“Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation!”
The American Lutheran missiologist, James A. Scherer says, “For Luther, mission is always pre-eminently the work of the triune God—missio Dei—and its goal and outcome is the coming of the kingdom of God. Luther sees the church, along with God’s word and every baptized believer, as crucial divine instruments for mission. Yet, nowhere does the reformer make the church the starting point or the final goal of mission, as 19th-century missiology tended to do. It is always God’s own mission that dominates Luther’s thought, and the coming of the kingdom of God represents its final culmination” (James A. Scherer, Gospel, Church, & Kingdom: Comparative Studies in World Mission Theology [Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1987], 55).
As one of the Core Values of the North American Lutheran Church is Mission Driven, it is important for us to be reminded that this is not our mission, our vision, our strategy, but it is “pre-eminently the work of the triune God—missio Dei!”
This year’s NALC Lutheran Week completes a six-year focus on the Holy Trinity, concluding now with “God the Father Creates…in His Image,” as the theme for the Braaten-Benne Theological Lectures. However, it seems appropriate to conclude this cycle with the theme, Missio Dei, as we celebrate the fact that everything we do as a mission-driven Lutheran body comes from God and His mission—that we are to go into all the world, empowered by the Holy Spirit, preaching the good news of salvation in and through Jesus Christ—to the whole creation!
Our prayer is that this year’s Mission Convocation will indeed be a mission-oriented and mission-driven gathering! While there will be necessary times dedicated to reports, actions and elections—including the election of a bishop—highlights will be the several “On Fire for Mission” sessions, focusing on domestic mission, international mission and mission related to congregational life. These will begin with brief Bible study and devotional periods, followed by presentations on the theme, with extended time for table talk, reflection, breakouts, and strategies for “taking it home!”
We are also excited to hold a Faith Formation Festival (“Everything You Want to Know About Youth & Family Ministry”) and the Gathering of the Women of the NALC (“Using Our Gifts to Serve”) earlier in the week.
The hope and prayer of all involved is that this will light a spark or fan the flame for mission, that we return home inspired and excited about missio Dei—the work and mission of God in our local congregations, in North America and throughout the whole creation!