Presentation on theme: "What’s So Lutheran About Mission Some Thoughts from the Reformation."— Presentation transcript:
What’s So Lutheran About Mission Some Thoughts from the Reformation
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.
The Augsburg Confession Written in 1530 to clarify the concerns of the “evangelicals.” Centered on the doctrine of “justification by grace through faith” (Article 4) Chief concern of Lutherans is that we are justified by faith (belief/trust in Jesus matters)
Augsburg Confession: A Look at the Building Blocks Article I – God is God (“Concerning God”) Article II – We Aren’t (“Concerning Original Sin”) Article III – What We Aren’t Jesus Is (“Concerning the Son of God”) Article IV – What Jesus is We Get (“Concerning Justification”)
The Articles of Primary Application Article V (Concerning the Ministry of the Church): “So that we may obtain this faith, the ministry of teaching the gospel and administering the sacraments was instituted…” Concern is for propagation of the faith – The issue: “How is it obtained?”
The Articles of Primary Application Article VI (Concerning the New Obedience): “Likewise, they teach that this faith is bound to yield good fruits and that it ought to do good works commended by God on account of God’s will and not so that we may trust in these works to merit justification before God…” The first fruit of faith is a changed life!
The Articles of Primary Application Article VII (Concerning the Church): “Likewise, they teach that one holy church will remain forever. The church is the assembly of saints (German text “all believers) in which the gospel is taught purely and the sacraments administered rightly.” People of faith assemble/gather in community
So What Is Conversion? Faith in Christ is part of conversion A changed life is part of conversion Christian community is part of conversion
Conversion = faith + changed + Christian in Christ life community A.C. V A.C. VI A.C. VII 1. Each of these elements of the Christian life are essential for all of us. None of us exhibit fullness of all (or maybe any) of these. 2. For Lutherans, confessional conversion is a way of living a balanced Christian life – not just an event or moment in time. Grounded in baptism 3. For good ministry – help people check up on where they are now and plan for personal growth. Sermons and education need to be aware of all 3 dimensions regularly 4. Each is its own entry point for people. There is no longer any right order to this. Belief may precede belonging. Belonging may precede believing.
Questions for Reflection How does your ministry participate in the work that Article V entails: “In order to obtain this faith…” How is it going where you are at? How does your ministry foster life-changing obedience to Jesus Christ described in Article VI? How is it going where you are at? How does your ministry form Christian community that lives as an “assembly of believers” mentioned in Article VII? How is it going where you are at?
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)
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 – especially in their vocations 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!
The Lord’s Prayer Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen
Luther’s Small Catechism “To be sure, the kingdom of God comes of itself, without our prayer, but we pray in this petition that it may also come to us.”   Tappert, T. G. 2000, c1959. The Book of Concord : The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Small Cat.: III, 7-8). Fortress Press: Philadelphia
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. God has a dream! We’re supposed to dream it too! In fact, we pray for it all the time. God is in the change business! God invites us into the work. It seems like many congregations miss this! We assume you are here to change that!
So How Do We Change This? (Working toward a church that cares more about what God cares about)