ST. LOUIS — Despite concerns expressed by some delegates, the 62nd Regular Convention of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod voted to support a major effort to raise $100 million over the next six years as part of Ablaze!, LCMS World Mission’s 13-year initiative to share the Gospel with 100 million people worldwide.
Delegates voted 653 to 533 to endorse the funding appeal, which seeks to raise $100 million beyond the regular LCMS World Mission budget. Some 30 to 40 percent of the funds raised would be used in North America, with the remainder for international mission work. The funds would support activities such as church planting and theological education.
Some speakers to the resolution shared concerns about whether it would be wise to launch a major fund-raising campaign in light of the church body’s financial woes.
“Everybody thinks if we raise money, we’re doing mission,” said one speaker. “How much does it cost to tell somebody about Jesus?”
Other delegates spoke in favor of the resolution. “Christ gave His life,” said one. “How can we put a price on this hope? How can we keep this hope to ourselves?”
The convention also adopted “national goals” for Ablaze! that pertain to North America: to share the Gospel with 50 million “unreached and/or uncommitted” people and to start 2,000 congregations by 2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. That resolution encourages every member of LCMS congregations to “share the Good News of Jesus when the Holy Spirit provides opportunity,” and asks all Synod congregations and entities to “work with the national mission office to accomplish” the goals.
In related action, delegates voted to promote a “mission outpost” attitude among Synod congregations, schools and ministries. That resolution encourages:
* laity to “learn languages in order to witness and serve particular groups, train leaders and … undertake … the ministry of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ”;
* pastors, teachers and other church workers to “accept responsibility for encouraging and equipping the laity involved within their congregations ministries and schools to be missionaries sent out by that mission outpost”;
* districts to “assist congregations, ministries and schools with resources to expand their vision for mission and ministry that fulfills Acts 1:8”; and
* LCMS World Mission to “develop resources for congregations, ministries, schools and districts to encourage and equip the laity in their mission outposts.”
Another resolution adopted by delegates promotes ethnic and urban ministry by asking congregations to “seize opportunities” for outreach and to work with other LCMS congregations to share the Gospel.
It also asks districts, circuits and neighboring congregations to provide for “spiritual, technical and financial support” of inner-city churches and schools, and asks districts, circuits and “mission partnerships” to seek strategies for reaching people of other cultures and generations.<SPAN style="ms