I pray for a Synod enlivened and energized by excellence in evangelism, education, encouragement, and edification. With Jesus’ charge in the Great Commission, evangelism is always first and foremost for us, and it is interwoven into everything else that we do together. It needs to be said and repeated so that we don’t lose focus. Sometimes, oddly, an emphasis on evangelism seems to bump up against a focus on fidelity — being true to our Lutheran confessional character. But there is nothing intrinsically contrary between them that should create tension between faithfulness to our confessional heritage and our eagerness to share the Gospel with those who don’t yet know Jesus. On the contrary, our Christ-centered, Gospel-oriented theology is at once both unabashedly faithful and extraordinarily winsome. Yet there is tension among us. We are afraid of compromising our confession. We are afraid of cultural pressures against us. We are afraid that outside influences will lead us astray. And fear foments fighting and factionalism.
I pray for a Synod enlivened and energized by our hopes and not our fears. If there is anything that will rally us, it must be the hope that we share in Jesus Christ — a hope built on nothing less than His own blood and righteousness. If there is a single thing that will move us forward together, side by side, it is the sure and certain hope that we bring to a world wallowing in hopelessness and devoid of Jesus Christ. The hope that we share with each other — and which we bring to others all around us — unites us as one.
The Christian Church exists to strengthen believers in their faith in Jesus and to equip and send them out to share the Gospel with others near and far. Are you as confused as I am by those who would divide our church into categories of either “missional” or “confessional”? For quite some time I have wrestled with this, and I addressed the theme in more detail in an essay published several years ago: “Mere Christianity Because There are No Mere Mortals: Beyond the Inner Ring,” examines some of the works of C.S. Lewis and captures much of my own thinking about the relationship between our vital mission and our lively confession. Let’s expand our reach to widen our circle and resist the temptation to tighten ever more narrowly the “inner ring.” Read the essay here.