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Better Together

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. - Romans 15: 5-6


Reality is that collaboration takes planning, hard work, humility, and congregational support. It would be much easier for our three congregations to just keep doing our own thing. We are, after all, three very different congregations in spite of the reality that we come from a common tradition, share a similar theological framework and are members of the same denomination. When we do things individually, we don’t have to worry about changing traditions that are dear to us, we don’t have to worry about if we might need to drive further to another facility, we don’t have to worry about having to listen to that other pastor that we just don’t like quite as much. There are cultural differences between our congregations, there are worship style differences, there are facility differences, and believe me each of our pot-lucks are very different. So why not just continue each of us on our own way?


There are of course practical reasons. The cost of being a congregation are going up dramatically, and maybe we need to find ways to share that cost. None of our congregations have a large number of active youth, so if we do things together we get a large group. None of our congregations can afford more than one pastor and our pastors have different gifts, it can make life easier for pastors to share some responsibilities. Our three congregations are experiencing realities that are shaping churches around the country: expenses are going up, income and participation is going down, reliance on technology is increasing, our congregations are aging, and we don’t have the fleet of volunteers we used to have, even when our staffs were bigger. Maybe if we collaborate we get by with less? The truth is that these practical forces are what are causing us to take a more serious look at collaborating, but they really are the less important reasons for collaborating.


When we read about congregations in the New Testament, there really is no concept of one congregation going it alone. There really was only ONE church and it may have met in different houses, in different cities, speaking different languages, and worship may have looked different from place to place, but all those meetings of Christians were part of ONE Church. They supported each other financially, they sent leaders to help one another, they critiqued one another’s teaching and practices, and they were blessed to be very interdependent with one another. In multiple letters to the Church, Paul emphasizes that if we are to experience the fullness of what in means to be the people of God, we need to be working in community with greater diversity.

Most famously Paul uses the image of the Body of Christ in several letters but the metaphor is most fully developed in Chapter 12 of his first letter to the Corinthians. Here Paul argues that accepting that we are more complete when we recognize that our differences make us stronger leads us to better live out God’s “More excellent way,” which is Love (1 Corinthians 13). Calvary on its own is less equipped to love our neighbors than we are when we are collaborating with others. Trinity, though it’s history in the community is longer, can not love this community as well on its own as it can in collaboration. Lutheran Church of the Master’s impact on Kootenai county is well documented, but its gifts are incomplete.


As I am writing this newsletter Kootenai county has made the national news again because of hate related incidents aimed at a women’s basketball team. As I am writing this there are thousands living in our community who are convinced that disciples of Jesus, if not God himself, believe that they are unwelcome, untouchable, unlovable. If we are to love this community with the fullness of Christs love, we must recognize that going it alone isn’t going to cut it anymore, and perhaps it never really did.


-Pastor Matt Erickson

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