Friday, January 16, 2009

Lutheran Reformission

What, then, is a Lutheran Reformission? Why would a Lutheran want to adopt this term?

First, Lutherans are the originators and true heirs of the Reformation. I had been searching and contemplating for over 2 years on a new blog title, and early in 2008 this word, "Reformission," came on to my radar. From the first time I heard it, I knew it was the perfect term for what I had envisioned. Add to that my new task of being chairman of Iowa District West's Personal Missions Committee, and it becomes even more appropriate to use this title.

Even though there have been notable lapses, Lutherans, especially of the Missouri Synod variety, have long been known for doctrinal faithfulness. We have also done a fairly commendable job at sending professional missionaries for the task of foreign missions, as evidenced by the fact that there are now significantly more Lutherans today in Africa than in North America. However, whether deserved or not, we have had a notoriously poor reputation for the task of personal missions--that is, engaging in evangelism ourselves among our friends, family, and neighbors. (Future posts will address this idea in greater detail.)

In today's Missouri Synod, there has sometimes been the perception that doctrinal faithfulness and an enthusiasm for mission are conflicting priorities. Although this dichotomy is not officially enshrined in Lutheran doctrine or Missouri Synod positions, it has been a practical reality more often than we would like to admit. We have too often been under the impression that we must choose between ignoring (if not outright compromising) doctrine for the sake of missional effectiveness or turning our focus inward to purify doctrine at the expense of engaging in mission.

A "Lutheran Reformission" is appropriate because it embraces both doctrinal faithfulness and a passion for missions, resulting in missional doctrine and doctrinal mission.

Even though the term itself has roots outside our denominational fellowship, the concept is applicable regardless of the specifics of confession. Doctrine and Mission work together in the life of the Church.

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