– Pastor David Lose
The world is changing – okay, major, major understatement. The world is changing like it has never changed before! Yeah, that’s more like it.
Think about it: The way we communicate. The way we create meaning. The way we craft our identity. The way we innovate and work and share ourselves and our lives. Just about all of it is changing, which means the church needs to change as well, particularly if it is to have a future in reaching out to the emerging generations.
By “church” I mean congregations, camps, synods, seminaries—all of it. For a very long time church institutions like these could count on a certain level of support from the culture—kind of a tacit commitment to encourage people to go to church—but that has pretty much vanished. Not that the culture is hostile to faith; more that it’s indifferent. Which means our congregations (and camps and all the rest) cannot afford to see themselves as “spiritual destinations,” waiting for the crowds to show up on Sunday, but instead need to be “spiritual training centers,” where people come to learn more about their faith and leave confident they can practice and share it.
This kind of change is risky. It can make people nervous, even mad. And you might fail. After all, no one quite knows the best way to be church in this new world just yet. But it’s worth the risk. We can take those risks because of the promise that we are saved not by getting it right or by having all the answers, but by grace.
When we set out to unite two seminaries that have been separated for a century and a half, that indeed made some people nervous (and some mad). But you know what—it also made some people excited, hopeful, and feel brave enough themselves to take a risk. Grace changes everything, and one of the things it changes is us—we are free to risk and experiment and live into a future that is unknown but still fashioned and held by God.
The Rev. Dr. David J. Lose currently serves as the president of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP).