Lutheran and missional? I think most people within the Lutheran church do not see those things being simultaneous. After all, most of us have grown due to immigration and maybe a little through education. But can we as Lutherans be missional or is it a lost cause?
One of our biggest problem as Lutherans is what I call the "Debbie Downer" mentality (made famous with SNL). We think, "our theology doesn't allow us to be missional, we focus too much on confessions, and we have no chance." It is too bad that we place "missional" above understanding theology. Or thinking they are separate things. This is why A.L. Barry bolded professed as our President, "Be the message right, get the message out." If we don't have it right, then why get it out?
Mark Driscoll in his book, "Vintage Church" defines a missional church in the following ways.
A Missional church is:
1) Biblical-believes in the inerrant Scriptures
2) Practices and preaches repentance-bring the law
3) Goes into culture-knows the community and engages it
4) Contextualizes the Gospel-brings Jesus to people
5) Loves singles AND couples
6) Trains Christians as missionaries-each person a witness to their surroundings
7) Supernatural-they expect miracles
8) Countercultural-Lives by Scripture and not culture
9) Multiplies-more churches and groups
10) Messy-a bunch of sinners
He does a great job defining what a missional church looks like, but I found one striking thing missing-Gospel. I'm NOT saying that Driscoll denies the Gospel, but we as Lutherans would confess that all people need to hear that the Gospel is for YOU and to receive His precious forgiveness. In John 20 Jesus tells his disciples to proclaim forgiveness to all who repent. Driscoll as a good reformed guy, he loves calling for repentance (as do we). But he does fall short in focusing on the forgiveness piece. Big problem for us Lutherans.
So what does a missional Lutheran church look like?
1) Messy-Driscoll puts it at the end, we would put it at the beginning. No perfect people allowed.
2) Practices and preaches repentance-Brings the law and show their sin.
3) Vigorously proclaims forgiveness when repentance occurs (I John 1:8-9). Show us a Savior.
4) Goes into culture-Know the community like the back of their hand. And serves that community for what they need.
5) Brings Jesus to people-Applies the Gospel to all situations: couples, singles, children, and the eldery.
When things are understood in a church they will automatically love singles and couples, they will want to be missionaries, they will be countercultural, they will be biblical, they will multiply, but it will be with the focus as to what Jesus tells us: Forgive as I have forgiven you.
Once again, it doesn't begin with the goal to be a HUGE church. But begins with Jesus. When our hearts are centered on Christ, the church will grow in His time.
Lord have mercy