Lutheran Mission Matters Articles — November 2018
Inside this Issue: Released for Mission
The current issue of Lutheran Mission Matters explores the theme “Released for Mission,” patterned truly after the Acts 1:8 model. A homily Professor Jeff Oschwald preached on “Philip the What?” on the day in the liturgical year when the Church commemorates Philip the Evangelist. The surveys, articles, and mission encounters cohere as they urge the readers to become Gospel witnesses, sharply contrasting with the unfounded pessimism that lingers in some corners that the missionary labors of our time are futile and in vain.
The cover story is a composition of the data the authors of the article received from a variety of church members, pastors, mission executives, and synodical leaders who spoke from their heart how we can be more missional, reflecting on our Synod’s past experience.
Professor Oschwald has contributed the lead article on our theme, “released for mission,” based on his detailed study of the Book of Acts. Yohannes Mengsteab, of Eritrean descent, shows how—in his work as a pastor, church planter, and mission executive—God uses his ministry to reach out to Americans outside of church walls. While Larry Merino avows that local congregations are the hope of the world, Richard Gahl affirms that our pulpits are the avenue for preaching God’s mission. John Juedes affirms that deacons were missionaries, based on a closer reading of the biblical narrative in Acts 6.
In the last century, our church body pioneered reaching the world with the voice of the Gospel through radio, and Kirk Farney’s essay focuses on the life and ministry of Walter A. Maier, the epitome of that ministry. Armand Boehme shows America is the new mission field and that Lutherans have the opportunity and the means to seek out to the new generation with the promise of the Gospel.
Mike Rodewald takes an outside look at the missio Dei in 2 Kings 5 and shows how God works through unusual means to reach out to those “who may not be like us” with God’s love in Jesus Christ. From his personal experience as a Lutheran theologian in South Africa, Karl Böhmer asks where mission agencies are going with the mission of God.
In the section on encountering mission, Carlos Winterle shows how local lay leadership empowers the Church and congregations to spread the Good News across cultures.
In a context close to home, David Berger demonstrates that in upscale suburban neighborhoods, historic Lutheran Word and Sacrament liturgical services work well as missionary means for reaching out to friends and neighbors in a winsome way.
Pastor Dale Hedstrom shows that God’s love reaches out to all people and invites them to gather as communities in Christ, regardless of where a congregation might be located. Hedstrom shows that God is doing His work in mission and ministry through His people, using local congregations as missionary outposts. Whether rural or suburban, servants of the Gospel need to be sensitive to working outside the traditional ways of outreach. Miriam Carter shows Christians are released for mission because Scripture commissions them for God’s mission.
There is hope. This hope is rooted in Scripture and well founded in our own confession. We go forward with the mission of God.
Lutheran Mission Matters
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New Doors Open for the Good News - Victor Raj
Lutherans engage the Church’s ministry and mission today with some virtual discomfort if not excessive fear and trepidation, for fear that the contemporary missional church may not be keeping in step fully with the traditions the faithful from early on have embraced. Correspondingly, certain constituents of the institutional church assume that our generation already is post-missional, and all we need to do is preserve our respective traditions and conserve the values our fathers passed on to us. For the Church and for the Christian, mission and ministry are not two separate entities. In fact, mission is ministry and vice versa. The one without the other is unthinkable.
Philip the What? Philip the Deacon Acts 8:26-40 Sermon by Jeffrey A. Oschwald
Dear Friends in Christ, If you don’t already know, you should, that it is Dean Burreson and his staff who diligently and faithfully produce the worship bulletins that guide our worship together here day after day, season after season, year in year out. That is one normal parish duty that we chapel preachers don’t have to worry about. And that’s a good thing, too, because, if today’s bulletin had all been up to me, I would probably still be in my office right now, frantically trying to decide what to call our commemoration today. Even my sermon has across the top of Page 1 the title “Philip the What?” Let me illustrate for you my quandary by considering briefly the texts that could have been the basis for our message this morning.
