I was excited to see “The digital church” cover story, but my joy was squelched when the articles addressed only one facet of new media in congregations today: service to the homebound. Certainly this is one use for digital media, and your articles addressed it admirably. But to proclaim that the issue was about the digital church and then confine the articles to such a narrow focus seems ill-informed and represents the struggle that the church has in general. The front photograph with a geriatric hand and tablet gave it all away — this is an article about serving a dying church. Had you been up-front in acknowledging that the emphasis was on using digital media to serve homebound members I would have applauded. That is a valid and important use for these powerful tools. But to proclaim that the article was about the digital church was disingenuous and reflected a less-than-sophisticated understanding of the power that social media brings to the ELCA.
On the ball
Kudos to Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton for her insightful column “Shout-out for Team ELCA”. I see her as a “player coach” holding out for nothing less than the fulfillment of Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17. Or to paraphrase the Ascension Day message: “Jesus at 33 took early retirement and sent the Holy Spirit to carry out his work through ‘Team Church.’ ”
Lester W. Hoffmann
Look for the moments
I was really touched by the article on children in worship (May, page 26). As a pastor’s wife, I’m outnumbered by our two young kids, who feel (blessedly) right at home in the worship space and sometimes forget their “church manners.” Our congregation seems to be much less concerned about the distractions my kids cause than I am. I keep reminding myself that our baptismal promise was that we would show up, not that we would be perfectly quiet and fully attentive. It’s often frustrating and stressful to make it through the service, but as the article points out, it’s those moments when you hear them singing the alleluia or see them enthusiastically sharing the peace that make it all worthwhile.
Pope on target
A letter writer in May (page 49) said no more on the pope because “the Roman Catholic Church is the first and continuing separator of people who try to be believers from the truth in God.” Pope Francis is reaching out to all people. This one quote from him — “We can build many things, but if we do not witness to Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter” — I will never forget. I hope and pray all religious leaders will do the same. Being joined together is the way God wanted us to behave in the first place. I am a Lutheran and I would like you to burden me anytime with “such spiritual sloppiness,” as the writer put it.
Kennet Square, Pa.
Getting it wrong
Members who feel that the drop-off in giving (June, page 48) is related to social ministries fighting discrimination, whether against sexual orientation, skin color, language or other “markers” of being others, are correct — maybe not biblically but psychologically. Money is not the real issue. If we were willing to love, our churches might not be rich but they would be full of people. Our conversation needs to move from the abstract, man-made symbol of money to the reality, divine, emotional, human element of love. We don’t need to be distracted from reality by worry about funds to do this, that or the other. We need to talk, and pray, about what it means to withhold love from each other, and to refuse to accept love from each other. Money is a phony issue, a way to talk around the reality of our feelings.
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© 2016 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers