Renewal movements take time...What to do?

by John Beem (WordAlone board member)

April 23, 2005

As a rule, institutions move slowly.

WordAlone’s (WA) concerns for renewal, reform, and reflection in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) address issues that developed, for the most part, over a significant period of time. Efforts by WordAlone will take time to make a positive impact on the ELCA. Because of that reality, it is often the case that renewal-reform movements and their members lose heart and stamina.

What can we do so that the movement does not "lose heart and stamina?" A few suggestions follow . . . and you can add more to the list:

  1. Pray for the ELCA and for the efforts of WordAlone that together we will be faithful to the Word and to the will of God for this small part of his Church.
  2. Intellectually and emotionally accept that WA's efforts will take time.
  3. Continue to speak on behalf of the cause.
  4. Always have your facts straight, speaking the truth in love.
  5. Seek opportunities to address church councils, annual congregational meetings, other congregational gatherings and local conference meetings on behalf of the "Three R's" of WA.
  6. Faithfully invite others to join you in the movement.
  7. Seek opportunities to educate your congregation and then invite your congregation to join WordAlone. Do this patiently and thoroughly so that the congregation is aware of what they are endorsing.
  8. Models for that are available on the WA web site.
  9. Contact your regional coordinator for resources and guidance. Coordinators are noted on the website.
  10. Be aware that most members of the ELCA are unaware of the issues you are addressing. Therefore, be both instructive and patient as you spread the word.
  11. Do not be defensive or attacking. Many you meet will come with a negative attitude toward WA for wide variety of reasons. Always seek to positively address such concerns. WA is not attacking the ELCA nor do we desire to divide it. In fact, we speak because we perceive that there is, and not of our doing, division within the denomination. Thus, renewal will be helpful and unifying.
  12. Remember, historically the Church is strongest when there are fair-minded but vigorous renewal movements taking place within it.
  13. Renewal movements are taking place, for reasons similar to ours, in virtually all mainline Christian denominations.
  14. Remember, renewal movements invariably take much time to make an impact and succeed. Seek strength from God and your personal support system to be in it for "the long haul."