Overview - Past and Present
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has been involved in mission and outreach since 1851 when it established its first mission board. In 1894, the LCMS sent its first overseas missionary Rev. Theodore Naether and family to India. Today,The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod trains, sends and supports called and appointed career, long-term and short-term missionaries in various countries around the world where there are mission stations, partner churches, schools or mission relationships.
As of February 2013, the LCMS sends, equips and supports a global mission team of more than 740 missionaries serving full-time and short-term!
Stay connected.View photos, read story updates and prayer requests from missionaries working around the globe.
There are more than 200 opportunities available to serve with The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, ranging from one week to a lifetime! Check out our Mission opportunities page for more information.
Role of a Missionary - What Do Missionaries Do?
The main priority of a missionary is to bring the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have never heard the Good News. LCMS missionaries usually share that Good News in the language of the people they serve. When the Holy Spirit begins to gather people into Christian fellowship, missionaries assist these new Christians in forming their own indigenous church leaders. LCMS missionary teams are made up of people who focus on planting churches, leadership formation or some type of locally initiated holistic services in areas of health, agriculture, community development, English-as-a-Foreign-Language classes or partner support activities. Missionary teachers also serve in international schools where missionary children, expatriates, and often national children attend. Agricultural and medical missionaries are utilized when their work will strategically contribute towards reaching and gathering a communities of believers, so that churches can be planted.
Missionaries usually spend a good deal of time when they first arrive on the field developing language skills and learning about the culture and mastering a foreign language.
The overall LCMS mission “team” consists of ordained pastors, directors of Christian education, directors of Christian outreach, deaconesses, teachers, lay ministers, Directors of Parish music, medical professionals, agriculturalists, vicars, church work program interns, retired Lutheran laity, and college graduates. All are scattered across the globe working together with national partners to tell the Good News of the salvation that is found only in Jesus Christ.
Lutherans today are facing a major shift in both the culture and the Church, one that has broad implications for the Synod’s work around the world. With the cultural collapse of the West and the rapid growth of the Lutheran churches in the South, the needs of the LCMS and her partner churches are changing, demanding that we reconsider everything we are doing in light of our Witness, Mercy, Life Together work around the globe.
In the course of this strategic reassessment, the LCMS Office of International Mission (OIM) offered two of the Synod’s regional directors—the Rev. Brent Smith (Eurasia) and the Rev. John Mehl (Asia Pacific)—repositions in their respective regions. While the Lord led them to decline those offers in lieu of other opportunities, we are grateful for their service and for their genuine desire to build relationships with the people of God in other countries.
As OIM moves forward in continuing to re-evaluate and re-focus its work, we give thanks that our heavenly Father sends pastors and laypeople alike around the world to be bold witnesses to His forgiveness and love. By His grace and in concert with our global network of partner churches, these missionaries help to start and support churches, carrying on our tireless work of Witness, Mercy, Life Together to the very ends of the earth.