Presentation on theme: "What’s So Lutheran About Mission? Some Thoughts From Luther’s Work."— Presentation transcript:
What’s So Lutheran About Mission? Some Thoughts From Luther’s Work
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.
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.
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!!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?)
A Final Reminder Jesus is Gift and Guide to you and sends you as gifts and guides for the sake of the world!