Four Churches Re-form Today!

Portrait of Martin Luther (1529) by Lucas Cranach the Elder

There is so much to be reformed in the church.  I’m reading this book – more about that later this week – but Henderson & Casper (“The Friendly Atheist”) point to enough opportunities for institutional church change to exhaust a person.

Nevertheless there is reason to rejoice:  four communities in my life are making brave steps that will transform their neighborhoods:

Church-Beside-the-School is voting to call a new pastor who looks nothing like any pastor they’ve called before.  She prepared for one of her interviews by researching how many students at the school next door were on free/reduced lunch.

Ghanaian-Church-in-the-City will commission their new Pastor today.*  He will continue to do his day job in finance, but because he speaks Twi, loves Jesus, and can lead a people, he will also be commissioned to administer the sacraments and preach among this particular congregation of people who hail from Ghana and now live in Chicagoland.

Famousish-Emerging-Church will celebrate their new home in West Rogers Park with music, pumpkin-carving, and Poetry Vespers.  They will be sharing a pastor with another, more traditional congregation in the same worship space.  Centered, Generous, Dynamic Faith will continue to flourish in a new neighborhood, later partnering with a community in yet another neighborhood as well.

Ebenezer-New-Church-Plant will formally launch the ministry of my friend and former colleague, Matt Pritchard, as he’s licensed to preach in the Mennonite denomination, planting a new congregation called Ebenezer in the Oaklands neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Reformation Day Challenge:  Can you name one thing your spiritual community has done in the past year to reform its ministry?  Not a rhetorical question.  I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Happy Reformation Sunday.

*The PCUSA – my denomination – allows for churches to be served by what they call CREs – Commissioned Ruling Elders.  Previously these servants were called CLPs – Commissioned Lay Pastors.  The Presbytery of Chicago is still calling them CLPs but it stands for Commissioned Local Pastor.  WHY do we need our own acronym?  Here’s why:  All Ruling Elders are commissioned.  All of them.  And “lay pastor” is a misnomer in that all Ruling Elders and Deacons are no longer “lay” anything.  If you are ordained to serve in any way, you are no longer a lay person.  Please stop referring to Ruling Elders and Deacons as “lay people.”  Remember the priesthood of all believers?  It’s not just for Reformation Sunday anymore!


2 responses to “Four Churches Re-form Today!

  1. After a year and a half of study and prayer, our little church of 50 members turned our church library into a coffee shop and we now run a weekly program called Lifetree Cafe (Group) aimed at engaging non-church people in conversation and forming relationships. We are seeing new people each week. It is hard for an older congregation to change and we have a long way to go but God isn’t finished with us yet!

  2. And yet I, personally, have not seen the CRE concept being utilized at all. This could really be expanded and utilized in a way that would (in my humble opinion) really drive home the idea of a priesthood of all believers, while also alleviating the teaching elder from having to “do it all”.

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