Asking Questions in the Election of a Bishop

It is election season in New England. The New England Synod of the ELCA (where I serve) recently released its set of questions for potential candidates for bishop to be asked during our upcoming synod assembly June 8-10, 2012. These questions were compiled by an ad hoc committee created by the synod council. The committee gathered data from several synod events across the territory planned by the synod council, and involved several hundred people in the process – no small or easy task. The purpose is to prepare congregations across the synod for the coming election of a new bishop.

You can read the questions here:

These are solid questions. Ones that came out of a thoughtful process. The candidates can take these existing questions whatever direction they would like. Although it is difficult from a congregation’s perspective to see exactly what bishop does across our synod at times, we all have a vested interest in whomever is selected to lead us for these next six years and perhaps beyond.  I am not convinced that staying the course is what is needed of our leadership at this moment in our history.  Personally, I am looking for some new directions and outside the box thinking for the challenges we will face in the next several years. My colleague – Pastor Keith Anderson  – outlined five hopes for our new bishop a few weeks ago.

Read Anderson’s article here:

If I were the moderator of what I call the “debate portion” of the upcoming election process I would ask the following questions; believing them to guide discussions we should be having at this time.

1. How will you follow and help us follow Jesus? How will you discern that call?

2. What is a bishop in the 21st century? What is a synod? What is the church? How do these align with the mission God has given us?

3. What are you thinking/talking about that nobody else seems to be thinking/talking about?

4. If you were to redesign the structure of the synod from scratch –             What would the structures look like and why?  Our synod is stretched across a large territory with no single cultural center – What relationships     are needed to draw us together and why?

5. Consider the previous administration’s strengths and weaknesses –      What do you hope to do differently?

6. What big risks are you willing to take as we move into the future, considering shrinking budgets, church closures, new starts and the questions about viability that many ministries face?

7. The “constants” of our time are change, technology, growing social media outlets, displacement, economic inequality, institutional failure, cynicism, partisanship, and anxiety – both inside and outside the church. How does the Good News speak to this time and place?


This is my list. What questions would you add/change/delete? (I think we should ask them of ourselves, and in our congregational planning too).

Peace,                                                                                                                                                            Pastor Geoff


Simon Peter asked (Jesus),  Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’  (John 6:68-69)


About geoff sinibaldo

Follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, Son, Friend, Change Proponent, Goofball, Seeking Faithfulness in the 21st Century
This entry was posted in Church & Mission, Martin Luther & those strange Lutherans, Thinking About Church Differently. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Asking Questions in the Election of a Bishop

  1. Thanks Geoff, great questions especially for ourselves and congregations!
    I see the synod’s role as guiding us in continuing Jesus’ earthly ministry by revealing the Holy Spirit’s sustaining role and life-giving action in our lives as individual Christ Followers and gathered as the Body of Christ. I hope to hear bishop candidates boldly proclaim where the Spirit is currently at work and embrace a more Spirit-filled approach to ministry together in New England. I’d add these questions…

    In our increasingly individualistic and religion-less context:
    • What do you see as the role of New England Lutherans and congregations in articulating the work of the Holy Spirit as creating new life and as an indwelling witness, and how would you as bishop empower, equip and encourage us to do this?
    • What do you see is the role of the New England Synod in sharing Word and Sacrament, the instruments of the Spirit, to feed faith, and how would you as bishop empower, equip and encourage us to do this?
    • Where do you sense that the Holy Spirit is calling/ leading New England Lutherans (individuals, congregations, and synod) to reveal truth, give life, and strengthen faith?

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