Letters to the Editor (July)

Missionary service

The letter in the June Reporter from Dr. Douglas Groll regarding volunteer missionary service did not provide a full picture of missionary service.  Nor did it describe the strategy, professionalism, and benefits of missionary service, whether career or volunteer, through LCMS World Mission.

Our highly skilled career missionaries have a broad scope of responsibilities, and many coordinate service over a large geographic area.  Long-term volunteer missionaries work in more-focused areas of ministry.  Short-term volunteer teams and missionaries may be involved in one-time events or in ongoing ministries, but always to make connections to the local church.

The selection process assures that applicants are placed where their gifts and abilities can best be used.  Opportunities are offered only at the specific request of field personnel or of partner churches.  While it is possible that some volunteer missionaries may serve with motives such as self-fulfillment or tourism, we cannot discount God’s intentions and His working for good in any case.

With volunteer missionaries, the initial service may be “short,” but the benefits and resources often have a long-term impact.  Such involvement often develops into a lifelong relationship that supports ministry where a volunteer missionary served.  This can include praying for unbelievers they met and the missionaries and national churches there; telling others about what God is doing in that place; supporting additional missionaries and mission projects; and celebrating the Holy Spirit’s work in the hearts and lives of the people in that place.

More than two-thirds of the world’s people do not know God’s saving grace through Jesus.  As members of the priesthood of all believers, all of us have a vital role in reaching them — in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, and around the world.  I invite those who want to know more about missionary service through LCMS World Mission to contact our Recruitment Services team at (800) 433-3954.

Dr. Robert M. Roegner
St. Louis

Dr. Roegner is executive director of LCMS World Mission. — Ed.

Resolutions, outreach

As I read the June Reporter, I was somewhat discouraged by the thrust of so many of the resolutions proposed by the floor committees.

When will we ever learn that conferences, encouragements, commendations, and all the other things mentioned in these resolutions are not going to be effective in our task of sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this fallen world?  Every study that has ever been done in this church body or any other has shown that the lost people of this world are saved when a current member of the church invites a friend or relative to come to church.  Consistently, year after year, 95 percent of all the people who join a church do so because a friend or relative invited them to attend!

I am not equating joining a church with being saved, but it is far more likely that a person who is joining the Body of Christ will be saved by the means of grace available there.  Spending the scarce funds of the church on all these conferences and studies will avail us nothing until the individual members begin to accept and act on their responsibility as saved children of God to reach out to others!  Just once, I would like to see a resolution passed that addressed the real problem we have with mission work — that is, the unwillingness of our members to do what God has called them to do.  Let’s tackle the real issue instead of having conferences that do nothing but increase the Synod’s ongoing financial woes.

Rev. Robert R. Roberts
Chico, Calif.

The older-adult ‘tsunami’

A June Reporter insert described both the need for and the work of youth ministry.  Without question, ministering to the church’s young people is desperately needed, and I commend LCMS Youth Ministry for its efforts to reach out to today’s youth.

However, I find it perplexing that the LCMS has done little to minister to the growing number of people at the other end of the age spectrum.  Data from the U.S. Census Bureau and other sources warns us that our nation faces a tsunami-like growth of older people in the years ahead.  In 2010, the first wave of the “Boomer Generation” will reach age 65.  Between 2010 and 2030, there will be a 78 percent increase in the number of people over 65.  By 2030, for the first time in our nation’s history, those over 65 will outnumber those under age 18.

That increase in the number of the nation’s older adults will have a stunning impact on the LCMS.  One study has shown that the median age of those who attend all Lutheran churches is 57, compared with a national median age of 41. 

I suspect that the median age for LCMS members may be even higher.  We don’t really know, because, to my knowledge, our church has not done the research that would inform us about our older members.  But we do know that as our membership grows older, it will confront an awesome mix of age-related problems.  I fear the LCMS may be singularly unprepared to serve the growing number of our older members or the very large number of the unchurched Boomer population.

The youth insert listed a broad array of programs and resources available for youth ministry —things we ought to be doing. But I’m appalled that when I look for programs or resources for ministry to older adults, I find none.  Our church has simply failed to focus on an area that deserves our concern.  What is the church’s responsibility for this rapidly growing segment of our society, many of whom do not know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

Is it not time for the Synod to create a “Ministry to Older Adults” charged with the task of developing programs and resources that will help our congregations reach out to the most rapidly growing segment of the population?  We’ve worked hard to bring the Gospel to the youth in our communities.  We need to do the same thing for the older generation.

Ted Westermann, Ph.D.
Fort Myers, Fla.

Please send letters via e-mail to REPORTER@lcms.org or by mail to REPORTER Letters, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.  Please include your name, postal address, and phone number.  Letters may be edited for length and clarity. — Ed.

Posted July 2, 2007

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