Bishop Michael Rinehart


September 2010

Group walks 100K!

With 400 congregations, the 67 pastors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Central African Republic each serve multiple congregations. They walk many miles to visit these congregations monthly, on roads that aren’t paved. One of their greatest needs is… Motorcycles. To raise funds for motorcycles, Pastor Kevin Haug and the folks at St. John’s, Car Spring, Texas are sponsoring a walk of 100K, the average distance a CAR pastor walks. That’s 62 miles!

Four seminary grads assigned to our synod

Welcome Eric Woolridge, Peter Harrits, Andrea Rauch and Breanne Johnson, who are graduating from seminary this Fall. They’ve been assigned to the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast synod, and will be available to interview right away.

Theological Education

Dear Gulf Coast Colleagues,

We have eight ELCA seminaries. The face of theological education is adapting to new economies and new mission realities. Maybe not fast enough.

We don’t think we want economics to be the determining factor for the shape theological education, but the challenges we’re facing in this economy force us to ask good questions. And leading ministries in a predominantly Christian culture was different than leading missions in an increasingly pluralistic and unchurched context. Before we needed leaders to maintain age old systems to keep things the same. Now we need adaptive leaders to retrofit congregations for outwardly focused evangelism and ministry.

What are your thoughts about our system for theological education? Here are some key questions. Pick those that interest you and respond as you’re interested.

1. What might theological education look like if it was entirely mission-focused? Consider that the Lutheran Church in Texas owes itself in large part to the St. Chrischona school in Switzerland, a missionary school. How might we prepare missionaries for our own culture?

2. We want theological education to be accessible, but not watered down. Thoughts on distributed learning? Education in place? 2-year MA as opposed to 4-year MDiv? What distribution methods maintain high standards and respond to local needs?

3. In 1945 100% of seminary visa were
covered by our predecessor church bodies. There was no cost to students. As costs have risen, denominational support has decreased as a percentage of the total. At the inception of the ELCA the goal was 50% of costs being covered by synods and churchwide. Today there is no goal. 15-20% of seminary costs are covered by synods and denominations, an amount that far exceeds the commitments of other mainline denominations. Any ideas on creating a stable and sustainable economy of theological education? Ideas on how to increase congregational capacity to give generously to TE? Any thoughts about the four current strategies: A. Continue to streamline costs.
B. Continue commitment to programmatic innovation.
C. Expand and diversify revenue streams.
D. Pursue alliances, joint ventures, partnerships, mergers.

4. We currently have a four-tiered governance:
A. Each seminary has it’s own governing board.
B. Clusters of seminaries promote cooperation and efficient interchangeability.
C. Synods are empowered by the ELCA constitution to promote seminaries regionally, raise funds, and keep a vibrant local relationship between synods and seminaries.
D. Churchwide supports a coherent stem of theological education across the church. Candidacy requirements, curricular consistency, governance docs, board representation and more.

This system served us well for a time. Now it seems top-heavy and expensive. What governance would Provide for a strong seminary-synod relationship? Seminary/local church? What will provide for more flexibility/adaptability?

It’s a lot of questions. What are your thoughts?


Today, September 29 is the feast of St. Michael and all Angels, the most ancient of all the angel festivals. Michaelmas, as it was known, was the Christian equivalent of the autumn equinox. It is the time the weather changes.

In the Book of Revelation, Michael leads God’s armies against Satan’s forces.

Merry Michaelmas!

Sticky Church Webinar

A number of you have expressed interest in Larry Osborne’a model for small group Bible study. For more information consider this Webinar.

“Sticky” Church – Closing the Back Door
Thursday, September 30th

1:00-2:00PM EDT
Click here to register

Larry will discuss:

• Why stickiness is so important
• Why most discipleship models don’t work very well
• Why small groups always make a church more honest and transparent
• What makes groups grow deeper and sticker over time

Join us Thursday (September 30th) for this exclusive interview with Larry.
Click here to register for this special webinar.

5I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, lives in you. 2 Tim 1:5

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