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Lesson to be learned

by Carolyn Nestingen (WordAlone board member, Dallas, Ore.)

December 1, 2008

photo of Carolyn NestigenAn amazing event happened in American politics last month. Barack Obama was elected President, and the streets, phone lines and electronic media both here and abroad were buzzing with the news. Lots of analysis of the seemingly never-ending campaign will yet occur, but some things are clear. Obama, his staff and supporters had their eye on the goal, discipline in their ranks and in delivery of the message, and a belief that the goal could be accomplished.

In calling this election "amazing," former Minnesota Governor and former WordAlone board chair Al Quie saw four critical factors come into play:

1) One person carried the message;

2) That person had experience with community organizing;

3) The campaign used the latest technology in communication and fundraising; and

4) He discussed issues without alienating his followers.

Quie also says the key to successful politics is having ideas, balance and leaders; while what is important in the church is the need for truth, agape and Jesus Christ.

Is there a lesson WordAlone can learn from this successful campaign? Do those of us in the Network think about how to accomplish WordAlone's goals? Do we think about maintaining group solidarity in how the message is conveyed? Are we willing to trust one person to carry our message? Are we using the latest technology to reach our goals? And in our discussions on the authority of Scripture and the primacy of the Lutheran Confessions for life in our ELCA, do we think about doing so in a way that doesn't alienate those who agree with us?

Al Quie's analysis is wise, and we can learn from focusing our methodology on these techniques. Having served on the WordAlone board of directors now for a year and a half, I can witness to the love of the church and the appreciation of the ELCA and its predecessors, which all of the members of that board show at each meeting.

The board sees itself in the tradition of the loyal opposition so valuable in British and Canadian politics--respectful of the ELCA and its call to serve Jesus Christ faithfully, but working so that it can better be a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and the Gospel. This method has been used in the political realm for centuries under the parliamentary system. We can do this. Better to think of our group as loyal opposition than as a protest movement. Our goal is the same as that of the ELCA, to serve Jesus Christ faithfully.