As I mention here, our synod will be electing a new bishop in a couple months. So far, over 60 people were potentially nominated. Of those, seventeen potential candidates have not withdrawn their names from potential nomination. (I say potential, because nothing official can happen until the April assembly.)
The next step in this potential process is for the remaining potential candidates to submit biographical information and their ideas about the office of bishop.
Those were published earlier this week, and I've taken a little time to glance at what these folks have written. I have to admit, I'm disappointed in what I see.
Of course I'll have to make a closer reading before too long, but the vision I see articulated by most of these potential candidates is a continuation of the status quo. “Let's do what we've been doing, let's just do it better.” And anything beyond what's always been is wrapped in church bureaucratic jargonistic language that doesn't really mean anything.
The world is shifting and changing all around us, and the church seems to be mired in a thought process that was successful at one point in history, but no longer makes sense.
Before you, my seven readers, throw up your hands in frustration, please understand that I'm not advocating that we eschew the essentials of our faith. Word and Sacrament should continue to remain at the center of who we are. Our Lutheran perspective on Christian theology is indispensable to the future of the church. The rest, though, should be up for negotiation.
See, if we don't begin to recognize that the world is changing, we'll remain stuck in the cultural trappings of the past.
What I don't see is any one of the potential bishop candidates voicing an articulate alternative to business as usual. Further, I don't hear any one of the potential bishop nominees talking about their actual shortcomings.
What we need, in my opinion, is a bishop who is solidly rooted and grounded in the essentials of our faith. What we need, in my opinion, is a bishop who is humble enough to recognize their own shortcomings, and who is willing to build a staff to fill those gaps.
What we need, in my opinion, is a bishop who recognizes the reality that the world is shifting and changing all around us, and who is willing to push the church into the future ~ not simply for the sake of change, but because the roots and foundation of our faith has an important Word to speak into the changing world.