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									Living Into the
Future Together
LIFT process
  • March, 2009 – Appointment of study design
  • November, 2009 – Task Force constituted
  • January, 2010 – Task Force work begins:
    research, reporting, feedback and writing
  • March, 2011 – Report to ELCA Church Council
  • April, 2011 – Council receives report, and
    refers recommendations and preparation of
    implementing resolutions to writing team
  • August, 2011 – Churchwide Assembly action
  • November, 2011 – Appointment of LIFT
    Advisory Committee
“The Evangelical Lutheran
 Church in America is an
 ecology of interdependent
                           - Craig Dykstra
            Senior Vice President, Religion
                          Lilly Endowment

  • Greek “oikos” = household
  • Greek “logos” = word or
Changes in church environment
  •   explosion of knowledge
  •   technology, electronic communication
  •   networking
  •   institutional change
  •   globalization, mobility
  •   religious, cultural, racial diversity
  •   diminished loyalty to denominations
  •   “spiritual but not religious”
Task Force charter
  “… evaluate the organization and
  governance of this church and the
  interrelationships among its
  expressions and partner agencies and
  institutions for the purpose of bringing
  a comprehensive report and
  recommendations to the 2011 ELCA
  Churchwide Assembly.”
Task Force purpose
  ... position the ELCA for the future
  and explore new possibilities for
  participating in God’s mission.
What is God calling this
church to be and do?

What changes are in order
to help us respond most
LIFT Task Force focus areas
  • ELCA Identity
  • Opportunities for the future
  • Interrelationships: congregations,
    synods, the churchwide
    organization, institutions,
    agencies, global partners,
    ecumenical partners and full
    communion partners
  • Sustainability
  • Structure and governance
The LIFT conversation
  •   2010 Synod Assemblies
  •   Surveys
  •   Interviews
  •   Forums
  •   Focus groups
  •   Feedback
Factors impacting congregations
(Combined Lay Leader and Clergy Reports)
                                       negative impact                           no impact                 positive impact

        ethnic changes in the local
                                            8%                                           74%                                        17%

       competition from other local
                                                         35%                                           58%                                 8%

        conflict in the congregation                           45%                                         44%                            10%

         changes in patterns of
                                                       29%                                   39%                              32%
    participation among lay leaders

      commitment to evangelism or
                                            8%                       38%                                         54%

           changes in the quality of
                                                 18%                        33%                                    49%
             pastoral leadership

   Churchwide Assembly action on
                                                                     57%                                         30%                  13%
      the sexuality statement

    changes in the religious climate
                                                                           64%                                         26%                10%
         of American society

          changes in the culture of
                                                                           66%                                          24%               10%
             American society

     economic changes in the local
                                                                            68%                                         20%           12%

                                       0%        10%         20%       30%         40%         50%   60%     70%         80%        90%         100%

Source: LIFT/Ecology Task Force Clergy and Lay Leader Questionnaire,
          Prepared by Research and Evaluation, ELCA, 2010.
“Is there anything unique about ELCA Lutherans that distinguishes
 them from other Christians?”

  clergy    no, 10%                                  yes, 83%                                unsure, 7%

     lay              no, 31%                    yes, 32%                    unsure, 37%

           0%    10%       20%    30%      40%       50%        60%    70%    80%          90%    100%

Source: LIFT/Ecology Task Force Clergy and Lay Leader Questionnaire,
          Prepared by Research and Evaluation, ELCA, 2010.
Relative impact of factors on connectedness to the wider
church for clergy (Beta values)
                    reading The Lutheran or
                     other ELCA publication
                                                                       a shared stand on social

         attending a synod or a
         churchwide assembly

        financial support
     received from the wider
             church                                                           a relationship or
                                                                             experience with the
                                                                            synod or churchwide