A More Hopeful Future for the LCMS - Robert Scudieri, Daniel L. Mattson, Jon Diefenthaler, Andrew H. Bartelt
Synopsis: The Synod’s projection that the LCMS will lose 500,000 more souls has caused pain and despair. As missional leaders in their denomination, the authors looked for a more hopeful direction. They sent out a question about the future of the LCMS to over five hundred influencers in the Synod. The responses received were both heartening and chastening, and they shared both frustration and hope. In large measure, they demonstrated a multitude of instances where congregations and individuals have taken initiatives to bring the good news of God’s great love to the growing number of Americans who do not know the Gospel. God’s people have seen the challenge and have acted in hope. The purpose of this article is to share that hope.
Released and Sent: Verbs and Their Subjects in Acts 13 - Jeffrey A. Oschwald
Abstract: The sending of Barnabas and Saul (Acts 13:1–4) is rightly regarded as a crucial text for understanding the Church’s role in God’s mission to save His world. Sometimes, however, the beautifully balanced and coordinated relationship between Spirit, Church, and missionaries described by Luke is obscured in English translations. A closer look at the use of άπολύω (apoluō) (v. 3) helps to restore and even sharpen our insight into the relationship between the Spirit’s leadership and the Church’s response—and to challenge us to be willing to release our resources for the fulfillment of the Spirit’s will and purpose.
Released for Mission at Home—The Texas District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod - Yohannes Mengsteab
Abstract: God uses critical stages in life to call workers to ministry. The author left the Eritrean Liberation Front for Sudan at the age of twenty-two, where an Eritrean pastor became the voice of God that changed the trajectory of his life.
The article makes three major points: the mission of God is always Trinitarian; God gives His Church the gifts and resources necessary to do the missionary work; the office of the evangelist is critical in the expansion of the mission of God. The discovery, intentional development, and release of the gifts for the mission of God is, therefore, the role of church leadership
“A [Radio] Tower of Strength”: Walter A. Maier, Broadcasting, and Gospel Proclamation - Kirk D. Farney
Abstract: In the first half of the twentieth century, Walter A. Maier embraced the new medium of radio to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to millions of listeners in the United States and around the world. His tenacity in achieving and maintaining access to radio airwaves, especially over rapidly expanding networks, and his powerful preaching of biblical orthodoxy bore abundant fruit. Erudition and eloquence, combined with contextualized Christian substance, kept audiences tuning in week after week in the most turbulent of times. Maier’s remarkably successful evangelistic and pastoral efforts offer an instructive model to the twenty-first century church as it faces our complex, multi-media world.
An Outside Look at the Missio Dei in 2 Kings 5 - Mike Rodewald
Abstract: God’s Word is for all people. Western worldview and culture may cause bias as we study and interpret Scriptural narrative. Understanding how those from other language communities and cultures interpret such narratives increases our knowledge-base and our appreciation of God at work through the Word in the world.
Deacons on a Mission—The Pivotal Place of Acts 6 - John P. Juedes
Abstract: The seven deacons of Acts 6 are commonly understood as having been appointed only to serve the poor. This superficial reading of the text misses their important and pivotal mission—to evangelize and incorporate the Hellenists, a culturally distinct people group. A closer study of the Seven reveals that the church in Antioch followed their model in launching Paul’s mission to evangelize the Gentiles, preparing Jewish believers to receive “foreigners” and incorporating Hellenists as full members of the body of Jesus Christ. They become the point men by whom the Church began to make disciples of “all ethnos.” The commissioning of the Seven is the root from which many succeeding missions, principles of ministry, practices and leaders grew.
Behold! Now Is the Day! - Armand J. Boehme
Abstract: Christianity appears to be fading from the Western world. There are increasing numbers of “nones” and those who claim to be spiritual but not religious. How should the Church bring the message of Christ’s love to this twenty-first century world? This essay offers suggestions as to how the Church might respond to current challenges and move boldly into the remainder of the twenty-first century. Seven suggestions for action are given which can be pursued either by professional church workers or by every baptized Christian.
