So if “compelling” people offends you and you think it smacks of Spanish Conquistadors and forced mass baptisms you might want another missionary text. Some have said that the great missionary text for Luther and the Reformers was Romans 1:16. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God, for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Luther believed just what Paul said. The Gospel is the power of God and whether you like it or not God chose the foolishness of preaching to bring others to faith. There are some who object to this notion because it is restrictive. Ideally preaching should be done by someone who is called and ordained. What about the youth group that goes somewhere and paints a house? Is that not mission work? How about those that go and teach English as a Second Language? Is that not mission work? Are we denigrating these people and confining the Gospel proclamation only to clergy?
Dr. Al Colver the Director of Church relations for our LCMS wrote – “The key is that missionaries are sent by the Lord through the mediation of His Church. While the names and position titles have changed over the years, this is how the church has always done mission, even back to the time of the Apostles when Saint Paul first brought along Luke as a physician. A missionary for The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a person called, that is, ordained or commissioned, or appointed (medical personnel, business, administrative, or other worker) by the appropriate sending agency (the Board for International Mission) who is sent to bear Witness (Martyria) to the Gospel of Jesus, to show Mercy (Diakonia), or to support those who do as we have a Life Together (koinonia).”
So for those handwringing and worried that we are making the only people who can do missions clergy there is the answer. We cannot forget the point however that the primary goal of mission work is the preaching of the Gospel because it is the power of God for salvation. But we also need to wring our hands and explain to some out there that Gospel proclamation is pretty specific. It is not just conveying information it is preaching Christ crucified. It is not just nice words about God, it is preaching Christ crucified and with it making a proper distinction between Law and Gospel. It is not self help nonsense it is dying and rising again in Christ.