                                  a shared theology

Source: LIFT/Ecology Task Force Clergy and Lay Leader Questionnaire,
          Prepared by Research and Evaluation, ELCA, 2010.
Relative impact of factors on connectedness to the wider
church for lay leaders (Beta values)

                common forms of
                worship and music

                                                                       a shared stand on social

               a shared theology

Source: LIFT/Ecology Task Force Clergy and Lay Leader Questionnaire,
          Prepared by Research and Evaluation, ELCA, 2010.
LIFT report recommendations
  1. Congregations as centers of mission
  2. Support for congregations as one of the highest
     priorities of this church
  3. Leadership development and support
  4. Strengthened relations with global companions and
     ecumenical partners based on the model of
  5. Strengthened existing relationships in this church
  6. Nurture of a culture of discernment
  7. “Constitution, Bylaws and Continuing Resolutions”
     amendments that support this church’s focus on
  8. Patterns of giving that promote financial sustainability
  9. Ongoing work on the LIFT recommendations
     and implementing resolutions
Assembly actions
 1. Make support for the work of congregations
    one of the highest priorities of this church. To
    request congregations, in collaboration with
    synods, to begin, develop, renew or redefine
    their unique mission plans by the end of 2012,
    so each congregation strengthens its
    capabilities and resources for witness and

 2. Support and strengthen synods so they become
    catalysts for mission planning.
3. Request the Conference of Bishops, in consultation with
synod leaders and the churchwide organization, to prepare
a report and recommendations for the November 2012
Church Council meeting for consideration by the 2013
ELCA Churchwide Assembly that includes:
    •   patterns of synodical life that support vital congregations,
        mission growth and outreach;
    •   a process that allows synods to receive and distribute
        financial resources to support the whole ministry of this
    •   recommendations for renewed, sustainable financial
        support for the mission and ministries of this church,
        including funding for theological education;
    •   strategies for increased mission vitality (may include
        consideration of redrawing synod boundaries);
    •   revisions of constitutional responsibilities of bishops and
        synods to emphasize synods as catalysts for mission in the
        changing context and culture.
4. Urge regions to expand their roles as centers for
   exploring the possibilities of cooperative mission and

5. Affirm the role of the churchwide organization to:
   •   accompany congregations and synods;
   •   build the capacity for evangelical witness and service;
   •   continue to build and strengthen mutual and interdependent
   •   model and promote the vision of a multicultural, multi-ethnic
   •   coordinate this church’s global mission and its international
       development and relief work;
   •   lead its theological reflection and deliberation on identity and
       mission; and
   •   explore opportunities to grow current support, including direct
       appeals, planned giving, and endowment management, in
       collaboration with the Conference of Bishops, synod leaders,
       and the Church Council.
6. Encourage the development of leaders for this church
through increased innovation and collaboration in
leadership development, faith formation and theological

7. Build and strengthen relationships with this church’s
global companions and ecumenical partners, focusing on
accompaniment, mutual growth, capacity-building and
sustainability of relationships.

8. Support and utilize networking as an organizational
principle and practice that embodies interdependence,
values the abundant human resources found in
congregations, synods, the churchwide expression, and
institutions of this church, and enhances increased
collaboration and connections for mission purposes across
this church.
9. Nurture a culture of faithful discernment that contributes
to mutual respect and healthy decision-making in all
assemblies, councils, committees, small groups, and
meetings in congregations, synods, the churchwide
expression, institutions and agencies.
10. Endorse the proposed amendments to the “Constitution,
Bylaws, and Continuing Resolutions” concerning the
Churchwide Assembly, Church Council, Conference of
Bishops, program committees and interrelationships and

      •   Move to a triennial Churchwide Assembly
      •   Expand the Church Council to represent
          additional constituencies
      •   Strengthen the role of Conference of
      •   Eliminate program committees relating to
          units and seek new ways to receive
          grassroots input and share information
      •   Facilitate the development of networks
2011 Churchwide Assembly action re: review
process of procedures for development and
adoption of social statements

