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Conversation starters

Called Forward Together in Christ is a process for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to explore and find answers to some big questions. It is not about reinventing the ELCA – but rather looking to the future and asking whether we are clear about who we are and what is most important as we journey together as a church in today’s world.

The process tips and questions below are designed to help you guide a conversation. We offer some different questions to use with different groups of people. You may want to put these in your own words or add questions that are important in your context.

We want this to be a process of spiritual discernment and an engaging conversation about the future of the ELCA. In support of this, the kit includes some biblical text and a process for communal discernment you may wish to use.

The important thing is we hear from as many people as possible. The questions are intentionally open-ended. This means we will hear different voices, experiences and ideas.

Process tips:

  • Try to allow two hours for a group conversation.
  • When possible, give people the questions in advance.
  • Set the scene by letting everyone know what the process is and what it isn’t.
  • Make space for prayer and for the Spirit to be present in the conversation.
  • Encourage people to speak from a personal perspective – their hopes and ideas matter.
  • Let it be a conversation rather than a group interview (when people exchange ideas, their thinking is almost always expanded).
  • This is a listening exercise. There are no right and wrong answers.
  • Ask someone to take notes at the discussion.
  • Make sure someone will be responsible for sending the key messages back to those coordinating this process. (send to: future@elca.org)

Questions for people in the pews:

  • What are your hopes for the future of this church?
  • What drew you to this congregation and what helps you feel connected?
  • What important things should this church do in the future – in your community and in the world?
  • Who would you like to see joining your congregation, and how might this happen?
  • What are the two biggest challenges facing your church right now? Do you have any ideas to address these issues and move us forward?
  • ELCA is a church of more than 9,000 congregations, with a presence across the U.S. and the world. What would you like to know about the wider church?

Questions for conversations with synod councils, boards and ELCA networks:

  • What is distinctive about our identity as a Lutheran church?
  • What kind of church do we believe God is calling us to become?
  • How do we become a church that more people feel part of?
  • Is this a church that younger people are drawn to? If not, what is going to make it  more attractive or relevant for young people?
  • How do we become an inclusive, diverse church that is inspiring and relevant in different communities?
  • What is God calling us to do in a world that is facing unprecedented levels of poverty, conflict and violence, inter-religious tension and massive displacement of people?
  • What do we expect from our church leaders? And how do we identify, prepare and support them to lead this church into the future?
  • Will our current structures serve the church well into the future? Is change needed, and what options could be considered?

Questions for and synodical and churchwide staff:

  • What are your hopes for the future of this church?
  • What hopes do you have about the directions of your synod (or the churchwide office)?
  • How do we become an inclusive, diverse church that is inspiring and relevant in different communities?
  • Is this a church that younger people are drawn to? If not, what is going to make it more attractive or relevant for young people?
  • What do you think are the two biggest challenges facing the church right now? Do you have any ideas to address the issues and move us forward?
  • How do we become a more connected church? Think about: the way members understand and connect with the wider church; and, the relationships between congregations, synods, the churchwide office and other ministries.
  • If we had to decide that some things were more important than others in the next 5-10 years, what are your top three things?
  • Will our current structures serve the church well into the future? Is change needed, and what options could be considered?

Where to send feedback

All notes can be sent to future@elca.org.

 

Toolkit Now Available

CFTC Toolkit

Use this toolkit to begin the Called Forward Together in Christ process.

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