A look back at The Process

What is the Called Forward Together in Christ process?

Together, we are embarking on a process that will help the leaders of this church make decisions about the future identity, direction and priorities of the ELCA. This will involve three main stages:

  • Having a conversation across this church about the future
  • Consulting on directions and priorities that emerge
  • Reaching decisions as a church about where we are headed

This is no ordinary planning process. It’s a big undertaking because we are trying to include many parts of the ELCA and we want to build a sense of togetherness in taking forward our future vision and direction. And we are going to do a lot of listening – to God and to one another. With your help, we are up for the challenge.

Between February and May, we will reach out to people across this church to be part of a conversation on the future of our church – in congregations, synods, social ministries, educational institutions and in our churchwide office. We will be seeking ideas and feedback from as many people and parts of the ELCA as we can reach.

We know there will be a wide range of hopes, concerns and ideas so we will aim to tap into different voices and perspectives – for example, among people in the pews, existing and emerging church leaders, young adults, people of color and from different ethnic backgrounds and people who are new to Christianity and the ELCA.

This information will be used to analyze and explore what the future church could be. In July we will release a Called Forward Together in Christ Paper that will serve two purposes: to let everyone know the main messages coming through, and to share some options for the future that can be tested through further consultation in August and September. At this stage we will get more structured feedback from congregations, synods, ministries and the churchwide office before developing firm recommendations to the Church Council.

The November Church Council meeting will consider and approve a statement on future identity, directions and priorities. This will be launched in 2017 as part of the Reformation anniversary commemorations and then work will begin to implement the directions this church has been called together to take forward.

The BIG questions

Called Forward Together in Christ aims to explore and find answers to some big questions. It is not about reinventing the ELCA – but rather looking to the future and asking whether we are clear about who we are and what is most important as we journey together as a church in today’s world.

  1. What is distinctive about our identity as a Lutheran church?
  2. What kind of church do we believe God is calling us to become?
  3. How do we become an inclusive, diverse church that is inspiring and relevant in different communities?
  4. What is God calling us to do in a world that is facing unprecedented levels of poverty, conflict and violence, inter-religious tension and massive displacement of people.
  5. What do we expect from our church leaders? And how do we recruit, invest in and support them to lead this church into the future?
  6. Will our current structures serve the church well into the future? How can we maintain strong local participation and ownership and, at the same time, achieve a connection to ELCA as one church?

How can you be involved?

There are many different ways to be involved. More detailed information can be found on the ELCA.org/future and we have an email address dedicated to the Called Forward Together in Christ process.

  • Pastors will be asked by their bishops to hold conversations in their congregations so we can tap into the hopes and concerns of church members and people connected with this church.
  • We will undertake a broad survey with rostered church leaders in ELCA congregations and communities of worship. Their experience and thinking is of vital importance as they will help to carry forward the directions that are decided.
  • We will reach out to leaders in our social service ministries and our colleges, universities and seminaries. And we will have a targeted approach to other ministries and groups within the church so we hear a wide range of voices that are important for ELCA’s future.
  • We are committed to hearing from young adults as members and future leaders in the ELCA. We plan to engage younger adults via social media, a survey and on-line chat rooms.
  • People working in the churchwide office and synods will have the chance to join conversations and provide feedback on the directions and priorities that emerge.
  • And Called Forward Together in Christ will be featured in many of our major church events and network meetings - meetings of the Conference of Bishops, the ELCA Church Council, Synod assemblies, the Multicultural Summit and the Churchwide Assembly in August.

Where can I get more information?

Please refer to this location ELCA.org/future for additional information.

Toolkit Now Available

CFTC Toolkit

Use this toolkit to begin the Called Forward Together in Christ process.