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Posts Tagged ‘Missions’

The Missionary Task and the World.

It is hard to find it on the morning “news”, what with the cooks, the fitness guru’s, the stars and the singers but if you can wend through the “bread and circuses” you will find out that things were not as bad as you though they were – they are much, much worse.  If we were able to find out what was going on in Paris you probably missed the fact that 2000 people were killed by the Bokol Haram group in Nigeria.  If you got those two tidbits between the celebrity “tell all” stories you probably missed the fact that Al-Sahbaab attacked the military base that was the center for Africa Union troops and caused a lot of damage.  Since the scare of ebola seems to be over here in the States, you might have missed the fact that 7000 Africans have died from it and there appears to be no end in sight.  In the meantime Christian populations from Iraq, parts of Syria and vast areas of the mid – east have been effectively purged.

“Christianity should be realistic in terms of goals and obstacles in mission work.  Here we would do well to limit our understanding and wisdom in light of God’s purpose and intentions.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths” (Prov 3:5-6).  All the obstacles to mission – stark opposition, financial constraints, theological confusion about the actual nature of mission, etc. – gnaw at the confidence placed in our efforts…….The gap between Western economic wealth and poverty in other countries is widening and creating obstacles for missionaries and their perceived identity and purpose.”  So says Detlev Schulz in his masterful work “Mission From the Cross” published by CPH.  Schulz also says that “Putting mission work into practice is more organized and transitory than the ideal suggests”.  We will be speaking to that as we move forward.

The point now is that missions is a dangerous and sometimes dubious enterprise that should be entered into with eyes wide open and as much information, protection and support as one can get.  The Office of International Mission seeks to give that support and information to missionaries and short term mission trips as well.  The Best Practices document was a mandate of the Synod in convention.  A by-law of our church body says that the Board for International Missions is the “only sending agency of funds and personnel for the Synod to foreign fields.  These seem to me to be prudent and necessary ways that we become “realistic” in terms of goals and obstacles in mission work.

Please look at the best practices document for the LCMS in discussing a short term missions.

http://wmltblog.org/2015/01/lcms-best-practices-in-short-term-mission/

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Were the Wise Men on a Short Term Mission Trip?

 

Short term missons 1

Epiphany is a mission season.  It is a mission season in reverse to what we normally think of when we think of missions.  Instead of Christians going to visit those who don’t know Christ, the so called “pagans” come and find Him.  The visit of the Magi presupposes some missionary enterprise had taken place before.  Maybe some Israelite had journeyed to a far country and made witness to a coming Messiah and these wise guys heard of it, or maybe the arch-missionary, the Holy Spirit made it known in some other proclamation of the Word we don’t know about.  How ever it happened the Magi were on a mission – they were an embassy to greet the King of all, and the Lord of Lords.  Foreigners came and made it know to God’s chosen people that Christ had been born in their midst.  They become witnesses to us of God’s desire that Christ be the Savior of all.

Mission is important, in fact I believe that the church exists for that purpose.  People love to go on short term mission trips for a variety of reasons.  Yet sometimes when folks come back from a short term missions they find out that not everyone is as thrilled with them or their trip as they think they should be.  I had a correspondent on this blog tell me that when they came back to their home church their Pastor was frustrated that they called themselves “missionaries” because they were not sent.  Their well intentioned trip caused a problem between them and their called servant of the Word.  Others go abroad and find that they were working with folks that do not have the same confession of faith and they were participating in what we call a “heterodox” mission endeavor.  Some go and find that their well intentioned efforts had negative consequences to the folks they visited with and the church to which they belong.

I thought that “mission” was a pretty simple endeavor until I came on board a Board.  The Board for International Missions is, according to Lutheran Church Missouri Synod bylaws, the only sending agency for funds or personnel into the “foreign mission field”.  Sounds pretty simple right.  Well when we throw into the mix mission societies and individuals and other folks this rather simple statement becomes at least for some a real stumbling block.

We are going to be thinking about that over the next few days because the idea of controlling the sending of missionaries or suggesting ways that it could be planned and carried out in and “decent and orderly” fashion really bugs some folks.  I could make a quip here and say that we need to be “wise men and women” when we go on a short term trip but I won’t.  Instead I will refer you to handy little piece of work put out by the Office of International Missions that will help you in getting ready and planning for a short term mission trip.  Please check it out and download it and comment.

http://wmltblog.org/2015/01/lcms-best-practices-in-short-term-mission/

 

 

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Let’s Be Careful Out There – Calling All Mission Societies

lets be careful out there lets be careful out there

I always hate to date myself but I used to watch this show called “Hill Street Blues” and this gentlemen opened the show by telling the police officers all the horrible things that were going on and then sending them on their way by saying, “let’s be careful out there”.

