TAKE-AWAYS FROM THE NALC CONVOCATION
Our denomination, the North American Lutheran Church, held our biannual meeting, or convocation, August 7 through the 11th. The theme of the convocation was Missio Dei, the Work and Mission of God, which is best understood as God’s relentless pursuit of his creation in order to restore creation to himself. Our Congregational president, Sandra Liska, her husband Tim and I were the delegates from our Savior Lutheran Church. My wife Becky attended as a visitor.
Much of the focus of the week’s activity was on discipleship and mission. We heard many reports of the missions that are taking place throughout our country and throughout the world. It was reported that there are at this moment 490 congregations in the NALC. Among these congregations are 14 mission starts, churches that are in the early stages of development. Not only that, but our Mission District Deans are presently in conversation with a significant number of congregations in other Lutheran denominations who want to become a part of the NALC. This is, to say the very least, a very exciting time of growth in our North American Lutheran Church. God is blessing us because we are remaining faithful to him and to his holy word.
Not only did we hear reports, but we spent time focusing on discipleship and mission within our own congregations. We had three significant presentations on discipleship; within the congregation, within the community, and globally/locally, which was a focus on participating in and/or supporting our global efforts. At the conclusion of each presentation, we took 30 to 45 minutes of time for planning within our own congregations, considering what God is calling us to do within our local congregations and within our local communities to support growth in discipleship. We will be rolling out the ideas and decisions that were made for Our Savior during the coming months. In fact, we have already begun rolling out one significant area of discipleship growth, Life to Life Discipleship training.
The NALC is, among other things, very Congregationally focused. Our denomination has one bishop, five assistants to the bishop, and a minimal number of national staff, all of whom are focused on supporting the local congregations. The national budget we passed for the coming year, just over $3 million, is a reflection of our commitment to support the local congregations. Every dollar of our budget goes to provide, in many different ways, direct support to local congregations. In direct contrast, the Lutheran denomination in which I formerly served had a national Bishop, somewhere between 40 and 50 regional bishops, each with a large staff of Bishop assistants. It was a very top-heavy organization.
We did of course take care of some of the routine business of the denomination. We reelected Rev. Dan Selbo as our bishop. In what can only be described as a ringing endorsement of his work during the first four years of his tenure as bishop, he was reelected with 77% of the votes cast. He was running against a very capable man whose should be familiar to us, Pastor David Wendell. In addition, we passed the budget, and we elected people to serve in a couple of important committees. You can see more of the events, including videos, on the NALC website.
Pastor Phil Harkey