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What’s So Lutheran About Mission? Some Thoughts From Luther’s Work.

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Presentation on theme: "What’s So Lutheran About Mission? Some Thoughts From Luther’s Work."— Presentation transcript:

1 What’s So Lutheran About Mission? Some Thoughts From Luther’s Work

2 Quick Reality Check  1991 Evangelism Strategy declared 1991-2000 a “decade of evangelism.”  Over 300 programs and resources developed  Millions of dollars given away in grants to congregations  The ELCA shrunk! (minus 100,000+ members and in weekly worship attendance)  Conclusion: We have a real problem with outreach.

3 The problem  Lutherans sometimes see mission as “non- Lutheran” (especially evangelism).  Disinterested in many cases (“it is our northern European nature to be quiet”).  Oppositional in many cases.  Often separate various parts of the mission and select one over another (we do lots of service with no evangelism in many sectors of the church).  Look elsewhere for mission theology.

4 Luther Has A Mission Theology  It is simple and it is clear  Premise: Look to Luther’s simple works and he will be the clearest and most concise  “What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels”  It includes evangelism!!

5 Luther’s Mission Theology  Initial caution: Don’t be a legalist  “Be sure, moreover, that you do not make Christ into a Moses, as if Christ did nothing more than teach and provide examples....”  “...for on this level Christ is of no more help to you than some other saint. His life remains his own and does not as yet contribute anything to you.”

6 Luther’s Mission Theology  Point One: It All Starts With Christ as Gift  “The chief article and foundation of the gospel is that before you take Christ as an example, you accept and recognize him as a gift, as a present that God has given you and that is your own....”  Note that it is Christ himself and not the benefits that is the gift! This is the heart of “real presence” for Luther.

7 Luther’s Mission Theology  Point Two: Treasure and Use the Gift  “Now when you have Christ as the foundation and chief blessing of your salvation, then the other part follows that you take him as your example...”  “Christ drives and compels no one. Indeed he teaches so gently that he entices rather than commands.”  This is the outcome of “real presence” for Luther.  Christ acts as your guide.

8 Luther’s Mission Theology  Point Three: As Christ is Gift to you, so be a gift to others.  “After that it is necessary that you turn this into an example and deal with you neighbor in the very same way, be given also to him as a gift and as an example.”  “This double kindness is the twofold aspect of Christ: gift and example.

9 Being A Gift and Guide  Love other people. In Luther’s theology, love of neighbor is the basis for all Christian interaction. Any other motivation is not guided by Christ.  Show this love by caring for people in relevant and helpful ways (gift).  Explain your care. Connect it to Jesus and faith practices (guide).

10 Luther’s Mission Theology  A summary: – Christ is gift to you (action) – Christ is guide to you (words) – Be a gift to others (action) – Guide others to Christ (words)

11 How This Impacts Transformation  Transformation is grounded in God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ.  Transformation begins with a spiritual renewal – reconnect to Christ as gift and guide.  Mission happens when we follow Christ – giving ourselves as gifts and guides to the world.

12 How This Means: “Changed People, Changed Church”  The “pro me” (“for me”) of the Reformation meant a shift from “the church believes for me” to “my faith contributes to the whole faith of the church.”  Every Christian must ask this of him/herself before they can, with any integrity ask it of the church.

13 Continuing How This Means: “Changed People, Changed Church”  Corporate responsibility is the product of responsible people (this is true in the “secular” and the “church” worlds).  A group that is static is unlikely to move until someone moves it.  God calls on and empowers persons to change and lead people forward into new ways of living.

14 Questions for every Christian and congregation to consider:  How is Jesus a gift to you each day?  How does Christ teach and guide you daily?  How do you act as a gift to others?  How do you guide in ministry so others meet and recognize Christ?

15 Some tips for church leaders  Keep this flow of gift and guide consciously in your mind. It is at the heart of Lutheran theology.  Give thanks for the gift and ask for the guidance of Jesus.  Ask yourself daily, “Jesus, how can you use me as a gift today?” and “how did you use me as a gift today?” AND “How can you use me as a guide today?” and “How did you use me as a guide today?”  Lift gift/guide up in Bible studies, preaching, teaching, etc. as a lens for people to see God working  Utilize the questions at the congregational level/leadership level when making decisions (i.e. – Will we be serving as a better gift to our neighbors or a worse gift to our neighbors if we choose this option?)

16 A Final Reminder Jesus is Gift and Guide to you and sends you as gifts and guides for the sake of the world!

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