Saturday, April 17, 2010
When the Big Picture Misses the Snapshot
While the ELCA is imploding, there are still congregations from within this body who proudly wear their heritage as Augustana Lutherans -- referring to the Augustana Synod that once bound together Swedish Lutherans in America until somebody decided that the ecumenical perspective required merger, the loss and burial of this past identity and the adoption of several identities over the years until the most recent (ELCA as of 1988). Funny how the ecumenical vision of unity required dismantling the ties that had so successfully bound and solidified an immigrant people, faith, and culture in a new land.
These are but two examples of the way we have dealt with rather successful identities and then destroyed them in pursuit of the big picture -- all the while losing the snapshot of history that was strong, clear, and effective. We could go on about how mega churches are successful in the big picture of selling their mall size facilities and full menu of facilities, programs, and connections but not nearly so successful as smaller congregations in providing care, follow up, personal welcome, and responsibility. It is the same thing, really.
The ecumenical vision has correlated well with the economic image of bigger is better. But is it... Remember when Pontiac was longer, lower, and wider? And now there is no more Pontiac. When we callously dismantle structures that have previously served us well -- only in the name of merger, bigger is better, and economy/efficiency of scale ideas -- we may not gain much at all.
I wish that we had a structure in place that could serve my kids as well as the Walther League served its generation. Maybe it was another time... but it was also a desire to move beyond what was considered old and outdated but what was new and relevant did not last at all. Maybe we need to think this model through a bit more before we discard even more associations and identities, whose strength is not realized until its structures are gone and impossible to rebuild...