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Global Mission Update: Theological Education Fuels Our Mission (September 2012)
“God must be especially pleased when we are glad to help supply and provide the churches well with ministers; for, in the first place, this work furthers the glory of God and exalts His name. In the second place, people are thereby helped to be rid of the tyranny of the devil and to be saved. But how could we invest our money better and do more good with it?” —Martin Luther
One of the first things the people and pastors who formed The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod did was establish a seminary, a “seedbed” (Luke 8:11) to ensure that the preaching of the Gospel and distribution of the Sacraments would continue. It should be no surprise that our missionaries have followed that pattern.
Many years ago, our LCMS began to plant seeds that have provided a strong foundation and model for global seminary education. We witnessed more than a century ago in India (1895) and then in Brazil and Argentina. We then spent decades sharing the Gospel and instructing leaders in another half-dozen countries. That work — and the work we began after World War II — resulted in many of the Lutheran churches we see today all around the world.
You see, Lutheran theology ministers to the whole person. God grew congregations by the work of the Holy Spirit through the Word and Sacrament. Nurtured by faithful pastors, teachers and laity, congregations flourished. They desired to see the faith continue from generation to generation, so they began instructing their own leaders and pastors through seminaries.
Many of our global Lutheran partners express a fervent longing to form their church leaders into the kinds of pastors who would best serve the Lord Jesus Christ and His church.
It is through Lutheran theological education that we grow pastors and church workers who in turn plant and sustain distinctly Lutheran congregations. The LCMS is hearing the cry of our partner churches around the world as they, too, desire to continue Luther’s legacy of robust theological education within their own countries and cultures. It is here that our global-mission focus of Witness, Mercy, Life Together continues to unfold.
In previous letters I have shared the six priorities for our work together as a Synod. I list them here once again and ask you to focus on the first two.
- Plant, sustain and revitalize distinctly Lutheran churches.
- Support and expand theological education.
- Perform human care in close proximity to Word and Sacrament ministries.
- Collaborate with the Synod’s members and partners to enhance mission effectiveness.
- Nurture pastors, missionaries and other church workers to promote (among them) spiritual, emotional and physical well-being.
- Enhance elementary and secondary education and youth ministry.
Lutheran theology speaks beyond our cultural understandings, and the world is becoming attuned to that reality.
Our mission fields are changing and our focus is shifting to the emerging churches that treasure their Lutheran identity. These churches seek out the LCMS for guidance toward a clear proclamation of the Gospel. We want to provide leadership and encouragement to them as they mature and grow.
From clergy — to lay leaders — to you our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, there is a growing desire to see our Synod take action, to proclaim the Gospel to the four corners of the world. We know that only the Word of God will create and grow churches. We also recognize that the foreign mission model has changed. Today, pastors are being raised up from within their own communities and nations, and one of the best ways we can help is to offer teaching resources. In the LCMS, we have the ability to be bold in action, doing everything we can to identify and secure these resources and teachers to spread God’s Word and our Lutheran Confessions among the nations. I know you want to be a part of your Synod’s efforts.
Your support of the LCMS global mission effort is so important. Your “where needed most” gifts provide for the expansion of God’s work across the world. Please consider a gift today for our Global Mission Fund so that the combined efforts of our Synod’s Offices of International Mission and National Mission, and Pastoral Education ministries can continue and multiply.
Your gift of $50, $100, $500 or more, as God has blessed you, will help accomplish the global mission goals of our Synod.
As you consider your gift, please also consider praying for our partner churches and our Synod, that more workers will be sent into the fields that are ripe for harvest.
Here is a prayer you can use:
Father of all mercy, grace and peace, embrace me with Your Holy Spirit that I, too, may boldly proclaim Your gift of salvation to my neighbor, my family and my friends. Empower me to tell the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for sinners that those who live in darkness may hear and come to faith in Christ. Use me now as Your instrument of witness to the great mercy of God in Christ Jesus. For it is in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit that I pray. Amen.
Rev. Gregory K. Williamson
Chief Mission Officer