Sunday through Thursday this week I was at, or traveling to and from, the LCMC (Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ) Annual Gathering 2013. About 800 people representing 275 congregations gathered in Dearborn, Michigan for a gathering that was a very small part politics with moderate doses of entertainment, all fellowship, and all faith.
I really enjoy being a part of LCMC. I recall going to denominational gatherings previously that felt forced, too political, too pompous, or totally beside the point. At one of these gatherings, a delegate from our church leaned over to me and asked, "What are we doing here? We've spent the last half hour talking about fair trade chocolate -- and since we got here yesterday, Jesus hasn't been mentioned once!"
In Dearborn, Jesus was mentioned frequently, not as a superhero in the sky but as the leader, role model, and power for the association. Scripture was quoted and taken seriously, authoritatively. There was a healthy sense of urgency to these diverse Lutherans (including some from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Australia, and other places). They carried a sense that God has work for this group to be doing, that it's important work, and that we'd better get busy.
I was privileged to lead a breakout session on the topic of pastorates. It was well attended, especially by quite a few younger leaders. They seemed energized by the creative ideas and new possibilities. (If any of you reading took my advice at that breakout to check out the manuscript I've written about pastorates, the easiest way to access it is to click on the link at the right under "Pages" that says "Pastorates: New Testament DNA for the 21st Century Church." That will take you to the entire document in one easy chunk.
Part of the fun of a gathering like this one, of course, is seeing people you haven't connected with in a while. I talked to people from my days at the Lutheran Bible Institute of Seattle ('83-'85), from my days as a pastor in North Dakota ('98-'03) and from various ministries around the Twin Cities. What's more, I got to spend time with Bjorn Dixon and Craig Otto from the Why Church that meets at the YMCA in Elk River. Great fun!