Blumberg and the big gulp

So if you don’t know by now the Mayor of New York City has nothing better to do than to monitor the intake of sugary beverages by the citizens of New York.  Vendors can no longer sell the large drinks in the city.  Things got stranger when in answering questions about a “nanny state” and Government intrusion, Blumberg said that you can drink 40 oz’s of sugary beverages if you want to – you just have to buy two 20 oz cups.  For a Mayor that was also worried about the amount of refuse going into the city dumpsters it just gets curiouser and curiouser.  I guess in some world somewhere some of this makes sense.  Like in Minnesota.  Sorry but the State that elected Paul Wellstone and voted for Walter Mondale twice, at least from reactions that I have heard on the radio think this is a pretty good idea.  I have to watch it here because we have been admonished by District Presidents that we should not delve too deeply into politics.  My issue is with authority like District Presidents.  The Bible says they come from God and are necessary so…

Why do I care?  Do people in St. Louis have nothing better to do than worry about what people that belong to our churches are doing overseas?  Why do folks at the national offices of our church body care if Mr’s Schemellfining from Duluth goes over to Africa and gives away shoes to the needy and connects with some Christians over there and comes back and talks about her “mission trip”?  What do they care if some church in Bismarck gets 50 people and they fly over to Africa and have a rally and talk about Jesus for a few days and then come home and talk about their ‘mission trip’?  Is it just overweening authority trying to horn in on our life as Christians and trying to control everything?

They care because we have a “life together” and we have ‘coventanted together” to do certain things.  The only “sending authority” in our church body is the Board of International Missions.  If we are Missouri Synod members we should connect with the national office before we undertake a mission trip of any kind for several reasons…..

1.  Our own safety.  What if we are supporting and giving money to a non-existent entity?  It has happened that churches have spent thousands of dollars supporting a Pastor and a church that never existed.

2.  Courtesy to our Partner churches.  What if Mr’s “S” mentioned above goes over and does her shoe thing and witnesses to the fact that she is a Missouri Synod Lutheran from Duluth.  If the word gets around, and it will, that the Missouri Synod is doing a shoe ministry in area X and the partner church is asked to extend this Ministry into area Y and they know nothing about it, that is not good church relations.  By the way if Mr’s “S” goes through channels so to speak, she will receive the added benefit of a lengthy and protracted theological discussion of the appropriateness of giving away shoes and calling it a “ministry”.

3.  Duplication of services.  What if Mr’s S goes over and gives away her shoes on Tiembo Street in downtown Kilgoris, and one street over on Motanga Rd the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya is doing there own shoe ministry?  It looks bad and it is a waste of effort.

4.  Avoidance of confusion.  I was castigated one time by a missionary because of the work being done by Project 24.  The missionary asked if I had been “sent” by our churches World Mission and the answer was yes.  Although the Project was administered  at that time by LCMS World Relief and Human Care, we were sent over and the funds are sent by World Mission.  This same Missionary told me later that he went and worked with orphans under the auspices of one of these alphabet organizations that we have in the LCMS and he told me where and who he worked with.  Never having heard of these people and understanding that I don’t know everyone in Africa I asked the General Secretary of the ELCK who these folks were.  Our missionary was working with a group affiliated with the Kenyan Lutheran Church, the church not in fellowship with the LCMS.  It was embarrassing to me and to the Kenyans.  I would love to ask this LCMS missionary of he had been sent by World Mission to that place and those people.  It is confusing to our partners and non-partners alike.

These are just some of the reasons that we need to get a handle on short Term Missions that are carried out by individuals and congregations.  It is interesting to me that for years we begged people to do something and now they are doing it and it makes us nervous.  People are going to ‘do’ what they perceive as mission whether we like it or not, we being the nannies in ‘authority’.  As Greg McKinzie says in Missio Dei 3.1 (February 2012)  ,

In one sense—that of the realist—critics must come to terms with the fact that churches will do STM. The statistics suggest that STM has moved out of the realm of fad, into the realm of operating assumption. While some church leaders may conscientiously object, they will not be the majority; at least not in the near future. The question shifts, then, from whether to do STM to how to do it…….Whatever one’s tendency in the debate, the assumption is that churches are going to do STM—so they had better figure out how to do more good and less harm.

Minnesota North and North Dakota are part of a pilot project to connect Districts and mission fields and partner churches in such a way that we can participate and be a part of the Body of Christ around the world.  The first part of that project is to get well meaning Christ loving folks who want to “do” something to do something simple first.  Call your District President and ask him.