Bishop Transition Team News

New Bishop Survey Results

In anticipation of the June election of a new bishop to serve the Northern Illinois Synod, we asked members of the congregations of our synod to fill out an online survey April 1-30. The results of this online survey will be used to create a “profile” of the Northern Illinois Synod for our candidates and could also be used as a beginning point for setting mission and ministry goals for the future.

Click any of the questions below to reveal the results.

Answered: 347 Skipped: 7



1 – very pessimistic 2 – pessimistic 3 – neutral 4 – optimistic 5 – very optimistic Total Weighted Average
your congregation. 4.32% 11.82% 11.53% 42.36% 29.97%
15 41 40 147 104 347 3.82
the Northern Illinois Synod. 2.92% 6.73% 20.76% 47.37% 22.22%
10 23 71 162 76 342 3.79
the future of the ELCA. 2.34% 8.48% 15.20% 49.12% 24.85%
8 29 52 168 85 342 3.86

Answered: 323 Skipped: 31



Answer Choices Responses
Worship life 31.89% 103
Global ministry 31.58% 102
Social ministry 26.01% 84
Children, youth and family ministry 23.53% 76
Building community 21.36% 69
Evangelism and outreach 21.05% 68
Development of Leaders 20.74% 67
Stewardship 18.89% 61
Ecumenical relations 15.17% 49
Ministry in daily life 14.55% 47
Music ministry 10.84% 35
Ministry with seniors 9.60% 31
Christian education 9.29% 30
Prayer ministry 9.29% 30
Media and communications 7.12% 23
Innovation and creativity 6.81% 22
Community organizing 6.50% 21
Multicultural ministry 5.26% 17
Small group ministry 4.95% 16
Other (please specify):

  • Nothing.
  • return to a more structured and respectful service mode.
  • ?
  • Nothing
  • Consolidation with our full communion partners
  • technical assistance upon request to local congregations
  • Status quo
  • building a vision for the synod
  • Support of synod members
  • None
  • Pastoral care to leaders
  • the people
  • Strong conferences
  • Hard to see the positives in this synod
4.33% 14

Answered: 297 Skipped: 57


Answer Choices Responses
Evangelism and outreach 40.74% 121
Children, youth and family ministry 34.34% 102
Development of leaders 29.63% 88
Innovation and creativity 24.24% 72
Building community 21.21% 63
Multicultural ministry 16.50% 49
Christian education 15.49% 46
Social ministry 15.49% 46
Worship life 14.48% 43
Ministry in daily life 14.48% 43
Stewardship 10.77% 32
Ecumenical relations 10.10% 30
Community organizing 9.09% 27
Media and communication 8.75% 26
Ministry with seniors 7.41% 22
Global ministry 7.07% 21
Prayer ministry 5.05% 15
Small group ministry 4.71% 14
Other (please specify):

  • Deepening our faith
  • Developing leadership that his concerned with the spiritual needs of the church and not political correctness
  • Reaching out to those being discriminated against
  • building a vision for life together
  • Rural Ministry
  • theological integrity
  • Having enough Pastors
  • Rural Ministry Strategy
  • thinking outside the box for a Church and world in transition
  • a Bishop and staff who are honest and really care
  • Facing our core issues: transcending “Lutheranism”, the “inner life” of the clergy/leaders, transforming worship at synod & parish
  • Outreach into our community, foodbanks, mentoring etc.
  • Rural, multi point ministry
4.38% 13
Music ministry 3.03% 9

Answered: 276 Skipped: 78


1 – not at all 2 3 4 5 – very Total Weighted Average
does your congregation reach out to people in your community? 1.48% 12.92% 24.72% 40.22% 20.66%
4 35 67 109 56 271 3.66
do you feel you understand the function of the Northern Illinois Synod? 5.82% 15.64% 32.00% 29.09% 17.45%
16 43 88 80 48 275 3.37
do you feel you understand the activities of the Northern Illinois Synod? 6.16% 18.48% 29.71% 29.71% 15.94%