We have been trying to say that to Mission Societies and there are many of them.  Please understand that we want to do missions and we want to do mercy, but we also would like to figure out a way to “be careful out there”.  Some of you are getting on airplanes and flying hither and yon and feeding folks and doing good works without any regard for the bigger pictures of security for yourself and your team, who actually is receiving the benefit of what you do and the effect it has on partner churches or their efforts.  There may be consequences to the way you write about or advertise what you do.  There have been missionaries and others that have been killed because they were identified in a blog or other publication that the wrong people read,  Here is a preface to a missionary newsletter that we all might want to think about and emulate.

(1) AS A PRECAUTION TO PRESERVE THE SAFETY OF STUDENTS, THEIR FAMILIES,

AND LOCAL CONGREGATIONS, THIS AND SUBSEQUENT REPORTS OFTEN WILL OMIT

NAMES, LOCATIONS AND FUTURE PLANS.

(2) DEAR FELLOW MISSIONARIES INCLUDING OUR ADs/RDs, PLEASE BE AWARE OF THE

DANGER SOME FACE, HENCE, WHEN SENDING OUT YOUR TEAM AND / OR MONTHY

REPORTS/NEWSLETTERS BE A LITTLE MORE CAUTIOUS WITH DETAILS AND FACTS. I

SUGGEST WE ALL AVOID MENTIONING IN SOME CASES, GEOGRAPHICAL POSITION AND /

OR COUNTRY, UPCOMING EVENT(S), ON-GOING EVENT(S), AND EVEN PAST EVENT(S),

ESPECIALLY IF SUCH EVENT/PLACE COULD BE LINKED TO THE NAME OF AN

INDIVIDUAL, COMMUNITY, TRIBE OR FAMILY. GUYS FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR MISSION

PARTNERS AND THOSE TO WHOM WE DIRECTLY MINISTER IN THE FIELD – FELLOW

‘MISSION FAMILY’ HEAR ME OUT. “DO NOT THROW THE BABY AND THE BATH WATER

AWAY”!

 

 

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Protected: The Transfiguration and the “theology” of buildings – great questions.

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Who Is It For?

We have discussed on these pages over the last months the concept that we have lost our first love.  The idea goes like this – once a church begins to see itself as it’s own mission that church is basically dead.  When the “mission” is paving the parking lot and fixing the fellowship hall, when “outreach” is painting the sanctuary so as to attract “seekers”, we are indeed in what some have called the “Christendom Model”.  The Christendom Model is the idea that churches and schools were created to take care of the faithful and now that the faithful are getting old and declining we don’t know what to do.  My guess is that most of the rural and small town churches in Minnesota and North Dakota were family churches.  One or two families got together about 150 years ago and built a facility to take care of their children and grandchildren.  That was nice but now the great grandchildren have moved off the farm and went to a mega church in Minneapolis, and now their parents and grandparents are trying to pay for the upkeep on a building that most of them can’t get into anymore.  The idea of mission and outreach is blurred and the tension exists between building and saving and fixing what we have for us, and reaching out to the growing number of people that have no religious affiliation.  If your church is known in the community as the “Schmallenburger church”, you might want to think about how intimidating that is to someone whose name is Martinez or Ogonganya.  The idea that we are “mission outposts” in an increasingly hostile and pagan world seems to be completely alien to most of us, especially in North Dakota and Minnesota.  I have heard people say that they have no need for outreach because “everyone in their town goes to church somewhere”, even though the evidence is that every Christian Church in America has plateued or is declining and that church attendance has dwindled.  Pastors and people get into conflict over these two opinions and even our tradition is called to account.  One old bromide as to why Lutheran’s seem to be so disinterested in “mission” (the professional sent to a mission field is the exception) is “how can you go and tell, when your motto is Here I Stand?”  There is a lively discussion in our circles as to whether or not Martin Luther even had a theology of Mission.

We should have this discussion since the mercy/mission emphasis of the Distirct Presidents of North Dakota and Minnesota North is heavily tilted toward mercy at home in our back yards and mercy and mission overseas with our partner churches, especially the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya.

Here is what I would like to see happen – those of you who are reading this blog right now think hard about what I have said.  Be honest.  Do you see “mission” as something that happens overseas that you will write a check for, or what happens in your congregation?  Have you ever asked the question, “don’t we have a mission right here”?  If you asked that question what did you mean?  Then read the next blog about the book that is pictured above and the great question that it asked, “Who is it (Christianity)for?”  Then let’s have a discussion on line or on this site or over the email lines but let’s get serious about who we are and what we are about.

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