The Local Congregation—The Hope of the World? - Larry Merino
Abstract: Are our mission problems “out there” or “in here”? Acts 13 records how the Antioch church approached it. Instead of focusing on the myriad of problems that were “out there,” they prayed, fasted, and trusted in the work of the Spirit in the life of the body of believers. It appears that they focused on what was going on “in here.” This focus led them to place their faith in the work of the Holy Spirit and His guidance. Today’s leaders are usually focused “out there” but need to focus more “in here.” A systemic approach, an awareness of underlying structures, and learning to live in creative tension can help local congregations avoid quick techno-fixes and grow in their reliance on the Spirit. There is a reason that Antioch succeeded, and there is a simple but hard way forward.
Preaching and the Mission of God - Richard Gahl
Abstract: Declining church membership is getting more attention these days. While it is not a new concern, proposed solutions result in modest increases in some congregations; but, in general, widespread decline continues. No one silver bullet is likely to fix what ails us. The work of changing a congregation’s culture takes time and a commitment for the long haul in days when instant fixes are expected.
This article raises one aspect of church life in the theology and practice of mission that doesn’t get much press: missional preaching. In other words, in addition to telling the story of the Good News in Jesus Christ, we propose to ask what the writers of the New Testament were calling on the emerging church to do with the Good News. What clues about the mission of the Church are embedded in the New Testament documents? How might those mission insights empower preaching in this twenty-first century AD? My thesis is that preachers need to refer more frequently to the mission of God and illustrate what it means from Scripture for the baptized people of God.
“Quo vadis, Mission Agency?” - Karl E. Böhmer
Abstract: This paper seeks to define what a mission agency is and to analyze the role of mission agencies in the church of today. There is a greater emphasis on lay involvement in the church today, and many question whether mission agencies should still send ordained missionaries. Various trends in the church have a tremendous impact on the perception and role of mission agencies, both denominational and parachurch, such as a decline in finances, globalization, short-term missions, the church planting movement, and individualization. Yet the mission agency is just as necessary today as before, since the mission agency in essence is one of the hands of the church in motion. The missio Dei continues, and in each generation the church needs to seek prayerfully to adapt its mission agency accordingly.
From Brazil to Africa: A Good Personal Experience in God’s Mission - Carlos Walter Winterle
Abstract: Love what you do and love God’s people. God’s Mission is multifaceted. While some are sent to spread the Gospel and to train local people, others have to stay to do the local mission and to nurture the newly converted. These are the two sides of the same coin. The Gospel is always the same, but cultural issues need to be respected in the way we share the Gospel of Christ. I once read in a book review: “When a book begins with ‘I,’ I surely will read it. It’s not only theory, but life experience.” “On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27).
Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing - David O. Berger
The Stimulus (Abstract): The LMM survey on demographic projections of potential LCMS membership losses and the future of mission in the LCMS prompted this writer to offer some observations on one congregation’s approach to mission and outreach in a time of declining numbers.
The Little Church That Could: Watching God at Work as We Walk in Faith - Dale Hedstrom
Abstract: Sometimes when we can’t imagine how a new ministry opportunity could come together, we close the door. Or if we consider the risk and cost of failure to be unacceptable, we stop trying. This is often because we don’t factor a supernatural God into our equations. But Scripture is full of examples of God asking His people to believe impossible things—and then start walking in faith that God will what only He can accomplish. Here is a story of a little congregation that decided to take some steps of faith—and what God did in response.
Gospel Power Overcomes Barriers - Miriam Carter
Abstract: This reflection paper is an attempt to share my struggle in figuring out how God is working in my life and how I can relinquish my efforts to control my life. This is a real struggle because there are so many things, like worries, work challenges, family problems, and even successes, that draw attention to me and my wanting to be in control. I have looked at the whole package of Barnabas and Saul being set apart and then released for mission as a model of the sending and the going. Then the Centurion is such an example of faith in the power of Jesus. The purpose of this article is to help others to see Jesus, to go to Him, and then to be released for mission.