Making Disciples for Life (MDFL), a new initiative of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) Office of National Mission (ONM), will assist God’s people as they witness to Christ and His eternal gifts.
Working alongside the districts and congregations of the Synod, the ONM will provide resources, training and opportunities for congregations to connect across the Synod in Witness, Mercy, Life Together® — in Christ, for the world.
“Making Disciples for Life … will put field-tested, theologically solid resources at the fingertips of God’s people 24 hours a day,” said ONM Executive Director Rev. Robert Zagore. “What’s more, this initiative is designed to grow when we work together as a Synod.”
The initiative is rooted in Jesus’ words in Matthew 28: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20).
The church today faces many challenges and opportunities. Among these are evangelizing the lost, retaining the faithful, strengthening congregations and planting congregations.
All of these are included in Jesus’ words to His disciples. The One who has all authority commissions His church to share the Good News with the whole world. The faithful regularly gather around Word and Sacrament. In a world in which people are tempted to leave the church, congregations are working to retain those who have joined.
The congregations of the Synod face different and unique situations in their locations. Strengthening existing congregations plays an essential role in making disciples through Word and Sacrament ministry.
In addition to strengthening existing congregations, the districts of the LCMS plant churches where Word and Sacrament ministry is not presently available. MDFL works to combine the resources and experience of the Synod to assist in these situations.
“LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison gave the ONM the task of creating resources to help congregations reach out to the lost, retain and strengthen the baptized from the cradle to the grave, provide leadership resources, strengthen Lutheran families, and plant new churches,” explained Zagore.
The various ministries of the ONM are continually developing specific resources to help the people of the LCMS serve in the unique situations into which God has placed them. Cooperation between the ONM and the districts, circuits and congregations of Synod enables these focused resources and materials to benefit congregations and individuals.
MDFL will make these resources more readily accessible through a new internet resource center that will use the latest technology to enable anyone to easily find the materials pertinent to their situation.
Yet MDFL is more than just resources. As situations change or new conditions arise, the ONM looks forward to working with the people of the Synod to both identify and meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. Church-planting grants, multi-ethnic church grants, planning and training will help congregations reach out to changing neighborhoods and areas that don’t currently have an LCMS presence.
Conversations and interaction will play a major role in the future of MDFL, as regional conferences will provide opportunities for laypeople and clergy to dialogue with each other and the ministries of the Synod.
In addition, “incubator” congregations will serve as testing grounds to ensure the materials can be as useful as possible. These congregations will represent varied situations representative of those found throughout the Synod.
Yet, with all that the new initiative aims to accomplish, Zagore emphasized that it is the Spirit who works where and when He pleases through the Word. “We have Christ and His pure, eternal Gospel to share,” Zagore said.