Answered: 265 Skipped: 89NIS_Survey_Results_2_pdfNIS_Survey_Results_2_pdf

Answer Choices Responses
Development of leaders 50.94% 135
Strategic planning 33.96% 90
Spiritual direction 33.58% 89
Innovation and creativity 30.57% 81
Evangelism and mission 30.19% 80
Building community 26.79% 71
Conflict management 23.02% 61
Children, youth and family ministry 22.64% 60
Administration 22.26% 59
Preaching/worship leadership 18.87% 50
Theological interpretation 18.49% 49
Ministry in daily life 16.23% 43
Ecumenical relations 14.72% 39
Multicultural ministry 14.34% 38
Crisis management 13.58% 36
Media and communication 13.58% 36
Social ministry 11.70% 31
Stewardship 10.19% 27
Financial management 9.06% 24
Public policy advocacy 9.06% 24
Community organizing 9.06% 24
Christian education 8.68% 23
Global mission 7.55% 20
Other (please specify):

  • To find a way to grow the ELCA.
  • A pastor to the synod’s pastor.
  • Biblical literacy
  • Pastoral Care
  • Conservative Lutheran understanding of the Bible.
  • When ministers are inappropriate with congregations and synod is told but do nothing….Please handle in a spiritual manner.
  • Ability to overcome edifice complex and close and consolidate congrgations
  • Rural Ministry Strategy
  • needs to be able to cast a vision for synod and equip & support leaders
  • honesty, integrity, not two-faced
  • An alive & real inner life & passionate vision for a “post-Lutheran” church
  • vision
  • Rural ministry
4.91% 13
Ministry with seniors 3.40% 9