   • November 2011 – Church Council
     action for formation of “Addressing
     Social Concerns Review Task Force”
   • Review completed and report brought
     to fall 2012 Church Council meeting
     and 2013 ELCA Churchwide Assembly
   • Process for developing social
     statements already in development
2011 Churchwide Assembly action: To provide a
means to continue the work assigned to the LIFT
task force:
   • Facilitate a review of constitutional responsibilities
     of synods to continue and increase their role as
     catalysts for mission planning;
   • Facilitate a broad-based process addressing
     legislative decision-making in this church;
   • Initiate a process to expand the consultative role of
     the Conference of Bishops that allows the Church
     Council to refer issues to it and enables the
     Conference of Bishops to make recommendations to
     the Church Council; and
   • Explore the use of social media and technology to
     allow greater participation of ELCA members in
     meetings of the Church Council and Churchwide
Continuing work of LIFT
  • Create collaborative work … to create and support
    diverse non-legislative forums and events that bring
    together leaders to address missional issues,
    participate in theological study and reflection, foster
    leadership development, and enhance
    interdependence of this church.
  • Request units of the churchwide organization to
    propose to the Church Council ways of receiving
    grassroots input and disseminating information using
    emerging forms of communication, taking care to
    include those engaged in multicultural, ethnic-
    specific, justice for women ministries, youth and
    young adult networks, and various ministry partners.
  • Present annual reports to the Church Council
    through 2013.
What do these actions mean for
congregations and synods?
• Congregations are vital centers of
  mission in their communities
• Word and sacrament, making
  disciples, forming faith, living out
  vocation through witness and
  addressing social concerns
• Vitality is seen in relationships of
  members with God, each other,
  and the world
Potential strategies:
  • Congregations engage in
    missional planning based on each
    congregation’s unique identity and
    community context
  • Utilize resources of synod
    through bishop, director for
    evangelical mission, various
    resource models, and planning
    and partnership with other area
  • How can we spend more time and
    resources for the strengthening of
    congregations for health and vitality?
  • How do congregations support each
    other and share wisdom and strategies?
  • How can we engage the expertise and
    resources of partners in outdoor
    ministry, campus ministry,
    colleges/universities, seminaries and
Development and
• Lay and rostered leaders have
  strong understandings of
  Scripture, theology, work of
  wider church and vocation.
• Leaders are connected to each
• Leaders are equipped.
Potential strategies:
  • Educate rostered clergy and lay leaders, lay
    leaders, and congregations about effective
    leadership and healthy partnerships.
  • Model healthy partnerships in synod leadership.
  • Identify, lift up, train and support leaders,
    especially racially and ethnically diverse
  • Partner in new ways with seminaries, colleges,
    universities and networks for the sake of
    expanded leader development.
  • Explore additional or new resources for support
    in times of conflict, call and transition.
  • What are examples of strong lay/clergy and lay
    rostered partnerships within the synod?
  • How are leaders identified, lifted up and
    supported in congregations and synod
  • What opportunities for networking can be
    strengthened or created?
  • How can we better leverage the expertise and
    resources of partners in our territory?
  • How are leaders held accountable? How can we
    hold each other accountable?
• Synods are vital centers for mission
  that include many partners (synod
  council, synod bishop and synod
  ministers, congregations, ministry
• Each has and owns a sense of purpose.
• Each contributes to their role, supports
  and holds others accountable.
Potential strategies:
  • Clarify sense of mission through synodwide
  • Review organizational structures and
  • Determine if some activities should stop so new
    priorities may be initiated
  • Develop networks around priorities and
  • Develop covenants of accountability
  • Find new ways to collaborate with partners
  • What does the word “synod” mean to
  • What are the relationships between the
    synod, congregations and ministry
  • How can congregations and ministry
    partners be more connected with one
  • Where does our synod spend the
    majority of its time and energy?
What do these actions mean for
congregations and synods?
  • Creating, building and
    strengthening connections,
    interrelationships, collaboration,
    partnerships and networks
  • Congregational vitality as God
    calls into mission in particular
  • Synods as catalysts
  • Leadership development and
We are an ecology of
interdependent relationships
  In Holy Baptism the Triune God
     • brings us into community with
     • brings us into community with
       one another
Together, the church is
  • an assembly of saints
  • a community of mutual
    conversation and consolation
  • an inclusive fellowship – local
    congregations yet spanning the
  • interdependent
The Triune God
sends the church
Discussion questions
  Living into the Future Together:
  Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA
  1. What do you believe God is calling your congregation
     to be and do in your community? Has your
     congregation developed a mission plan for following
     that call?
  2. Could you see your congregation joining together with
     other congregations in your community to develop and
     carry out a mission plan in your community? How could
     joining together be helpful? How could your synod
     assist your congregation’s planning?
Discussion questions
  Living into the Future Together:
  Renewing the Ecology of the ELCA
  3. How does your congregation use social media like
     Facebook to help people connect with one another? Do
     you think using social media like Facebook could be
     helpful in connecting people with one another?
  4. Congregations are being encouraged to form and
     participate in networks within and across your synod
     that will engage more people in creative approaches to
     ministry. In what kinds of networks are you already a
     part? In what kinds of networks can you imagine
Living Into the
Future Together

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