The Rocky Mountain Synod of the ELCA is not the only synod electing a new bishop this year. I've been lurking a little bit on Facebook timelines, watching what folks in other synods are saying about their own election process.
After perusing Keith Anderson's this morning, I started to think about how we talk with one another about the work of the church, particularly as we anticipate changes in synodical leadership.
Here's what I came up with:
One issue we run in to is the fact that the Bishop of our synod has been re-elected at least twice, and has been in office for over eighteen years.
It's much more likely, when a sitting bishop is available, that she or he will be re-elected. Unless there are huge problems with current leadership, my experience is that folks assume things will remain the same. When we believe things will stay the same, we don't tend to have serious conversations about what needs to change.
This year, though, we in our synod have the opportunity to take our changing culture and society seriously. This year, we have the opportunity to elect a bishop who recognizes that the world is different than it was 18 years ago.
Business as usual circa 1993 is not appropriate for the church of 2012.
It's time in our synod to talk about what needs to change in the synodical leadership … and we probably need to talk seriously about what needs to change in the (especially mainline) church at large as well.
But when we have those conversations, they tend to be reduced to language that sounds good but doesn't really mean anything. We talk about mission and ministry without defining those terms. We say we want to develop bold leaders and courageous congregations without articulating what that means.
We wonder what G-d is up to out in the world, but we fight about what happens inside the church while we tend to ignore the world around us.
We talk about transforming the culture around us, but don't understand the culture well enough to know what kind of transformation the culture is yearning for. What we need is a conversation that moves deeper than generalized language that makes us feel good, but doesn't really mean anything.
What we need is a bishop who is bold enough to consider the truth that church culture needs its own transformation.