  • I am greatly concerned with the shrinking numbers of Christians, along with the numbers of the ELCA members. Especially now that it seems that the ELCA leadership has picked a political party to follow!
  • I’m not sure how well the synod helps individual churches overcome conflict – I think that is an area that deserves more attention – both working with pastors and councils and congregations.
  • nah
  • Personal spiritual care and self understanding is essential so that the Bishop chosen has the strength to minister to the flock he shepherds. As I heard the Pope say the Shepherd need to smell like the sheep.
  • must be patient, organized and able to delegate effectively
  • We need to make sure every thing we do is Bible based and in line with our Lord Jesus’ teachings.
  • Whatever needs to be done to keep Christianity progressing according to God’s Holy Path…..
  • Congregations struggle and the ELCA nationally is sort of idealistic and urban focused…though getting better. We need some pragmatism at synod level to focus and strengthen churches
  • Call a strong administrator to relieve our bishop of that responsibility. Our bishop should be the public face of oursynod.
  • Work on the call process. Not good!
  • Since 2009, the ELCA, our synod and local congregations have been in an accelerated decline. The national church has helped itself to stabilize through the campaign for the ELCA (good missions), but local congregations and synods are getting squeezed. Our new bishop (and all bishops) and synods need to address growth and ministry in their synods to grow disciples in Christ – less focus on social issues, and more on innovative ministry and building faithful disciples.
  • A humble, faithful leader with a heart for Christ and God’s people – willing to try new approaches in an ever-changing culture. We are losing people right and left to travel and sports in an affluent society – youth thru seniors – when and how do we reach them?
  • Question 5 does not allow for more than 5 choices. I would submit that Development of leaders, Ministry with seniors and Community organizing are equally important to the Synod and the future of Christianity as all of the other choices.
  • I would love to see more sharing, and interaction with other ELCA churches and visits from the synod sharing what is going on both nationally and globally.
  • Presence and support and participation in life of community of faith. Everyone should know his/her name. And NOT because they looked it up.
  • Leave politics to the politicians!
  • I am looking forward to our next Bishop helping us find a “new vision” and sparking some excitement once again.
  • The new bishop needs to be welcoming to every Lutheran in the community.
  • I am from a small and ever shrinking congregation in a downtown area. Our need for community and neighborhood outreach is a top priority and yet we have had nearly zero results in bringing new members or even visitors to our church.
  • We need to identify failing congregations early, and plan to revitalization or merging into other working congregations.
  • Time for a reality check…ministry is emerging…decline offers opportunities to develop small, authentic faith communities that focus on mission…we need a new vision and new paradigms for local congregational ministry…onsolidsting staff and buildings and using our assets for mission…why have 20 plus congregations in Rockford two thirds of which are in decline…need a leader who has a vision to bring ministries together instead of individual fiefdoms … Silos…trying to make it on their own…we need bold leadership inviting congregations to gather, evaluate an re-resource assets for mission…in other words consolidate staffs or clos buildings… 
  • The bishop should be visiting congregations on a regular basis and be more visible. Additionally, I believe there should be more direction in developing a strong faith-based educational program for youth in addition to catechism. Adult education should be more focused on developing spirituality
  • My congregation is losing members as older people pass away & there are few young people to carry on in the future..
  • A candidate for Bishop should be proactive in evaluating the mission of congregations and assist in consolidating congregations and ministries throughout the Synod. Yes, that means closing congregations that have lost their sense of mission and guiding them into rebirth or giving away their assets to viable ministries.
  • Good communication skills
  • We need to focus more on home than abroad.
  • The new bishop needs to be able to articulate a vision for the synod that has the power to connect people, congregations, the synod, and the ELCA
  • The ELCA needs to separate itself more publicly from the theology of the Evangelicals. We try to do things like they do because they are showing more success than we are today. We are very quiet about issues concerning fundamental Christianity — evolution, separation of church and state, and issues that are making the republican political platform.
  • We need a Bishop who will challenge us to look beyond our normal activity to hear God’s call to share Jesus in ways that connect to people today.
  • Bishop needs to have a good understanding of the New Testament Church and its faithfulness to Word and Sacrament in the midst of an apathetic, if not hostile, world. He/she must be able to let the present organization die in order that resurrection might occur. The “call” he/she has must enable an unstinting commitment – in both time and energy – to the ministry of the Synod. He/she must be courageous enough to challenge the rostered leaders and the congregations to risk offering a priestly and prophetic ministry to a world that may well reject such an offer. He/she must be able to make faithfulness more important than success.
  • Bishop needs to share leadership. Respect pastors and other rostered leaders. Also, do not participate in triangulation.
  • We need a Bishop with a vision for the synod for ministry in a time of great upheaval and transition for the church. What once worked doesn’t. Bishop should be an excellent administrator, should empower the clergy and congregations with clear communication and supportive resources. The NISynod has a strong record of being in ministry with it’s congregations. Moving forward we need to be renergized in our mission in a vastly changing, contentious world.
  • We need to continue the people friendly bishop which we have enjoyed and his ability to get other very talented people to lead effectively. He/she must not be a micro manager but an inspirer, challenger and developer.
  • So many of these are important, but can be handled by others. The bishop needs to be creative to midwife the work of others.
  • Conservative Lutherans in the ELCA and Northern Illinois synod continue to feel excluded from ever-more political stances of the church. The new bishop should strive to remain neutral on these extremely divisive issues (race, sexuality, transgenderism, abortion, etc. etc.) There is too much that Lutherans agree on to continue to focus on these narrow, divisive issues. We also need a leader that will reach out to the communities. Most of our church members have never met our current bishop. Many congregations in the synod continue to drop in numbers, but there is very little outreach to provide assistance from the “top down” to help bring people into our congregations. With most members getting older and older, the bishop and the NI Synod need to act soon before many congregations are forced to close their doors.
  • Having a sense of humor is something that will help the Bishop on a daily basis.
  • Above all, we need a Bishop with deep faith and belief in God
  • Transitional ministry skills, collaborative ministries with smaller congregations to strenghthen viability
  • I feel that it is important for our new Bishop to be transparent~ to be totally honest with us. Even if the truth hurts! I feel that Bishop Wollersheim was that kind of a person.

Answered: 246 Skipped: 108



Male 41.87% 103
Female 58.13% 143
Total 246

Answered: 241 Skipped: 113



rostered person 29.05% 70
lay person 70.95% 171
total respondents 241

Answered: 252 Skipped: 102


18-24 0.00% 0
25-34 7.14% 18
35-44 9.52% 24
45-54 15.08% 38
55-64 26.19% 66
65-74 31.75% 80
75 or older 10.32% 26
Total 252

Answered: 254 Skipped: 100


less than 1 year 3.15% 8
1 to 5 years 8.27% 21
6 to 10 years 8.27% 21
11 to 15 years 16.14% 41
16 to 20 years 9.06% 23
21 to 25 years 7.48% 19
more than 25 years 47.64% 121
Total 254

Answered: 258 Skipped: 96



Rural 7.36% 19
Small Town (less than 10,000) 15.50% 40
Small City (between 10,000 and 49,999) 54.26% 140
Medium City (between 50,000 and 250,000) 22.87% 59
Total 258