Dear Church Family,
It wasn’t that long ago—a decade or two—when Sunday School classrooms were filled to capacity, youth basketball leagues were dominated by church teams, and pastors were picky about just who could be a church member! The church ruled the cultural roost—cars were not sold, youth sports were not played, liquor was not sold and stores were not opened on Sunday.

The church most of us grew up with and loved is crumbling and will likely soon be gone. What happened? The Old Testament scholar Dr. Walter Bruggeman summed it up well: “God is no longer the primary actor in most of our lives.”

Life got busier. People have more choices. We have not made a compelling case for making church a significant part of people’s lives. What is God’s response? God continues his work through new means and in new ways!

I am intrigued and excited by congregations who have “re-purposed” their facilities and completely made over their ministries to reach this new generation of soul-sick searchers. Some—not many, but some--of these congregations are ELCA Lutheran. One example is Zion Lutheran in Galveston.
At the gentle suggestion of our Bishop, Mike Rinehart, Zion donated its building to Lutherhill Ministries, the Gulf Coast Synod’s outdoor ministries group, when it decided to close several years back. So, instead of an obsolete building for a dying parish, Zion is completely remodeled and is now a—the only!—retreat center on Galveston Island. Zion is usually completely booked by both church and secular groups. I attended our Synod’s “Preach at the Beach” event for pastors last week and can attest to how spiritually-uplifting this center of Lutheran hospitality is for weary travelers. Our speaker, Dr. Dave Lose, offered this illustration:

After watching his barn burn to the ground, 17th Century samurai and poet Mizuta Masahide wrote the following haiku:

“Barn’s burnt down-- now I can see the moon.”

Christ the King Lutheran is faced with the same challenges all of our historical protestant churches have: How do we prosper in a time when what used to work as “church” is obsolete and irrelevant to many? The Interim Ministry period is a great time to prayerfully, excitedly, and fearlesslessly reexamine everything we thought we knew about being a congregation and open up to new ways of being the church.

Blessed to be among you, Rick

 

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