On Being Church…

I have been reflecting a lot lately about this question – “What does it mean to be church?” Three recent events in my life have caused this reflection and question to surface.

Me with Rev. Dr. Moses Penumaka, Professor of Contextual Education & Director of TEEM at PLTS.

My family and I recently attended graduation at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. I was receiving a Certificate in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries alongside 48 other graduates who were receiving a variety of degrees. On this day of celebration, each graduate shared a story that included countless hours of study, testing, and writing that unfolded in its own unique way. We shared in the struggles and joy that brought us to this day. Our family, friends, professors, and leaders from across the church also walked with us in this story. Graduation was a day of great celebration and hope-filled anticipation of where God was calling each one of us to be church beyond our seminary education.

The second event was the Western North Dakota Synod Assembly in Bismarck during the first weekend in June. The congregation I serve, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, was a very active participant in this year’s assembly.

The theme for this year’s Synod Assembly was “Missionary Me? Missionary Me… Missionary Me!” The “me” of this theme lifted up our relationship with millions of Lutheran Christians being the church in the world, not as individuals acting as missionaries working independently. Good Shepherd is church not as an independent congregation in Bismarck. Good Shepherd is church with 185 congregations in the western North Dakota Synod and more than 10,300 congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This year’s Synod Assembly reminded us of our relationship with other congregations across the country and how we are called to be church in our local context knowing that we are very deeply connected to the church around the world.

And the third event will happen this August. I have been invited to be part of the music and worship leadership during the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly in Orlando. At this gathering we will celebrate being church not only as the ELCA, but also with our brothers and sisters in Christ in other denominations and faith traditions. I am humbled to have received this invitation and look forward to leading worship with musicians from around the world as we join together in being church.

When you ask the question, “What does it mean to be church?,” how do you answer? We are the church. We are called to be. May each experience of being church that you and I have, deepen our relationship with God and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

About Pastor Craig Schweitzer

I like to think of myself as a pretty easy going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in my life and in the world in which I live and serve. I am a husband, father, brother, son, friend, pastor, and maybe most significantly – a child of God! My beautiful spouse Wendy and I live in Bismarck, ND with our twin daughters, Ilia and Taegan and our crazy dogs Henri & Sadie. I’ve serve on the staff of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND since July 2001. I was first called to serve as Music & Worship Minister, in 2010 was called to serve as Pastor of Worship and Youth Education, and in January 2014 was called to serve as Senior Pastor. My professional background is a diverse collection of musical and educational experiences that ranges from live concert production and promotion to recording studios, and live performance to music education. Prior to joining Good Shepherd, I was an Instructor of Music at Bismarck State College and owned and operated a successful teaching studio called 6x6 Guitar Studio. I am a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA and was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in September 2010. Outside of Good Shepherd, I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, reading, listening or playing any and all music, a relaxing round of golf, or spending some quiet time with God. View all posts by Pastor Craig Schweitzer

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