When the North Dakota and the Minnesota North Districts started down the path of partnering and focusing on a mercy/human care emphasis there was a lot of discussion about what we are doing and what we have done. There are so many things that folks in our churches do and support and we were trying to get a handle on that as well. Add to that the talk at Synod levels about the fact that we have people running all over the world ‘doing stuff’ without coordination with our partner churches and we have a big hodge podge of stuff going on that is not always helpful.
For instance we know of large churches that started their own ‘project’ in a majority world country without first talking to officials of our church to find out what partnerships were in place and how they worked. They simply “charged off in all directions”. One of these churches found out later that they were supporting a rogue Pastor that had been defrocked and was not even affiliated with our partner church. Of course when they found out that they basically bought this gentleman a palace they were mad at – you guessed it – the LCMS.
We know of Pastor groups that go over to majority world countries to do certain kinds of work with out the same protocol search and then we hear back from our partner church that the “Missouri Synod” is working with the church we are not in fellowship with and how can this be? Well it can be because we want to do good things. I am convinced that one of our problems today is that we have preachers that divide the Law and Gospel and present the Gospel in it’s truth and purity and they never get to the point of ‘directing’ people to do something. The Gospel motivates us to do good works and if we have no outlet for that compulsion we may wonder down all sorts of interesting paths.
In my presentations I ask people and congregations what types of things that they as groups and individuals support.
The results are pretty staggering and I have to admit that I quit keeping track.. Here is a sample, this is a partial list from the front and the back. There are many organizations in the middle of the alphabet that I have not listed –
Haitian Refugee support, North Korean refugees in China, Children’s Christian Concern Society, African Soul American Heart, American Red Cross, AmeriCares, CARE, Childreach/Plan International USA, Christian Children’s Fund, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières, Food for the Hungry, Inc, Lutheran World Relief, MAP International, Oxfam America Salvation Army World Service Office, Save the Children, United States Fund for UNICEF United Way International, World Vision. Add to these local agencies and prayer and Mission Societies started by well meaning individuals and you have a real list developing. I met a women in Minnesota that got up one morning and flew to India and started her own orphanage. She has no guidance except, as she told me, the Holy Spirit. I have no problem with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and I admire this womans courage, but……
What if members of our churches in the various Districts covenanted together to partner with the District and the District partnered with a majority world church who is partnering with the LCMS? Think of the amount of dollars that would be focused on one area with several projects rather than all over the place with millions of projects. I have asked various groups that divide their mission giving up this question – would you rather pick one project and give it $30000 and really make a difference or pick thirty projects and give them $1000? I am not denigrating anyones generosity, but I am looking at benefit.
So the lesson for the day is – check with your Pastor, District President and/or Synod officials and ask if the project that you are supporting or looking at supporting is a partner church operation. That way you know that it is supervised and part of a protocol arrangement.
The lesson for our travelers is that even within a partner church there are projects we sponsor and projects we don’t. Bofore you commit to coming back home and being an advocate for a project talk to the officials of the partner church and ask what the relationship is and how it coordinates with the Project with which you are affiliated.