A Missional Imagination for ELCA Polity (pdf version)
Framing a Missional Polity for the ELCA by Steve Thomason
A Term Paper Presented to Dr. Craig Van Gelder | Luther Seminary
As a Requirement in Course LD8525 Congregational Leadership |St. Paul, Minnesota | 2011
The purpose of this paper is to focus on the current polity of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and make suggestions for how the ELCA could modify its polity to embody a missional ecclesiology. Any discussion of this type is a hermeneutical endeavor and requires the proper framing of horizons before any fruitful interaction can take place. I will first briefly trace the historical roots of the ELCA from Martin Luther to the present and identify how this historical narrative has framed its ecclesiological horizon. I will then analyze the current structure of the ELCA as articulated in its constitution and identify significant incongruities between this formal structure and the reality of its informal structure and struggles. I will then briefly articulate the emerging missional ecclesiology in order to bring it into conversation with the ELCA. Finally, I will make some suggestions as to how the ELCA could address its incongruities and make polity changes that would align it within a missional ecclesiology.