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Bill Drew

March 10, 2006

photo of Bill Drew Several years ago, I gave a talk at a Lutheran congregation in Pennsylvania. Another, and vastly more prominent, speaker was Professor Gerhard Krodel. In his talk, Krodel noted that one of the things he loved about Lutheranism in North America was its from-the-ground-up nature. This was the result of congregations having been formed by groups of immigrants and the occasional pastor. Accordingly, the organization of Lutheran churches was centered on congregations, with "synods," "associations," and "councils" formed to assist the congregations in their mission. This from-the-ground-up heritage gave Lutheran churches in North America a vibrancy that was largely missing from the top-down, established Lutheran churches in Europe.

Unfortunately, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America policies, including ecumenical policies, have been eroding the from-the-ground-up Lutheran tradition and have moved the ELCA much closer to the failed top-down structure of many European Lutheran churches.

So, when we describe WordAlone as a "grassroots network," that is not just a slogan. WordAlone must be a grassroots network if it is to achieve any success in reforming the ELCA. Ultimately, we cannot achieve anything worthwhile unless we adhere to our North American Lutheran heritage of from-the-ground-up church organizations. The life of the church is lived out in local congregations. All other church organizations should exist to serve the congregations and to serve the Gospel, not to be overlords.

Accordingly, WordAlone, as a movement, can never be primarily about "leaders" who serve on the board and on staff positions. We on the WA board and staff must always see ourselves as servants. If we do not see ourselves that way, we will not succeed. A necessary corollary to this vision is that all WA members must see themselves as being WA. Those who serve on the board and on staff must always be accountable to the members. For that to happen, communication within WordAlone must be a two-way street. WordAlone does a pretty good job, I believe, in getting news out from the staff and the board. But, it is just as vital for communications to flow freely from the members to the board and to the staff. WA members should familiarize themselves with the ways they can get in touch with the WA board and staff.

The homepage of the WA website lists the contact information for the WA office. Further, the main menu on the homepage has a "contact us" link. By clicking on that link, you can go to the page on the website that has the contact information for the WA staff. Also, that page has a link to another page with the contact information for all members of the WA board. Get in touch with the board and staff. Let them know of your interests, concerns and ideas. "Grassroots network" must not be just a slogan. It must be a core reality of WordAlone.