National mission board begins refining policies

Members of the National Lutheran School Accreditation team — led by Director of LCMS School Ministry Terry Schmidt (background, at right, with hand raised) — work at River Roads Lutheran School in St. Louis last fall. Schmidt shared recent Lutheran-school statistics at the Feb. 6-7 LCMS Board for National Mission meeting. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Megan K. Mertz

ST. LOUIS — The LCMS Board for National Mission (BNM) met here Feb. 6-7 to hear updates on the work taking place in the LCMS Office of National Mission (ONM) and to begin the process of refining its policies to better direct that work.

The Rev. Mark Kiessling, director of LCMS Youth Ministry, gave an update on his team’s efforts to revamp the materials provided through the “youthESource” resource for those who work with youth and Lutheran Youth Fellowship, a program that equips teens to develop and use their leadership skills as they serve Christ. He also presented the results of the most recent youth poll, which was taken at the LCMS Youth Gathering in July. (Read “LYF Youth Poll results reflect headlines, scriptural stance.”)

The board also heard a report from Terry Schmidt, director of LCMS School Ministry, concerning recent statistics for Lutheran schools. He noted that 77 percent of the students in LCMS schools are Caucasian and 23 percent are black, Hispanic, Asian or of another ethnicity.

In his report to the board, the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the ONM, introduced Every One His Witness, a new evangelism program from LCMS Witness & Outreach Ministry, and the new church-planting guidebook available through Mission Field: USA.

“All of this eminently practical stuff coming out of ONM is going through intensive doctrinal review. And it’s chock-full of beautiful, scriptural Lutheran theology,” said the Rev. Kevin Robson, LCMS chief mission officer. “It’s what the Synod [in convention] has asked us to do, and we’re delivering.”

The BNM also spent a considerable part of the meeting reviewing its policies and comparing them with the seven mission priorities mandated by the Synod in convention. Since the BNM’s policies were originally written six years ago, the Synod convention has emphasized new areas of work — such as church planting and revitalization — and redirected other areas.

BNM Chairman Rev. Steven Briel commented that this review was an important first step in refining the policy manual. “We wanted to see if the policies we’ve come up with, which were proposed often in a vacuum, really do fit what the mission of the Synod should be, per the convention,” he said. “So I think that was a really important part of the meeting for the work we’re going to do in the future.”

Megan K. Mertz ( is a staff writer and managing editor of Lutherans Engage the World with LCMS Communications.

Posted February 28, 2017

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