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Kelly A. Fryer serves as executive director of A.R.E.: A Renewal Enterprise, which offers keynote speaking, renewal events, organizational consulting, and leadership coaching.

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Reclaiming the “L” Word: Renewing the Church from Its Lutheran Core by Kelly A. Fryer. Epiphany-OviedoELCA library section 2 B: Lutheranism, Lutheran Writings. This excellent short book from Augsburg’s Lutheran Voices Series is perfect for an ELCA Lutheran Church visioning or renewal process. It maintains that churches don’t grow because of the type of service or music (traditional or contemporary or a mix of the two), its programs, building, how a church uses its newsletter or website, whether it sends out mailings, or whether it has a catchy mission statement. No. A church grows when its congregation collectively knows who it is, and what God has called it to do. Visitors and prospective members can feel this like an engine thrumming, making a church hum, and they can more easily get on board if they can identify what the church stands for. So how does a congregation figure out what it stands for? Read on, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!
It takes energy and numerous visioning meetings to enable a congregation to define itself. The author’s church came up with the following five guiding principles which she suggests might help other ELCA churches: 1) Jesus is Lord (nobody in the church is Lord or “boss” but Christ); 2) Everyone is Welcome (NOBODY is excluded, and that means NOBODY!); 3) Love Changes People (love draws people to Christ much better than hellfire and brimstone, or meanspiritedness; 4) Everybody Has Something to Offer (a Pastor’s job is not to do it all at church, but to equip the members of the congregation to be ministers – remember the term, “the priesthood of all believers”?), and 5) The World Needs What We Have (churches do not exist for those who are members, they exist for those who have not yet stepped through their doors!).
The author devotes a chapter to each of these guiding principles with relevant vignettes from her personal life, her congregation’s life, Luther’s comments, and quotations by Jesus, Paul and Peter. Each principle is fully explored, then followed by questions for discussion, personal thought, and a prayer.
This is an excellent book for churches that are adrift or stagnating or which has not had a visioning process in the past five years. I recommend this book if our church wants to enter a visioning process. It would be especially helpful for a pastor, council members, and ministry team leaders to read this book to prepare for that process. It will help them begin the process with basic definitions in common, give their visioning process a template, and create a more successful outcome.
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Epiphany-OviedoELCA | Sep 11, 2011 |

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