20th Sunday after Pentecost

They come and go. Usually they are only noticed by the participants. Sometimes they are noticed from further afield. Sound bytes of news often are about elections and if there’s anything controversial. More often they are thought of as largely bureaucratic – reports and figures – something necessary because administration is necessary but not at the forefront of what one thinks of when one thinks of ‘Church’. Welcome to synodical conventions!

I write this before the ELCE’s 2018 convention. You will read this afterwards. We know the programme, the proposed resolutions, the agenda, the reports, even some of the committee data material, and a little bit of the worship. We’ve noted and discussed it to help our delegates understand our views. What we don’t know – as I write – is what has happened – the people who attended, the discussions, the debates, the amendments, the process, the election results, the atmosphere, what is expected and what was unexpected. It all becomes part of the story of the 2018 Synodical Convention – the news, the pictures, the personal comments and reflections, and, of course, the minutes (the definitive account).

How necessary is all this administration? I think there is always a tension between administration and the organisation becoming an end in itself and administration being regarded as almost a hindrance to the effectiveness and efficiency of the organisation. Follow the ‘rules’ or ignore – even break – the ‘rules’? My guess is that we each have a personal preference as to which end of the spectrum we are more comfortable.

Administration or rather administrators – and the Greek image is that of a ship’s pilot – are gifts in the Body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12:28). They help keep the ship on course – smooth sailing so to speak – and ready in all conditions. Thus administration is not ‘a necessary evil’ or the raison d’être of an organisation but a gift to build and sustain the Body of Christ (at a congregational level and at a synodical level – where congregations walk together). As with this and all gifts from God the goal is for Christians – individually and corporately – to grow and to live with faith, hope, and love in this world.

That is the goal of a synodical convention where congregations talk together about their walking together so that whether individually as a congregation or an individual member or corporately as a member congregation or church body we live with faith, hope and love in a world that struggles with all three – especially the fake imitations that the world offers. Church administration is for keeping the ship ‘ship shape’ so that sailing in the current conditions is at the best possible and the ship is able to do what it’s all about – and that is being a life boat so that more and more people can climb on board, be hauled up, be rescued – and discover what faith, hope, and love in Christ is all about.

How did the 64th Synodical Convention of the ELCE go? More on that next week! GS