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I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Paying the Rent and the Missionary impulse

The mission of Prairie Table is to build communities of Authenticity and Integrity as "families" devoted to the love of God in Christ Jesus. As such, 85% of our resources go into this endeavor, everything from Holy Communion with LateNite worship to taking our Youth of the Augsburg Confession (YAC) on field trips to explore religious sites. (The other 15% of our income is given in benevolence to our ELCA denomination).

Since we are building communities and not buildings, we are able to be flexible in how we "pay the rent." We are currently blessed to have a great relationship with Legacy United Methodist Church, which allows us to use its space, as available, for our ministry communities. It is a great gift of hospitality that they offer us, and they do not seem to mind that they have Lutherans in their basement! (As Lutherans, we do believe that if we ever get to heaven, we will have the basement there too. We assume the penthouse and upper level suites are reserved for those more temperate in their theological opinions.)

At some point in every Christian congregation there comes an issue with how to maintain what we have (paying the rent) versus how to follow God's missionary impulse. At PTM, we hope to never focus more on paying the rent than in following God's mission in the world. (It is true, in some cases, that paying the rent on a building with no Christian facilities may be what God wants...that does not seem to be a problem, however, here in Bismarck, ND).

To this end we discerned last week to engage a partnership with another missionary and her ministry. This one is somewhat like ours, it's a school in Japan (Luther Gakuin), and the missionary is a young woman named Katie Narum Miyamoto. We are not sure where our partnership will lead, but we are looking forward to seeing how we can continue to reach out to the world where God has so freely given life and breath. We're pretty sure God is with us in Bismarck, and we're also pretty sure God is there in Japan...the question will be how we can be part of what God is up to, regardless of where we are. But then, again, isn't that the question for all of us?

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