In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Needing Space

I've been away from the ol' blog for a while. It's been an exciting week and a half. It all began when I had to rush off to Argentina for a quickly-planned meeting of campus ministry assistants. We had to discuss our new strategy to change our name from "assistants" to "associates". Why? Because "associate" sounds more official.

When I got back from Argentina, I spent some time working on my cancer vaccine. I was in the lab for many hours a day. It was complicated. I'd go into it more, but I don't want to overwhelm you with my knowledge of chemistry.

Ok - by this point, you can probably tell that I'm lying. I have had a busy few weeks, but it's more routine than that. I've started an MBA program with my Other Half. We only meet one night a week...of course, that means that we need to do homework every other night of the week, so it's not like I'm saving time!

I'm tired a lot. I hope I can get rested at some point.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


After a hot, hot, hot day yesterday, we get rain today. I normally wouldn't mind rain, but I need to walk my dog before work. He does not like the rain at all. When he hears it, he just backs away from the door. I have a very hard time pulling him outside. This morning, I got him outside for just a few minutes. I hope he did enough business, because I'm not coming home until 4:00. It's 7:00 AM right now. Can he take it? Wait and see...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Life in September

I haven't been at the Blogger much lately. The beginning of the school year seems to create chaos for many of us. It seems I worked late most nights these last two weeks. Add to that the work that I have waiting for me at home, and you get...well, in the blogging world, you get nothing.

I feel that there are way too many times when I write a blog about how busy I am and that I have too much to do. There is indeed a lot to do, but I'm trying to keep everything in perspective.

One task I need to do is to look at my life and decide when to say 'no' to something. I can see value in just about every opportunity. My Other Half is quite the opposite of me. He tends to look at what responsibilities come with each opportunity. Maybe that's why we are good for each other.

Anyway, this post must be kept short, because I have too much other stuff to get done!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Decline in ELCA Membership: Analysis

I just stumbled upon this story from the Chicago Tribune. It highlights the story of one Church in Chicago that was once one of the largest congregations in the ELCA. Now, it's membership has dwindled. The paragraph I took most note of was this:

The shuttering of North Austin Lutheran points to a challenge facing many Lutheran churches in American cities. While the ethnic makeup of many neighborhoods changed, churches focused on preserving the buildings and traditions of their European forebears rather than altering their liturgy to accommodate new cultures.
This is perhaps the first time I have ever heard this acknowledged publicly. With all the debate within the ELCA on various topics, most of the people blame our decline in membership on not believing in the Bible enough, or on our too liberal (and in some cases, too conservative) stances on social issues.

Could this perhaps be the real reason? The Chicago Tribune seems to think so:

That has contributed to an overall decline for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Since forming in 1987, the ELCA has steadily lost members, dropping from 5.3 million to 4 million in 2007. Empty churches have closed or consolidated with other congregations.
On a related note, today I'm having lunch with a co-worker who is not Lutheran. He is asking me to try to explain some of the basic tenants of Lutheranism to him. I'm comfortable doing so, but I realize that I have a lot working against me. Lutheran theology is not (or should not be) related to a culture or an ethnicity. Lutheran theology speaks to folks who do not descend from northern Europe.

I'm also working against a performer I like. It's possible that Lutheranism's most public face is Garrison Keillor. I really enjoy his show, but I don't think he represents us well. He is entertaining because he stereotypes us. And people believe that stereotype. Heck, we believe it and we try to emulate it. With his descriptions, it's no wonder that our membership is declining. We don't sound like we believe in anything, except false humility, according to Keillor.

What can we do? How do we understand who we are as Lutherans? Why are we Lutheran? I think these are questions that we are going to have to deal with if we want our church to make real impact on people's lives.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


Today, I finally drove on the 10th Street Bridge. It should have been calmer, since it was a Saturday, but that was not the case. There were 2 reasons for this:

1. The 10th Avenue Bridge offers the best view of the collapsed 35W bridge. There is a major pedestrian area so that large crowds of people can stand, stare, and take photos. It was hard to get to the bridge because it looked like a Twins game just let out. All the people were going by with binoculars and cameras to stare at the wreckage.

2. It was move-in day for the University of Minnesota. That means that on either side of the bridge, there were a lot of vehicles illegally parked on the road with a mattress tied to the roof.