Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Formation Blog

RSS By: Pastor Jonathan Linman

Pastor Jonathan Linman shares his thoughts about formation.

Good conversation

Jun 15, 2011

To my mind, few things in human experience are more satisfying than good conversation. In some of his writings, Martin Luther includes mutual conversation and consolation between brothers and sisters in the faith among the means of grace -- this alongside the sacraments, preaching and the forgiveness of sins. So it is that several synod staff members have convened conversational round tables to assist, for example, in planning for mission and outreach, better stewardship, and more effective communications.


And so it is that I, as Bishop’s Assistant for Formation, have convened a conversational round table to take up visioning for and discernment of opportunities to engage in enhanced and/or new ministries that build up and form God’s people for the work that we have been called to do in the world. A corollary to “many hands make light work,” is this: many creative minds will dream dreams and see practical ways of making such dreams realities in actual ministry, more so than any one person trying to do this on his or her own. Moreover, convening God’s people around conversational tables is a way we live out our interdependence as church, as synod, on the missional road together.


Some 35 busy persons responded favorably to my invitation to join in the conversation. And 17 were able to attend the first encounter which took place on May 17, 2011 in the context of which we first listed various ministries of formation going on in our synod that nurture people’s spiritual lives, educate them, and attend to their wellness in Christ. As conversation continued, the list grew longer. That is to say, there’s a lot going on already in our synod that contributes to the formation of God’s people! Next, we turned to brainstorming about how we might better communicate these opportunities to our whole synod, thus enhancing these ministries. Then we began listing ideas for possible additional initiatives, acknowledging that few things are more important to the vitality of the church and the faithfulness and effectiveness of its witness than nurturing people’s depth and maturity of faith, further educating them, and contributing to their wellness.


At the conclusion of this initial visioning conversation, we agreed that we would create three smaller conversational tables: one to focus on opportunities for individual and group spiritual renewal; another to focus on various educational programs for all of God’s people; and a third to attend to themes of wellness, especially among our church’s leaders. We also agreed that each time we get together will be an occasion for the further formation in faith for those gathered, so that we will ensure an experience of the Gospel and not just talk about the Gospel.


Let me know if you have a desire to join in these conversations. Do you have ideas to share, dreams that you’re dreaming, hopes that seek fulfillment as it all pertains to formation of God’s people in faith for ministry and mission? Let me know. Join in the conversation!

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