Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mega Church, Micro Church, and ELCA Pastors in Ecclesiastical Limbo

One of the groups I've encountered that is working on House Church/Simple Church multiplication in the US is House2House. I recently noticed this comment on their blog and it caught my attention:

There have been several instances of mega-churches being in contact with the simple church movement with an amazing openness to what we are doing. One is asking how they can bless us, another how they can get involved in starting organic churches and others wanting to learn more. What would happen if the mega and micro learned to co-operate?

It made me think about Willow Creek's Reveal study and their conclusion that they need to help people become "self-feeders" because merely participating in church programs was leaving people spiritually stalled. (And this at a church with really well developed programs, I'm sure!)

It also made me think about the possibilities for experimental/missional co-operation that might emerge within my own Lutheran tribe. I'm in conversation with some folks denominationally now on that very topic so we'll see where it goes. I believe large and small expressions of the Church are meant to be partners and have unique gifts to share that come with their size. I'd like to be a part of making that happen.

So far however, what I'm seeing in my tribe is more sobering than encouraging. The other day I looked through the list of contacts I've accumulated of people in my denomination who are trying to explore the house/simple church expression as a way to grow the kingdom. Most of them are "on leave from call" which is a kind of ecclesiastical limbo for a pastor in the ELCA. (I'd be there myself if I hadn't happened upon an Interim Associate Pastor position, and I expect to be right back in "on leave" when that job wraps up.) So what I see is that there isn't a ready way for these folks to pursue this work while maintain their standing in the denomination. They end up hanging by a thread, and the clock is ticking, becasue after three years "on leave" you come off of the clergy roster.

I wonder... will my denomination will find a way to hang on to these comitted, risk-taking evangelical entrepeneurs? I sure hope so!

The clock is ticking.

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