Why Do We Need Social Statements?
We need to be open to change -- not for the sake of change, but for the gospel and the work that God is calling us to do in the world.
- Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson
As Lutherans, we share a common mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. But when we talk about how we make sense of the challenging topics of our day -- sexuality, the economy, health care -- our personal responses reflect our tremendous diversity as children of God.
The value of social statements
In addition to being valuable teaching tools for the leaders of this church, the social statements of the ELCA offer a public forum for discernment and conversation.
Romans 12:2 reminds us to "discern what is the will of God -- what is good and acceptable and perfect." We struggle together to understand the issues we face in our daily lives so that we know better how to live faithfully and responsibly in our callings.
Social statements require a two-thirds vote by a churchwide assembly in order to be adopted. That reality realizes that we cannot and will not ever be in perfect agreement. But our efforts to expand our understanding of how to seek God’s justice in the world and in this church keep us in line with the great tradition of the Lutheran church: that of continual reformation.
In his book Faithful Yet Changing, Bishop Mark S. Hanson says, “We believe that the church is always being re-formed by the Holy Spirit working through the gospel …. It would be tragic if the Lutheran church, born as an agent of change, were to resist change. We need to be open to change -- not for the sake of change, but for the gospel and the work that God is calling us to do in the world.” (63)
As people of faith, we can look to social statements as one resource for our ongoing conversations about how we live as Lutherans in this world.
The cost of social statements
How our offerings are used for the work of this church can seem problematic when social statements become a source of tension and conflict within our community of faith.
Recognizing that we are always one in our partnership to share God’s boundless love with the world can put the tension into perspective. The process of developing social statements is a very small part of the work of this church, making up less than 0.36 percent of the proposed 2009 budget.
The Rev. Paul Wayne Meier noted in the August 2009 issue of The Lutheran, "To make a statement in principle concerning the 'right thinking and policies' of the church by withholding money makes a far greater impact on the poor, the hungry, future pastors and college students than it could ever make on the social resolutions of this body of Christ."
Your offering supports the mission of the whole ELCA to answer Christ’s call to make disciples of all people and minister to our broken world. Together we do God’s work in ways that no individual, congregation or synod can do alone.
Additional resources: Social issues and the ELCA