December 2017 to more than 7,600 sponsors with whom children had been placed, the agency could not determine the whereabouts of 1,475 children. This does not mean that the children were lost while in government custody, but rather, that the government could not confirm their whereabouts or reach a representative by phone during the period in which the calls were placed. While the number is not specifically linked to family separation, and it dates from 2017, before the current administration’s zero-tolerance policy was announced, current policies dictate that it is more important than ever that organizations like Samaritas, who ensure the safety and well-being of the unaccompanied refugees minors, are equipped to do so.

Our Own Zero Tolerance Policy, and How You Can Help

Samaritas, one of the largest faith-based nonprofits in Michigan that has been serving people as an expression of the love of Christ since 1934, needs your help to help these children who are separated from their families. Why? We need your help, because we have a zero tolerance policy of our own. We will not sit idly by while children are being torn away from their families. As a child welfare agency who is the largest private foster care and adoption provider in Michigan, and also as the largest refugee resettlement agency in the state and fourth largest in the nation, we strive to prevent children from being removed from their parents and experiencing that trauma. We at Samaritas currently have 123 refugee youth in foster care or in group homes and have applied for permission to help 50 to 60 more kids in response to the latest zero-tolerance border policy. We want to see these children reunited with their families, but they need a safe, loving environment in the meantime.

Any financial support you can provide to help us gear up for serving these kids will help all of us help them more effectively. Please click on the following link to learn more about providing assistance for them: Help Refugee Foster Children. Selecting “Refugee Foster Care” in the dropdown menu will ensure that your gift supports this program. You may also wish to select “New American Refugee Resettlement” or “Good Samaritan Fund” if you would like us to have more flexibility in helping these children and others in our care.

The following video tells the story of the children in our program, and it can be downloaded from vimeo and played in your worship times, small groups, forums, etc.:Reflections on a Journey.

You may also wish to learn more intricate details about our Refugee Foster Care (“Unaccompanied Refugee Minors”) program and other ways to help at Refugee Foster Care or all the services we offer at www.Samaritas.org.

Thank you for your prayers and support for these children, and may they be blessed with family reunification as soon as possible.




Immigration Resources and Advocacy

Learn more about the ELCA’s response to the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and how you can be an advocate for these children and their families. We also invite you to read Samaritas’ statement on the zero tolerance deterrent policy and how you can get involved in their refugee foster care program.

 

What has the ELCA done about immigration and separating children?

  • Bishop Eaton asked interfaith leaders to stand with her against family separation at the border. Find the statement here. In total, 21 interfaith leaders signed this statement.
  • Bishop Eaton will visit a child detention facility on July 28th. Stay posted on more actions that come out of this visit!
  • ELCA Advocacy has continuously called for the Administration to end family separation and met with members of congress.
  • ELCA AMMPARO commits to walking alongside children and families fleeing their communities, the same families that are being separated. You can become a welcoming congregation and join the movement as a church.
  • ELCA Advocacy put out a blog explaining family separation and other immigration policies
  • ELCA Advocacy put out an action alert on the DHS budget and family separation: People should take action telling congress to support a budget that keeps families together
  • The ELCA, through the AMMPARO Program, has seen cases of family separation since 2017. We have worked together with LIRS and other organizations to flag those cases for official complaints.

 

Why is the ELCA speaking out now and did not before, when families were being detained?

  • Through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) and its advocacy office, the ELCA has continuously stood alongside vulnerable children.
  • The ELCA released this statement on June 30, 2014 against family detention.
  • ELCA Advocacy sent an action alert to reach out to President Obama to stand against family detention on July, 2015
  • Lutheran leaders toured a detention facility in 2015 and spoke strongly against the practice.

 

How can you advocate?

 

How can you continue to walk alongside these migrants through the ELCA?

  • Become a welcoming congregation and/or join the AMMPARO network. Reach out to Mary Campbell at Campbell@elca.org.
  • Become a Guardian Angel and be the physical presence of the church in the courtroom. Contact Mary Campbell.
  • If you are in Chicago, on the first Friday of every month, the Interfaith community in Chicago does a short prayer vigil at 7:15 AM at the Broadview Detention Center. Join the ICDI together with other ELCA members on Friday July 6th . The vigil is about 30 minutes in length.
  • Learn more by attending the Wednesday, June 20 screening of Brightness of Noon: the intersect of Faith, Immigration and Refugees in Chicago or Cincinnati.
  • Follow ELCA Advocacy at elca.org/advocacy, facebook.com/ELCAAdvocacy and facebook.com/ELCAammparo
  • Join the ELCA Action Center



Updated Fundamentals of Renewal

By David Sprang

The ELCA in cooperation with other mainline denominations has compiled research showing the 7 most effective plans for renewal in a church. Here are the 7 categories and some reflections on them. This is just the beginning of the conversation. This is not an exhaustive list. It is only a start. Ideas will emerge as individual congregation engage their context and listen to see what people want and what is needed in your mission field.

Download full article.