By Adriane Heins
“Is there a distinctly LCMS approach to mission?” That question is at the heart of the Journal of Lutheran Mission, a new e-publication available from the Synod’s Offices of National and International Mission.
Mission, church and the interwoven relationship between the two are central to the Synod’s history and identity, making mission one of the most discussed topics in the LCMS today and the need for an official channel to discuss that topic a necessity.
“The journal matters because mission matters,” said the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the Office of National Mission. “Christ has given all things to the church, and the church shares those gifts with the world.”
The scholarly journal, published digitally, also serves to encourage conversation on mission in this time when “We are seeing openness to confessional Lutheran theology by theologically adept national church leaders in the developing world and a willingness to confess over against Western church bodies,” noted the Rev. Dr. Scott Murray, pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, Houston, and fourth vice-president of the LCMS. Murray makes that observation in the journal’s opening article, “Missio Dei.”
“The desire of the Journal of Lutheran Mission is to move beyond words (a missiology of rhetoric) to reflect the work of Christ through His church globally,” explained the Rev. Randy Golter, executive director of the LCMS Office of International Mission. “His words are performative, and so the mission exists, is ongoing and is accomplishing His purpose. In this lies the confidence of Lutheran mission and every Lutheran missionary.”
The journal’s list of contributing editors is extensive. It includes faculty from both LCMS seminaries; clergy from Germany to Madagascar, Ethiopia to Siberia; Synod mission staff as well as two district presidents. Day and Golter serve as executive editors.
“It is our desire to follow the tradition of mission that led to the founding of the Missouri Synod, to highlight and expound good examples of Lutheran missiology and to raise the height and breadth of discussion on mission so that every member of the Missouri Synod prays for the mission of the church, engages in it him/herself and supports it each according to their vocation,” explained LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison in the issue’s “To the Reader” column.
The debut issue of the journal features papers from the Synod’s Summit on Lutheran Mission, held in San Antonio last November. A first-of-its-kind event, the summit provided a venue to discuss the question, “What is our Lutheran identity when it comes to mission?”
Topics and authors in the March issue include “Evangelicalism: The Heartbeat of American Protestantism and the Awkward Companion of American Lutheranism,” by the Rev. Dr. Walter Sundberg; “Ecclesiology, Mission and Partner Relations: What It Means That Lutheran Mission Plants Lutheran Churches,” by the Rev. Dr. Albert B. Collver III; “The Future of Mission in the LCMS: Collaboration,” by the Rev. Dr. Jack Preus; and “Challenges to Teaching the Faith as a Component of Mission Strategy,” by LCMS Ohio District President Rev. Terry Cripe and others.
Two book reviews also are included — one of a recently-released work on mission and the other on a book nearly 85 years old.
The journal, which will be published three times a year, may be downloaded in a variety of formats at lcms.org/journaloflutheranmission. Individual articles from the journal also are available for download and may be shared through social media.
Adriane Heins is executive editor of The Lutheran Witness.