Category Archives: The Congregation

A Missional Imagination for ELCA Polity by Steve Thomason

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. read more

Reading List for The Congregation

I start my final course this week. It is The Congregation with Dr. Patrick Kiefert.

These are the books assigned: (I’ll created annotated bibliography links as I read them throughout the semester)

Ammerman, Nancy Tatom. Studying Congregations : A New Handbook. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998.

Ammerman, Nancy Tatom, and Arthur Emery Farnsley. Congregation & Community. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1997.

Chaves, Mark. Congregations in America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. read more

Article | Unity Through Spirit and Praxis by Joel Halldorf

Halldorf, Joel. “Unity through Spirit and Praxis: An Unsystematic Approach to Pentecostalism and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.” Ecumenical Review 59, no. 4 (2007): 483-490.

This morning I was following some trails along the lines of Christopraxis. An underlying question that has been following me along this research project has been one regarding the Holy Spirit. Why do we not speak more of the praxis of the Spirit, as well as the praxis of Jesus? I realize that Christopraxis is vitally important, because Jesus did not call us to come up with great doctrinal statements about God, but to actually live in a way that glorifies God through love for the other. However, in our lived reality, it is not the physical presence of Jesus in our daily experience that propels our lives, it is the presence of the Holy Spirit that animates our lives. Yes, the physical presence of Jesus in the eucharist is vitally important as we are gathered around the risen body of Jesus and sent into the world as the incarnated Gospel. Yet, it is only through the power of the Spirit that this is possible. Would it not be better to speak of the praxis of Spirit rather than the praxis of Jesus? Jesus is our exemplar, but it is the pluriform and polycentric action of the Spirit at work in, around, and through us that brings the presence of God’s reign into particular and peculiar places. (see Welker. God the Spirit) read more